Since setting off from the days of farming spuds, eating spuds and dreaming about spuds in Western Australia, I had been looking forward to reaching Christchurch, New Zealand where I would be taking another saddle-sore-free period in order to devote time to increasing the weight of my piggy bank, this time to give me enough pennies to allow me to ride all the rest of the way home. In preparation for my arrival, Melbourne was kind enough to give me my first noticeable earthquake experience. Sat on the floor with my back against the wall of Adrian and his bunny rabbit's home, the wall started to give me a back massage set to a magnitude of 5.3. After a slightly surreal few seconds as I watched the television set start to wobble backwards and forwards, Adrian called in a slightly sanity questioning tone, 'did you feel that'? The news channels in the morning were full of pictures from the same shop where a few items had been displaced from the shelves, possibly thrown to the ground by the quake or maybe by an eager freelance cameraman for journalistic effect.
I spent the next week riding from Melbourne along the busy Hume Highway, and after a slight detour into Canberra for an evening with Adrian's brother and his partner, I eventually managed to camp not far from the start of Sydney's urban sprawl. For the last time for the next few months, I stepped out of my tent into the cold, dark morning waiting for the sun to appear and breathe it's warmth onto my chilly fingers and toes, ready to tackle the ride into Sydney. With no obvious cycle routes into the centre I set off along the busy roads. As I neared the centre I heard a bang and a pain in my right hand as a car quickly moved away ahead of me jumping the lights as I shouted and waved the affected limb at the driver. He had clipped me with his mirror and no real damage done but gave me a bit of a fright. He had obviously realised that he had hit me but didn't bother to stop to see if I was ok. After all, I'm only a cyclist. Before riding back out of the city centre to my host for the weekend who I'd met at the hostel in Denmark, Western Australia, I got my obligatory photograph with my bike in front of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge thinking, 'gosh, I've actually ridden quite a long way from home'.
Following a couple of days spent scrubbing and packing up all my kit in preparation for immigration officials in New Zealand, I set off to the airport to say goodbye to Australia and hello to the start of my forth decade of life for somewhere across the Tasman Sea I would become another year older.
So now I sit on a comfortable sofa in the company of my Aunt, Uncle and cousin enjoying a more normal and comfortable life again. Since arriving in Christchurch I've helped old ladies retune their televisions whilst working in a government call centre, unloaded a furniture at a furniture store, laid turf for a landscape gardener, carried multiple heavy panels down a flight of stairs for an events company, and now have two jobs to see me through for the rest of my time here. The first driving round a warehouse at 5:30 in the morning picking up the items the robot lady in my ear tells me to which are to go out to supermarkets across the south island of New Zealand, and the second being a well groomed, pointy shoe wearing attendant at the cinema.
According to The Guinness World Records, the distance one needs to pedal in order to have cycled around the world is 30,000km (18,000 miles). I have now surpassed this figure but find myself not back where I started, but instead further from home than I have ever been before. I think I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere!