Dust and Flies in my Coffee
it be fun to ride across here,” were the throwaway words I once uttered to
Joanne in 1994, as we drove across the Nullarbor
Plain to Perth. “You can ride, I’ll drive
the support car,” said Joanne, and the subject was forgotten.
This book is our account of what those throw away lines turned into…a trip
around Australia by pedal power. It is not meant to be a literary
masterpiece, just our account of one of the best things we have done in our
lives. It is our daily journal, written in our own style, and in our own
words, and we hope you enjoy it.
In Store Price: $AU27.00
Online Price: $AU26.00
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages:
and Joanne Hooker
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: 2004
“Wouldn’t it be fun to ride
across here” were the throwaway words I once uttered to Joanne in 1994, as
we drove across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth. “You can ride, I’ll drive
the support car” said Joanne, and the subject was forgotten.
Some seven years later, in early
2001, Joanne and I had visited our financial planner Bill Temple, from Bridges
Financial Services in Perth and as usual, the subject of the future
had come up. During the revision of our plan, one option mentioned was the
taking of some leave (I had lots of long service and annual leave stacked up) to
“do some touring”. A few days later
I deployed for a few months on HMAS DARWIN.
Part of our deployment was a trip to
Mumbai (Bombay) in India, for the Indian Naval review.
During that deployment a few things
happened and a few decisions were made, one of which was my realisation that as
I approached my 25th year of service I was ready to
move on in life and leave the Navy.
While I was away, Joanne had been
riding our LoGo Recumbent trike which we had named James because its production
number was 007. On my return from the deployment,
and on the way home from the ship, Joanne mentioned that she was enjoying riding
her trike, and after following Patrick & Sharyn (fellow trike riders touring
the country) via their e-mails, had decided that she might be able to do that
ride across the Nullarbor after all. Well, as Joanne says, “that was
it”. We discussed a few things and by
the time the next morning came around, the decision had been made, we were not
just going to ride the Nullarbor, “we” were going around Australia
by trike. That was March 2001.
Following the decision to go, many
things happened. I went to work and put my discharge papers in, we told friends
and family, many of whom thought we were mad, and
we generally started to organise things. I then deployed again on HMAS DARWIN,
off to the Solomon Islands for a stint of peacekeeping. On return from that
trip, Martin Arnold (owner of Logo Trikes) had built my new trike, which we
named Pip because her paint scheme colour was Watermelon Red.
Many things happened following that.
More plans were made, leave was taken, and Ann & Bob (my Aunt & Uncle
from England) came for a visit and some touring by car
was enjoyed. The worlds worst terrorist attack (Sept 11) happened in the USA,
Ansett Airlines went bust, stranding Ann & Bob in Perth which resulted in
their hiring a camper van and driving across
the Nullarbor to Adelaide to meet my parents, and we had had a garage sale to
get rid of those “excess” belongings. Before I knew it the
rest of our goods were packed away in a 3m x 6m – storage unit and we were
leaving on our tour.
The sun was already up and at 6.23
am when we rode out of the driveway and off down the street. Much to some of the
recumbent groups disgust there was no fanfare,
speeches or celebrations, we just got on the trikes and rode off in the middle
of the working week.
We rode off down the street and
along a route that we had travelled previously, one that we knew well. It was
probably this familiarity that stopped the big trip apprehension
and it felt just like any other ride except for the huge amount of gear we had
onboard. Along with this, because we rode day by day, with no real “must
do” planning or agenda, the trip became
one of, a series of rides not one big one.
For the first month we were getting
used to living on the road, getting rid of body weight we didn’t need (around 10
kg each) and riding everyday. It was just a case of life
on a day by day, hill by hill basis. Such a change from the planned, regimented
life I was used to in the Navy. Many people ask us how much training we did for
the tip, and the answer is “very
little”, we basically got on and started riding. We had done some group
rides with the West Australian HPV group we belong to, and a couple of 100
kilometres rides but that was it.
We were also very much still in
familiar territory, and focussing on where we were and where we were going for
that day to be too worried about what lay ahead. For the first time
in our 24 years of marriage we were also getting used to being together for 24
hours a day. Never before had we spent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together,
and we were experiencing life, each other and
the country like never before. Neither of us was overly conscious of this so we
werent wondering if “we” would make it back together
To some extent, this trip was just a
case of “lets see what happens”. It was not planned to the smallest
detail like you might think it should be, or would be by someone
with a military background. It was more a case of read what you could, talk to
whoever you could, prepare a list, buy a few things and with an idea in our
heads ride – just ride. Neither of us knew
what was going to happen, how or if we would handle it or even if we were up to
it at all. I think that Joanne followed me in blind faith,
a faith that she has shown ever since we have known each other.
I remember thinking (and Joanne
likes to remind me) that we would just wake up each morning when we were ready
to wake up, take a leisurely time to pack up, ride a bit
during the day, stopping to look at whatever we felt like before stopping to set
up the tent and to spend some time sitting around reading, writing and having
time together. I could not have been more
wrong if I had tried. “Wed still be in Western Australia if he had his
way” quips Joanne if the subject ever came up in conversation.
The trip has been a mixture of
emotions, hard work and a huge learning process, mostly about us. Most mornings
“on the road” we were up early and in about an hour,
had packed up, had breakfast and set off. Our day was then filled with riding
and viewing, riding and viewing some more.
We tended to ride up to half a
kilometre apart, and often in our own little world. I generally ride in front
and if I see things of interest, or obstacles, I would point them out
for Joanne, she in turn yells out to tell me of things she has seen, and that I
had missed. We found we would ride for about an hour or 10 -15 kilometres before
stopping for a snack and toilet break before doing
that over and over again. Before long we were used to riding 60, 70 or more
kilometres each day with no problems. We would
then stop for lunch and maybe another break before finding somewhere to stop for
the night. We were just so vulnerable compared to people in caravans and motor-homes
and being able to sleep in peace is a big thing, so a nice out of sight, out of
mind campsite was always a priority.
So anyway, here is the rest of the
story, diary entries and facts. Its not meant to be a literary masterpiece
but Joanne and I both hope you get as much from reading it as we did