Wednesday, July 29, 2009


About twenty-three years or so ago I left my job as restaurant/bar supervisor in the trendiest five star hotel in cosmopolitan Melbourne to travel to the far-flung northern reaches of the Australian continent.I hopped a bus and headed north on the seemingly endless ribbon of ashpalt until,after four days on the road,I reached the hot,humid and decidedly backward city of Cairns.The place reminded me of so many of the small towns that I had visited in various countries in South East Asia when I was a kid living in Hong Kong.It felt different,looked different and my god did the people act differetly to anything I had ever seen in all my travels around the southern states of Oz

The place,no doubt was the wild west but only in the east and on the coast and with no cowboys but you get my drift.There were aboriginals fighting each other in the streets,white folk fighting each other in the bars and everyone fighting for the almighty dollar from the fledgling tourist industry that had sprouted up due to the proximity of the Great Barrier Reef and all that came with it.It was also the end of the line,so to speak and with that came an influx of shady characters who were escaping from all kinds of things to find a new life in the north.I loved it.

I spent my first couple of years living on Green Island, a small coral cay off the coast which was only a mile around and four feet high(above the high-tide mark).In Port Douglas to the north,I ran the gym at the most luxurious resort Australia had ever seen.I tended bar in a wild mining town way up in the Gulf of Carpentaria.Later,I moved back to Cairns and became part of the city and even though I have come and gone on many occaisions over the years,it was always my home base in Australia.

It was also in Cairns that I became a triathlete.I had done one triathlon in Sydney after I rode my bike from Cairns to the harbour city to visit my parents but the passion didn't burn strong until 1991 whenI started what became my Ironman obsession and the almost yearly trips to Penticton for Ironman Canada (amoung other races).Things change though and people too and for whatever reason,I just don't seem to fit in anymore.

These days people are still fighting but now the aboriginals are fighting for recognition,respect and the tourist dollar.The white folks are still fighting in the bars both these folks are usually drunken English backpackers and the city is fighting to stay afloat during the financial devastation that is the Global Finacial Crisis.

The city is unrecognizable from the sleepy town that I first saw all those years ago and as thousands of people put to shore on the wave of progress, the charcter of the north was washed out to sea.Don't get me wrong it is still a beautiful area and there is quite a bit to do in the surrounding hinterland and beaches but something is lacking and most definately, the generic stamp of mass tourism is well and truly imprinted on the culture of this city.In short it's a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to live here...anymore.

So it's off to who knows where and who knows when I'll get there.Ideally I would like to move to the little town of Penticton in Canada where I have spent so much time and made so many friends but there is that little problem of immigration status.Short of finding some misguided Canadian woman to marry me I'm thinking that I'm S.O.L on that score.Hmmmm.

Most likely my trip will eventually involve another long visit to Penticton but there is a lot of asphalt winding it's way through many different countries on the way.I thought I'd go check them out and maybe race an Ironman or four while I'm at it.


Perception is a funny thing.The value of what someone does or who someone is largely depends on the perception of that person by those around him.Some people are an open book and some,not so much,but if those surrounding that person do not take the time to look beneath the surface they may indeed be missing something.I have come to realise a few warped perceptions of myself of late.It seems that I am not the open book I thought I was.It seems that most of the people I thought knew me in fact don't.They think they do, but mostly that is just a perception of me that makes them comfortable and me,easier to deal with. I have given up trying to "prove myself" to people and justify why I live the life I do and instead have decided to actually just go out and live it and hopefully,along the way,find some sort of purpose.

This new adventure of mine was described by a friend not so long ago as, "a self indulgent backpacking holiday" and in many ways I can see his point.To spend a few months cycling around nice places is indeed what some people do for a holiday but for me it is something different.For me it is something deeper.For me it is a reason to stay alive.

Over the last few years percetions have changed. I have stopped being the fit, healthy,race winning Ultra-triathlete an morphed into an overweight unfit loner,who spends too much time drinking beer and not enough time getting a "real" life.There is a lot of truth in that as well but the real truth is a little harder to take.The real truth is a story about someone who has been battling with depression for the last decade.The real truth is about someone who is trying to find a reason to keep fighting the fight and stay above ground.

It's not all doom and gloom and I'm not about about to throw myself under a truck but the fact is I often ask myself if there is any real point to it all?Does my being alive actually make a difference?Sometimes I wonder,more than sometimes.So I decided to find out.

I'm going to,through my long ride and this blog,try to bring a little joy to the lives of those who have been struck down at the start of their journey through life.Struck down by a cruel disease which does not care about the young lives it tears apart and the sadness it leaves behind.To that end I will again try to raise money for the great little charity that is Athletes in Kind.I didn't have much success the last time I tried to fundraise for them but I'm hoping with the new audience that I have found through Facebook and other global comunications, that I may be able to generate some interest and actually be able to do something constructive with my life.

I don't know how long this journey will last and I don't know what will become of me when it ends but I have no doubt that it won't be dull.

Stay tuned.

Early morning in Cardwell,Nth Queensland