Every time I go somewhere, I meet all these travellers who tell me things about places they’ve visited in Australia. Places they have loved, places I have never seen and sometimes never even heard of. Astounded with the wonderful things backpackers and tourists have had to say, to show me and to teach me about the place I call home, I have since made it my mission to slowly see Australia. Sometimes you have to leave home to appreciate all that is going on back there, all the beauty, the simple things, the obvious. I’ve done that, and since have had a deep fascination with this island-continent that is my home.
This all started with a visit to Tasmania shortly after my year travelling South America. Tasmania was another place I had never been to and only under two hours away by airplane. After almost a half-decade of talk and intent, I completed the Overland track and spent a week roaming the remarkably beautiful southern island. I later checked in with long forgotten New South Wales national parks and road tripped from Melbourne to Adelaide and back. In the new year I got news on a job I had really been hoping to get, and I wound up moving to Tasmania to work as a guide on the Overland track which I have come to love so much. Months on, the season is over and I am itching to move again. I’ve managed to stay mobile. To not get stuck in big cities or the regular, comfortable and repetitive flow of life. I had thought long and hard about the travel I recently done and how it made me feel, how exciting life can be with only what you can carry on your back, with little or zero planning, living in a state of total open-mindedness, with no restrictions, no limits, in complete freedom. Moving about so that the only place you really ever remain is outside of the comfort zone, away from the stink of the familiar. The crest I have been riding feels far too good to get off, to abandon, to pass up for places and processes that just make me feel bored and less human.
In the spirit of travel and adventure, I have decided to take a flight from Launceston to Perth, check in with a few friends in Western Australia’s capital, friends from long ago and also from recent travel, and then head north up the coast or through the interior, into the northern parts of Northern Territory and then south to Alice Springs where a few friends are working for the winter, and finally east back to Sydney. I’m intending to only use my legs and my thumb, to hitch hike, hace dedo, the whole way – not to use any paid public transport like buses or airplanes in order to complete what will be between a gargantuan 7000-8000km journey through the vastness of Australia in order to get back to the east coast. Yeah, I could have spent a fifth of my airfare to Perth and bought ticket that would get me from Launceston to Sydney in under two hours, but really, what fun would that be? What would I see that I hadn’t seen before? I wouldn’t meet anyone, it would be easy and not difficult. There would be no waiting, no hitching on dusty roads, no tests of my patience, my determination, no satisfying my lust for the outdoors and nature, no outback, no town pubs and no characters, no odd accents, no rocks, no lakes, no eucalypts, no backpackers, no vans, no trucks, no stars, no sunsets, no moon rises and no stories. There would be no uncertainty and no time to stare out to a place you have laid eyes on for the very first time in your life.
I had originally intended to hitch directly across the country from Perth to Sydney, but heading north makes it more interesting, lengthier and gets me into more uncharted territory. Having two housemates and some other friends working on the Larapinta trail outside Alice Springs made an excellent reason for making that the only planned stop along the way. The other things that inspired this trip were traveller’s yarns, globally, camper van graffiti on the inside of Wicked vans that had journeyed all over Australia by people all over the world, having never been to WA and NT, two weeks of hitching and road mayhem with a good mate in New Zealand and a love for the vastness and unpredictability of life on the road.
I haven’t felt this excited to travel in ages. This is one of the first times such a long journey doesn’t require a passport and an airplane ticket worth a few thousand dollars. It’s home, but it’s so new and unknown and massive. I have no idea what to expect and no idea what will really happen or where I will end up (apart from Alice Springs I guess), but this is really what makes it all so exciting. Sometimes it’s good to just pick up your backpack and go for it.
A long and lonely road through Argentinian Patagonia. May 2013.