In January 2009, Englishman Nathan Millward found himself in Sydney and in an unenviable situation; a great girlfriend in Australia and no Australian visa.
I have no small amount of sympathy for him, having faced almost exactly the same thing myself a few years ago. With a promising relationship starting, and my visa ending, it seemed like the worst luck in the world to have met a wonderful Australian bloke at exactly the same time as Immigration were counting down the days to my departure. Luckily I found a way to swing a reprieve and stay working in Sydney to give the relationship a fighting chance.
Nathan Millward and his girlfriend Mandy had no such luck, and he decided to make the best of a bad lot and take the road less travelled. Literally. Instead of hopping on the plane he elected to try to ride home, from Sydney to London, overland. On a motorbike – a decommissioned Australia Post bike called Dot, to be precise. With just two days to prepare in Sydney, he set out to drive his little red bike from Sydney to Darwin, with the aim of continuing on through Indonesia, Thailand and then through to Pakistan and the Middle East into Europe.
Two days preparation. That meant he had to apply for visas and the dreaded carnet internacional (a passport for his bike, effectively) while on the road. If it all went belly up, or if his bike went belly down and took him along, Nathan couldn’t claim it back on his insurance as insurance companies wouldn’t cover him in several of the areas he was travelling to. With a milk crate stuck on the front containing his worldly goods, far less vaccinations than recommended and a helmet signed by Kevin Rudd, he was off to travel the world at sixty-five kilometres an hour. Oh, on a bike that he didn’t have time to get looked over by a mechanic.
I can assure you, finding a job to take a punt on you is a much easier option and I’m happy that I managed to avoid Nathan’s round the world trip. The Australian and I currently doing the prep on our Irish-Australian wedding, so I personally think that extra visa was the best move I ever made. But I have to admit, riding a motorbike around the world – or at least around Australia – has a certain ring to it. Wonder if I can get my Australian on the back?
Want to read Going Postal? Boomerang is giving it away (thanks to HarperCollins) as part of a non-fiction pack prize also Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and Inside Story by Peter Lloyd (thanks to Allen and Unwin). Entries close tomorrow – Wednesday 9 February at 5pm Australian Eastern Time – so get your name by clicking through here to the competition and do it fast!
(Please note that you must be either a Boomerang Books Member or a fan of the Boomerang Books Facebook Page to be eligible to win. Both of which are things easier to achieve than getting an Australian visa or riding across the world on a bike.)