Farewell, Australia

Banner image of Stirling Range sunset as seen on bicycle tour of Australia.We sat on the porch, Jess and I, staring at our feet with nothing much to say. She knew I was leaving and I knew I couldn’t stay. When the time came, as it must, I kissed the top of her head and walked away.

Then, for no good reason I stopped. I turned and said thank you – to a dog.

In a village with more cows than people, Jess was my only real companion. For two months she never left my side, and wherever we went loneliness lost its way. We were buddies, and even I know what that’s worth.

But maybe it wasn’t just her I was thanking. I wonder now if the words slipped out to find the people who deserve them, the people who didn’t hear them enough because I didn’t say them enough.

I hope so.

May my gratitude be carried all the way to Darwin, to the folks who welcomed a young man in pieces and kept him til he knew himself again. Make it suffer dusty highways to follow all the strangers who stopped to give me water when I had none. Pray it finds Boyup Brook and Lorinna and Liena, where arms were open and every table was home.

If those words have legs, let them rest where I did – in the lands I love so much. See them curl up in the Kimberley and gawp at stars that fall like fruit from a tree. Take them to the Pilbara, where silence is a sound. Have them look for adventure on the Nullarbor but find themselves instead.

Run them over the bark of a giant karri and show them a koala for the first time. Give them mornings with kangaroos and galahs and possums caught red-handed. Deliver them to desert roses and waterfalls and whales, then ask them if the lump in their throat is the same as the one in mine.

I may not come this way again, but Australia is a part of me now and forever. Call me old and spent and I’ll still know what this place means to me. I came at my worst and left at my best, and for that I owe it everything.

It’s not enough – will never be enough – but I say this from the bottom of my humble heart: Thank you.

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18 responses to “Farewell, Australia

  1. Mike, it was great to receive a notification of your new post. I have read all your past entries by now, and I was just waiting for (and missing) new ones. This entry is another beautifully written piece. I hope someday you consider writing a book.
    Wishing you all the best,
    Nádja

    • Haha, I’m flattered and rather amazed. I’m not even sure if *I* have read all my past entries. As for a book, who knows? I find the idea a bit scary, but if the planets align, it might happen one day. Thanks for following! 🙂

  2. I was thinking the same thing about your writing (a book). I have been recommending your blog to others and keep going back to read it myself. Where to now Mike?
    Graham and Karen

    • Consider yourself very much a part of my Australian thank you. Port Lincoln was a highlight and your hospitality meant a lot to me. Where to next? I hope to spend the year working in New Zealand, and then, if my wallet and knees agree, I’ll go to South America for a final push home. 😀

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the 2 comments above. You’re a gifted writer, Mike. I will always stop and make time to read your posts.
    I admire your humility and strength, and perseverance.
    Go well.
    Karen

    • The next post will be coming soon from New Zealand! I’m just waiting for the weather to clear so I can take some photos. The hardest countries for me to leave? Australia, Iran, Cambodia, Hungary and Turkmenistan – all special places I miss for different reasons.

  4. Really enjoyed reading this. Simple, honest and eloquent. The feelings it evoked were so familiar to my own experiences in a similar situation, yet were written with a beauty i could never put into words. Fantastic work.

    • Thank you! I actually started writing this post two weeks ago in the Melbourne airport and just picked it up again last night. Nothing like a few glasses of red wine to kick start the old creative juices!

  5. Hey Mike, Always enjoy following your travels, who would have ever thought that set of wheels from Dutch Cycle would end up on the other side of the world. Safe travels from a guy who grew up in Regina also.

    • Who would have thought? Not me, that’s for sure. Believe it or not, I wiped out at the very first stop sign I came to after buying my bike from Dutch Cycle back in 2008. If somebody would have told me those wheels would take me to New Zealand six years later, I would have laughed in their face. Thanks for following my wobbly adventures!

  6. what a gift you give us with your wonderful stories and in return you were gifted finding you in Australia…
    I have missed reading you but life has thrown me a few curves and I just can’t seem to find words..slowly I am coming back…and I am very glad i came in tonight…
    Thank you for the heartfelt words…and the smile Mike….
    Take Care…Be Safe …You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

      • Thank you, I have been in and out…and I am okay just wondering about wandering in another direction on this journey…
        Have a another safe day filled with fun !
        )0(

  7. “I came at my worst and left at my best, and for that I owe it everything.” Such profound beauty in its simplicity…

  8. Mike, just started following your blog. What a beaut! So personally and captivatingly written. My parents live in the South Island of NZ in Timaru so drop me a line if you need a place to crash 🙂 Safe cycling amigo! Thomas

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