I left Australia some time ago to backpack north into Asia, where I am now. I may have left that continent, but I remember it clearly…
Thanks to my burning desire to find ever-more world record attempt opportunities, I recall awaking in the north-western Australian outback to a cacophony of birdsong, determined to thumb my way to my next temporary stop, Darwin city. By the time I’d get there, this particular hitchhiking trip would have moved me over 2,000 km. My journey northbound into this city was worth a note in itself.
In the famed town of Hall’s Creek, known for vagabond criminals and influential cattle farming families, a man walked up to me and offered me a comfortable bed for the night – free. I was most grateful, given that Australia hosts some of the world’s most dangerous snakes and every night I slept in the outback meant I was walking through prime snake territory. And that’s not to mention trying to get to sleep with free-roaming Brahman bulls, wild pigs, kangaroos and a curious variety of fast-moving little things foraging noisily close by in every direction.
Wondering what to do with my bicycle in the morning, the lovely Argentinian owner of the Hall’s Creek Caravan Park offered me cash for it. I did the deal immediately. A truck driver then agreed to give me a lift, but only after jokingly pointing out that I’d get a lift more easily if I offered the passing truck drivers sex!
I slept against a fence in the next town, where I was awoken by a barking dog that stood almost as tall as my hips. An ex-British Navy serviceman then drove up and we got talking. He and I drove 400 km together, as I listened to gruesome stories of his experiences in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq War. I was freezing cold that night in my hammock, but would have several more cold nights ahead.
In the next town, both my pre-arranged hosts were also unavailable, thus forcing me to sleep in a grove of outback trees once again. And my arrival in Darwin would not instantly lead to my first bath and shave in 8 days either. Both my arranged hosts were also otherwise occupied and every single accommodation option was fully booked out due to a large-scale engineering project new in town. I jumped a fence to sleep in the garden of a historical homestead. What I was unaware of was that it was Darwin Independence Day – celebrated annually by bomb-like deafening fireworks through the night. I hardly slept and my ears whistled for hours; the homestead was directly adjacent to the main fireworks activity zone.
In the morning, having tidied myself up as best I could, I went hunting for good quality internet – impossible to find. In my frustration at not being able to respond to both TV and radio staff wanting to interview me for entertainment content, I strode into a business. I asked to use the internet and found Leanne White staring back at me. As happens, sometimes one meets incredible people who stand out – she is one. “Come and stay with my 78-year-old housemate and I” she blurted out. Wow! I was astonished. What kindness, trust and goodwill.
Just 2 days later I was back on track: arranging media interviews and seeking local world record-breaking opportunities. Isn’t that cool?