The essence of travel is a difficult thing to define because all people travel for different reasons and with different intents. Some wish to experience a country by diving into its cultural diversity and experiencing their local practices. Others wish to view and capture the beauty of nature. Whilst others enjoy nothing more than dining in fancy restaurants and splurging on expensive hotels. And some are happy with anything, as long as it’s a reprieve from their normality. And then there is all those in-between. There is really no best fit model for all travellers.
I travel to experience cultural diversity and natural beauty. I gain the most joy from traversing dark rain forests; indulging my curiosity for local practices; swagging it in foreign and isolated locations; spending all day waiting for a single creature to appear in front of my lense et cetera. These are the things that I travel for. Unfortunately, all this costs money. Money that can take up to a year to fully acquire. I needed a means to travel in my desired way, but in an inexpensive manner. If such a way existed.
My life is not bad, but, by no means, is it what I hoped for. I was hoping for adventure, challenges, to test the level of my endurance and mind. But, so far, I’ve found nothing but constant stagnation. Whether it be the dulling routine of an 8-5 job or the relentless regime of a university science student. Ever since I finished school, even during, my life has been a constant regime and familiarity. I went from school, to university, to a job and further study. There’s been the occasional holiday that titillated my interest in travel, but I never pursued it because I always found an excuse; “I can’t go again, I need to save” or “I have bills to pay” or “I don’t want to risk losing my job if I go for too long or too often”. You know, those reasons that appear so reasonable, but really only stand as small obstacles to our dreams
For some time now, possibly over a year, I’ve been contemplating some sort of event that would throw a complete spanner-in-the-works and really confront me. Something that would force me to push through these small obstacles.
I’ve finished school. I’ve completed university degrees. I’m a competent labourer at a joinery firm. I followed the strictly taught regime of school, work, family – less the latter. And, so far, nothing. All these ‘achievements’ have challenged me, but none have fulfilled me. I always thought they would make me happy, but they’ve left me with nothing but a longing for more; for something more substantial and influential on my life.
That’s why, around the beginning of 2018, I will be riding across Australia on a push-bike from its southernmost point at Wilsons Promontory, Victoria to its northernmost point at Cape York, Somerset. I am hoping to achieve this venture in around 30 days – a bit over 125km a day – although it will likely be longer than this as it is quite a significant distance for someone who has never ridden a bike more than 1km in a single session.
What spurred my interest in this specific venture? You might ask. Well it all happened when I saw a push bike on the corner of my street. It had no sign indicating it was for sale. No chain indicating it was a possession. And it remained in the same spot for 3 days until a thrifty low-life thought they might get a free bike for a big journey 😉 Although, I guess the idea has been in my head for a while.
The idea is not new, nor my own. There have been many people who have undertaken their travels in a similar manner. I’ve seen quite a few videos and articles written about people who did something incredible. They packed up all their possessions into a backpack or bike or van or sailboat or some movable object and set of down the road. One particular individual, a Mr Jedidiah Jenkins, rode his bike from Oregon to the Southern tip of South America. Since completing his journey, he has made several videos about how he did it and why he did it, as well as how such a journey changed his life. The whole story was very inspirational and I would highly recommend watching his featured content on Nat Geo and TEDx Talks. Out of all the videos, one particular quote stood out to me;
“Routine is the enemy of time, it makes it fly by”
This quote was placed in a little section talking about how we respond to certain stimuli. When we find ourselves in situations of constant regime and knowing, are brain begins to set itself in a state of routine. This routine dampens our spirits. Knowing everything that will happen and when it will happen, does nothing but lure us into a sense of security. We believe this state is good because it provides stability, but it does nothing but remove our alertness and fascination. We need challenges and irregularities in our life to get in touch with what it means to be alive and how it feels to be living. It may not be scientific and completely unfounded, nor will everyone agree with it, but it made sense to me.
Why a pushbike? Why Australia?
Australia seemed like the most viable option for this journey because it was really the only country I was able to competently navigate and whose people I share a common dialogue with were any emergency to take place. I envisaged being in an accident in Asia, on the side of the road, bound for death, at the feet of a small Asian lady muttering all manner of exotic words and whom lacked any ability to contact emergency services, which would likely be ill-equipped to deal with such an issue occurring in a rural and impoverished corner of Asia. Who knows maybe I’ll tackle Southeast Asia after I reach Darwin. Just catch a ferry across the sea to Papua New Guinea and continue the journey.
The biggest reason I chose Australia was, simply, because I could literally ride out of my driveway and be at the starting point of my journey. There would be no need to toil over how I would get the bike and all my supplies to some foreign country, likely at great expense, and back once completed. It seems I am bound to roam, or should I say ride, the great sun-scorched prairie lands of Australia, purely by circumstance. However, this is not too say I would want it another way. Australia has much to offer in the way of natural beauty and that is what I will be hoping to see whilst on this journey. These are just two places I have been in the last two days to give you a taste of the natural beauty I hope to encounter.
I have a goal or, at least, a vague objective; to ride a pushbike from the southernmost point of Australia to its northernmost point. And that’s about it. While I have a current path, I expect to take and an allotted time, they are really nothing more than lose details. For you see, I am quite happy, should my resources permit, to end up on the western cape of Australia 6 months after setting off. My plan is to set off for a place and see where I end up and how my journey develops. I don’t know exactly how it will work or where I will go and that’s exactly how I want it. To finally be at the complete mercy of whim.
What about you? Has your life been nothing but familiarity? Maybe it’s time to break out of this life and challenge yourself