On the 26th July 2014 I sailed out of Fanny Bay (not a typo) in Darwin, Northern Australia crewing on my first ever sail boat towards Indonesia. This was the beginning of a bold adventurous and slightly naive dream to travel all the way from my home country of Australia to London in the UK without ever boarding a single plane.
Now, over two years later, on the 16th November 2016 I finally crossed the English channel and found myself sitting in a London pub drinking my first English frothy. The dream no longer a dream but a reality.
I sailed through random islands of Indonesia, a part of the “Sail Indonesia Rally”, a big group of boats sailing together on a slightly chaotic organised schedule. Visiting places that only see foreigners once or twice a year, experiencing some of the most bizarre festivals. Making friends with locals and getting drunk with police officers.
After Indonesia, I dodged freighters crossing the Singapore Strait – one of the worlds busiest commercial routes. Then hugging the west coastline of Malaysia continued up the Malacca Strait, one of the worlds equally important and busy shipping lanes. I spent Christmas on the tropical Island of Langkawi, a tax free island where cheap beer is even cheaper. Then jumped on another boat sailing on a short trip to Phuket, Thailand.
From there I returned to land and hitched in the back of utes, small trucks, big trucks, on motorbikes, pretty much in whatever and with whomever would stop. When that didn’t work, I took public buses, ferries, tuk tuks, even one ride on a really old school train out of Bangkok.
I controversially rode on the back of a bicycle taxi 270km from the edge of Cambodia to Saigon, Vietnam. Explored the Mekong delta on my own scooter that broke down every second day. Upgraded to a slightly less shit Honda knockoff motorbike, survived the crazy traffic with only one near death mishap, and rode the length of Vietnam from South to North.
I hitched rides with famous Tibetan pop stars in China, weaved through mountains jammed in overcrowded questionable buses and managed to never get puked on (thanks Saundo for the shepard haha), I slept on the floors of third class train carriages. Paid a Mongolian courier to take me in their Jeep to cross the border of China and Mongolia.
Joined by a couple of good friends I grew a really bad travel beard and got drunk on the Trans-Mongolian railway crossing more time zones than I could count travelling half of Russia to get to Moscow.
Hitched across the Arctic circle in a metre of snow in Finland, then hitched the entire length of Eastern Europe to find warmer, more friendly temperatures for country Aussie bums like me in Turkey.
Somehow time got away from me and I ended up in zig zagging across Europe for 12 months, experiencing the beauty of all four seasons.
Now, finally, FINALLY, with the approval of my Dutch working visa I was able to take advantage of a loop hole and caught the bus across the channel to enter London without the risk of being stamped an illegal immigrant exiting the EU for overstaying (for the second time) on a schengen visa. OK, that was pretty unlikely to happen but I wasn’t prepared to roll the dice on that again.
It took me 845 days and more the 60,000km of overland travel to complete this chapter in my life, a lot longer then I first thought it would take, but I eventually made it. Cheers to that.
I use to say completing my bachelor degree was probably my biggest ever accomplishment, after all with my attendance record it was a miracle I passed. Now regardless if I can survive the rest of this journey and complete a full lap, at least future me now has something a little bit more interesting to say at one of those lame work team building seminars if I am ever unfortunate enough to end up in one.
Four years ago when this idea first started to blossom, it was hard to comprehend if this day would ever actually happen. The weight of such a long journey with so many variables, crossing so many countries I knew nothing about, knowing I’d have to do things I had never done before was honestly a pretty daunting and overwhelming thought. It was fun and exciting to fantasise about but honestly I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. If I was outgoing enough and confident enough to take on the big world and all its unknowns. I very nearly gave up before I even really began.
Thank fuck I didn’t though because the last two years have been two of the most rewarding years of my existence. I’ve certainly gained a lot more random stories, I can almost rest easy knowing that I am safely on my way to one day becoming some towns drunk eccentric rambling in the corner of the pub for hours.
Like the time I witnessed Indonesias biggest most ridiculous ceremony performed for pretty much nobody, 20,000 school children dancing in a massive choreographed performance on a remote random island for just a handful of tourists. Afterwards I was invited to dance with them and it was like nothing I have ever experienced before. The closest thing I will ever feel to being a celebrity, photo after photo with so many people, absolutely insane.
Or visiting a place in China named by the west as the ‘worlds biggest ghost city’. Suburbs of finished and unfinished skeletons of massive sky scrapers stand together practically empty, like they were built as skyline monuments rather then actual homes for people. Drinking beers and watching a sunset across the bizarre empty city landscape from the 14th floor of one of the abandoned buildings was absolutely epic.
Or exploring the abandoned communist “UFO” building on top of a mountain in Bulgaria, an amazing piece of recent history that has been sadly disregarded and left to rot. Standing on the top of the tower with a sheer 70 metre drop below was one of the more ballzy things I’ve done. Camping on the hill we woke up the next day in a cloud, trapped in the tent by a passing storm, we had to wait it out for half a day before we could even pack up to hitch down the mountain.
To survive and keep the travels alive I’ve had to stretch my funds as far as they could go, cutting corners where ever I could to save money. These money saving measures usually resulted in some of the more memorable adventures and experiences. From hitchhiking I’ve been some of the nicest people and even been invited into peoples homes.
Wild camping has resulted in me camping on pristine beaches, in abandoned hotels, under bridges, on top of mountains, sometimes being spooked by wild animals (the time in Turkey when I thought a bear was stalking us I was particularly shit frightened) and one time even being moved on by some nudists. Weird feeling climbing out of a tent in the morning to be greeted by some confused old men strolling past with their knob and bollics hanging out, not sure whether a wave would be considered friendly or suggestive.
I’ve volunteered on farms in Estonia, in schools in China, stayed with one particularly awesome family in Berlin, Germany. Couchsurfed with some of the most friendly and amazing people (thanks everybody, there is always a free couch for you in Aus – when I finally make it home).
Only a couple of times did it not work out and I ended up on the floor of some complete weirdo or sleeping outside on a park bench. But even those times ended up being funny stories. Just recently I finished 3 months “house sitting” an abandoned farm in France. Cooking every meal on a fire and walking into town with a wheelbarrow and a shit load of containers to get fresh water.
For all the crazy things I’ve seen and done the best bit from over 2 years of travel has been the interaction with people from all walks of life, being treated to some of the most amazing generosity from complete strangers. Learning first hand that the world isn’t a big scary place after all but rather quite the opposite. Most of these experiences started with a random stranger going out of their way to either help me or just ask me a question out of curiosity. Ending with me either having a place to sleep the night, a full stomach from a home cooked meal, a hazy hangover the next day or quite often all three. Before I set out on this journey I never could have imagined just how much these interactions with random strangers really would make the trip, people seriously are awesome. Thanks people of the world.
Although the trip from Australia to London without flying has been my own solo adventure I have never really been alone for too long. I’m happy to have had some of my best friends join me along the way for various legs making everything even more special. Everyone of those different legs has been unique and an adventure in its own.
Cheers to you guys for tagging along, you know who you are. Special thanks to Hannah for
mostly being a good sport when I made her do some pretty bizarre stuff at the beginning of this year, like frequenting abandoned buildings, crawling down garbage filled holes to the catacombs in Ukraine, sleeping in fields on the island of Santorini, Greece – certainly wasn’t the European holiday most girls usually have.
With the completion of this big chapter in my life, now I’m even more determined then ever to carry on and continue, with the next big goal to sail across the Atlantic and get to Canada where I need to seriously find some paid work. I’ve stretched my funds almost to the limit, but with less funds the more resourceful and adventurous you have to become and I’m excited to see what comes of that. Maybe train hopping in the US proper hobo style?
What is coming?
All the stories from the last 60,000km and 2.5 years of travel will soon be published here and the best bit which I’m keen to share is all the footage. From sailing across the tropical waters of Asia, to getting drunk with random locals on rice wine in Vietnam, sneaking our way into a business wine convention in Beijing, to training across Siberia in Russia and hitching across all of Europe. It’s all been recorded and I have began to edit it all into episodes for Youtube.
So Subscribe to my YouTube channel! And signup to the Lost Aussie newsletter to stay informed 🙂 For now here is a bit of a trailer of what is to come…
Any specific questions or stories you want to know please comment below, everything will be answered and I am more then happy to offer any advice to anyone thinking of doing something similar.