A Hippy Tale That’s Full of Aussies
The heady days of the ‘60s and ‘70s saw many hit the hippy trails of India, Kathmandu and other parts of Asia in search of their Nirvana.
This was a time of free love, sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, the turmoil of the Vietnam War, revolutionary ideas and the beginning of the Whitlam era.
Coogee local Steve Bargwanna chose Australia as his ‘hippy trail’ and hitchhiked and jumped freight trains around our vast continent.
In his book, An Apprenticeship in Australiana: My Education in Six Summers, Steve tells of how he juggled his three-year university course into a six-year adventure around the country.
From a close-knit hardworking family, he was privileged enough to get a private school education which led to him taking on a university degree, before succumbing to his new-found freedom.
“The year 1968 had been tumultuous,” Steve says in his book.
“I was 19. I had too much freedom, too many new and revolutionary ideas and far too much grog for a raw boy running amok in his first year out of the protective private school cocoon. I had to get out of Sydney.”
A descendant of explorer William John Wills, the urge to venture into the ‘wilderness’ was in his blood.
With thumbs up he and a university mate set off on their first journey, which saw them end up in Western Australia and work in the wheat fields for their first taste of ‘hard yakka’.
It was the start of many adventures that saw Steve adapt to life on the road, surviving a car crash and the wrath of the Queensland police, and whatever it took to survive in a harsh land.
The book is a ‘Boys Own’ travelogue, which portrays life on the road and all it took to adapt to tough times as well as the good times and meeting a myriad of characters along the way.
“I really wrote this book as a legacy to my children and grandchildren to let them know what it was like in my youth and of the times that may never be seen again,” Steve said.
“We had freedom, no mobile phones or computers, and did our best to cope with everything that was thrown at us – some good, some bad.
“It was also a journey, in parts, to trace some of the footsteps of William John Wills and to try and understand what happened on the ill-fated journey of explorers Burke and Wills.”
It’s an enjoyable read that heats up from the cool temperate zones to the steamy tropics and dry outback, highlighting the energy of youth and the radical zeal of students in the halcyon days of change.
The book is an independent publication and is available on amazon.com as a paperback for $5 plus shipping, and as a kindle edition for $4.15.