21. Stirling Range National Park, Australia

Toughest children in the world

Remember how I was recently exclaiming about how small the world is? Well, that may be the case, but Australia is flipping big.

Stirling Range, a national park in deepest Western Australia, provides a more than adequate example of the enormity of this country, as well as my first opportunity to undertake some proper outback driving in my (brave) friend’s 4×4.

In Britain, a national park that plays house to a 42km country road would be big enough to make a noticeable imprint on a map. But not here. Here, the park is as noticeable as a seem on a well-tailored suit, yet it still takes a good chunk of the afternoon to traverse.


Ok, ok, I know you get it. Australia is big (the sixth biggest country in the world, in fact), this isn’t news. What is news, however, is that Stirling Range has something I’ve yet to see since I landed here – hills.

So apparently unusual is it to see hills and mountains in this part of the world, the park looks somewhat out of place, like it’s been dropped in from a height, or created in a video game by a teenager with an imagination that far outweighs their social life.

Once you’re inside it, though, you can really appreciate its beauty. This becomes particularly apparent at the designated lookout points, which provide a marvellous view of the bush-and-tree-covered mountains. There are walks, too, but this is where I need to put on my stern face and have a word with the people of Australia.

Being relatively ill-equipped for a sizable trek, I decided to focus today’s efforts mainly on driving. However, at the park’s Central Lookout point, a 400m, mere Grade 2 walk to the summit and the promise of a splendid view was too good an opportunity to pass up on.

Now when I say Grade 2, I mean a difficultly level which is depicted, by people who presumably know what they’re talking about, with a symbol showing an adult carrying their child. Seems easy enough for a whipper-snapper such as myself, I thought, so off I went in search of another Monte Mauro-esque experience.

By the time I’d conquered the summit I was panting harder than a dog in a sauna, having tackled a rocky climb that most Britons would consider twice before undertaking. Yes, I know I’m not the fittest of individuals – I exhaust myself running a bath – but having tackled various “challenging” rambles back home, I can put my hand on my now rapidly beating heart and say that the Aussies are either much tougher, or much more ambitious than we are in the art of putting one foot in front of the other.


Still, as you can see, the view was worth the struggle, and as an added bonus, I didn’t get bitten by any snakes or spiders on the way up or down this treacherous hillock. (I’m now never walking in this country again for fear of tempting fate)

Then, as an added added bonus, I got to see a kangaroo in the wild for the first time whilst I was cruising along the sandy surface in me jeep, feeling (but not necessarily looking) like the coolest dude in the world. Sadly these timid beasts didn’t allow me to take a snap of them, but I did manage to shoot a lizard, which is something I’m fairly sure I’ve never said before.


One thing that this not-small-by-British-standards stretch of land did highlight was the sense of being alone. With the exception of a couple of far-too-smiley walkers I met at the Central Lookout, I was basically the only person in an area over 1,000 square kilometres (I don’t know what that is in miles, they don’t live in the past down here, must be why their time zone is ahead of ours). Listening to and seeing the silence for as far as your senses will allow you is a unique sensation that is equal parts wonderful and freeing, with just a hint of frightening thrown in for good measure.


A silence that was to be shattered later that evening with school teachers dancing on tables, tartare sauce packets flying over my head, and strange men approaching me and offering alcohol in exchange for some of my pizza. Apparently that’s how they do pubs on a Friday night in this part of the world.

A Delicious Mixture

I’m not really sure of how I expected to feel after 24 hours on the other side of the world. I guess I hadn’t paid much attention to it, given all the logistical planning and aforementioned goodbye-ing that has been occupying my mind recently. However, now I’m actually in this position, it’s fair to say that my emotions are somewhat mixed.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my famously limited emotional range is akin to a medium-sized child who’s just eaten his first white mouse in a sweet shop and who can’t wait to try EVERYTHING else all in one go. But, there is a tinge of weirdness thrown in for good measure.

Now, when I say weirdness, I don’t mean that in a negative way. Yes, the prospect of spending longer than ever before away from family, friends and loved ones is a daunting one, but this unusual feeling is more to do with my geographical location.

I’ve always been fascinated with media that deals with some sort of alternative world. Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, The Elder Scrolls/Fallout video games, these are all examples of my favourite things to watch/play because they give me the opportunity to immerse myself in a different world or version of this world. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to bump into any dragons or super mutants down under, but there was a natural assumption that, being so far away, it would be something quite different.

In a way, I’m right. I’ve only been here a day and already I’ve seen camels, road trains and drive-through off-licences. The latter of these things is definitely something I’ll be suggesting Britain introduces should I ever have the pleasure(?) of meeting Mrs. May, in a “what could possibly go wrong?” kind of way. I’m sure there will be plenty more weird and wonderful things that I’m not used to (such as people talking to me on the bus, I genuinely don’t know how to handle that) whilst I’m traversing this part of the world (did I mention Australia is fecking big?), but in all honesty, there’s a large dollop of familiarity here that leads me nicely onto a well-used cliche (without an accent on the e because I’m still jet-lagged and can’t be arsed to work out how to do it).

The world is a much smaller place than it used to be. In just one day I was able to travel from one side of it to the other (take that, Mr. Fogg). Furthermore, it doesn’t feel like I’m very far away at all. Last year, I wrote a blog post whilst sat in someone else’s garden, enjoying the sunshine and pondering what to do next in my new surroundings. Today, I’m doing the exact same thing, and my mind is struggling to comprehend the fact that I’m tens of thousands of miles away from where I was whilst hot-footing around Europe 12 months ago.

But as surprisingly small as it might be, it is full of mystery and wonder. Just like my…oh wait, my Mum reads this.


There are numerous benefits to having four partners. Most of these benefits I can’t go into detail about in a family-friendly blog, but receiving love and warmth in different ways from different people is a fantastically fulfilling experience that I wouldn’t change for all the chips in Las Vegas.

Sadly, however, with such a sizeable and well-oiled swing, comes an equally large and very daunting roundabout, a subject that I had been subconsciously ignoring until recently. Now I have no choice.

As I write this unusually emotional extract of waffle, I’m sat on a train (I still don’t understand why we don’t say in a train), zipping through the English countryside, returning home from an all-too-few glorious days with one of my minions in Edinburgh. It has been a typically wonderful experience, but only now is it really dawning on me that – assuming everything goes to plan – I won’t be seeing her again for several months.

When I trekked around Western Europe last year, I was gone for seven weeks, and by the end of it I was ready to be reunited with those that I love, and those daft enough to love me. In 2007 when I gallivanted the length and breadth of North America, I was away from Blighty for three months. The last couple of weeks were hard, I missed home, I missed my family, and at that point I hadn’t even touched any boobs, let alone had four partners.

So one can understand the level of trepidation that is coming across me faster than a kangaroo’s right hook, as I face the imminent prospect of approximately five months (mostly) by myself.

It is a tremendous juxtaposition how a guy who has multiple partners can be so fiercely independent, but that life-long trait of mine will undoubtedly serve me well, particularly in the latter stages of my journey. I know, however, that I’m going to struggle, and that’s something I’m just going to have to deal with, somehow.

Saying goodbye today was hard, and I still have three loved ones, my family, and a mildly-alcoholic, potty-mouthed best friend to go.

Don’t panic though, I’m not crying.


That Monday Morning Feeling

Ok I’ll admit it, I told a teeny tiny fib. I signed off my last entry promising a swift return, and it’s been a whole month before you hear any squeak of news from me again. To both of my adoring fans, I’m sorry.

The good news is, I have more than just a squeak of news, I have a humongous, fantastical, plane-shaped piece of news. That’s right people, I’ve booked my plane tickets.

The actual booking process followed an all-too-familiar pattern of things I do with my life – I spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking and planning and coming up with the best way of doing things, and then changed my mind at the last minute and hoped for the best. In this case I’m referring to what is apparently a hot topic within travelling circles, the debate that has far too many hyphens for its own good, round-the-world ticket vs buy-as-you-go.

You see, having been told I can fly around the world basically creating my own stops for little more than a bag of sand (that’s a grand for all my non-London friends), I blindly accepted that as the best possible option and never even considered to look into individual prices. However, having recently been told by the same company that such a ticket doesn’t exist (which was weird), and subsequently been given a quote for £1700 to do the four major stops I’m planning to do (London-Perth, Sydney-Auckland, Auckland-LA, New York-London), I dusted off my sensible hat and sought a cheaper alternative.

As it turns out, booking these flights individually will probably turn out to be a similar price to doing it all in one go, and this raises an important point – money is not the biggest factor that determines how far in advance I commit to plans.

I’m in an extremely fortuitous position to be able to afford this trip, and probably next year’s as well, and so I’d rather spend just a tiny bit more to give myself as much flexibility as possible with regards to my timings. Yes, I can spend £1700 and commit to a flight from New York to London in July, but what happens if I want to spend longer exploring Mordor? Or I fall in love with the freezing temperatures in Canada? Or I get abducted by a moose in Montana? It’s important to me to keep my options as open as possible, and based on my current calculations (which aren’t necessarily accurate given that I’ve had less than 12 hours sleep), buying tickets as I go isn’t necessarily going to be any more expensive anyway.

So I’ve booked my flight to Australia on March 12th (which is actually the 13th down there because they live in the future), more precisely I’ve booked a direct flight to Perth. I’ve also booked a flight out of Oz to Auckland, New Zealand, on April 23rd – six weeks later – so that I can show the nice customs person that I do indeed intend on leaving the country again at some point. Luckily, flights between these two countries are as cheap as a second-hand lego set, so having to cancel/move it won’t be too much of a pain in the unmentionables.

In other news, I also have my Australian visa, meaning I can pop in and out of its enormous borders as much as I like over the next twelve months, and as I don’t need a visa to visit New Zealand, I’m pretty much all set to go.

All that’s left to do is to spend the next three weeks saying my tearful goodbyes to everyone who loves me (not sure that will be enough time), and try to squeeze several months worth of stuff into something I can carry on my back, and then it’s Heathrow here I come! At 7am in the morning. On a Monday.

I do love it…

I’ve spent a frustratingly long time thinking to myself, and saying to other people, that I’ll be “making plans soon”, and “putting dates to things before long”. It feels like an age since my breath was physically taken away from me by the view on top of an Italian mountain, and the itch to go explore the world again is well and truly back.

The good news is that we’ve now reached the stage where talking about plans is turning into actually getting off my lazy arse and making some (disclaimer, as I write this blog I’m sat on my lazy arse in bed in my dressing gown), and the first domino to fall is me quitting my job. Again.

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to the people at the G Piccadilly casino for not only allowing me to come back and grace them with my ugly mug for five months, but for once again providing a wonderful, friendly, excellent working environment to operate in. No place has ever made me feel quite as home whilst not at home as there, and I’ll miss you all terribly (except that annoying waiter who hogs the TV remote in the staff room, nobody wants to watch those films).

My last shift will be February 3rd, conveniently timed to be the night before two large groups of Americans run around chasing a ball and falling over a lot, and three nights before a planned celebration of one of my partners officially becoming more intelligent than me.

Perhaps more relevantly to this blog, it gives me roughly a few weeks to relax, plan, and get waaaaay over-excited at my next global adventure, which I’m aiming to commence at the beginning of March.

The next step is to come up with a rough plan for the route I’m taking, and a more specific plan for the initial stages of it. As things stand, the rough plan is:

March/April – Australia
April – New Zealand
May – USA
June – Canada

However, there are several factors that can and will influence this itinerary between now and me trying to keep my lunch where it should be during take off, the biggest of which being how I book my plane tickets.

I have a few alternative ideas up my sleeve, some include bringing forward my trip to Japan – one of the countries I’m planning to visit in 2019 and the country I want to see more than any other – to this year, others include Hong Kong, or Dubai, or even skipping Australia altogether.

To make sense of all of these plans, and work out which one I want/is best for my wallet, I need to make a phone call. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll return shortly with more news.

A Sweet Solution

I thought I’d give it a few weeks before I wrote this post so everyone has the opportunity to finish reeling from my recent revelation that I’m actually capable of having feelings.

In the mean time, I’ve been brainstorming so many different scenarios for the next few years in my head, the cogs upstairs now look more like wheels. But, finally, one idea in particular is starting to stick. Well, when I say stick, I mean cling on for dear life like the hair on top of my head, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

The basic idea is this – next year I’ll spend roughly four months, from March to June, exploring Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada. Then, in 2019, I’ll take a few more months to enjoy the delights of Eastern Europe and South-East Asia.

The advantages of this plan are obvious. I’ll still get to see all the bits and bobs of the world that I want to see, but don’t have to worry so much about spending too long away from the people (and kittens) that I love back home. Plus it means I can keep a grasp of my youth and go another couple of years without needing to worry about growing old and sensible and settling down somewhere, which is definitely a win.

The astute among you will notice that there are a couple of time periods that I’d need to think about if this plan is to go ahead, more specifically with regards to employment, and topping up the travel fund coffers. Firstly, the idea was that my current part-time work at the casino would end in December, giving me Christmas and New Year to relax, and January to finalise my travel arrangements, but if I’m delaying the sending-off party until March, that gives me an extra couple of months of twiddling my thumbs and not earning any money – should I extend my current employment longer, at the risk of sacrificing my festive holiday? I haven’t decided yet.

The more important phase though is the one between the two intended excursions, from summer 2018 until whenever I head off again in 2019. Obviously I’m going to need to find work, but the nature and location of that work is still very much up in the air. I’ll always have casino-related options available, but I want to be careful not to burn any bridges I may want to walk across when I start thinking about my longer-term future once all this travelling nonsense has escaped my system.

Maybe I’ll find a sugar daddy to pay me for everything, I’ve heard that’s a thing, I’m sure it can’t be that hard…

The Emotion Problem

Ever since I got back from my jaunts around Western Europe, people have been asking me when and where I’m going next. It’s been happening so often that one can be excused for starting to believe that they can’t wait to get rid of me again – or that they can’t handle the excitement of me being around, yes, we’ll go with that one.

I always give the same answer – I’m exploring the other side of the world for six months or so, starting in January – and during the inevitable three seconds of semi-awkward silence as we both desperately search our internal monologues for the most appropriate follow-up comment, I add “I’m looking forward to it.”

Of course, that’s the truth. This is something I’ve been looking forward to doing ever since I started this travelling malarkey way back in 2007 with a three-month tour of the USA and Canada’s out-trousers. The prospect of sitting on the corner of a busy Chinese intersection sampling the local delicacies (food, obviously, you perverts), gawping at a rather sizeable rock in the middle of Australia, or experiencing the madness of Tokyo is one that gets my travelling juices flowing so much that all I can think about is getting on that plane in January and exploring the big wide world.

Only, I might not be.

Let’s get one thing clear, I’m a very lucky boy. I’m lucky in that my current circumstances allow me to take a hiatus from life to go see pretty things that most people don’t get to see. I don’t have a mortgage, I don’t have children, I work in a career that is relatively easy to dip in and out of, and I have no meaningful relationships to worry about.

At least, that’s what I thought was the case, until several (unrelated) recent events catalysed a re-think. No Mum, I’m not about to be a father, don’t panic, I’m talking about my relationships.

For those of you that don’t know already, I’m polyamorous – which means I am involved in multiple relationships simultaneously. Yes, everyone knows about everyone else, yes, they’re all happy with it, no, it’s not cheating. At the time of writing this blog post, I have three meaningful relationships, with a new, fourth one ascending at an alarmingly impressive rate. My attitude towards my travels and these people is that whilst I will miss them all terribly, that is a compromise I am willing to make in order to do something I love and have been wanting to do since I could spell Vanuatu. My girls, despite knowing they would miss me terribly as well (they’re only human), understood this desire of mine, and gave me their respective blessings.

However, over the last month or two, I’ve seen one relationship go through the mill and come out the other side better and stronger than ever, a second relationship reach a stage of human interaction that I didn’t think I was capable of any more, and the aforementioned new girl, who’s just plain fun to be around.

The simple fact is this – the closer I’m getting to D-day, the more I’m realising how much I’m going to miss the people I love, and I haven’t even mentioned my family yet.

For context, when I went round North America in ’07, it took me three months, and during the final couple of weeks or so, I was ready to head back home and see my family. That was at a time when I had no relationships, and was a fiercely independent individual. Now, things are different. As I spend more time and build stronger connections, I start to rely more on the meaningful people in my life, I start to lose my independence, I start to…*shudders*…have feelings.

Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. I’m loving life at the moment, and all the people that are in it. But it does throw up a quandary when it comes to leaving everyone behind for half a year. That’s something that this time last year I could probably do without serious issue, but now I’m not so sure.

One might say that my mid-life crisis is having a mid-life crisis.