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The Walk - Gunnel and Jurgen


25 June - 26 July 2012

Gunnel and Jurgen Hecht are walking 686 kilometres - a MILLION STEPS - from White Cliffs to Lightning Ridge to raise funds for the Australian Opal Centre, a BRILLIANT outback project. They invite you to make a donation, or join them for part of their journey!

The Walk is underway! Visit and Like the Australian Opal Centre's Facebook page to receive updates and photos, and please DONATE to help the walkers reach their target of $10,000!

On 25 June 2012, White Cliffs residents Jurgen and Gunnel Hecht, Doug Brook and Rod 'Cookie' Cook embarked on The Walk, an epic 686 kilometre trek from White Cliffs to Lightning Ridge in outback NSW. The journey from one legendary opal mining town to another passes through magnificent landscapes and beautiful stretches of the Darling River Run. Gunnel and Jurgen are the walkers; Doug and Cookie the support crew.

A great group from White Cliffs walked the first two days from before returning home; but Ron and Sue Dowton couldn't stay away, rejoining the Walkers at Tilpa, to go through to Bourke. AOC poet laureate The Shovel has embarked on the entire journey. Lightning Ridge's Annie Deane, Jenni Brammall and Leigh Black did the Tilpa to Louth leg before reluctantly departing; and Roy Hopkins-Deacon walked a few kilometres too, though his ugg boots weren't ideal trekking footwear.

Gunnel, Jurgen, Doug and Cookie are retracing the steps of opal pioneers of more than a hundred years ago. (For more on the story, click on The Story of The Walk in the navigation bar above.) They heard about the legendary journey in a TAFE opal cutting course, and decided to do the same walk - and at the same time, raise money to help build the Australian Opal Centre - a long-awaited, nationally-significant project that will create enormous benefits for present and future generations.

Jurgen and Gunnel are 68 and they challenge others of their age - and younger! - to join or support them on their adventure! You can help by clicking on DONATE NOW and giving whatever you can. All donations of $2 or more are tax deductible in Australia and you will receive an immediate automated receipt. And you can leave a message of support to appear on the bottom of this page.

Or, have some fun and do some walking!

  • Walk for as many or few days as you like between 25 June and 25 July - you don't have to do the whole journey
  • You need to be self sufficient, but support vehicles can carry your tent and supplies
  • Basic cooking facilities provided
  • Rest days in Tilpa, Louth, Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett to relax or see the sights
  • Have a GREAT TIME with a great bunch of people
  • See beautiful stretches of the Darling River Run

To register as a participant on The Walk, please contact Jurgen or Gunnel on (08) 8091 6633 or 0428 237 273, or send an email by clicking here. It's important to register and tell us which days you'll be walking, so we can organise accommodation on the few nights we'll be sleeping under a roof (ah, luxury!).

Note: now that The Walk is underway, Gunnel and Jurgen are mostly out of phone range. For all inquiries please contact Jenni Brammall on 0427 904 587.

Please contact us for media inquiries or to participate. And please, make a donation today.

To learn more about the Australian Opal Centre, the wonderful project we are supporting, visit its web site at www.australianopalcentre.com




Recent Donations

  • Gunnel and Jurgen Hecht Jenni,we can't handle it either. Need to see it go to the hoped for $10,000.!! HERE WE GO.....now I can relax but still hope, that more people will support the BIG cause in future. $450.00 21/11/2012
  • Elizabeth Smith A million small steps making a giant leap for the Australian Opal Centre. We're getting there! Thanks again to the walkers and their support crew. $50.00 13/10/2012
  • Anonymous Found some opal!! So heres to all the walkers - thanks for supporting THE AOC!! back to digging..... $500.00 11/10/2012

All Fundraisers

  • Jenni Brammall Jen feels some (more) pain for the AOC! $810.00
  • Leigh Black Leigh and Millie join The Walk $500.00
  • Annie Deane Annie goes walkabout out the back of Bourkee $310.00
The White Cliffs crew with a cheque for $500 from White Cliffs Miners' Association. Back: Sue Dowton, Rod 'Cookie' Cook and Jurgen Hecht. Front: Ron Dowton, Gunnel Hecht and Doug Brook. Added to $500 from Bingo Night, and other individual contributions, what an AWESOME effort from White Cliffs!


Supporters Amount Message
Gunnel and Jurgen Hecht $450.00 Jenni,we can't handle it either. Need to see it go to the hoped for $10,000.!! HERE WE GO.....now I can relax but still hope, that more people will support the BIG cause in future.
Elizabeth Smith $50.00 A million small steps making a giant leap for the Australian Opal Centre. We're getting there! Thanks again to the walkers and their support crew.
Anonymous $500.00 Found some opal!! So heres to all the walkers - thanks for supporting THE AOC!! back to digging.....
Jenni Brammall $70.00 Can't stand it - gotta push the total over $9000 - congratulations everybody!
Whimsical Cakehouse $500.00 I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of you guys....xxxxxxx
Wendy Moore $50.00 Good luck with this wonderful project. Wendy Moore
Jo Bagge $20.00 A wonderful project !
David Martin $20.00 Supporting David Schoeffel on The Walk, and the Australian Opal Centre for which The Walkers have made this mighty journey.
U3A, Deniliquin $50.00 For the poet who walks - The Shovel - and the Australian Opal Centre of which he is such a great supporter.
Sing Australia, Deniliquin $50.00 Well done David 'The Shovel' Schoeffel - walking, singing poet and minstrel.
PR Seymour $500.00 In support of David Schoeffel and the Australian Opal Centre, from a former architect, now artist, who much admires the work of AOC architect Glenn Murcutt.
redearthopal.com $310.00 Congratulations to SUE DOWTON on her 310km of The Walk. We are proud of your achievement, you are an Inspiration to us youngens. All our Love Sacha, Graeme & The Children xo
Gunnel and Jurgen Hecht $300.00 In the memory of Peter Waterford. Thanks for having us at Lorne again..
Hannelore Deisenberger $100.00 well done, Gunnel and Juergen
Rhiannon Noltorp $115.00 Sponsorship for the kilometres Rhiannon walked between Brewarrina and Walgett, then between Walgett and Lightning Ridge.
Josephine Bastion $100.00 My father Andy Bastien walked the district 100 years ago and mined opal at Lightning Ridge in the 1920s.
Owen Clapham $767.00 Sponsoring Shovel's Walk for the Australian Opal Centre - $1 for each of the 667 kilometres Shovel walked plus a bonus $100. Good on you Shovel.
The Walk $630.55 From the people we encountered along the way on The Walk - thank you all! (Also the coins we found on the ground each day.)
Shindy's Inn $100.00 A donation from Shindy's Inn at Louth - a great place along the Darling River Run.
Denise Brady $100.00 A donation from Denise Brady whose grandfather, opal buyer Phil Brady, moved from White Cliffs to Lightning Ridge in 1909. Denise did some walking too!
Mervyn Parkhill $30.00 Sponsoring Barb Moritz on The Walk!
RED EARTH OPAL CAFE & SHOWROOM, WHITE CLIFFS $59.90 Well done to you INSPIRATIONAL people. Here is a small donation from our wonderful customers here @ Red Earth Opal Cafe & Showroom in White Cliffs. We the staff have been happy to share your story to those who have visited us. We are very proud of your courage & spirit. Blessings all.
Anonymous $30.00
Barbara Gasch $500.00 Bravo! You Walkers are an inspiration! I would love to join you for the last few kilometres before reaching Lightning Ridge. But I better donate the money it would cost me to come towards the building of The Australian Opal Centre. I know we can achieve it! YES WE CAN!
George & Rosemary Maddox $65.00 George and Rosemary planned to walk, but couldn't make it. Here's their donation to support the walkers and the Australian Opal Centre!
Benita Stafford $10.00 Hi Barb. Hope all goes well on your Walk and that you reach your goal; I also hope the weather stays good for you. Hope this helps.
White Cliffs Miners' Association $500.00 Let's showcase our opal to the world!
Miliza Scarano $50.00 Well done Annie and good luck Barb. Belated $25 to Annie Dean for a great effort and $25 to Barb Moritz who's about to start. Thinking of you Milly
Anonymous $15.00 A small fluffy dog wishes to send support to Leigh for taking a bigger doggy for a nice walk through the bush
Chuck,Caz & Trinity Peters $90.00 Good on'ya girls Annie,Leigh,Milly & Jenny and all the other supporters
Anonymous $15.00 Five bucks must go to every day Annie sacrificed herself for the cause : walking - riding - walking. Go Annie GO!!!!!
Anonymous $5.00 Ooops somehow it lost $5 :)
Anonymous $10.00 Thanks for returning Jenni safely - this donation is $2 for every blister she has had to endure oh yeah and plus $5 for the nail that might drop off uggghhhh
Andrew Kemeny $50.00 686km, 31 days = 22.13 km per day assuming you walk 6 hours a day = 3.69 km per hour = 61.5 metres per minute = 1.025 metres per second. Reckon you'd better pick up the pace eh what????? Good luck to you all and have a great time AK
Down to Earth Opals L/R $100.00 Thankyou Gunnel, Jurgen, Doug & Rod for Walking your incredible steps! Bubbly on chill for your arrival in Lightning Ridge.
Bill Hoskins $35.00 I would love to go on The Walk but my legs said No!
Murray & Kathy Young $10.00
Max Channon $25.00 Good on you - great effort.
Michelle Pymble $20.00
I'm Not Fussy $20.00 Good luck to my friends Annie and Jenni and my Mum Leigh...walk well!
Belinda White $50.00 You guys are awesome - have fun!!! From Belinda, Corey & Mackenzie White
Andrew Needham $100.00
TOP LEVEL OPALS & MINING $100.00 Dear Gunnel, Jurgen, Doug and Cookie, what a wonderful effort you are putting in to help make the Australian Opal Centre that will benifit us all. Opal has been given us so much and its time to give back her. My decription of her -'Opal'is... She has to be female, you can't have all that colour and be so radiantly beautiful and not be female! There is mostly only men looking for her, she encourages them to seek her out while she dancers her colour and magical spell over them, all the while saying... 'Come Here, Come Here... then... once she is found... 'Go Away!, Go Away!' She is completely illusive! She IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GEM displaying all the colours imaginable, mixed with her meditative capture that holds all that fall inlove with her in a trance of wonderment and hipnosis! How blessed we are to have crossed her path and to be fortunate enough to find her inside Mother Earth and to be allowed to cut and polish her and make a living from her natural beauty. Australians and world people please give to this wonderful Centre we owe it to 'HER - OPAL' to recognise her gift to us all. We wish we could offer you more as a donation, this will help. Well done, have tonnes of fun laugh heaps and keep warm. See you when you get back. Love Light Hugs & Rainbows, Donna-Lee, Ron 'Mitchell'& Raeah.xxxx
Tessie Hecht $69.00 Tessie's support to make $2000!!!
Peter Carroll $100.00 I'll buy you a drink when you get to the ridge - great effort mates!
Barbara Gasch $686.00 "one dollar per kilometre"...GOOD Luck + LOTS OF FUN! Barbara&Doug from White Cliffs
Peter Indermuhle $50.00 Could not attend the Bingo evening, so here comes my support instead....
Carina Pikula $200.00 Go Mum and Dad!!!! We are very proud of you.Lots of love The Pikula gang :)
Jenni Brammall $50.00 An inspirational effort for a great cause!
White Cliffs community $500.00 From the community of White Cliffs. Great Bingo evening, that raised the money. What a great send-off for the walkers of The Walk....
A&LA Lavite $25.00
Anonymous $30.00 What a great idea, great fun and a great cause! I hope everyone gets behind The Walk!