PERTH party boy John Elliott was a high-flying finance CEO who owned luxury cars and a nightclub, but life moves slower these days.
“Now everything goes at four kilometres an hour,” he quipped on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, flanked by his herd of five camels.
In search of deeper fulfilment, Mr Elliott quit his job and traded in the high life to set off on a camel trek across Australia.
“Every decision I’d made in life, before this, was based on a dollar sign, based on getting more and more money, a bigger house, a faster car,” he said.
“It just didn’t really seem like that should be your main focus or the point.”
And while he says the trip started out “without cause or reason”, it wasn’t long before one emerged.
Two months into his preparations, he had his first ever skin check and discovered a melanoma on his back.
“I never would have found it if I hadn’t started on this journey,” he said.
He connected with Beard Season – an initiative inviting men to grow their beards for winter and use them as conversation starters to challenge others to get a skin check.
Using the same idea, Mr Elliott came up with a plan to use his camels – and his beard – to spread awareness around early melanoma detection in some of Australia’s most remote communities.
“That justifies trading the five-star lifestyle for a five billion star adventure,” he said.
Mr Elliott set off in April and, now 2000 kilometres into his trip he plans to take the message to every state.
On Monday, he and the herd trekked to Parliament House, where they offered free skin checks to the curious crowd.
He and Jimmy Niggles Esq, the founder of Beard Season, also reached out to politicians with hopes of securing funding options for a similar free skin check program that would visit regional towns.