Some 30 years ago I had the privilege of meeting a 70-something year-old lady who was in the process of selling up everything to fund a world trip. When asked where she would live when she returned, she said she’d live in a caravan – or even a tent – if necessary. Nothing beyond that great journey mattered to her. “It’ll be no use me hammering on the lid of my coffin asking to be let out because I haven’t seen Europe and Africa; no one will take any notice!” She had a wonderful time, met and made new friends, saw sights she’d never dreamed of and returned with enough money to “get by”. She was happy with her lot for she had done the one thing she most wanted to do.
Having said that, I’m about to do something similar – though on a smaller scale. The RWA Conference is to be held in Fremantle in August this year and, not only do I plan to attend, I have decided to make the journey from northern NSW to WA and back at ground level. Considering the appalling treatment I have been subjected to in the caged hen-like security and immigration areas of our airports in the last two years – and here I must congratulate Virgin Atlantic for being good enough to hold the flight for me – the decision not to fly wasn’t a difficult one to make.
To friends who have advised against such foolhardy behaviour: please try to understand there is a whole world out there and most of it is quite unknown to me. No television travelogues can replace the excitement of actually being somewhere new, of sniffing the air, seeing the sights and hearing the sounds. Then, having arrived, there’s the ultimate sense of achievement, of looking back at the road just travelled and contemplating the next.
To those same concerned friends: I agree, of course I might be murdered, and all manner of strange animals might cross my path. Yes, I could be wiped out by a camel/wild pig/kangaroo/road train, but seriously, have you driven from Tenterfield to Casino lately? Meeting a timber jinker or a long, wide load just 30 metres behind its pilot vehicle on a blind 35km/hr hairpin bend is just as risky, and that’s a whole lot closer to home than the Nullarbor Plain.
Along the way I intend to melt down the Canon and, where possible, also the keyboard, but for now it’s a case of planning and calculating. Soon enough I’ll be packing the Forester and heading off into what, for me, is the great unknown.