The journey. Not the destination.
I have started to unfurl my sails now and enjoy the feeling of drifting south on the open road.
Each day I am faced with decisions. Where to sleep. Which route to take. What to eat. When to stop. Who to talk to.
Most days I have no idea where I will sleep until it’s almost dark. It’s tough to fight the urge to plan ahead and have the next week or two organised, but I’m hooked on the liberation that comes with not knowing. It’s like a real life choose-your-own-adventure.
I am becoming more and more attuned to the little signs and feelings and letting them be my guide. It is rare to have the chance to follow the path of least resistance. I think most of the time our decisions are governed by relationships, finance, careers, family or our own pride. By shedding these, I am free to explore the interplay of coincidence, luck, karma, fate or whatever else we use to describe things we can’t explain.
By free camping and using networks such as couchsurfing, warm showers and WWOOFing, I have yet to pay for accomodation on the trip. Combining this with very simple vegan meals (although they tend to be more freegan or flexitarian when I’m staying with people), my trip budget is almost negligible. By keeping things basic, I have more freedom. Complexity is the path to stress and worry.
Ok, enough new age hippy stuff, this is how the last week has gone down.
Coming into Murwillumbah, I took a look at the warmshowers.org website and contacted Ron and Maz, a lovely elderly couple who had done a ton of cycle touring themselves. It was my first time using the warmshowers network and coincidentally I turned out to be their first guest. I think at first the carrot suit may have had them a little worried but soon enough they were tripping over themselves to offer me sweet luxuries like a bed, a shower, a homemade vege lasagne and a cold stout. Just hearing about their cycle touring experiences blew my mind a little and they had some really good tips for me. The next morning, Ron decided he wanted to ride the first hour or so with me so we took off along the Tweed Valley Way together. Thanks a million Ron and Maz!
Next stop was Mullimbimby, where I had organised to meet Joel, who runs a very tight market gardening operation in the Mullimbimby community gardens and is the man behind a group called Future Feeders. Spending a few hours talking with Joel in his garden was very enlightening and it was especially interesting to hear Joel’s views on the idea that there is currently a surge of people climbing aboard the permaculture and organic bandwagons, however finding people willing to get their hands dirty and learn about how to grow veges by actually doing it is still surprisingly tough.
After speaking to a few more people in Mullimbimby, I was pointed in the direction of Fossil Farms, a small scale organic market garden that sells produce at both the Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads markets. Not being able to reach the owner, Leah, by phone, I took a ride out anyway around sunset and was stoked to find that they were happy for a huge, sweaty carrot to stay a few days and help out.
During the few days I spent on Leah’s farm, I celebrated my 31st birthday with a morning surf at The Pass in Byron followed by soil bed preparation and then a cheeky night out on the town with another WWOOFer (and now good mate) Dave, resulting in a pile of torn rugs.
All of the people I met at Fossil Farms were downright fascinating and I had my horizons broadened yet again. On Thursday morning I finally broke away and along with Dave (who brilliantly dressed as an eggplant in a show of solidarity) we pedalled up to the Byron lighthouse for a look at the monster swells and then dropped by the Byron Bay markets to see how all the veges we had harvested the day before were selling.
Before leaving Byron, I dropped by to see another character I had met on the farm the previous day. Sach is hard to describe in few words, suffice to say he’s done just about everything and been just about everywhere. He is a recent father, which has slowed him down a little, but I could tell he still has many more adventures in store. His views on life, the universe, holistic health (he’s a very well known raw food vegan chef in Australia) are all time and he holds them all together with an infectious laugh. He has also just written and published a novel called ‘Karma Zero’ which ties some of his experiences in with a broad recipe for living and loving in a fiction form. Having gifted me with a signed copy before I left, I am blown away by the book and liken it to classics such as The Celestine Prophecy.
The time on Fossil Farms had given me plenty to reflect on so I steered my two wheeled ship towards a nice quiet spot in the sand dunes at Lennox Heads where I free camped for a few days and enjoyed the beach and the solitude.
Once I was ready, I kicked the engines back into gear and started plowing south again. After a 100+ km day of struggling into 30km/hr headwinds along the edge of the highway, I learnt that cycle touring can sometimes be more like bull riding than bicycle riding. Having a B double hammer past two foot from your elbow at 110km/hr is enough to take the fun out of a nice ride!
Approaching Maclean, just inland from Yamba, I pulled over and checked couchsurfing.com for any hosts in the area. Within a few minutes of messaging Terry and Joyce, they had called and given me directions to their place. I arrived as the sun was setting and Terry was fast to hand me a beer and set me up on his veranda overlooking the mighty Clarence river. Both retired now, Terry and Joyce have lived all over Australia but were most proud of their many years running the Queensland franchise of the Canadian sensation ‘Beaver Tails’, especially the time that Mr Howitz of Woodford Folk Festival proclaimed them ‘the best food at the festival’. Terry also claims he has the second largest collection of uranium glass in Australia. Unbelievably, before atomic weapons, uranium was commonly used in glass ornaments because of the glow it gives under blacklight. He said there is only 1 or 2% uranium in each piece and is no more dangerous than being near a mobile phone, but with the whole living room full of them, I was still a little concerned.
After a few more fairly long and non eventful days I have just rolled into Coffs Harbour this evening and have found a great little secluded patch of grass just behind the beach where I have made camp. After a big 120km push today, I am exhausted.
As a final note, we are about halfway to the $3000 target already which is amazing. Thank you so much to all the people who have donated already and if you are thinking about donating, now’s the time!
If you are wondering what I am talking about, this is the link to the crowdfunding campaign website: