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Salsify days (from Trentham to Violet Town)

Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) flowers have been out in great numbers this year, lining the roads between Daylesford, Woodend and Kyneton. They are a great source of free food if you can identify them before they flower. By now the roots have become too woody to roast. The flower seeds however can be toasted and used in a salad and the petals make a great edible garnish.
We arrived in Woodend with an afternoon to relax before introducing ourselves to Woody, co-owner of New Leaves Bookstore. He had set up a prominent stand of our books before a nice little crowd gathered. Thanks Woody!
We were invited back to the Earthstar’s home where we were treated to delicious food from their garden, a fine bed and the chance to enjoy Sam and Woody, both 3 years old, playing together. Thank you sweet family!
We left Woodend early attempting to beat the storms, but got wholly drenched anyway and thus reinitiated into the vagaries of cycle touring life. We loved it, especially as it remained warm and the ride along the old Cobb and Co coach road was quiet and virtually carless until we arrived in Kyneton and pulled up at Aesop’s Attic Bookshop, greeted by the store owner, Clare.
From Aesop’s we took a small group out on a foraging walk identifying over 20 edible species within a short walk from Clare’s well stocked bookshop (that sells excellent books such as Dark Emu), 
before returning to give a reading and Q & A to a lovely bunch of book punters. Energised by our first two events we rode on towards Pastoria, coming across this wonderful signifier of chemical-company-embedded environmentalism — get your government-funded carcinogens cheap!
We made camp behind the Pastoria CFA,
slept soundly, woke up, had some breakfast, stretched down, 
took to the road and momentarily became muddled with all the possible routes we could take.

We’ve been finding this trip that if we have a few nuts and some dried fruit in the mornings, ride for an hour or two, then cook up a big billy of porridge we get away much earlier and do more riding in the coolest part of the day.
The road from Tooborac to Seymour was fairly uninteresting, punctuated regularly by roadkill in varying states of decay. When we arrived in Seymour we put Zero in a regulation travel box and for the first time we were all legitimate travellers on the state’s public transport.
We got off a few stops along the track in Violet Town, where 2 weeks shy of 2 years ago we arrived in this little town. We found the same friendliness and abundance of street accessible fruit.
In 2013, at 14 months of age, Woody fell in love with loquats in Violet Town, and the passion hasn’t waned.
And once again the town offered up free camping,
free power, and one of the local shops was giving away the most delicious grapefruits.
We set up the Artist as Family merch stand on the main drag and sold a few copies of our book,

before we ran our second foraging walk for the tour and our third book event. These two gigs occurred at Dave Arnold’s Murrnong Permaculture Farm.

Before we say farewell for this leg of the trip we want to tell you we’ve found an error in our tour map. So, for all you Southern Highlanders, please note our event is on the 2nd of December in Bowral.

OK, so we said we weren’t going to blog much this trip. Let’s update that to we’ll blog when we can because we’d like to. We hope, Dear Reader, that your days are filled with things you like too, that your winds are fair and your hands are sticky from overhanging fruit.

Back on the road

We’ve been busy getting ready to leave, packing panniers, cleaning the house, planting out the garden for our tenants and for our return in three months’ time. The two panniers that go on the front of Patrick’s bike are our food and kitchen supplies. This is what’s inside:

We’ve also been putting up little signs around the garden to aid the permaculture tour that is coming while we’re away and also to help our tenants navigate the garden. Here’s a selection:

It’s a bit difficult to see how the swale works in the above picture so here’s one from 2009 when it first went in. Water travels from our bath/shower along a spoon drain that has been plumbed level across the contour of the land. Water is distributed through 30 metres of food growing garden beds and ‘passively’ harvested deep into the ground. This is one way to help climate-change proof your garden. The whole system is gravity-fed.

We’ve also been harvesting our (unprecedentedly early) garlic,

bottling the last of our plum wine,

and much bike tuning.

Then we were off without the anxieties we felt on our first trip, heading east a gentle 22 kms with plenty of stops,

to our first hidey-hole camp in the wonderful Wombat Forest on the edge of Trentham.

We are not going to be blogging here as much over the next three months. We’re going to be rather busy getting to 20 book events in 90 days. We will be micro-blogging however on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, so please join us there @artistasfamily.

Wherever you are Dear Reader, we hope you’ll check in with us along the way and share your thoughts, reflections, advice and even botanical knowledge. Which reminds us, does anyone recognise this plant? We came across it on the road between Daylesford and Lyonville.

Peddling and pedalling our book

We’re taking off in 9 days on a pedal-fuelled book tour, traversing two states and a territory and many more countries than terra nullius would care to comment on.
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Here is our schedule:

Woodend — Friday 30th October 2015 4pm New Leaves Books
Kyneton — Saturday 31st October 3pm Aesop’s Attic (2pm foraging walk)
Violet Town — Wednesday 4th Nov 6pm Murrnong Farm
Beechworth — Sunday 8th November 3pm Collins
Albury — Thursday 12th Nov 3pm Dymocks
Tumbarumba —Thursday 19th November 6pm Nest Cinema (5.30pm foraging walk)
Tumut — Saturday 21st November 3pm Night Owl Books
Yass — Wednesday 25th November 5.30pm Yass Library
Canberra — Saturday 28th Nov 3pm Paperchain Books (1.30pm foraging walk)
Bowral — Wednesday 2nd Dec 4.30pm The Moose Hub (as part of Green Drinks)
Sydney — Saturday 5th December 3pm Florilegium (intro by Kirsten Bradley)
Blackheath —Thursday 10 December 5.30pm Gleebooks Blue Mountains
Berry — Saturday 2nd Jan 2016 3pm Our Bookshop and Cafe
Nowra — Tuesday 5th January 3pm Dean Swift Books
Huskisson — Thursday 7th January 3pm Boobook on Owen
Moruya — TBC Moruya Books
Bega — Saturday 16th January 3pm Candelo Books (2pm foraging walk)
Bairnsdale — TBC (f)route + Collins

We look forward to seeing you on the road.

A day of release

We’ve been home 9 months and today our book hits the shelves,

as a book, e-book and audio book. 
We’re launching The Art of Free Travel in both Daylesford and Melbourne so please come by and help us celebrate. David Holmgren (below left) is launching it in Daylesford and Adam Grubb (below right) is launching in Melbourne.
For a sneak peek, here is our book trailer made by our mate Anthony Petrucci:



We hope you enjoy reading or listening to The Art of Free Travel. Stay tuned for news about our forthcoming book tour.