1. When did your travelling begin, why did you decide to travel ?
I left home in November 2012. I remember myself as a teenager watching these documentaries about people travelling around the world with a backpack only, by foot, bicycle or even on a sailing boat. I was drawn by their stories because they seemed unique and limitless, nearly lawless, but still looked like ordinary people. It gave me a sense of reality about travelling : it became a goal more than a dream. After graduated of high school I went for a two years apprenticeship that brought me independance, work experience, money and a diploma. Afterwards the company I was working for offered me a year contract that I accepted, and then a permanent position, which would have allowed me to settle down for good, that I declined. Three months later I was on a plane to Australia.
2. How is your life working on stations in Australia, has travelling changed or enhanced your life ? What do you feel you have discovered about yourself ?
Travelling has definitely changed and enhanced my life. I mean how it cannot be : being by myself on the other side of the planet in a stranger country where people speak an other language. It taught me to push my limits, to go out there and get what I want, to be totally independant and responsible for myself. I know myself better now and this whole experience opened my eyes on an enormous number of things to the point that I found the career I want to evolve in.
3. Why did you opt to hitchhike over taking public transport or travelling in your own car ?
The first reason is money. I actually bought a car and travelled with the first few months until I realised money was flowing faster than petrol. I sold it before a major breakdown has happened, bought a tent and pulled out my thumb. I have been hitching short rides back home as well but I must admit that the idea to do it all the way around seduced me. It was about pushing the challenge further and going back to basics. Having great time, awesome experiences and meeting amazing people is the good part that comes with it.
4. How does it feel to be standing on the roadside, not knowing when you are going to get to your destination, how or who with ?
It used to be thrilling and exciting. It is still but there is now a routine in it. To be honest I used to feel a bit stupid about it, standing there, kind of begging for a ride. Now I’m cool with that and I take it very easy, I know most people are good and just want to help out.
5. When we met it seemed you were very laid back about when you would arrive in Broome, it’s hard to imagine life without schedules and time keeping, even when travelling time is not always so limitless, can you explain how that feels, to be at liberty and unconfined with time ?
It is probably the best feeling ever. The fact is, when hitchhiking, you always get where you want to go but just not as fast as you’d normally do so you can’t be in a rush, otherwise you take the bus. Strangely, quite often, I’m the one who decides how fast I want to go. But there’s is always a dateline in a way or an other that I reckon is a good thing to have. It keeps me down to earth.
6. How many miles do you think you might have accumulated by hitch hiking ?
I roughly counted 15 000 km which are 24 000 miles (10 000 km in Australia and 5000 km in New Zealand).
In Australia I’ve also been travelling with friends or people met on the road in their car, these are long distances where I didn’t have to hitch rides.
7. What is the longest ride you have taken and how long have you waited for a lift ?
I’ve been a truck passenger for twelve hours on my trip from Brisbane to Broome. We barely had breaks and we didn’t really chat a lot which sounds very boring but the more I spend on a ride the less I’m standing on the road.
The most I’ve been waiting was about three hours, twice.
8. Do you ever lonely when hitchhiking on your own, how often do you meet other hitchhikers ?
I don’t mind being on my own, I can stand my self pretty well. But I do sometimes miss sharing with someone, especially when I witness something amazing because that’s the kind of story you keep telling to each other. I’ve met way more hitchhikers in New zealand than in Australia, a matter of country size, Australia being a dreamland for travellers in a van.
9. You must get a real insider view of a country, being picked up by locals, does there seem to be a theme of the ‘type’ of people who pick you up ?
Indeed most drivers have been hitchers or travellers themselves or they’ve got children who are travelling as well. When hitching on a very remote and minor road, locals stop because they’re curious to see me here and think I’m lost.
10. I have hitchhiked before, however I was with a male and we travelled as a couple, how do you feel as a women hitching rides, are there ever times you feel your gender effects your ease when on the road ?
To be honest I used to think that the gender doesn’t matter but I was being a fool : most female drivers don’t pick male hitchers up and sometimes even couples and a few male drivers admitted they didn’t want me to get picked up by a mad guy who would take advantage of me.
11. Do you feel it is important to you to reconstruct the gender bias for women who want to travel independently ? A common opinion I have come across when travelling alone is that 'it isn’t safe for a women to travel independantly' do you feel this barrier or opinion should be broken down and that there should be more equality for women who wish to travel alone ? I just wonder if it’s important to you.... this stigma of being a women on your own ?
I would be lying if I’d say that I didn’t want to prove I could do it but I’m not prouder because I’m a female. Yes I believe the risk is bigger for female hitchers but we have more chance to get picked up as well. I’m not really bothered by my gender, when I meet travellers it’s not even something that we’d talk about, it is normal. My battle, if there is one, would be about hitchhiking itself as it is seen like something feral and highly dangerous although nobody actually tries it. Yet there is statistically more chance to die from falling or performing sex, people fear hitchhiking out.
12. I’ve heard we make first impressions on people in a very quick 30 seconds, has hitchhiking changed your ability to make judgment on other people ?
Hitchhiking surely improved my social skills. It is sort of easier to see who really wants to make me feel safe, who is easy to joke with or who I won’t bother talk too much about serious subjects, although I still believe that you can’t judge a book by its cover. You never really know about people.
13. Can you explain how it feels when you reach your destination ?
Of course It feels good but it’s not a real big deal for me because I know I’ll get there anyway.
14. Where is the most beautiful/inspiring place you have visited/passed through ?
With no hesitation : the Kimberleys in Western Australia. That’s why I’m answering these questions from there. The Kimberleys are wild and rough but so stunning and full of life at the same time. I discovered here how life can be easy and sweet. There is a saying : "Fire is the TV of the Kimberleys", it sums up very well the mentality and lifestyle here.
I must say that New Zealand is absolutely beautiful as well but my heart never really left the Kimberleys.
15. Do you have any interesting stories you’ve experienced on your adventure or stories from those you have met ?
I have a novel of stories to tell but one thing that always amazes me is how small the world is. After six months in Australia I happened to meet a guy who lives five kilometers away from me back home. We’ve never met before but we do have common friends and I even went to school with one of his cousin. We met in the kitchen of a hostel in Perth while having breakfast at the same table. I also met one of the musician of a very famous singer in France. We were staying at the same place for a while with other people who turned out to be all into music as well : the best jam session nights of my life !
16. I remember how grateful I would feel toward the people who would pick me up when I was hitchhiking, how do you feel about the fact you may never see or cross paths with these people again ?
I sometimes feel sad about it, especially right after getting out the car of a nice driver who I talked, laughed and shared all the ride long with and find myself standing on the road again, alone. But this is part of the game and I actually reckon that I get along so well with some people because we both know it’s just for a short time. But you never know, we live in a small world !