Matthew Harris thought it was time to come back to Adelaide after spending 20 years in The Netherlands. He didn’t come back on a plane. He came back on two wheels. 

On September 28 I arrived at Brighton Jetty on Drahtesel – the trusty bike that has taken me over 41000km in two years from the Netherlands. I was standing at the place I grew up, and the place where my mother’s ashes are scattered. It has been a long and life-changing journey to get here.
I moved to the Netherlands when I was 22 to do a PhD in mathematics and ended up staying. After over 20 years in Europe working in healthcare research and communications, home was calling, so I returned – the Dutch way – by bike. Now Europe is not just two long plane trips away, but a road across the planet. A road of adventures, amazing landscapes and beautiful people.

‘Where are you going?’ asked a guy in Tehran. I told him my itinerary and before I knew it, he had arranged that I stay at his brother’s, his uncle’s and his friend’s place on my way eastwards. My journey through Iran was a cascade of huge feasts, private music recitals and guided tours.

Every night in Indonesia I set up my mosquito net in schools, town halls, restaurants, churches and a huge number of other random places. People welcomed me into their homes, invited the whole village over, and fed me.

Cycling in the elements, I was in the heat, cold, wind, rain, snow and sand. I was part of it – not a spectator viewing from the bubble of an air-conditioned car. The most remote and barren were the most beautiful – the high Pamir Plateau in Tajikistan, the Tibetan Plateau in China and the wide open expanses of desert in central Australia.

And now? Bicycles, sustainability, communication and aboriginal health are key words, bringing together my passions and professional experience. If you have any leads, let me know in the comments below. J

For more information on Matthew’s 2-year bike trip from Holland, head to arctic-cycler.com

The Pamir Highway, Tajikistan


Mt Connor, The Northern Territory


Sturt Desert Pea, SA


The Oodnadatta Track, SA


The Oodnadatta Track, SA


The Pamir Highway, Tajikistan


A steep climb in Timor, Indonesia.


A beach house in Flores, Indonesia.


A swimming stop in Sulawesi, Indonesia.


A lot of attention fixing my flat tyre in Java, Indonesia