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									Another to GO
     wAy                                                                                              WarmshoWers
                                                                                                      loW-doWn                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           conn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        on th ect
                                                                                                      ■ There are now almost 400
                                                                                                      Warmshowers members across
                                                                                                      Australia – and more than 10,000
                                                                                                      members worldwide.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             en          et
                                                                                                        The list began life as a text file

                                                                                                      in 1993 and, until about four years
                                                                                                      ago, had 1000 members. Since                                                                                                                                                                                                              (we’ve had guests from Asia and
                                                                                                      going online in 2005, membership                                                                                                                                                                                                          Europe) we always manage to
                                                                                                      has steadily increased.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   make a connection. Often the
                                                                                                      ■ Warmshowers is free to join and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                talking doesn’t stop from the
                                                                                                      run mainly by volunteers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 minute they roll into the garage.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The challenge is to pause long
                                                                                                      ■ The website is in English, but it
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                enough for them to take that
                                                                                                      recently launched a Spanish and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                nice warm shower.
                                                                                                      French translation option. Other
                                                                                                      languages are on the cards.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Two guests who stand out were
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                the ones who arrived with a bag
                                                                                                      ■ Warmshowers is a reciprocal                                                                                                                                                                                                             full of ingredients and cooked us
                                                                                                      experience – all members are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                a meal. After a hard day at work
                                                                                                      encouraged to host as well as
                                                                                                      be hosted, even if it’s at some                                                                                                                                                                                                           we really appreciated it, although
                                                                                                      undetermined point in the future.                                                                                                                                                                                                         we felt guilty as they’d probably
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                had a harder day than us.
                                                                                                      ■To find out information, go to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Warmshowers is great because
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                everybody gets something out of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                it. At first glance it might seem
                                                             on the New South Wales north
Keen to begin bicycle touring,                               coast. We knew we’d get to meet
                                                                                                     able to pick our guests’ brains
                                                                                                     around the dinner table which
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                like the cyclists get the most
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                benefits – our guests love a home-
rob and maureen byrne found a                                interesting people on their fun         means, when the time comes,                                                                                                         We contacted Robert, a lovely          oN yoUr BIKe: The       Warmshowers is that you can             cooked meal and the peace and
website that would enrich their                              adventures just like the one we                                                                                                                                                                                    colourful Grafton

                                                                                                                                             PHOTOs: cOurTesy Of GrafTOn ciTy cycles; maclean bicycle cenTre; rOss barneTT/TOurism nsw
                                                                                                     we’ll be more than ready for our                                                                                                    Warmshowers member who lives                                   offer the level of hospitality you’re   quiet of our place, and the non-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                streets (top) are
lives – even before they left home                           were planning, and would learn          own trip. We’re hoping to cycle                                                                                                     near the shop, and he was happy        popular with cyclists   comfortable with. In our case,          Aussies love the kangaroos who
                                                             all sorts of things from them.          around Australia and New                                                                                                            to host us, even though we were        from groups such as     we provide a section of our house       hop into our backyard. But we’ve

Two years
                                                             We suspected they might also be         Zealand first, then Europe and                                                                                                      driving and not cycling. He was        Grafton City Cycles     with bedroom, bathroom and              also reaped the benefits.
                                                             inspiring folk and we were right.                                                                                                                                                                                  (far left), Maclean
                               ago,                                                                  Asia, possibly concluding in                                                                                                        a true gentleman, and a mine of        Bicycle Centre
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        living area. We usually feed our           We know far more about what
we began to think about bicycle                                 We’ve now hosted more than           North America. It sounds almost                                                                                                     information as he’s toured a lot.      (above left), and       guests, too. Anyone thinking of         works and what doesn’t when
touring. We’d always enjoyed                                 a dozen travellers since we joined      impossible but, every time we                                                                                                       We had a great time and it was the     travellers, like        being a host who provides food          you’re touring now. And we’ve
cycling and kept hearing about                               in late 2008. Our guests have           host another touring cyclist,                                                                                                       perfect introduction to the service.   this nice couple we     should be aware that cyclists are       learnt plenty about equipment,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hosted (above right).
people touring the country, and                              been fascinating people, many of        we realise just how feasible it is.                                                                                                    It’s been useful seeing what                                always completely ravenous.             camping gear, routes, the best
even the world, on their bikes. We                           whom we’re still in contact with           Most of the people who stay                                                                                                      kind of kit people carry. Some                                    They may look lean, but that’s       countries to visit, places to avoid
started doing research, including                            and hope to visit when we take          with us are doing a trip up or                                                                                                      travel incredibly light – to the                               because they burn thousands of          etc. All these things will make life
joining online cycling forums.                               off on our trip. The cyclists tend      down the east coast. Sometimes                                                                                                      point of riding without socks to                               calories each day on the bike, not      a little easier when we set off
   We saw plenty of positive                                 to be passionate with a positive,       it’s just between Sydney and                                                                                                        save weight. Others pack quite a                               because they don’t eat much. We         ourselves. We can’t wait to begin
                                       LIFe CyCLe:
comments about something               Inspired by hosting   can-do attitude, and quite a bond       Brisbane, but usually it’s longer.                                                                                                  few luxuries; we had a doctor stay                             cook what looks like way too            our trip as soon as our work
called and             other warmshowers     forms when they get together.           Some have been around the world                                                                                                     with us who had enough medical                                 much, but it’s always easy to           commitments allow.
discovered it was a hospitality list   members, we now       It makes for some interesting           and the east coast is just a small                                                                                                  supplies to undertake roadside                                 convince them to polish it off. Our        Staying with locals through
                                       can’t wait to ride
that puts touring cyclists in touch    off on our own
                                                             conversations about destinations        part of their trip. Once our place                                                                                                  surgery, which he had actually                                 guests are always so hungry they        Warmshowers will help us move
with hosts all over the world.         adventure.            and experiences on the road.            was just a safe haven for a couple                                                                                                  done in South America.                                         think our cooking is excellent,         away from feeling like traditional
The hosts offer somewhere for                                   If you like a quiet night in front   to leave their car while they                                                                                                          We love hosting. At first we                                which we think is extraordinary!        tourists. It’ll be a much richer
the cyclist to sleep – everything                                      of the TV, Warmshowers        toured the area for a few days.                                                                                                     were a bit nervous we’d get more                                  We haven’t really had any bad        experience, and we’ll get to spend
from a room to a patch of grass                                        is probably not for you.         We also got to experience                                                                                                        requests than we could handle,                                 experiences. One guy called us          nights relaxing and making new
for pitching a tent was on offer.                                      But if you like the           Warmshowers hospitality when                                                                                                        as we’re on the popular east coast                             up the day before he was due to         friends. There’s also the bonus of
Best of all, after a long day in                                       company of intrepid           we headed down to a bike shop                                                                                                       route and there are no other hosts                             arrive to say he was only 20            cutting costs so we can stay on
the saddle, they also provide                                         adventurers, who pedal         in Canberra. We wanted to look at                                                                                                   within 80km of us. But the reality                             minutes away, which was a little        the road for longer. But whether
the use of a warm shower.                                             in and out of your life,       recumbent bikes – the kind where                                                                                                    is we wish more people would                                   inconvenient, but we got around         we have a bed, sofa, or simply
   It seemed like a great idea                                        then it’s perfect. You’ll      you sit back in a similar position                                                                                                  pass through, even though we                                   it. Obviously we click more with        somewhere to pitch a tent, that
so we joined, offering to host                                       hear remarkable stories         to when you drive a car – and the                                                                                                   both work full-time.                                           some people than others, but            much-appreciated warm shower
cyclists in our home in Grafton                                      and learn lots. We’ve been      nearest stockist was in Canberra.                                                                                                      One thing we really like about                              even if there is language barrier       will be the biggest plus of all.

54                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Real travel stories, real advice 55

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