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Wandering: Travel and life

Wanderlust – a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about. Ailsa Piper, Tony Taylor, Mike Ladd and John Bailey have all certainly experienced wanderlust in one form or another, whether from their own personal experience, or, in the case of John, vicariously through the experiences of his subjects.

Ailsa Piper is an Australian writer, director and performer, whose recent book, Sinning Across Spain, follows her 1300km journey as she walked from Granada in Spain’s south to Finisterre in the north-west, carrying with her sins that people had felt the need to offload.

Tony Taylor is a former geologist, who strives to live a simple life. Fishing the River of Time tells of Tony’s experience of, at 80 years of age, travelling to British Columbia to spend a few days teaching his grandson how to fish. Fishing the River of Time is really a book about life and water, and how they intertwine.

Mike Ladd is an Australian poet and radio producer, producing Radio National poetry program Poetica. Ladd’s latest book, Karrawirra Parri, tells of the journey’s undertaken as he walked the Torrens river, examining the history and culture that surrounds the landmark.

John Bailey is a former barrister and therefore describes himself as “shameless.” Bailey’s latest book, Into The Unknown, is a biography of Ludwig Leichhardt, an explorer who vanished on an expedition through the centre of Australia.

For some people the urge to travel, to get away from their everyday lives, is a powerful part of their lives, driving them to wander the world. Each panellist has a differing view about travel and the importance it has in their lives.

I spend all of my money travelling the world,” remarks Mike “I think one of the reasons that we’re not so happy as we could be is because most of spend 8 hours a day in a chair in an office. One of the appeals of travelling is to explore, to not know what’s around the next corner.”

Lots of unexpected things happen when fishing, just as unexpected things happen in life.” Tony says, before reading an excerpt from his book, detailing an encounter he had with one of the elusive, ferocious, wolverines as he was walking through the Canadian mountains. Nowadays Tony doesn’t fish for numbers, as was common in the Victorian era, or for size as folk do now, he does it to admire the beauty of the fish “It’s no good photographing them, photo’s don’t do fish justice.”

The idea for Ailsa’s journey began to form when, whilst researching, she discovered an old custom where a rich person would pay a poor person to carry their sins to a holy place for absolution. With this idea in mind Ailsa sent out a request to the arts community for their sins. “It showed that sins are more about a persons own moral code,” Ailsa says, explaining how some sins didn’t seem like sins to her, but still weighed upon their owners. The journey itself brought about spiritual contemplation, “I believe in the earth,” she said “The earth doesn’t let you down. People let you down, you let yourself down, but the earth is there.”

I don’t feel like I should be on this panel,” John jokes “I have a surrogate walker.” As he was travelling in Queensland John began to notice just how many things in Australia are named after Leichhardt, and realised that he didn’t really know anything about who he was. John was quickly drawn into the man’s story however “The combination of having an oddball going into the centre of Australia, and succeeding, then disappearing was intriguing.” he explains.

Drawing the panel to a close was the perfect question for these travellers “Will you continue to wander?”

Definitely,” answers John, “I’ve just come back from a trip … I have new ideas for a book about writing.”

I just like wandering,” says Tony “I’ll keep doing it until I drop dead.”

I can’t imagine a life without walking,” remarks Ailsa “I’m a walker who writes.”

Whilst I’m a writer who doesn’t walk,” concludes John.


Thomas Weir is a Southern Cross University media student.


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