Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Her 50 Day Odyssey

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Her 50 Day Odyssey

Article excerpt

Byline: david ellis

WHEN a girl's asked to be bridesmaid to her best friend, it's important she get herself to the church on time.

But that can take on a whole new meaning when our bridesmaid lives in Wales, and the church is a near-20,000 kilometres away in Brisbane, Australia - and she refuses to fly.

That was the dilemma facing Barbara Haddrill in 2006. A committed eco-campaigner, Barbara has an aversion to flying because of the environmental impact of carbon belched out by today's jetliners.

So she sat down in the four-metre long caravan in which she lives a largely self-sustaining existence on a farm on the outskirts of the picturesque Bronze Age town of Machynlleth, and started plotting how to get to Brisbane - not in a mere 24 to 30 hours, but via an amazing fifty day odyssey one way, and a further seventy the other.

And she not only had to carry her needs for such a vast Jules Verne-like adventure, but also her bridesmaid's dress as well.

"It started to get very daunting," she says now. "And I kept putting it off until I simply had to start moving."

And move she did. Like something out of Girls Own Annual her tent and necessities went into one backpack, clothes and bridesmaid's dress into another, and an accordion she plays in a local gypsy-music band called Finikity Charos, was tied to the lot.

Then she hitchhiked to London, coached it from there through Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus and into Moscow, and connected there with the Trans-Siberian Express for a six-day, 6000km journey to Beijing - often entertaining fellow passengers with her accordion. But in Beijing reality set in as she found herself unable to communicate in the local markets she sought out for their regional foodstuffs (that included at one stage deep-fried Asian lizards and grasshoppers.)

"I started bawling my eyes out in Tiananmen Square, because no matter how much pointing or waving of notes I couldn't communicate about what I was buying - and worse, how to get from Beijing to Australia.

"I feared I was failing in getting to my friend Helen's wedding, and just felt stuck."

But she forged onwards, somehow combining a heady mix of road and waterways transport across China, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore, and from there by cargo ship to Melbourne. …

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