Around Australia & Japan
Around Australia and a bit of Japan by Brompton wow factor 91/2 /10
I decided to get a three stopover round-the-world job first leg Hong Kong .
When I first visited HK in the sixties as a BOAC steward though it already was this amazing emporium , you could still hire a cycle and explore the paddy fields of the New Territories, not any more the place is a waste land of Freeways and skyscrapers . So I spent my five days there bored and restless .
The next stop Perth was a different kettle of Pommies, though they don't call us that anymore. I went straight to Ajahn Bram's monastery for a few days . He has become notorious for ordaining nuns against the directions of the Thai Elders. A typical Ozzy move, though he is an Englishman. It's a very impressive place just outside town with a brand new retreat centre .
Back in town my Servas host kept rescued birds, one had been traumatised by a storm and his head hung on one side like Quasimodo. They introduced me to an over sixties cycle group and I had a great time exploring this beautiful boom town.
This Is mainly the result of Western Australia's mining industries, we went to an outside film Satellite Boys , about the impact of this on the Aboriginals . I don't think it went down all that well with the very comfortable off viewers.
I moved off up the north coast, passing wonderful beaches, sitting on a bench wondering where to put up the tent, a cyclist stopped to admire my steed and he invited me to stay with his family and meet his two Bromptons
Returning to the Port of Fremantle I stayed in a great hostel in a rambling old building .
Returned to Perth and the bird people and another session with the cycling elders plus a Barbie , food not the doll.
Time to catch the train across the Nullarbor desert to Adelaide and my cousins who were semi-retired and worked at the museum. Then piled on a bus to Melbourne and a smashing host/cyclist in this fab city. Caught a ferry to Tasmania. On board we were given a talk by environmentalists who encouraged the drivers to keep their speed down. Unfortunately to no avail, as the road kill was to prove astonishing.
So far on the trip I had kept in front of the heat and behind the fires that were ranging all over the continent . Going up a hill feeling tired and looking for a camp spot I pulled off the road into a poor site, my "guide" told me to return to the road, and a few minutes later a pickup stopped to offer a lift. I ended up having dinner and staying in their guest cottage and as they had to leave for work was left breakfast on the porch! What a country!!
Back to the mainland by a flight to Canberra, a cycling paradise, lovely Servas hosts and a very moving war museum/memorial . This city that the Aussies love to hate, was planned and laid out around a created lake and I loved it.
Then a train to my WWOOF place, up on an escarpment with kangaroos galore. This lovely Christian couple had created their place from nothing , but they had to sell as she wanted to paint more and he found it too much. Every afternoon we downed tools and watched movies, it was heaven.
Back on the train to Parramatta The original settlement before Sydney . My hosts lived in an area that had become populated by Asians since the White policy had been abandoned . Back on the train to Coffs Harbour some rain and a stay with hosts who lived in one of the surviving hippy communities by the beach in a Koala bear forest , not that I saw any, in fact I didn't see any nasties the whole time in this astonishing country.
Returned to Sydney and my host lived a ferry ride away from the city in a very posh area. I stayed in a hostel on Bondi Beach , the pub that the BOAC crew used to stay had long gone ,I couldn't remember anything. Cycling around I slipped on some wet and bruised my right hand just before I left for Japan.
Arriving in Tokyo I took the bullet train , the Brompton slipped neatly behind the seat, to Shikoku Where I was going to go on the pilgrimage around loads of Buddhist temples. I got friendly with a fellow cyclist and we went around together but my hand was bothering me , it was still rather cold for camping and I felt I'd had enough . So I took a tearful parting from this charming student and bit the bullet again back to Tokyo .
I slept at the airport and even though the morning flight to London was fully booked they upgraded me and I was back home in time for tea. Naturally I shall return to this most interesting country and continue the pilgrimage . PLG tony