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ROADIES, GERMANS & A JAPANESE ADVENTURER

Posted on May 26, 2012 by
Raymond
on the road at
Australia
caption caption caption caption caption caption current photos »

When you meet a fellow traveler for whom the road is a permanent home connections are quickly made. There is a touch of the meeting of gypsies or of kindred spirits. Beyond the examination of each others trailers or the sharing of local knowledge is a sense of mutual pride that some cultural shackle has been loosened.

As a new traveler I seek support from the experienced ones. 'Do you miss having a home?' has always been met with 'not at all'. 'Are you sure?' with a resounding 'definitely'.

I have met some fascinating people whose lives are stretched between destinations rather than emanating out from them. The road itself parallels the traveler's personality, joining not only towns and cities but a love of landscape and a need for solitude, somewhere between the embrace of beauty and renunciation of society.

Meetings on the road are free of the social noise of the city. People's frailties and strengths, framed by the enormity of landscape, come more quickly into focus.

Below are snapshots of three fascinating encounters over recent trips.

 

KLAUS

Fittingly I met the first of them, an old German called Klaus, as he pulled into Hermannsburg. A stream of Aboriginal kids followed him and his two camels, Willy & Snowy, as they arrived into the old Lutheran precinct.

In 1994 a doctor told Klaus he would die from a combination of a bad diet, too much alcohol and high blood pressure. Klaus, in the long tradition of extremists, hit the road. After 3 months traveling it came to him loud and clear - this is my life.

So it is. The camels pull a motorless mini-van fitted with all his belongings. Actually only Willy pulls it because Snowy won't work. Klaus walks beside them at a cracking pace. In the Hermannsburg Precinct he was joined daily by little kids and for the week by a stray dog we christened Klaus.

Klaus was a complex old man. He fussed over his camels at night with cuddles and affectionate words spoken in German. Like the swagman John he is a minimalist - "If you learn to live on very little you don't have to take crap from anyone." Reminiscent of John's "if you have nothing you can go anywhere."

Klaus left with his camels for Western Australia. Dog Klaus didn't come that day or he would have joined the traveling band of one German and two camels into the harsh and beautiful world of endless walking.

 

MASAHITO

The greatest Japanese haiku poet, Matsuo Bashō, renounced urban life for nature, wandering the Alps for inspiration. He, like many solo travelers, suffered from a troubled mind and sought deep quiet.

Over three hundred years later, a young man called Masahito Yoshida follows in his tradition of walking in solitude. I met him on the road near Burra in South Australia as he pulled his cart from Melbourne to Darwin.

Through very broken English these are the shards of his story -  I work ... sleep ... work ... sleep ... no life. Now i just walk.

Sure does. From Shanghai, where he started a 16,000km walk through Asia and Europe to Lisbon. Then from Philadelphia to Vancouver and after reaching Darwin he will fly to Singapore and pull his cart to Shanghai.

I was in a pub in the Kangaroo Valley many years ago. It was just me and two old farmers. It was deadly quiet. Eventually one of them said ... I saw Dougie the other day, in his paddock ... many minutes passed ... walkin?.

A wasteland of silence lay in the room .. until finally the other farmer looked at him with an expression of delayed shock ... walkin? ... as though the thought was so alien as to defy rational thought.

God knows what they would have thought of Masahito Yoshida.

 

PETREA & RUEBEN

Petrea & Rueben don't have a home. They travel for half the year and for the other half work at Kings Creek Station in Central Australia. I met them in Wilcannia where Rueben was born and raised. He wears a T-shirt that reads I have no job ... I have no money ... I have no car ... but I'm in a band.

Memory joins the other things he doesn't have because he has early onset dementia.

They both remember how to have fun though. As 'The Roadies' Petrea & Rueben perform in tiny outback towns.  If Steinbeck was writing about Australia it would be with characters like these in mind.

They loved Tommie as only people with enormous hearts can. They loved Wilcannia as only people with compassion for the desperate can. They loved each other as only lovers can. I'll visit them this year in King's Creek.

There will be so many people like Petrea & Rueben to meet on this journey.

Fossicking around little towns and outback stations to uncover them is at the core of my mission.

c ya

Raymond

 

Comments
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annielooby
Reply
Beautiful yet again Raymond. Fascinating characters - can't wait to meet more on your travels.
Raymond
Reply
Thanks Annie .. neither can I. The sense of the unknown really excites me about this journey.
Cecilia
Reply
Well, you seem to be traveling in style, but, be it as it may, it spells FREEDOM! The Chinese dude reminds me a little of how I started my life in Australia, and I thought what I brought with me then was plenty, because I could not carry more: Two small suitcases, an AIWA radio/casette player (I still have it but it doesn't work anymore) and a 'Miranda Sensorex' camera weighing close to 2 kg hanging over my shoulders. The weird thing is that for a week on the Larapinta and Desert Choir I now NEED almost as much. How did it come to this? :-)
Raymond
Reply
Hey Cecilia. Great comment. I have managed to cut my belongings back incredibly. I only want quality things. My camera and laptop are priorities, a version of your possessions when you are arrived. For anyone reading, Cecilia is a Swiss and a great photographer.
Heather
Reply
Just to ponder a day in each of these lives is a gift. Thank you.
Raymond
Reply
What a lovely thought Heather. Thank you. Raymond
Shantieman
Reply
Hello from Scotland as they say here I am right into your blog. I had to put down my comic cos I found your blog more interesting. Looking forward to your next.
Raymond
Reply
There is no greater compliment than that. What comic was it? Always happy to welcome a Scot. Raymond & Tommie
Shantieman
Reply
Hi Raymond, you ask what comic was it well I bought him from a site call own a comic. He was not cheap {$20)he follows me all day telling jokes I was just about to throw him off a bridge but put him down to read your blog. So your blog saved a comics life and he thanks you.
Raymond
Reply
I'll check him out. Glad to save a comics life anywhere in the world but especially in Scotland. It cant be an easy gig up there trying to find something funny about haggis and men in kilts. Actually I am wrong. Its impossible to NOT find anything funny about haggis and men in kilt. Glad you are on the journey. My first Scot. Raymond
Shantieman
Reply
Petrea and Ruebens you can feel such a nice vibe through their photo. You captured a nice moment in time in that picture Raymond. Haggis hunting season starts next week so I will be out setting the haggis traps(bit like a lobster pot) to capture the low flying Haggis. As Robert Burns once said before the great hunt of 1735 or 5.30pm depending where you are in the world, and I quote "set up the traps lads Iv'egot to find the Dunny. Looking forward to your next Blog.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Shantieman. As read your words there is only one thing that crosses my mind - SHANTIEMAN - THE VOICE OF SCOTLAND. I see a regular guest blog my friend any time you wish.
Shantieman
Reply
Raymond what can I say, well quite a lot and I would love to Blog as guest now and then and keep you posted as events unfurl over here. Shantieman - THE VOICE OF SCOTLAND I like that, I am going to start singing lessons. Pavaroti was the voice of Italy so watch this space.
Raymond
Reply
Excellent - VOS - I look forward to reading you now. Pics are great, dogs are great, the story of life is the thing. Thank you. Might find a few nationalities. c ya Raymond
Margaret
Reply
I was listening to Macka on the radio (Australia all over) this morning and he was talking to someone who'd seen this man with a van towed by 2 camels and lo and behold I log in to your blog and there they are. Love reading your stories Raymond....thank you.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Maggie. Well what a coincidence. I must say that it is not quite correct though. One of the camels, Snowy, wont pull so he just walks beside the team doing absolutely nothing except getting fed and fussed over by Klaus at night. Its hilarious. c ya Raymond
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