I came to travelling alone, late in life. I’d always wanted to explore Tasmania, the island south of where I live in Melbourne, Australia. ‘Tassie’ is often ignored by Melburnians; something about it being so close, so easy to get to, takes it off the radar. And then it doesn’t offer palm trees and tropical islands, scuba diving among corals in warm, pristine waters. No camel rides in red deserts or coat-hanger bridges and shell-like opera houses. But something had always drawn me to the place, though apart from a quick drive from Hobart to Burnie years before, in true Melburnian fashion I’d kept putting it off.
For my 60th birthday, my children gave me a ticket for the Spirit of Tasmania, the ferry that would take me and my little hatchback across Bass Strait from Melbourne to Devonport, along with five nights accommodation. I added an extra week to that from my, then, meagre resources, and thus began my love affair with ‘Tassie’.
After a further three road trips around my beloved island, it was time to venture further afield, overseas in fact, if you can call the south island of New Zealand overseas. Just three hours across the Tasman Sea, it’s a good place for a practice run for lone overseas travel. It was a very useful practice, as it turned out: obtaining a passport is a challenging exercise in bureaucracy gone mad, my phone refused to work, cutting me off totally from my family, and my first ever rental car broke down. And though I’m pleased I drove through the mountains to Milford Sound, I probably will never quite recover from the stress of that cliff-edged track.
With these experiences under my belt, I felt sure, well, fairly sure, I was ready to go even further afield – to the other side of the world: England. I wanted to follow the ‘Dickens’ trail around London, to explore the village where Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre, and the Yorkshire moors that inspired Emily Bronte’s, Wuthering Heights. York was the fairytale medieval city I’d seen in story books, and Balliol College in Oxford offered me a bed, and breakfast in a dining hall straight out of Harry Potter.
Reams of stories, by this time, were buzzing, irritatingly, in my computer, nagging me to do something with them. Could I join them together to make a book? I definitely had enough material for ‘Tassie’. First, though, I wanted to return to New Zealand, to the north island this time, with its Maori history, its volcanoes and its Lord of the Rings trail.
After this, there was definitely too much material for one book. Could I turn it into two – or three? A series?
The Edge of the World, the first book in my travel series, Planning to the ‘Nth’, will be out in a few weeks, published as an eBook through Amazon Kindle.