I’ve loved cycling here, both in the east and west of the country and am now really sad to be leaving. The slow pace of travel and the way bikes open conversations has meant we’ve seen lots and met the most wonderful, friendly and generous people. We’re struck when arriving in small town Australia on the immediacy of communication, a cultural lingua franca that exists, and then find ourselves hearing about people’s life stories as we have coffee. Perhaps it’s the legacy of ‘Empire’ that has left such strong cultural roots and affinities. Even with local idioms and accents, there’s an openness and frankness that’s common that I’ve not experienced elsewhere.
Australian’s are well travelled and know much about the world outside their own. There are strong family ties back to Britain, Europe and Asia. Coins and stamps still have the image of the British Monarch. People always ask about the impact of ‘Brexit’ and the new British Prime Minister. They know far more about where I come from than I do about them and here.
The country feels so big, new and undiscovered. We visited the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and were struck by how this part of the Australian story is still also unfolding. In the Wheat Belt, west of Perth, the history of settlement, distant piped irrigation and the hardship of early farming life can be seen everywhere. It’s only a grandparent’s generation away and the old railway lines, discarded rusting machinery and decayed farmsteads speak much of their endeavours.
We return to Kuala Lumpur shortly to see family before heading to Vietnam and Cambodia for a differing cycling experience. Hopefully we’ll get some warmer weather, after the Australian winter, and a new local food variation after so many delicious pies!