Climb8 Expedition

Something very exciting is happening next year!

I am leading an 800km expedition across the Australian Alps in winter for climate action.

We will be starting on the 6th June at the Mount Franklin Ski Chalet ruins in Namadgi National Park and finishing at Baw Baw in Victoria.

On the way we will be attempting to summit 38 peaks including 26 peaks over 2,000m in Kosciuszko National Park, highest 10 peaks in Victoria and the 2 highest peaks in the ACT.

Part of Climb8 is highlighting the impact of climate change on the Australian alpine regions and will include interviewing 8 ski resorts, surveying alpine user groups and studying past and current scientific research.

We are engaging with communities across the mountains and hope to use the expedition as a platform to share information, concerns and solutions.

If you would like to be involved please visit the website for more information at Climb8

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Travel Stories you don’t want to hear

It doesn’t always go to plan.

On social media, travel shows and in adventure magazines you see the glossy side of travel, the safe places, tourist traps, token toedip into exotic cultures. That’s fine for most travellers but it’s not my style.

Unconventional is probably the best word to describe my life and how i travel the world is no exception.

For the most part i travel solo and attempt as much as possible to assimilate to local tradition, attire and ritual. I only need to show genuine respect and a willingness to learn to receive the same in return.

The more obscure the destination the more attracted i am to experiencing it. Not just visiting but taking as long as i need to fully immerse into the life, language and tradition.

90% of the time everything is good, great, exceeding expectation.

10% of the time is confronting, frightening, heartbreaking.

In 4 countries i have had weapons, guns, machete, loaded bow, held in my face. In 2 countries i was held at gun point while interrogated as a suspected spy. I watched a bus bombed by maoist terrorists in a busy city transit terminal and 2 months earlier was harassed by a Maoist army helicopter while solo trekking far from a disputed border. I have had my path physically blocked and turned back by women trying to protect me from rebels and rascals. In the same countries personally attacked, stoned and shot at because anti-white riots spread faster than we could get to safety. I have had to conceal weapons when taxi and mini bus trips took a bad turn. I broke the arm of a man who tried to rape me on a bus. Everything except my dirty laundry and sandals were stolen when i was knocked out by an antibiotic for blood poisoning which had started tracking up my leg. Quinine resistant cerebral malaria for 12 years. Witnessed murder, called traditional justice. Seen the fear and sadness in the eyes of people living surrounded by landmines trapped between two nations at war. Listened to the horror stories of slaves, secretly visiting their razorwire enclosed living quarters and writing postcards they dictated for family back home. Refugee families sharing photos of their loved ones who were killed while trying to escape. Rendering first aid on the leg of a small child whose mother cut her to beg for money… sometimes i could help, not always.

You see, the further you travel, the further you push beyond your comfort zone, the closer you want to get to real life, the more you will be exposed to a world without glossy pages, a world where the highlight reel is simply survival, where life is valued differently and death is a constant threat.

The travel stories you don’t want to hear haunt my dreams. I see the faces of broken spirits when i close my eyes. Each night, as i sleep in the safety of a privileged western society, i relive horrors others are living every day.

A long time ago i shared a twin room with a wonderful friend. C knew when the nightmares were visiting and would climb into bed beside me, wrap herself around me and hold me tight. You made me feel safe. I miss you.

A Better Life!

It has been quite a roller coaster since beginning more than 20,000kms of awareness walks in 2008.

Walking for environmental, climate, justice and social issues as well as raising funds for non-profits has not been easy, sometimes it was heartbreaking and left me with some bitterness and despondency. 10 years of stress.

I carried a lot of responsibility and accountabily and i expected the people i was helping to offer reasonable support. Expectations without clear communication will lead to disappointment.

When i began the final little 900km leg of the walk around Australia last year i decided to walk it for myself. The suicide prevention cause and Lifeline fundraiser was still stuck to it like tar on a bumper bar and i maintained a strong social presence. Although the stress was reduced significantly it was still there.

When i finished the walk and began writing i didn’t shake my old sharing habits. Not wanting to disappoint, felt like i needed to keep providing followers with updates and insights. An unnecessary expectation i placed on myself.

Another old habit i continued to practice was using my bike touring adventure as a platform to promote an issue i feel very passionate about, the reason i started walking for awareness in the first place. I placed a lot of angst and pressure on myself to document and share in the hope to influence change. The fun factor was dulled by imaginary deadlines.

Throughout last year i honestly thought i was freeing myself of stress pushing my own agenda but it was only shifting the stress.

After observing the sudden improvement in physical and mental health after quitting the ride i realised it was time to make some serious changes.

The 1st and most important change was to burn my soapbox. Activism, especially for someone without a close allied community and accessible support networks, is emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and psychologically fatiguing. Over time activists can pay a high price for their passion in physical and mental health.

I’m returning to a quiet, reserved life of adventure where i hope to be an example through simple, considerate and kind choices.

The 2nd important change is supporting others in ways i know from experience will help and encourage. To be available and accessible to anyone seeking moral support, mentoring or a kind word to give them strength and comfort.

The 3rd important change is to drop my walls and open my heart to the opportunity to live this adventurous life with friends and possibly even someone special, share the moments with friends in the moment instead of in a social media feed, to conquer my fear of intimacy and learn to connect on new levels of friendship and companionship.

Dating Profile 🤣

Terra Roam

Single human seeking a meaningful adventurous life with a nice being from any compatible species

7 Weeks!

It took 7 weeks to ride 1,000kms. Most of that was rest days.

What i love about bike touring;

Freedom,

The wind in my hair when i can take my helmet off while on deserted roads,

Seeing beautiful places,

Slow travel,

Adventure choices,

Time to explore,

Meeting other tourers,

Kindness of strangers,

The feeling at the end of a riding day looking back at what i just achieved,

Tailwinds,

Sunshine,

The lightness of riding around town without panniers,

The independence of being your own bike mechanic,

A new comfortable saddle,

Side tracks and back country roads.

What i learnt about bike touring;

It is wise to train before starting,

Headwinds suck,

Hills! There is a reason a bike is also called a pushy,

Traffic,

People who don’t give 1 metre when passing,

People who think it is entertaining buzzing too close to a cyclist,

Narrow busy roads without shoulders and crumbly gravelly potholed edges,

Rain magically turns cyclists invisible,

Fluro hi vis synthetic clothing layers cause heat stress,

I can ride faster downhill than a magpie can dive but not uphill,

Just because i have lots of pannier space doesn’t mean i need to fill it,

Listen carefully to experienced bike tourers as their pearls of wisdom will be useful.

The bike touring and bike packing community is awesome and always willing to support!

Namadgi

Last weekend I flew to Canberra and walked the Yankee Hat track in Namadgi National Park with 9 wonderful women from Women’s Adventure ACT . A few months ago the group organiser, Kelli, invited me to talk about the walk around Australia.

https://youtu.be/e1uJZXT3oOw

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It was a perfect day, sunshine, blue skies, a slight breeze keeping the temperature down to 23’C and great company.

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Do not let the name of the track confuse you. The track walks to the foot of a mountain called Yankee Hat. There is no American heritage connected to this beautiful place. The two hills are shaped like a stetson hat.

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Yankee Hat is an unique site in the Australian Alps. It is a Ngunnawal lithograph site, the only known rock art in the NSW and ACT Alpine area. This rock art is estimated to be at least 800 years old. There would have been other sites of rock art but the harsh environment of the mountains, wind, snow, frost, lichen, it is incredible that this is still in such good condition.

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There is a creek running through the naturally treeless frost hollow. The swamp or alpine bog attracts a lot of wildlife, amphibious, reptile, birds and marsupial. Some of these are depicted on the rock.

https://youtu.be/ij3fE_OIGtk

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One of the most interesting things about this site is the red and yellow ochre colours which can be found at old ochre quarries 100-200kms away. The white colour s made from local clay. Some ochre colours may also have been traded with other nations visiting the mountains.

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The Ngunnawal Nation are the custodians of this land and shared it with several other nations who travelled into the mountains for spring and summer clan meetings, trade, ceremony, celebration and food gathering. The nations or clans who gathered in this part of the mountains included Ngarigo of Targangal (Kosciuszko), Yuin of Sapphire Coast, Wiradjuri of the Murray, Gundungurra of Southern Highlands and Wolgalu of the Lower Murray Darling regions.

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It was not only the annual bogong moth harvest which attracted groups to the mountains. It was a far more diverse lifestyle through the warmer months. The moths were just a small part of the diet, an important part because it is high in fat and protein but it supplemented a diet of plants and animals. Yams were one of many edible alpine plants, collected and prepared into cakes which travelled well. Marsupials were hunted but the entire animal was used, furs were valued for survival and trade. There are sites in the mountains used for women’s and men’s business, sites for gatherings, trade, seasonal camps and “match making” (for want of a better term than marriage or trade). Some of these sites are known and accessible, some are known only to the traditional land owners and park rangers but not for public access. We are learning more about the human history of this area. I hope our respect of first nations sovereignty increases too.

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It is estimated that Ngunnawal have been in this region for at least 23,000 years and there is a growing collection of evidence of far longer occupation of the mountains. In some parts of the mountains the traditional migration paths from the coast and rivers are still used by bushwalkers. One of the ancient Yuin and Ngarigo paths between Targangal (Mount Kosciuszko) and the coast has become a 365km walking track called the Bundian Way.

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The Yankee Hat track is easily accessible from Canberra, 36kms south of Tharwa on the old Boboyan Rd. The carpark park has shade and a pit toilet. You need to take your own water, food and a bag to carry out rubbish (yours and any you find).

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When you pack a bag for the walk remember it is the mountains and the weather can change very quickly, the temperature can plummet from fine to freezing and change just as fast the other way. Wear or pack base and top layers, thermals and rain jacket or waterproof windbreaker are essential for safety. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat are a must as UV burns faster at higher altitude. Boots, long trousers or gaiters are a good idea for snake protection. Don’t worry, you probably won’t see a snake but they are about.

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Always carry a map and compass, emergency beacon and first aid kit in your group. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Bushwalking 101.

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These are a few of businesses in Australia who offer survival and bushwalking courses in Australia. (no kick backs or sponsorship, i just googled them to help save you time)

https://www.naturesapprentice.com.au/rewilding-workshops-courses/

https://www.bushloreaustralia.com.au/

https://www.aussiesurvivalinstructors.com/course-content/

https://www.bobcoopersurvival.com/

I am seeking an agent for public speaking so I am paid fairly for the experience and stories i offer but until then I will do this service for a reasonable fee or donation. If you, your group or business is interested in organising an event when I am travelling through your area please contact me directly so we can put something together. https://terraroams.earth/bookings/

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How Long is a Piece of String!

How long does it take?

A long time ago, in another life, i did Cert III in Maritime Studies to gain knowledge and crew work on the water. I was that student who asked all the questions and sometimes there were no answers. My teacher’s name was Tony and the class thought he was going to have a stroke or something, he went so red and frustrated when I refused to accept “How long is a piece of string!” for an answer. He was supposed to be the expert after all.

It has been tempting to use this question in reply to questions about the time frame of Roam 4 Eva.

Roughly, it will be 2 years, probably more.

As I have written before https://wordpress.com/post/terraroamsearth.wordpress.com/936 when and where I ride around Australia depends on the seasons. Some places I would be just plain stupid to try but there are ideal safe seasons to see those same places. I have other adventures planned when the ride pauses to wait for the heat of summer to pass. A sub Antarctic summer writers residency with a volunteer conservation stint wouldn’t be a bad idea. Does anyone read this with some AAD influence? Put a word in for me hey 😉

At no stage have I ever been under the delusion it would take only a year. I’m not the kind of rider to rush around. I took me 4 years to walk around, that was probably another record set as slowest walk around. Yes, riding is faster but I will not be aiming for more than 60-80 kilometres a day. There is way too much to see and do.

Right now I am riding slower than i walk. Well, technically, I’m moving faster but I am riding half days until my body rebuilds strength and stamina and I learn to cope in traffic. Breaking into slow and gentle.

In the last few months, before starting, I said over and over, there is no rush (except to catch the seasons) and it will be fun. In a recent social media share many people who have not been following the ride offered advice echoing my own words. It is good to see this is what people want to see, a slow bike tour, no rushed traverses or speed records.

Roam 4 Eva is about the experience and everything along the way. People, places, discoveries and insights. I’m doing something many dream of, travel around Australia by any means is possible for everyone, depending on how much you’re willing to do to get there. I know for a fact many people are taking notes for their own journey. Some are reliving their own adventures as I pass though places they have visited. Many more are living vicariously through my adventures. The walk was and the ride will be a slow journey full of adventure, Nature and ideas.

Last weekend I had a chat about the difference between an adventurer and journeyer with an Australian adventurer and a Swedish vagabond. We all have differing perceptions of these concepts and it was interesting to reflect on which is the most appropriate for my adventures. Both are suitable. I have been on a journey, living on the road since 1990. This journey has been filled with incredible adventure all over the world. Sometimes I go with the flow and don’t put much thought into direction or circumstances force me to change direction. I prefer to intentionally choose which adventure and how to do it.

Adventure within adventure within adventure on a long lifelong journey living in the freedom of a life on the road.

How long will this ride take? How long is a piece of string?

 

Cedric Varcoe – Ngarrindjeri Storyteller

Artist Storyteller

Yesterday I met Cedric Varcoe, a Ngarrindjeri artist, at the Milang art market. His work is beautiful and personal story is an inspiration for everyone.

When he was young he lost his brothers and he struggled with addiction but with the help of his family and clan elders he broke free and now creates incredible images of Ngarrindjeri life, not of life today though.

When Cedric began painting the elders saw his images and explained they were scenes from generations ago, before white people settled, and the features of his paintings were spirits and sacred places, old stories and journeys. He was painting places and people only the elders could remember stories about but he was painting them without having been told these stories.

If you are ever at a market while on Ngarrindjeri country, Murray Bridge to Nelson to Kangaroo Island and Fleurieu Peninsula, look for Cedric, hear is story and see for yourself how powerfully he is keeping his tradition alive through his art. He also weaves traditional baskets from reeds he collects from the Coorong and paints gift boxes. Make time to ask questions and listen.

Cedric is a modern storyteller and also the traditional kind, a story keeper and sharer. It is his sincere belief that we can increase respect across all cultures through understanding and awareness. We all share this land we call Australia, no matter when or how we arrived here we are a nation of nations. Dreamtime is an integral part of Australian Aboriginal cultures, not all of it is exclusive, we are welcome to learn and experience it for ourselves.

First Nations

During my 2 year ride around Australia I am hoping to learn more about the human history of this vast continent and First Nations culture today.

https://goo.gl/images/xEX4m7

Did you know Australia is made up of over 500 aboriginal nations and there is 80,000 years of evidence of human habitation here. Some nations were nomadic, travelling seasonally for food and water. Other nations were permanently based year-round and farmed food. In some places the food and water was in such abundance all year they didn’t need to move or farm.

The Dreamtime is a very simple name for very complex, elaborate and long lines of songs, stories and beliefs about creation, ancestors and animal spirits, songlines spread and criss-crossed over all the land. The origin stories of stars and landscapes are only part of the Dreaming.

I am not an authority on this and certainly do not have enough experience or knowledge of Australia’s First Nations aboriginal heritage. What I share will be from the traditional owners I meet and only what I am authorised to pass on to you. Not everything is for us all, some places, ceremonies and initiations are sacred to clan groups, but greater understanding and sharing stories leads to respect and a desire to protect this knowledge for many future generations.

One of my favourite early memories is making ochre and painting in infants school when I was 5 or 6. Our teacher told us about cave paintings, ochre used in ceremony, corroboree and mourning. Everything I have learned throughout life about First Nations culture and heritage, in school, through work and while walking around Australia, has made me hungry for more.

I am not a “spiritual” person, in fact, I am a bit of an Agent Sully from The X Files, a sceptic of all religions, myths and superstition. Unless I can see it, feel it and find a scientific peer reviewed paper about it then I don’t believe it. BUT sometimes things happen which make us wonder just how much we don’t know about the universe.

During the next 2 years I will seek more experiences to broaden my awareness and understanding of the nations whose countries I ride through. I will also be sharing some of the dreamtime and ancestral experiences I have had over the years which have taught me to respect ancient beliefs and open my mind (or spirit).

Rock art depicting dreamtime stories in Kakadu, Northern Territory

Funding Review

I was scrolling through recent posts and saw the sponsorship post was still up. Not anymore. Very soon after publishing that one I changed my mind about seeking sponsorship. Again.

In the last 5-6 years of expedition style adventures finding sponsorship was a bigger challenge than the quest itself. I tried unsuccessfully and stopped trying then renewed attempts and stopped.

With social media numbers now being a priority for potential sponsors I can’t meet even their basic requirements. Quantity is not the same as quality but they don’t understand this.

I made a fluttering attempt to get sponsorship before Roam 4 Eva began. It was excited when the first request received a reply but they were asking for my social media statistics.

Rather than let it upset me I decided not to worry about seeking corporate and gear sponsors. If a business wants to be part of my adventure, would like their name or equipment seen while I ride around Australia, they only need to ask. If their values and ethics match mine, and the purpose of the ride, then there is a very good chance we can work together.

A lack of sponsorship funding means I am limited to what I can do and reliant on others for help along the way. It means I need to be more creative and receptive to opportunity. There is less stress having small funds than trying to sell myself to businesses who can’t appreciate the difference between real organic influencers and influencers who buy fame.

It looks like I’m always flip-flopping between wanting sponsorship and not wanting it. I do want it! I have applied for 2 adventure grants with Australian Geographic/Nancy Bird-Walton, hoping they will continue to support what I do. Much of the stuff I use is sponsored by or discounted from the businesses who make and supply them, like Tier Gear, Mister Timbuktu, Wilderness Threadworks, Terra Rosa Gear, Slappa’s, Adventure Junky, Campers Pantry, Mont… Gear is great! but I also need funds to buy food, pay for tent sites or rooms in towns, replace unsponsored gear, keep phone data connected and many more daily, weekly and monthly expenses.

If you can help please visit my Patreon page and join Team Roam!

https://www.patreon.com/terraroams

Patreon is how I am funding Roam 4 Eva without sponsorship and also how I will be sharing the adventure with exclusive stories, photos and videos not available on my public social media pages.  There are 7 levels of support starting at $2 a month plus you can choose anything in between. Everyone gets a postcard and unlock Patreon access to the photo gallery updated monthly, some levels get a book and much more. It isn’t crowdfunding, it is supporting my adventure and book writing in return for creative and inspiring content shared along the way.

I will be sharing more and more material on Patreon than social media, it is becoming my basecamp for updates, discoveries and events. You will be hearing more about it as I promote the page throughout the 2 year ride around Australia and as each book draws closer to completion.

I hope to see you there!

Karta/Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island is a great way to start a bike tour around Australia!

Have you been there? Definitely put it on your Australian itinerary.

This was my third and best visit. For 12 days I toured the island and still didn’t have time to do and see everything which means there will need to be a fourth visit.

Kangaroo Island is located south of the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia and is accessible by vehicle ferry between Cape Jervis and Penneshaw, plane from Adelaide to Kingscote and, if you’re keen, kayak across the 14km Backstairs Passage. A bike costs $11 + walk on passenger fare by ferry.

Karta, occupation estimated at 16,000 years ago, is an aboriginal name for Kangaroo Island which means “Island of the Dead”;

“…probably because a creation being from the Dreamtime, Ngurunderi, crossed to the island, from where he travelled to the Milky Way. The spirits of the dead of a number of tribes were believed to follow his track to the afterlife in the sky.” Sourced from M. H. Monroe – Australia: The Land Where Time Began. https://www.austhrutime.com/karta_island_of_the_dead.htm

When you wander around Penneshaw the first thing to strike you will be the colours. Have you heard of Bay of Fires in Tasmania? Penneshaw has the same bright fire orange lichen on the pale granite boulders, the beaches are white and clear water is every shade of aqua to indigo. Seals and dolphins are regular visitors to the beach and cove.

Frenchman’s Rock is a fascinating and beautifully built historical monument to French explorer and naturalist Nicholas Baudin who was the first European recorded to chart and set foot on the island. It is a little known fact that while explorer Matthew Flinders was charting the east and north coastlines of Australia, Baudin and his crew were charting the west and south coastlines and archipelagos. During Flinders’ circumnavigation he discovered a stone which Baudin’s expedition marked on landing at the site we now know as Penneshaw. If you have travelled a bit in Australia you will have noticed many places around the western and southern coast with French names. They were not the only European explorers to visit but both Baudin and Flinders share recognition for mapping significant parts of the Australian coast.

From Penneshaw I went to Island Beach for lunch. This is mostly holiday rentals but on a long sweeping beach which calls you in for a swim. I waded in but the cold Southern Ocean was still shockingly numbing, it warms up by summer. I sat on the beach for two hours, enjoying the heat of the sun and saw only a few other people.

That evening I stayed with Warmshowers hosts, Liz and Scott, at Pelican Lagoon on their bush property. The light in the trees here is magical and wildlife everywhere. The next morning Liz and Scott took fellow host Federico and I dragon boating with the Kangaroo Island team on American River.

Kingscote is the “capital” of Kangaroo Island. It has developed a great shared pedestrian and bike track which extends all the way from Brownlow to Reeves Point along the water front with beaches and lookouts. At Reeves Point the park has been developed into something like an open museum. I was most interested in the bird hide. A bird hide is a non-descript structure to sit inside or behind with narrow slit windows and shelf for birdwatching and twitching. Twitching is serious bird photography. The bird hide allows a bird watcher to sit quietly out of sight, it increases the chances of spotting shy and cautious birds as well as birds having the confidence to come closer.

Bird watching at Reeves Point is fun with many species of coastal birds, all the local shrub species and the usual suspects like magpies and masked lapwing plovers. If you want to get into it and have the room to carry extra gear there is a Birds of Kangaroo Island book by Chris Baxter. WARNING Spotting each species and identify them can become addictive but in a mindful educational way.

In Kingscote I enjoyed a rest day and stayed with Warmshowers hosts Martine and Manfred. Their home was a delightfully surprising tri-hexagon design run on solar power and rain water surrounded by edible gardens, an orchard and regenerated bushland with a guest camping area on the creek.

Duck Lagoon, at Cygnet River near the airport, is a beaut picnic area with a bird hide. While on Kangaroo Island I participated in the annual 1 week Australian Backyard Bird Count. Anywhere I am is my backyard so each day I stopped in a nice location, like Duck Lagoon and Reeves Point for my bird count. There were a whole different variety of birds to be found there. It is a very picturesque location. On the way to Cape Borda Robin from the local constabulary helped, with his assistance, to the start of the dirt road, I made it just as the sun was setting and was able to keep my booking.

I was curious about staying in heritage lighthouse accommodation. Usually it would be too expensive but Cape Borda lighthouse has a variety of cottages to suit different budgets including $50/night in Woodward Hut. It was the communications hut converted into a twin room. It is “cosy” but has everything you need for a comfortable night including a heater, table, chairs, stove, fridge, kettle and view out the window of the lighthouse. It is cheap because there is no shower, only a toilet 100m away. There is phone range out there but no data so it gives an opportunity to read, wander, rest.

At sunset I walked down below the lighthouse and sat with the kangaroos and wallabies. They are wild, not tame, and don’t tolerate you approaching too close or touching. I sat still and quiet, minding my own business, and after a few minutes they were all around. There are some good stories in the history of this lighthouse and well worth the trip out on a tour day. Make the time to walk to the lookout perched on the top of the tallest sea cliffs in Australia and down to the tiny cove of Harvey’s Return.

The 30km red dirt road out was rough, lots of sand and deep corrugations. Riding and pushing was about 50/50 but going slow gave me lots of opportunity to admire the wildflowers, I took photos of 20 different species of flowers growing beside the road. A taste of what I plan to do through the outback during dry season next year.

A funny thing happened on the way out to Cape Borda. I caught the tail end of the Bike SA KI tour on their way to Western KI Caravan Park near Flinders Chase and they thought I was one of them, going the wrong direction. The “sag wagon” support vehicle and last rider chased me down and we ended up having a great chat and they invited me to join them if I made it there the next night.

The next day I made it back to the sealed road with some help. Julia and Jerry from Texas stopped in their big motorhome with a bike rack on the back. It was a relief as I had nearly hit a wall of exhaustion pushing through the sand and corrugations for 20km and getting covered in dust every time a vehicle passed without slowing. Most drivers are not aware of the dust cloud they are making or the rocks being sprayed out by 4WD tyres. If you are driving on a dirt road and see a walker or rider please slow down. When we are in your dust cloud we are not visible to any following vehicles and grinding dust between my teeth isn’t high on my list of favourite things.

Originally I had planned to camp in Flinders Chase National Park at the Rocky River camping area but as I approached the intersection to turn right I saw some of the Bike SA riders to the left, heading to Western KI Caravan Park. Thinking of the invitation to join them I turned left and it was a marvellous night. I did something completely contrary to my character and camped in the middle of their tent city surrounded by about 70 tents and 120 bikes, after all, it was a new experience so it had to be all or nothing. I found John from the “sag wagon” and he took care of me all night, introducing his friends and fellow volunteer crew, making sure I ate well and invited me to stay with him on my way back to Adelaide in 2 years. As a bonus, that night was the Annual Tour Dinner Revue with sing-a-longs, poetry, jokes and lots of camaraderie. The Bike SA tour organiser, Russell Miatke, puts a lot of thought and time into making each tour a success and this one was no exception. There was a great community atmosphere and everyone was enjoying themselves. Even a blow in like me was welcome.

I had a few rest days in Western KI and loved the relaxed environment and being immersed in Nature. A few luxuries like an amenities block, laundry and campers kitchen but surrounded by kangaroos, wallabies, possums and koalas. There is a koala walk at the caravan park and they are most active at dusk. As soon as I began walking up the track there was a koala walking down the track towards me. We stopped, looked around and after he waddled on past I continued and encountered more. It was almost surreal but it is estimated that KI has up to 20,000 koalas. There is also a peaceful lagoon walk which was quite a surprise. I was expecting a dam with a few ducks but it was beautiful with natural bushland, wetlands and I counted 26 bird species, sat in the sun with a goanna and met a kangaroo and joey also enjoying some quiet time.

Flinders Chase National Park is a big draw card for tourism on Kangaroo Island with some special destinations and interactive experiences but there is also the 4-5 day wilderness trail which attracts hundreds of gaiter wearing, pack hauling, nature loving, adventure walkers. Something left for next time but I know many who have walked it end to end and loved every bit.

The 3 biggies are Remarkable Rocks, Admirals Arch and Cape du Couedic Lightstation.

“Wow! Big rocks!” is probably the most common remark. The landmark was formed millions of years ago as magma pushed up through the crust and since eroded by the elements, wind, ocean, plant matter and ice mostly. What makes it so unique, and remarkable, are the strange shapes and high narrow spaces formed over time. The colours of the lichen, contributing to the slow breakdown of granite, adds to the appeal.

For a great wildlife experience visit Admirals Arch on Cape du Couedic where you can watch long nosed fur seals (formerly known as New Zealand fur seals) all day, all year around. The area is renown as a breeding colony and it is a treat watching the pups play in the water and suckle their mothers. Usually they are sunning themselves on the rock platforms. There are several places where you can watch but the most spectacular is inside the arch. Here is another geological highlight where the ocean has hammered away the rock strata between limestone and granite leaving a wide cave like arch over a rocky cove and platforms. Sometimes you can see scores of seals in here.

Cape du Couedic Lighthouse is, in my opinion, one of the prettiest in Australia. One of 3 lighthouses on the island which was is also a lightstation and housed the families of lightkeepers for over 100 years until it was electrified. The lightkeeper cottages are heritage listed and restored for holiday accommodation. All the lighthouses on Kangaroo Island are still in operation, electrified and automated but without lightkeepers.

There are many other activities in Flinders Chase including heritage/nature/megafauna walks, platypus spotting and birdwatching, plus a café and information centre. I saw both of our wonderfully weird monotremes, a platypus and echidna but not without a lot of patience standing still and quiet. The bubbles gave away the platypus, they are a mammal and as they forage along the bottom of the waterhole a little line of bubbles rises to the surface. There were two foraging in the waterhole but I glimpsed only one as it came to the surface and dived back down quickly.

Not far from Flinders Chase is one of my favourite places on Kangaroo Island, Kelly Hill Caves! This was my second visit but I think I could go 100 times and never tire of it. Caves fascinate me and these are surprisingly full of gorgeous formations, some are rare and found nowhere else. These caves formed through erosion of limestone and collapsing levels of caverns, evident in both the broken and shifted columns and, in this cave system, you can see the stacking of levels. In a side cavern where part of the cavern collapsed you can see above and below. There are also lots of bizarre heliotites which form like stalactites but grow sideways at strange angles. During school holidays they have adventure caving tours as well as the usual daily tours.

On previous visits to KI I have visited the pristine Vivonne Bay where its white beaches and turquoise waters mesmerise and Seal Bay Conservation Area where guides take you down to the beach and talk about the sea lion colony who call Seal Bay home.

Here is where I will broach the subject of sustainable adventure tourism. Prompted by a host working in conservation I explored the question of “Just how ethical is conservation tourism if it is taking hundreds of people into a wild habitat daily, causing undue stress to the species several times a day, as a tourist attraction?”. My personal thoughts were challenged and changed. I imagine and hope this will happen often. What are your thoughts and why?

Up until this point in my ride I had been struggling with a badly fitting bike saddle and was forced, for health reasons, to stop until it was replaced. My sitting bones are too wide for the original saddle, they were not even on the saddle, this was torture. On the side of the road, even down hill, I walked the bike and put out my thumb hoping for a lift. A lovely young family from Adelaide, on a working holiday with the Elan skate van stopped and helped. We put the bike in the back and I rocked up at Liz and Scott’s a day early. The next day a new ex-demo Brooks B17s was on its way down with the overnight mail from Treadly in Adelaide and after two rest days I continued the tour in comfort I didn’t believe was possible. Newbie bike touring!

Last stop for my tour was Cape Willoughby Lightstation. The roads out were smooth, firm and quiet white limestone, very enjoyable. The weather was amazing and my mood soared. At the lighthouse I was the only human and wandered around for a few hours watching ships go by and the sunset. I stayed out there overnight so I could join a guided tour the next morning and that night there was an enormous storm, very exciting. Waiting for the tour was a good decision. It turned out to be a private tour with lighthouse guide Meagan and went for an hour. Cape Willoughby lighthouse was the first built in South Australia to guide ships through the reefs in Backstairs Passage, the main channel to Port Adelaide. The tour goes up into the light tower and out on the observation deck. There is even a Class 1 dioptric revolving lens on site which floated in a bath of mercury in the top of the tower, you can also climb into it (without the mercury bath), it is huge.

The final day was a short 34km afternoon ride back to Penneshaw around Antechamber Bay. As I rode the well graded dirt road past farms, lagoons and vineyards I reflected on the diverse Natural beauty of the Island and the fantastic people I met on the way. It was with great satisfaction I boarded the ferry, it was a very good visit and the best way to start my tour around Australia.

Roam 4 Eva – A Rough Itinerary

One of the biggest mistakes I made during the walk around Australia was to set an itinerary and make bookings for talks and accommodation according to the distances I expected to be able to achieve each day. It was an ambitious itinerary and physically I struggled to meet it everyday which caused equal mental stress of failing to arrive places on time, disappointing the people expecting me, losing booking deposits on camping and accommodation and disappointing myself.

I won’t be repeating this mistake during the ride around Australia.

Although there are events I want to participate in, like the Byron Bay World Naked Bike Ride for the “Can You See Me Now” safety awareness campaign, I am not committing myself to it until I am there. It will be more enjoyable for me to relax and ride with the flow.

The only things, very important things, which will limit this freedom of time are the seasons. If I miss the seasonal windows for safe riding it will be a big buzz kill.

The Tropic of Capricorn, a circle of latitude sitting at approximately 23 degrees and 26 minutes south of the equator or 23°26’S, crosses Australia at Rockhampton on the east coast and near Coral Bay on the west coast.

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Image: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Australia-north-of-the-tropic-of-Capricorn-Source-CSIRO-2014a-p-5_fig1_264311449

North of the Tropic of Capricorn you have 2 main seasons, wet and dry. There are other subtle seasons marked by changes in humidity, storm build up, predominant winds, flowers and fruits but wet and dry pretty much split the year for agriculture and tourism.

Wet season, from early October to late April is hot and humid with lots of rain. If you are not acclimated to or raised in the tropics it can feel unbearable and can be fatally dangerous if you go exploring unprepared. The heat alone can vary between 36 to 45 Celsius ambient and the humidity is like a Turkish sauna, relentless. You can’t go swimming in beaches or estuarine rivers because it is saltwater crocodile and box jellyfish seasons. Salties have been known to migrate more than 500kms inland via river systems and waterhole to waterhole in wet season. Roads can be closed by floods for weeks, sometimes months, towns and homesteads marooned. Every evening the sky fills with storms and for a moment everything is violently lit by lightning and cooled by the rain. Unless you have experienced a wet season it is hard to imagine.

An example of how hot is gets is an experience I had in April 2016 during the walk around Australia while attempting to walk south in Northern Territory. I ended up being hospitalised on my first attempt but one day a late afternoon storm passed over dumping about a month of water in 5 minutes. It had been a hot day, 36-38 Celcius but not too much humidity. I walked down the quiet Stuart Highway, the air above the road was about 60C and the road was melting at above 70C. My drinking water inside the barrow insulated by clothes was 40C and the water bottles hanging in the air outside were too hot to drink unless there was a breeze which could cool down the dampened bottle carriers. When the first drops of rain hit the road they hissed and turned to steam! The steam off the road hurt to breath.

Dry season, May to September is completely different, it cools down to a very pleasant 20-30C and the air is dry. At night in the desert it can even drop below 0 degrees Celsius! Salty sightings are generally only further north in the Top End and no deadly stingers in the water.

Everywhere else in Australia you have a general European 4 season pattern. As I ride through different regions I will expand on more traditional Australian seasons used by First Nations for travel and harvest. The European seasonal calendar is basic compared to the seasonal calendars used by both settled and nomadic aboriginal groups throughout Australia.

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Images: http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/indigenous/

For this reason I have set a goal of reaching Townsville no later than May 2019 so I can rest for a week and push for Cape York, around the Gulf of Carpentaria then through the true outback to the west coast by September. It will be hot and humid from Brisbane on the east coast heading north and from Broome heading south. It will be uncomfortable sometimes but I will have dodged the worst of it.

The first year of this 2 year ride is designed around that big section across the top. The second year is all about loitering around the southwest exploring walks and rides until summer passes, outback 4WD adventure traffic picks up again and it is safe to set my course through the deserts to arrive at Yulara in winter 2020.

When I say “rough itinerary” I mean week to week and day to day but also season to season. I start in Adelaide Hills on October 18th 2018 riding counter clockwise and hopefully finish in Canberra in November 2020. I will also have tailwinds most of the way!