Australia’s Wild Riders: the original bikepackers

Okay, it has been a while since my last post. Too long. But I’ve been busy writing my next book: Wild Ride. I’m just going through the layouts and will be doing a final proof read very soon. It’s due for release in late July, just after Le Tour de France.

Naturally enough it’s about cycling, but it’s a very different book to Oppy. On one level this is a series of ripping yarns about the most audacious cycle rides ever undertaken in Australia. (You’ll notice I didn’t say bicycle. That’s because I also write about a fellow who spent a year riding a unicycle on a 15,000 km journey around Australia. Yes, a unicycle. Guess who?)

But on another level, it’s about much more than this. It’s about the discovery of Australia, the land, its first people. It is about how people were changed forever by riding and eventually feel in love with the country. That said, it pulls no punches about the racism of our early cycling heroes.

This books starts with some of the legends, Francis Britles and Arthur Richardson. But it also covers the lesser known but no less amazing feats of Jerome Murif, Ted Ryko, and Joe Pearson. I’ve also written about the newest phenomenon of bike packing, which is not really new at all. But the bike is making a resurgence at the best tool for exploring and adventuring. There is no better example that the extraordinary Kate Leeming. You’ll get to read all about her 25,000km mountain bike epic that she completed in 2005.

Francis Birtles, original bike packer, 1912. State Library of Western Australia.

There’s a chapter about a couple of intrepid modern-day bikepackers you’ve probably never heard of. Yet, once you read their story, you won’t forget them in a hurry.

Who else? Oppy, of course! And other celebrity riders of yesteryear like Sarah Maddock, Ernie Old, Wendy Duncan and Shirley Law.

Can’t wait for you to read it !

Wild Ride: Epic Cycling Journeys Through the Heart of Australia is published by Melbourne Books. Due for release July 2020.

Birdlife of Southern Kruger National Park

Okay – this is not a travelogue. Heavens no. And, it’s short. Please keep reading. I recently travelled to Kruger National Park in South Africa – a truely extraordinary place. I’ll leave the pictures of leopards, elephants, giraffe, zebra, hyaena etc etc to others. These creatures, magnificent as they are, were expected. The profusion of birdlife was not. Some of them were familiar to Australian eyes, but many others were fabulously surprising.

Enjoy the pictures. Kruger is the kind of place where an underpowered camera with an underpowered operator can still make good. 

Continue reading “Birdlife of Southern Kruger National Park”

So, ya wanna be a Cloud Rider?

‘it wakes you up in the morning with a cup full of piss in your face, slaps you about the chops to make sure you’re awake enough so it can kick you in the bollocks.’

 Malcolm Tucker, The Thick of It

Mr Tucker may well have been talking about his job as a spin-doctor for the British Labour Party. But, for me, he might as well have been talking about the Monaro Cloudride (CR), a non-stop mountain bike race from Canberra through the Snowy Mountains and everywhere in between. Like most Cloudriders, I observed the event via Spot Tracker for a few years before finally deciding to tackle the great beast. But the first time I heard about the event, I loved the idea. It seemed so preposterous, so likely to end in heartbreak, that I decided I would have to have a go. In April 2017, I joined 22 other riders on the start line. Nine days and a thousand kilometres later, I finally crossed the finish line. Here’s how I did it.

Continue reading “So, ya wanna be a Cloud Rider?”