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Author: Margaret Burin
Source: ABC Rural
Date: 16th January 2015

Living on road kill and bush tucker: One family’s epic cycling adventure

Patrick almost drowned while spear-fishing on the NSW mid-north coast, they stewed dead kangaroos and possums from the side of the road, and dodged speeding cars on the country’s most dangerous highway. 

It is safe to say, the past 14 months has been one hell of an adventure for this family of four, and their dog Zero. Meg, Patrick, 12-year-old Zephyr and two-year-old Woody, have just arrived home to Daylesford, north-west of Melbourne. From their quarter-acre permaculture plot there, they aim to live a largely sustainable lifestyle; foraging wild plants and mushrooms, pickling foods, as well as keeping their own ducks and chooks.

But in 2013 they decided to push these life skills to a new level.

They call themselves Artist as Family: Zephyr, Zero, Meg, Patrick, and Woody have been travelling the Australian east coast to document the free food that is available - from weeds and shellfish to wild fruit and road kill. (ABC : Margaret Burin )

They call themselves Artist as Family: Zephyr, Zero, Meg, Patrick, and Woody have been travelling the Australian east coast to document the free food that is available – from weeds and shellfish to wild fruit and road kill. (ABC : Margaret Burin )

The idea was, as much as possible, to live off free food along their one-year cycling trip. ”Some days we would eat nothing but free food, especially in Queensland, with fish and coconuts and forageable fruits and vegetables,” Patrick said. ”Much of the trip was about recording how much stuff is out there.”

They documented many of these findings and their adventure in their blog Artist as Family. Patrick said, along with the sustainability message, they wanted to highlight some of the health benefits of eating food that is freshly grown, hunted, or gathered. ”Things like green ants are delicious, full of vitamin C and are medicine food for many Aboriginal people,” he said.

“I think that’s the point of our research; that a lot of this wild food directly picked has so many health benefits; it’s sort of preventative medicine really. ”A lot of our food in supermarkets is stored for such long distances, [for such] a long time, and a lot of the nutrients have disappeared by the time we eat it.”

The research trip took them from Victoria up to Cooktown, and back down through croc-infested country south-east of Cape York. Five mammals on two bikes, they were only able to carry supplies that would fit in their saddle bags, which at times, pushed them to their limits.

“In outback Queensland, we twice nearly ran out of water,” Meg said. ”That was very frightening.”

There were many highs and lows, including being taught about bush tucker by Aboriginal elders. But for Patrick, returning to a warm and cheerful community homecoming was the highlight.

“Getting home without killing my family, that was a great high,” he said. Meg and Patrick have just signed a deal with NewSouth Publishing – a publishing arm of UNSW Press – to document their trip and the food they found along the way in a book titled The art of free travel.

This year they also plan to begin permaculture workshops at their Daylesford home.

Check out their amazing photo gallery at The ABC.