Going Postal (Book Review) The Ups and Downs of Travelling the World on a Postie Bike By Nathan Millward

According to the Urban Dictionary “Going Postal” was originally coined from a series of real life shootings in the US postal service. It now usually means that someone is about to go nuts or off the deep end so it’s an apt name for this autobiographical account of travelling from Sydney to London on a whim with an old postie bike and little gear or money.

Going Postal - ups and downs of travelling the world on a postie bike by Nathan Millward

The journey was undertaken on an underpowered decommissioned Australia Post honda bike and I think it’s fair to say that the author Nathan Millward made an impetuous and extremely reckless decision to go on this trip with less than even the bare minimum of equipment.

When Nathan Millward learns that he has just twenty days to leave Australia before his visa expires, he has a choice to make: fly home to England on the return ticket he already has, or set off on the adventure of a lifetime riding a decommissioned Australia Post bike across the world.

Reading this book is a like a bare knuckle ride and feels fittingly raw and emotional. Don’t expect the gentleness and deep cultural insights of Australian adventurer Tim Cope’s recent TV series On the Trail of Genghis Khan.

Luckily for Nathan the laptop and SLR camera he took with him earnt their keep because ABC Books offered him an advance cash payment for a book deal to tell his story at exactly the same time he had run out of money again and was contemplating quitting.

Cats are supposed to have 9 lives but Nathan must have used up the life equivalence of several cats. On many occasions his safety and wellbeing depended totally on the kindness of strangers who take pity on him and gave him food, shelter and much needed equipment.

His postie bike Dot never says die despite being pushed far beyond it’s capabilities eg travelling along the Karakoram Highway (highest international paved road in world) which connects Pakistan with China, without it he would’ve been toast.

The only reason he survived is because it was built simply and to be rugged enough to last in Australia’s wildly varying landscape and climatic conditions. It’s a testament to the engineers at Honda.

Dot is mentioned so often it becomes anthropomorphized (almost like a travelling companion person) and at times I felt more empathy towards it than the author.

Nathan uses a pseudonym for his Australian girlfriend’s name which is understandable but also doesn’t really tell us much about his background and the experiences which shaped his character, these would have helped to understand him and his motives better.

It seems amazing but its true that despite all the risks he took Nathan ended up OK in the end and wasn’t physically attacked by anyone or hurt when travelling through areas of extreme poverty or near where civil wars and unrest were occurring.

In comparison Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who signed Nathan’s helmet at the beginning of the trip was metaphorically “knifed” and deposed by his own party several months before this book was published.

Perhaps being a political leader is more dangerous than traveling through the world almost permanently on the edge of disaster.

Going Postal The Ups and Downs of Travelling the World on a Postie Bike By Nathan Millward can be purchased from ABC Shops or ABC online, Amazon Kindle ebook or regular bookstores.

14 thoughts on “Going Postal (Book Review) The Ups and Downs of Travelling the World on a Postie Bike By Nathan Millward”

  1. was a great adventure haved this man, but return good with good, for someone wanting to do the same should take more account of how valuable life is and that we should not put at risk.

  2. Thanks for the review Neerav. I Just wondered if yourself or any of your subscribers would like to come along to a presentation I’m giving at Dymocks bookstore on Thursday 24th Feb.

    It’s at 424 George Street, Sydney, 6-7pm, with me telling …tales from the saddle of a postie bike that’ll be mounted in the shop. Would be nice to see you there, prove I’m not as nutty as the trip would suggest.

    There’s a bit more info here…
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=190374157649421

  3. Having read and given much thought to your review of my book, I can’t help but wonder if you, or Paul for that matter, have ever really walked the ‘Road Less Travelled’ yourselves. Something tells me you’ve not.

    Good luck in your search
    Nathan.

    EDITOR: I guess we have differing ideas about preparation and acceptable risks so we take different roads less travelled 🙂 I’m off to the remote North of Western Australia soon and that certainly counts as off the beaten track

  4. Oh what a great adventure you have there. I think that you would not regret that. That is a thrilling experience journeying into some uncertainties. I just wonder where did you get that faith to do that! Anyway nice post you have here

  5. Nathan, how dare you undertake such a dangerous voyage?

    You should have taken the plane back home to England and watched “The long way round” during the flight!

    😀

  6. Yes Nathan, as Ray asked, how dare you leave the beaten path of safety and comfort and actually “Boldly Go Where No One (on a postie bike) Has Gone Before”?

    Don’t you know that taking the road less traveled can be dangerous and may put you in situations where you are forced to rely on the goodness of strangers?

    You must be crazy to attempt anything in this age of travel that requires the latest equipment, support crews, plans and arrangements, not to mention the necessity of huge piles of cash to pave the way for your “adventure”.

    Dangerous people like you should be kept away from sane travelers as you might infect others with the joy of traveling simply, cheaply, slowly, and possibly without a safety net.

    Your travel preparation, your equipment, and your personality were obviously up to the trip and while I might have chosen a different bike and a bit more clothing as well as a good tent, I know it wouldn’t automatically make the trip better or safer. Travel of any kind involves risk, discomfort, discovery, and always the mental ups and downs. I followed your trip on ADVrider and felt like I was riding with you the entire way.

    Good on you Nate!

    I watched “Long Way Round” and hated it! Whining and complaining was endless. They were stressed out when BMW hadn’t delivered the FREE bikes and support crew in the beginning. What? Actually pay their own way??? The fact that just one of their bikes was worth more than all the homes of everyone in some of the villages they passed through made them seem like aliens to the people instead of fitting in as Dot did for you. The Long Way Rounders made it seem like they were so brave and heroic fighting through the mud while their support vehicles with mechanic, tools, doctor, and supplies sometimes miles away…. Wimps. They never mentioned how many others have ridden motorcycles around the world without any of the backup they had. Many men and some women have ridden and repaired their own bikes as they traveled because they wanted to go, not because they could make more money and fame.

    Too many people feel they cannot do something because they don’t have all the gear, equipment, arrangements, and mega money that everyone says is required before starting out. Too many believe the quote “Every journey begins with a single step” has been replaced with “Every journey requires a LOT of money”

    For those who feel Nathan was irresponsible, would you believe it would have been OK if he rode a bicycle instead? Drove a car? Maybe a fully outfitted 4 wheel drive vehicle? Or was it traveling alone and without a lot of money that makes him irresponsible in your view?

    I never felt Nathans actions were intentionally dangerous, however danger does come at times to all of us no matter where we are and whatever we are doing. Time and chance. Even at home or going back and forth to work terrible things can happen to us.

  7. Having been on the road less traveled,strangers feeding and helping you are what you find in the real world.
    Not a bunch of guides carrying your sorry ass.

    Nathan is a survivor and his journey proves that.

    Well done mate!

  8. Just to review the reviewer here for a moment, did he even read what he wrote? First he says Dot was an inappropriate vehicle then he says she was the only reason Nathan succeeded on his trip. And he never really reviewed the book, just criticized the trip. What a sad joke of a review. Road Less Travelled? This guy obviously has no clue what that road is like.

  9. Nathan, this was an awesome trip done a great way – not a lot of worry and stress, just taking life, obstacles and problems as they came along. Full respect.

  10. Seems to me that even IF Nate was dangerous and irresponsible (which I personally do not agree with) then HE was the only one at risk.

    Being 6′ 2″ I probably would have used a bike with a bit more “leg room” but I personally LOVED the fact he did it on a postie bike and not a brand spanking bmw 1200gsa blah blah blah.

    So whens the next trip Nate?

  11. Nathan what a great trip and enjoyed reading your book along with 3 other friends where the book has been passed around. Now we have planned our own trip from Broome to Brisbane leaving may next year when the weather is right. Any advice you can give us?

  12. sorry in advance for my spelling!
    Postie trips are the best 3 friends and I went from Somerville (south of Melbourne) to the Gold Coast in 4 days day 1 Somerville to Eden, day 2 Eden to New Castle, day 3 New Castle to Coffs Harbor, day 4 Coffs Harbor to Gold Coast.

    Every day we heled them full throttle and they didnt let up or give in! Put any other bike in the world full throttle for 4 days and it would be toast.

    The Honda ct 110 is the only bike i would take around the world and expect to make it back to my doorstep, like they say slow and steady wins the race in nates cas slow and Dot got him around the world.

  13. A wise man once said something along the lines of “Ships are safe in harbours, but that is not what ships are for”.

    Awesome adventure!

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