Twisting Throttle Australia is an interesting story of a “Kiwi” (New Zealander) motorcyclist who decided to take a 17,000 kilometer trip around the perimeter of Australia.
Australia is certainly one of the most interesting places in the world to visit; an island continent, it has about 21 million people on a land mass of about 3 million square miles, but most of the inhabitants are located in the major cities of Canberra (the capital), Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
The rest of the geography is relatively uninhabited and contains some of the most varied, interesting and different flora and fauna that can be found, so a trip around the perimeter of this great land mass would be quite an adventure indeed.
Mike Hyde takes an interesting approach in his narration of the trip; each chapter is a sort of a stream-of-consciousness log that describes his thoughts during the ride, his descriptions of the landscape, places and characters that he meets, with a special focus on his diet and some of the more mundane aspects of long-distance motorcycle travel.
The book’s format is different than any other motorcycle travel and adventure stories that I’ve read; there are many comical situations that are described by Hyde in a style that reminds me of, say, Woody Allen taking a motorcycle trip.
I don’t think this is a book that could serve as a technical guide for duplicating the trip; rather, it serves as background information that provides some insight into the people, he culture and the food that can be found in the “outback”.
Of course, there’s Mike’s character, which definitely comes through in the text. He’s an impartial observer of the passing scene, but the comedy is that he never quite seems comfortable blending in to the customs way outside the big cities.
I never realized that there was so much of a cultural divide between “Kiwis” and “Aussies” (pronounced “Ozzies”). It reminds me of, say, what might happen if a born and bred Manhattan apartment dweller was all of a sudden thrust into the wilds of North Dakota.
Hyde’s journey also gives hope to armchair adventurers who have been reluctant to take the plunge because they are unsure of their mechanical aptitude. Other than a few minor problems, he made it on his Suzuki V-Strom nearly without incident.
I have a feeling that Twisting Throttle Australia may not appeal to everyone; Australia is a big place and narrating the nearly minute-by-minute activities during a motorcycle ride through many hundreds, if not thousands, of kilometers can sometimes become a bit tiresome.
It seemed like a book that I could put down for a while and then pick back up to see what was next, rather than something that can be digested all at once.
But overall, I enjoyed the adventure and Mike Hyde’s dry humor. As the press release says, “In Twisting Throttle Australia you might not learn much about Australia, its history, attractions or geography. It’s the story of a journey and what happened….”
I take it that Hyde is planning a “Twisting Throttle America” book as a follow-up, and it should be interesting to learn about a Kiwi’s take on grits, Hip-Hop and Middle America.