Istanbul Turkey

Istanbul Turkey I had always wanted to do a big trip. Something long, with little in the way of planning.

A couple of years ago I did just that with my wife Jane. We took the year off and travelled overland from Istanbul Turkey to Shanghai China. We had light backpacks (I had a 42-litre backpack for the entire trip) and our goal was to travel overland - by any means - until we got to Shanghai. We had no itinerary and no plan, beyond heading eastwards.

By the time we rolled into Shanghai China, we had travelled from Istanbul Turkey, down through the Aegean Sea (crossing into the Greek Islands), back into Turkey, through Georgia, through Azerbaijan, over the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, into Kyrgyzstan, across the Tien Shen Mountains into Kashi in western China, then across China to Shanghai.

Istanbul is my new favourite city in the world. Such incredible history, great food and wonderful people.

Turkish man holding a glass of partly finished Turkish tea outside the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey.

Travel: Australia

I've travelled a lot. Almost 50-countries and counting. Oddly, I haven't travelled much around my own country Australia. Why, I don't know. Maybe the allure of a distant land is more exotic than exploring my own back yard. En-route to New Zealand late last year, I decided on a two-week layover in Sydney. It would be a good chance to catch up with my dad and spend some quality father-son time, as we like to call it. Dad suggested a 4 to 5-day trip out to a property in western New South Wales where he has been counting plants as part of a research project for 40-odd years. Given it had been at least 20-years since I'd been out there, I said sure, let's do it.

After crossing the Blue Mountains, we dropped down onto the plains and drove through Bathurst, Orange, Parkes and Condobolin. By the time we hit Parkes I felt like I was in outback Australia again. The air had that dry heat feel to it; city vehicles had been replaced by flat top Toyota Landcruisers covered in red dirt and everyone I spoke to, seemed to have a more Aussie-like accent, if such a thing is possible.

The first night out, we slept in the bush alongside the railway (pictured below). The sky was so clear, we didn't bother with a tent - we just slept under the stars. It felt amazing to be able to that again.

Each day I was reminded of why I love the outback - from cooking on a crackling hard wood fire, to sleeping out under the stars, to seeing kangaroos and emus on their own terms, to walking on red coloured dirt and much more. Because it has been so long since I've actually been in outback Australia, it actually felt quite foreign. Exotic even.

Before the trip was even over, I knew I had to get back to Australia and start exploring my own backyard a bit more.