Mower man on fundraising mission reveals shock confrontation
CLAUDE 'the Mower Man' Harvey, 74, has seen many things while walking his lawnmower across the country.
The fundraiser has raised close to $1.2 million on his quest and every cent goes to Australia's leading child protection organisation, Bravehearts.
Over the past 13 years he has met countless people and visited hundreds of Australian towns.
But nothing could have prepared the child safety ambassador for a confrontation he had with a man in western Queensland five years ago.
According to Mr Harvey, a pedophile holding a gun stopped him when he was walking through the town.
"He told me to never come back to the town," he said.
"He said if I ever come to town again he'll blow my head off."
"I just agreed with everything he said."
Not one to be discouraged, the brave long-distance walker went through the town again the following year.
"I will not let anyone intimidate me for what I do for the kids of Australia," he said.
The recent recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia has faced many challenges while walking across the country to promote child safety.
"I've been punched in the head, I've had dogs chase me, I've had bulls chase me, you name it," he said.
But while he walks thousands of kilometres across various terrain of this great southern land, Mr Harvey said he saw the faces of two girls who never left his mind.
"I really started because two girls close to my heart were sexually abused, and the 16-year-old guy who did it got away with it," he said.
"I thought to myself, 'This isn't right, I've got to do something about it'."
The super-fit fundraiser has the same training routine every time he prepares for a month-long fundraising walk.
"I mow lawns," he said.
"I mow my friend's lawn."
The unique fundraising idea came to him 13 years ago as he was, you guessed it, mowing a friend's lawn.
"I was sitting in a field one day mowing someone's lawn and I thought, 'If I walk around Australia no one would notice'," he said.
"But if I take a lawn mower around Australia, then the whole world would notice."
While most Australians his age have their feet up, enjoying their well-deserved twilight years, Claude said he was happy to be able to contribute to the community.
"Although fundraising is a big part of my tours, raising awareness of this horrendous crime among as many communities as possible to help prevent child sexual assault is my primary mission," he said.
"If I can save just one child from this crime that harms one in five Australian children, I will have achieved what I've set out to do."
On his latest month-long adventure, Mr Harvey will visit 21 Queensland regional towns.
He will trek through Gatton, Toogoolawah, Nanango, Mundubbera, Blackwater, Capella, Dysart, Nebo, Mackay and more.
Mr Harvey will be treated to an official welcome to town from Blackbutt police on Tuesday, June 25.
He will also take part in a fundraising evening at the Nanango RSL on Saturday, June 28.
Mr Harvey invited South Burnett residents to say hello while he was in the region.
"They can come out and have a walk with me," he said.
"Have morning tea, raise some money and sit down and have a coffee."
After 13 years of walking five months each year and raising nearly $1.2 million, Mr Harvey knows exactly when he will hang up his sandals and stop raising awareness and funds for child safety.
"I am thinking it'll be around about the day that I die," he said.