‘Wollongong to Woolwich’ by Will Wilkins


Will and Kate plan to move back to the UK after living for some time near Sydney Australia : a friend flippantly suggests they ride their bikes back…

It was with a little trepidation I set out to read this book when there was a spelling error in the charming personalised rhyme Will had written when he signed it for me at one of the London Moto Adventure nights. Self-published books can sometimes be full of poor writing, dreadful spelling or punctuation and be truly painful to read. But I dived in, hoping my fears would be unfounded, having enjoyed the article in Overland issue 5. As it happens there are a few typos and missing words, but either there aren’t many or I was so swept up in the flow of the writing I missed them.

Will has set the book out in a methodical fashion, and it reads chronologically but is not strictly a travelogue. He clearly states at the start he will ‘tell it like it is’. This makes it a very easy read, and does sometimes mean the language can be a little ripe, but this isn’t gratuitous and makes it feel real. Will describes how the trip came about and provides information about the planning process without it turning into a relentless description of meticulous planning, rather he gives an outline that helps the reader to realise ‘normal’ folk can plan this kind of trip.

Sydney to London is a classic, almost romantic, overland route and while there is not detailed cultural information on the many countries they travel through (and the reader is told beforehand there won’t be), you still get a feel for the people and places from the interactions described.

Will has no ego and tells you when the couple make errors and have squabbles. You never think, ‘ok when we get though this bit I’m sure it will get good/interesting again’. It’s personal but not painfully so. It feels like he has just been telling you about the trip while you are sat with him in a bar, enjoying a pint or three.

As you accompany the pair on their slightly mismatched bikes – a Suzuki DR650 and a Yamaha XT250 – the 224 pages fly by. It’s a cracking read with plenty of inspiration for aspiring travellers. No pretentious ‘advice’, just what worked (and didn’t) for them. It may have been interesting to have some insight from Kate into how she felt during the trip as a previously inexperienced rider, and as a woman travelling in Pakistan, but there are plenty of other adventure travel books that cover this.

Finally, the recycled paper is a nice touch and there are 14 pages of colour photos, but the images are small and have not reproduced well. Luckily they are much better viewed on the website where there are a whole lot more.

Being self -published there is no ISBN, but you can get a copy here for only £10.

Jenny Cook

Paperback 224 pages

210mm x 150mm