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From Gerroa to Genoa (Wet days, warm people, dangerous roads and Dark Emu visitations)

We left Warm Showers Claire, who was busy hosting a number of sodden cycle tourers, such as this jolly soloist Angus,

and rode out of Gerroa to begin our coastal descent. In Nowra we bumped into more fellow pedalist comrades who were riding around the world from France to raise awareness about climate change,

before our book event at Dean Swift ABC book shop, where we spoke to the possibilities of climate changed economies and societies of regard.

More rain and more barely ripe public stonefruit in southern Nowra,

and we were off on another wet leg,

to Huskisson, where booksellers Noela and Jill greeted us for a little signing event,

and Jill and her man David

put us up for the night, avoiding another soaking from the tricky gods of acummulating clouds. We’d had enough of things by now. Dangerous roads, anti-cyclist drivers, unrelenting rains. So we mapped out the alternative (option 2 Huskisson back to Albury),

and even though we thought it would be easier to cancel the remains of the tour and ride back to Nowra, train to Sydney, train to Goulbourn, ride to Albury, train to Melbourne, train to Woodend and ride the last 40 kms home, we didn’t. Something in us wanted to see this through.

Our decision was confirmed by this sweet family, who had read about us in their local paper a year earlier, got in touch and invited us to stay a night.

Ah, the comfort of strangers! Thanks Jo, Bren, Lucinda, Sam and Eliza. Even more gifts awaited us when we returned to one of our favorite guerilla camping spots south of Mollymook.

Last year we ate limpets and speared fish on coals at Collers Beach. This year Zero caught us a big rabbit,

and Patrick speared another bag of fish, including this leatherjacket and red mowrang for one of our meals.

We poached the rabbit in the billy for 25 mins and the flesh just slipped off the bones onto our fingers and into our mouths. For we hungry locavores it was a near perfect moment.

Living on Collers Beach for a few days further nourished our decision to complete this tour.

Further south in Batemans Bay we bumped into Justine and Pat, who like us were perfecting the practice of very very slow travel. When we all met up at about 3pm one afternoon, they’d travelled a whooping 2 kms for the day. We congratulated their efforts. It’s a momentous achievement to go that slow in such a savagely fast world.

While they headed north, we trundled several kms down the road to Batehaven and set up camp on some marginal land beside a little creek inlet.

On the gentler coast road to Moruya we stopped to chat to northbound rider Rapha el, a French tourist.

We picked up supplies from the wonderful bulk wholefoods store when we arrived in town, and rode on as our event had been cancelled at Moruya Books due to a boating accident in the business. We pedalled on to Old Mill Road Biofarm and kept the boating accidents at bay while we cooled down in Kirsti, Marlin, Pickle and Fraser’s luscious dam,

before feasting with this awesome lot — the brains and brawn behind one of the best market gardens on the south coast. As you can imagine the food was exceptional, cooked up by French chefs Nina and Elsa, who may well come and stay with us in Daylesford.

Southwards we rode, on and on our legs rotating, water in litres emptied down our throats, making the brief transit through our varied metabolisms out onto our clothes to transform into what we call cyclist stench. We stayed with this lovely family in Narooma (thanks Barry, Jimmie, Goldy and Em!),

rode on to Tilba,

with the kind promise of a lift to avoid the death trap 10 kms north of Cobargo where Meg and Woody had a near miss thirteen months earlier on our big trip. The kind offer came from Ronnie and her super family of Norris’s, where we got to spend a few days, sit out more rain, swim with them at Bermagui, drink real cows milk and speak on air to one of our favourite ABC presenters, Ian Campbell.

When the sun poked through we hightailed it to Bega, our bikes hitching a ride with Ronnie’s sweet folks in an empty trailer that was predestined for the southern coastal city, and climbed 10 kms west to Autumn Farm to stay with Annie and Genevieve and their kids Oscar and Olive (AKA Jo). They cooked us a beautiful meal in their stunning radical homemakers’ kitchen.

The next day we were greeted by 45 enthusiastic Bega-ites who came to our foraging workshop and/or our book event at the wonderful Candelo Books. All the crazy summer traffic, physical fatigue and rain was rendered totally worth it by this enthusiatic mob.

The Princes Highway is a national road with many signs warning drivers of oncoming petrol stops, beach spots, drowsy driving, narrow bridges, overtaking lanes and wildlife. The highway provides, more or less, a safe lane for both northbound and southbound cars and trucks. But despite the daily use of this road by cyclists, almost nothing appears that aids our safety. This is what a typical lane looks like for a cyclist.

We’re supposed to stick between the dangerous loose gravelly bit and the far left white line (intersecting on Zero’s head in the photo). Now marry the above image with this one below and you’ll get a fairly accurate assessment of just how much work there is to do to create safe transit ways for non-polluters in Australia.

Respite from the terror of this highway was found once more when we stopped in to visit Dale and Jenni in Eden again.

These two lovelies put us up last time we rode through Eden. They cooked up a beautiful feast of their home-produced chicken and veggies,

and the next morning Dale offered to drop us 25 kms down the highway where he had to drive to work.

Despite all the generous and wonderful people on the South Coast we didn’t enjoy cycling down this highway on the first big trip. And this time has been little different with few opportunities to get onto quieter roads, so getting to the Victorian border signalled a kind of home coming, a kind of relief.

About four months ago, before we left on our tour, Patrick had contacted Bruce Pascoe to see whether we could visit him at Gipsy Point near Mallacoota. Bruce’s book Dark Emu is a remarkable work of Australian history written by an Aboriginal writer concerning the profound and little known agrarianism that existed in Australia pre-colonisation. His book opens the door to a completely alternative history. We spoke in his nursery,

where he is growing yam daisies (murnongs), which were once a big part of the Aboriginal economies of regard in south-temperate Australia pre 1788. He gave us some seed to plant out in April. Dr Beth Gott, an ethnobotanist from Monash University, claims that a murnong tuber has nearly 10 times the nutrient properties of a potato and was an important part of the health of Aboriginal people.

It was in Mallacoota, Gipsy Point and Genoa that we hooked up with our friends Maya and James, who came with us to meet Bruce and his partner Lyn. Bruce offered us his boat to go fishing in and we cruised the gentle waters of the Genoa River, fishing for tailor, speaking of our river loves without, of course, the use of a motor.

We hope, Dear Reader, that whatever propels you forward into your days this year is just as enjoyable, thrilling, frightening and vital as what has been casting us forward. Thank you for accompanying us on this leg of our journey.

Beginning our slow descent south (Blackheath to Gerroa)

We loved visiting the Blue Mountains again, giving book events,

taking foraging workshops in Blackheath,

visiting next-gen food producers Erika and Hayden,

bumping into and then staying with an old school friend, Zoe and her family,

visiting dear poet friends Pete and Kate and their kids Ruby and Felix,

housesitting for 10 days, taking many a bush walk, contemplating life,

and having time to consider what being human means.

Restored by the mountains we zoomed back down to Sydney to house sit again, finding a very rare strip of safe bicycling bitumen in Centennial Park.

We skipped on Christmas, but Boxing Day’d it with fam at Bronte.

Took a roll or two at Bondi,

and jumped a train to Moss Vale, again smuggling onboard the only family member disallowed by the transport authority.

We gathered up cherry plums on leaving Moss Vale,

flew down the escarpment with steaming breaks and faced down a bull in Kangaroo Valley,

where we were invited to stay at this wonderful permaculture farm,

with Peter and Vasuda.

After taking an edible weed workshop on the farm and after a fun, shooting-star kind of New Year’s Eve with Peter, Vasuda, Zoe and her friends Andy and Paddy, we climbed up Bellawongarah,

where we spotted great swathes of Ginger lily (Hedychium gardnerianum), a non-edible garden escapee from the Himalayas that is apparently part of the lung cancer solution.

We rocketed down the mount to Berry and spoke at the local bookshop,

before setting up camp a few kms out of town on Broughton Creek.

We’ve been on the road for over two months now and most days have been fairly sweet, but on leaving Berry for the coast…

At the end of the day we came and stayed with Claire Wilson and her bike polo friends in Gerroa. Claire is a Warm Showers host, writer and gardener who lives without a car, and she offered the perfect antidote to our first day on South Coast roads.

We’re off to Nowra today to speak at DeanSwift Books at 3pm. If you’re in the neighbourhood, please come and say hello.

Thanks for joining us here again, Dear Reader. We hope that wherever you are, your soils are moist, your food is freshly-picked and your legs are feeling strong up the hills.

The exciting fortnight ahead…

Hello Dear Reader,

We have a number of events coming up that we’d love to tell you about.

For ten minutes this weekend you will find us sitting in front of a flowering plant counting pollinators for the national Wild Pollinator Count.

This Saturday 21st of Nov we’re in Tumut at Night Owl Books for a reading and signing at 3pm.

On Wednesday 25th of Nov we’re in Yass at their public library for a book event there.

On Friday 27th Nov of we’ll be speaking to ABC Canberra radio live to air at around 2pm.

On Saturday the 28th of Nov we’re in Canberra at Paperchain Books, Manuka for another foraging walk and book event.

On Sunday the 29th of Nov we’re joining the People’s Climate March at Parliament House.

On Wednesday 2nd of Dec we’re giving a talk as part of Green Drinks at The Moose Hub in Bowral.

On Saturday 5th of Dec we’re in Sydney where our book will be introduced by Kirsten Bradley at Florilegium in Glebe at 3pm.

On Sunday 6th of Dec in the morning we’re teaming up with Diego Bonetto for a foraging walk along the Cooks River.

On Sunday 6th of Dec in the afternoon Patrick is giving a performance at SNO in Marrickville as part of the Non Objective Writing exhibition.

On Monday morning 7th of Dec we will be interviewed live from Channel 7 and Channel 9 television studios.

On Thursday 10th of Dec we will be appearing at Gleebooks in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains.

We hope you can join us at one or more of these events.

May all your winds be tail winds,

AaF xx

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.