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New Adventures in Australia

IMG_20170409_151113Well, it’s been a few months now since quitting London (again!) and arriving to start a new chapter in Sydney, Australia. Back in February, shivering through a dreary UK winter, I’d made the decision to return to sunnier climes, and happily “fate” provided just the opportunity I’d been looking for – a job offer from Amnesty International in Sydney, producing content for their digital team.

DSCN2147I should be used to international relocations by now (!), but the past few months have yet again been a kerfuffle of finding somewhere to live, starting a new job, making friends, and finding new places to hang out. Luckily, Australia is a very easy place to live (I lived in Melbourne for four years) and here in Sydney it all seems pleasingly familiar. Best of all, I’m beach-side, having found a beautiful recently-renovated studio apartment in Coogee, two minutes walk to the ocean and a gorgeous yellow-sand suburban beach.

I’m loving my work at Amnesty International. In just a few short months, I’ve already produced films and other digital content about all kinds of human rights themes – Global Ambassador Alicia Keys talking about her work with Amnesty, a series of films on child labour in the palm oil industry in Indonesia, a film with the Sydney Swans AFL footy team, and interviews with some amazing Indigenous rights campaigners right here in Australia. I’ve been setting up an in-house production unit, buying camera kit and all sorts of toys so we can film different kinds of projects as they arise. Very exciting!

Now I’m getting settled, thoughts are of course turning to buying a bike – yes, my next two-wheeled adventure isn’t far away, folks…. – and the maps are out once again to plan another Australasian jaunt. I’m longing to experience Aussie’s wide open roads once again and I’ve got my eye on the perfect bike to do it…

Right now, though, I’m enjoying a typical winter Sunday afternoon down at Coogee Beach – 20 degrees Celsius, glorious sunshine, and people out in force, enjoying beachside delights (in my case, that means a ginormous Italian-style gelato!). Yup, glad to be back in Oz. Very glad indeed. 🙂

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Posted by on July 9, 2017 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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A Fork In The Road

Hey, hey. Well a week since my last post, it’s been all systems go as I start packing up my Melbourne apartment, ready to move on. Life’s become a whirlwind of op shop runs, Cash Converters dashes, and other cross-city errands to sell, trade or otherwise offload the vast majority of my material possessions. Furniture, car, household goods…all are gradually being “re-located” to new owners. And all I can think is: How the hell did I end up with so much stuff?!

Which way next?

Which way next?

Happily, Volty’s been keeping me sane – regular daily rides down the coast are my “Happy Pill”, as I feel the sea breeze through my helmet and riding jacket, and enjoy the sensation of freedom on the road all over again.

I’m making the most of these rides. I’m still undecided about whether to do a cross-Oz trip on the bike or head to Spain to cook up a whole new two-wheeled adventure exploring Europe and Africa. But right now, it has to be said, Europe’s looking like the more viable – and cost-effective – option. And that being the case… it means I’ll have to sell my beloved Suzuki in a couple of weeks. This is of course gutting – regular readers will know how much I love my TU250X – but having looked into shipping/freighting options, I just don’t think I can afford to take the bike with me. 😦

On the up-side, once I’m in Andalucía I’ll hopefully be able to buy the new bike I’ve already got my eye on – the sturdy, characterful Suzuki Van Van – which hopefully will be the start of lots of new moto adventures! 🙂

At this fork in the road, I’m excited about what’s to come but also rather trepidatious about which road to take. It’ll be another week or so before I finally make up my mind – I’m going to enjoy the Adventure Travel Film Festival next weekend and then see how I feel after mingling with the great and good of the adventure world!

Whichever path I choose, I can’t wait to be out in the world again, exploring new places, meeting new people, and soaking up lots of fresh life experiences. Bring it on! 

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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New Year, New Adventures…

So here’s the thing. Christmas Day, I’m sitting at home staring down the barrel of yet another year spent thinking about lots of adventures I desperately want to do but can’t afford. Maybe it’s the rather nice Spanish jerez I’m sculling, but from somewhere very deep within something suddenly clicks: Fuck it, life’s too short. If you keep waiting till you have enough money, you’ll be sitting here till Doomsday! Within the week, I’ve handed in notice on my TV job (much to the chagrin of my employer!), on my rented Bayshore apartment…in short, on four years of life in Melbourne. That’s it – I’m off!

So what’s the plan, I hear you cry?! Well…Let’s just say it’s evolving by the day. No, really. First task is to drastically “downsize”. That means clearing out the contents of my flat, putting personal items into storage, selling the car, the furniture, getting rid of the cat… (oh hang on a minute, scrub that last one – I don’t have a cat!).

Plan #1: Head off across Oz on Volty?

Plan #1: Head off across Australia on Volty?

Then, somewhere swirling in the back of my brain – as yet not fully formed – is “The Plan”. Well, it’s two plans, actually. First is to take off with minimal luggage on my beloved Volty – yes, the Suzuki TU250X that has been my absolute joy and salvation since I purchased it a few months ago. I’ve put nearly 5,000kms on it from new so it’s well and truly run in, and I’ve got this idea of a kind of “last gasp Australia”, in which I’ll head across the country for an indeterminate amount of time and actually experience some of this vast continent I’ve been living in for the last few years.

Plan #2: Head across Europe on a Suzuki Van Van?

Plan #2: Explore Europe and beyond on a Suzuki Van Van              Photo ⓒ Suzuki (promotional)

Then again… After such a long time in Oz, I’ve a real hankering to head east for a while, to Europe. I’m craving history, culture, old buildings, speaking foreign languages, joie de vivre! After a couple of trips to Andalucía last year, I’m thinking of going back to hatch a plan that – surprise, surprise – also involves una moto! I’ve been looking at a particular motorbike there – the Suzuki Van Van – and reading about people crossing the Alps, Mongolia and other far-flung places on just such a bike. It looks like a kind of “off-road” version of Volty, with chunkier wheels and a more rugged set-up, and I’m thinking what an adventure it would be to buy one and ride through Europe, North Africa and beyond…

So there it is. I’d love to tell you the plan is more formed than it actually is, but there’s something rather delicious (if bloody scary!) about making it up as I go. Which plan I’ll plump for (or maybe I’ll do both!), I have no idea just now. All I know is, 26th Feb I have to vacate my apartment and hand back the keys once and for all – so I guess I’d better make my mind up by then, eh?! Maybe you guys can help me decide…

PS For anyone who’s wondering, yes I will still be at the Adventure Travel Film Festival 15-17 Feb! I’ve been working hard on the press and PR for it and wouldn’t miss it for the world! Come join us for a weekend of adventure and cold beer! 🙂

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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A Place To Hatch New Adventures

Mondo Enduro’s Austin Vince regaling the crowds at the 2012 Festival

As many of you know, in recent months I’ve been helping set up the 2013 Australian Adventure Travel Film Festival. I went to the inaugural Festival in Bright, Victoria, earlier this year and had the best time mingling with the great and good of the Aussie and international adventuring world and watching some truly inspiring adventure travel films:

https://jeaniedavison.com/2012/02/26/adventure-travel-film-festival-2012/

Well, I enjoyed it so much that when asked if I’d lend a hand with the next one, I was only too keen! Brit motorbike adventurers Austin Vince and Lois Pryce, curators of the Festival, are coming back to Oz again 15-17 February 2013 – and this time the line-up of films and speakers is going to be even better, oh yes! Just take a look at who’s already confirmed:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/added-attractions/

I can’t think of a better way to spend a long weekend than soaking up some amazing scenery, hanging out with motorbikers and adventurers of all persuasions, watching great adventure travel films, swapping adventure stories and generally getting inspired to dream up new plans. Plus it all centres around the Bright Brewery – which is actually being refurbished and enlarged this year, just for us! – a suitable watering-hole indeed for such a glorious gathering.

Tickets are on sale now and selling like hot cakes already. So don’t delay – when they’re gone, they’re gone! http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/buy-tickets/

Hope to see you there, folks! Come say hello. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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Solo But Never Alone

More fuel? Yes, please!

It’s been a little while since my last post – sorry, guys! After getting my new wheels at the beginning of August, I’ve been out riding every spare moment and revelling in my re-discovered freedom. Volty and I have clocked up over 1,000kms this past month, exploring coastal Victoria from the gorgeous wine valleys and beachside villages of the Mornington Peninsula to my favourite local ride, the scenic and wonderfully twisty Great Ocean Road.

The novelty of owning a brand new bike really hasn’t worn off. I know it sounds silly, but my Suzuki TU250X is the first thing I’ve owned since my beloved 1973 VW Beetle (back in London over 10 years ago!) that I’m really rather proud of. And just as happened when I owned the Vee-Dub, everywhere I go on Volty I seem to make friends.

Neighbours who previously never acknowledged me now give me a friendly nod or wave when they see me donning my helmet and gloves as Volty’s engine warms up in the communal garage. At roadside cafés or petrol stations, total strangers come over to chat, admiring the Suzuki’s classic retro-style look or telling me they wish they were on two wheels on “a lovely day like this”. At traffic lights, car drivers wind down their windows to chat to me as we wait for green – and yes, it turns out there are some bike-friendly motorists! (probably closet motorcycle riders…)

“Arty” shot of Volty’s front wheel in the sunshine

On the road, the “biker’s nod” from other motorcyclists still gives me a little boost every time it happens. By getting back on a motorbike, I’ve re-gained my automatic membership to a very special secret society: It doesn’t matter what you ride, it just matters that you ride. I like that. Today, about 20 balaclava-ed Harley riders on bikes five times the size of mine nodded and tooted and thumbs-upped to me, one after the other – quite a sight, I can tell you! As they roared off down the coast in the opposite direction, I gave Volty a quick burst on the throttle for good measure, buoyed up all over again.

By its very nature, motorcycling is a solitary activity – but it’s just about the most sociable thing I’ve ever done in my life.

This sunny Sunday morning, I stopped off at the Sandown Racecourse to say hi to my old Ridetek riding instructors, Mel and Al. Two years ago, they saw me through my heady days as a wobbly scooter rider right through to passing my test on a 250cc motorbike. As we stood talking in the warm sunshine, admiring Volty’s sparkling chrome and gleaming bronze paintwork, I thanked the guys yet again for putting me on a road that now gives me so much happiness and enjoyment.

Before I became a motorcycle rider, I didn’t know what I was missing – but now, I wouldn’t be without it for the world. 

Oh and to any non-riders reading this, wondering what on earth I’m talking about but thinking it sounds damn good – go get yourself a motorbike licence: it will change your life! 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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1,000 Steps – The Kokoda Memorial Trail

A rather apt sign at the beginning of the 1000-step climb!

After a couple of muddy, soggy weekends on the motorbike, today I strapped on my hiking boots and a Camelbak and headed off to tackle one of Melbourne’s most challenging walks.

The Kokoda Memorial Trail, also known as the “1000 Steps”, is a daunting hike up 2.5km of extremely steep, slippery steps, twisting and turning through dense forest in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. As its name suggests, the trail is actually a memorial to the Aussie soldiers who fought and died on the notorious Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in World War II. I’ve vowed one day to hike the actual 100-km PNG track (I’ll need to be a LOT fitter first, though!). Meantime, the 1000 Steps climb has given me just a small taste of what might be to come…

As I puff and heave myself up dozens of stony steps, slipping and sliding on damp autumn leaves and breathless in the humid forest air, I pass plaques depicting the lives of the soldiers who fought in Papua. I try to imagine what it must have been like for those guys doing such a steep trek, weighed down with equipment and fearing that at any moment the enemy might come charging out of the jungle on either side. As I pause to catch my breath, something bursts suddenly out of the foliage and my heart skips a beat… Phew, it’s ok – just a startled lyrebird foraging about in the undergrowth.

Halfway up the climb, my legs are killing me. (Note to self: need to do more lunges and squats at the gym!) My limbs are hurting big time, my throat is burning, and my heart is pounding. But the sight of every plaque spurs me on – hell, if those soldiers can do it, so can I! Other fitter climbers overtake me at speed but I’m too puffed out to care – and besides, I’m appreciating the scenery….

Kokoda Memorial Plaque

Oh the blessed relief when, on shaky legs, I make it up those final steps to the top. Taking rest in a clearing, it’s only a few minutes that I can really appreciate what a unique hike it is, made all the more worthwhile by its invocations of those brave souls of yesteryear. With Anzac Day just around the corner, it feels like a fitting and timely thing to have done.

And yes, one day I still hope to do the real Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea – but not until I’ve had a helluva lot more fitness training and preparation first!

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Adventure Travel

 

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Australia’s Great Outdoors

Walking along the craggy cliffs at Point Nepean

Hi All! I’m writing this after a long weekend hiking the National Park around Point Nepean, about two hours’ drive from Melbourne.

This morning, I walked along the spine of the peninsula to the Point, a craggy cliff walk from which you can eventually view the heads of Port Philip Bay. Apparently this is one of the narrowest shipping channels in the world – and I can well believe it, as I watch the Spirit of Tasmania (the ferry that plies the route between mainland Oz and Tassie) cut its way carefully through the channel and out to sea.

Yet again, as I enjoy a full day out in the fresh air, walking pristine beaches and tasting the salt in the breeze, rambling overgrown tracks along the coast that are brimming with noisy birdlife and all manner of tiny creatures foraging in the undergrowth, I’m reminded of how wonderful it is to be in the great outdoors. This is my little corner of Australia. I come here a lot – a stone’s throw from where I live, it’s a great bolt-hole for when city life gets too much (which is most of the time, actually!). Getting back to nature like this isn’t just good for the health – it’s good for the soul. 

The Spirit of Tasmania sails through the heads at the entrance to Port Philip Bay

The outdoors is something Australia does really well, I think. Although only a couple of hours from the city, the beaches here feel raw, untouched, wild. The walks are well-signposted but still overgrown and rough, giving the illusion of tracks yet to be explored by human feet. And it’s peaceful – just the rise and fall of the waves against the shore, and  birds stirring in the bushes as I pass. A solitary hang-glider passes noiselessly overhead – up there with the seagulls, he must be getting a brilliant view.

After a weekend of walking, I’ve come back with renewed vigour to take on another trekking expedition this year. It’s been just over a year since my Sahara UNICEF trek in Morocco…definitely time to get the maps out and plan the next one!

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in Adventure Travel

 

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