I have just finished reading this book in the space of 24 hours. I don’t often have the time to just sit and read but as it was the first weekend at home after a busy few weeks I decided to indulge myself. And I’m glad I did.
It also helped that I’d had a sort of ‘connection’ with the family. We first came across them in Albury a few weeks ago in a bike shop/coffee shop when we were on our way to Melbourne. We saw their heavily laden bikes first and then realised they were a some sort of celebrities and heard fragments of conversations where a book was mentioned and gathered there had been some massive riding take place.
Then just days later I was in my favourite coffee shop, Nest: Cinema cafe and Books, back in my own little town and saw a poster advertising a book launch of the book, The Art of Free Travel, in just a few days time.
Despite having conflicting appointments I made the book launch and managed to hear the end of their talk about foraging. I also got to sample some of the horta that was served. I didn’t make the foraging walk but understand that it was very interesting hearing what can be foraged along the side of the road to feed a family of four.
The book launch consisted of readings from both Meg and Patrick and a question and answer session. The book has been written by each of them writing alternate chapters, so you get a good sense of their own individual voices. They are open and very honest throughout the book. They are also inspiring!
So what’s it about? Patrick and Meg decided to do a road trip with a difference, riding their bikes from Daylesford in Victoria along the east coast of Australia to Cape York and back. This is approximately 6000km of riding without factoring in all the many rides they did once they’d arrived in a town for a few days. But it wasn’t just the two of them along for the ride, they also had Zephyr their eleven year old son, toddler Woody and their family Jack Russell dog, Zero, with them too. They lived rough, rode hard and had numerous issues along the way. But they didn’t give up on their plan and thoroughly embraced the rhythm of their days of riding and sharing their story with others.
They are a couple who’d been together for years and started out by wanting to become car free for a variety of reasons. They were already living a low-carbon life, into community gardens, permaculture, volunteering and had a real social conscience about food ethics and politics.
We base our creative practice on our concept of permapoesis, which simply means permanent making – an antidote to disposable culture. We practice an art that participates in what it represents; an art of social warming in an era of global warming.
They were also writing a book on all the free foods and medicine that are available if we know where to look and how to prepare them properly. They engaged with local Aboriginal communities along the way and learnt from the many locals they met. They were happy to share their story at any time and made lots of contacts through their social media sites and their blog Artist as Family.
The book tells their story beautifully and I would recommend it to anyone who would like an adventure but is a bit scared to take action (like me). I lived vicariously through them while reading the book and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I take my hat off to them for following their hearts and for sharing their trip with us all. They are now doing a similar ride as a book tour and launching their book along the way.
I introduced myself to them at the book launch and I invited them to return one day to ride our Rail Trail – we’d offer our paddock as a camping ground and a hot shower would be available.
I love reading and have just updated my page on Books I’ve Read if you’d like to have a look-see.