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Ageing Traveller Series

The Ageing Traveller series is written by Rose Howell, who has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club. Her passion for travel is documented on her Facebook page.

Click here to find out more about Rose.

The Hippie Trail. What is it?

Rose in Sumatra
Photo belongs to Rose Howell


In the late nineteen sixties and early seventies, hundreds and thousands of youngsters from both sides of the North Atlantic took the journey overland from Europe to India, Nepal and beyond.

Simultaneously, quite a few travellers from Australia came in via Southeast Asia and made the trip the other way round.

From Western Europe the road led through former Yugoslavia, Greece or Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal.

The one-way distance along this so-called 'Hippie Trail' was approximately 11,000 km (7,000 miles).

An old Volkswagen van was the favourite choice of those who provided their own means of transport. Trains, cheap buses and hitchhiking were the modes of transport open to the others.

Along the trail, specialised low-budget hotels provided shelter and a place to meet other travellers.

The generation that travelled in those years were called Hippies hence the name "Hippie Trail".

They were a mixture of nationalities, the most common being from the UK, USA, Germany, France, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.

I was one of those who travelled the trail in the mid 70's returning to Australia in 1980. I was a more conservative hippie in that I did not do drugs.


My travels began in New Zealand where my ex and I travelled for 12 months working in hotels, backpacking and hiking our way around.

It is in these places we met the various travellers doing the trail. Their stories whet our appetite for the adventures they were having so we returned to Australia and worked and saved for our trip of a lifetime.

It took exactly one year to travel to London overland across Asia and the Middle East beginning in Bali. We left on the 2nd August 1975 and arrived in London 2nd August 1976. Following are a few photos of our trip through Indonesia.

Boat captain in Sumatra
We caught this boat in Sumatra. This is the Captain who sat on the roof everyday to read the Koran and pray.
He along with his small crew (family) kept us safe from pirates.

 

This small box on the back of the boat served as toilet and shower.
This small box on the back of the boat served as toilet and shower.

 

Ex and his friends. Could easily be family with that hair.
Ex and his friends. Could easily be family with that hair.

 

Photo of Equator in Sumatra
Photo of Equator in Sumatra

 

Pumping petrol. Just hop on the bike.
Pumping petrol. Just hop on the bike.

 

This man had his whole arm filled with safety pins through the skin.
This man had his whole arm filled with safety pins through the skin.


I hope to be able to share more stories and photos with you via this blog in the future.

Why do we go overseas and stay for so long?

Because we live so far away in Australia, when we ventured overseas we not only did the Hippie trail but also we spent over a year in Africa, South America and Europe.

All in all we were away from August 1975 to December 1980. It was a long time to be away and hard for my parents.
We didn’t have Skype or mobiles like the kids today.

We sent aerogrammes home every 3 months and asked family to send letters to different Post Offices where we planned to get to at a certain date. It worked well but it was terrible not hearing from home for 3 long months.

We would post items home along with film from the camera. All the photos were on slides and I have been trying to copy them onto the computer.

If anything bad happened of course we didn’t tell the family because it would just make them worry. I filled them in when I got home. Things like a bus accident in the Andes, gun pointed at my nose in Africa, near rape in Jordan, altitude sickness in the Himalayas and many more.
What was I thinking? You don’t think at the age of 21 do you?

As you will notice as I put more photos on the blog, I lost a lot of weight. I was a very fussy eater when I left Australia but I soon learnt that if you don’t eat, you starve and it is not healthy. I went from about 60 kilos to 45 kilos in no time. Normally that would be great but not when you are travelling.

Food was scarce and we mainly ate in the markets and local eateries that the locals dined in. My stomach took a while to get used to the food and I often suffered from stomach upsets. Whilst in India I got Bacillary Dysentery and it was hard to get better but I did. Now I think of it, anyone watching would have seen several of us (with the same problem) line up for the toilet and when one comes out they went to the end of the line because by the time it’s their turn again they are ready. It didn’t help that the toilet at the hotel was always blocked and yes you ended up standing in sh…………….t.
At least that was the worst illness I got. Others got serious illnesses and ended up in hospital.

It has been over 40 years since I did the Hippie Trail and I still remember a lot as if it was yesterday. I don’t remember everything and I am thankful that we kept a diary of all the places we went to and took photos. Whilst re-writing it, I have remembered many experiences and it has been like going back in time.

My advice to anyone who travels, keep a diary and even if you don’t write everything down, write some dot points of places you visit and experiences you have had. Your children will be pleased that you did when they want to know more about your life.

I have had to re-write the diary because the paper we wrote on from Asia was of very poor quality and the writing is starting to fade. I am worried that I won’t get them written before it is too hard to read. But I am trying.

There will be many more stories to share in the future.

Rose Howell Biography

Rose has been traveling the world for over 40 years, beginning with New Zealand and then the ‘Hippy trail’ in the 70’s. Her travels have taken her to; Asia, Middle East, UK, Europe, Africa, South America, USA, Canada, China and the Pacific Islands. In total she has visited 67 countries plus all the states of Australia except Western Australia, and her goal is to make the century club.
She has taken all kinds of transport and accommodation from budget to luxury. She has travelled through war zones, survived a bus accident in the Andes and visited areas that are no longer available to tourists, such as the Khyber Pass and Bamiyan Statues in Afghanistan.

Rose wants to inspire others to travel and offers free advice to all travellers in particular those who are embarking on their first travel experience. She has a passion for travel and since retiring from an Adult teaching position with TafeSA, has recently resumed clocking up kilometres interstate and overseas.
Her daughters have inherited the travel bug from their parents. The eldest daughter is a travel journalist/documentary maker based in a beautiful area called ‘Byron Bay’ in New South Wales and with her husband, has two globetrotting toddlers who at the age of 5 and 2 also love to travel. Her youngest daughter and fiancé have recently returned from 2 years working and traveling in the UK and Europe. They have only been home a couple of months and are already getting restless. Oh the travel bug!!!!

You can see more of Rose's travels on:
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