Sarah walks alone for over a thousand days and nights through six countries beginning with Siberia and ending at a very personally significant small tree located in the Nullarbor Plain in South Australia.
This is the description of a journey, a way of being, a way of living, when spiritual and physical merge to create harmony and be one with nature.
Nature casts its awe and magic on every page of this intensely robust undertaking. Her story unravels an intimate connection to the natural world.
“I realize that nature lives within me, I am she, she is part of me. Whoa … I spend days digesting this harmonic energy with Mother Nature that’s so difficult to describe. To be face-to-face with her sensitivity often means finding oneself completely naked.”
The connections are bound in the patterns and rhythms of nature. Sarah’s senses are highly alert to the sounds, smells, tastes, sights and feel of the contrasting landscapes she walks across up and over.
She is finely tuned to her body’s nuances, changes and pulses that open her heart, body and soul to absorbing nature’s warnings, beauty and complexities.
Her spiritual and physical essence are totally aligned to the marvels and perils of not only the most beautiful but often the most dangerous and hostile, harsh and isolated regions of the world.
She crosses Mongolia, making two attempted journeys through the Gobi Desert, finally successful on the third attempt. Her expeditions across China, Siberia, Laos, Thailand and finally Australia are filled with memorable experiences both tender and shocking.
Her ability to navigate across the most desolate lands on earth is wondrous for the reader. It incites pride and bravery to face the day-today challenges of modern living.
Furthermore Sarah’s story reminds the reader how important it is to stop, take time out to observe the features of nature and enjoy the moment. Her emphasis is focused on the need to balance our lives and make little changes.
“Let’s listen to our bodies breathe, let’s take a few conscious steps per day, lets smile, let’s spend a few minutes looking at the clouds, greet a passerby, touch the bark of a tree. You see what I’m saying, nothing too complicated or costly. The only luxury that I see is time,”
The wisdom of her words is juxtaposed with the excitement, discoveries and fascination of her quests. Her insights are never lecturing, judgemental or cajoling but generously shared and integrated into her narrative.
Her passion for and immersion in walking is realised in the three years of heroic exploits she chronicles with honesty, humility and literary finesse.
She is sustained by walking and the magnificence of nature even when she encounters unbearable obstacles throughout the journey.
Her hardships span hunger, human harassment, temperatures ranging from freezing to scorching, lethal wildlife, dengue fever, tropical ringworm, a life-threatening tooth abscess, exhaustion and dehydration.
The excruciating hardships and pain she endures are extraordinary. Her realistic and optimistic approach to life underpins much of the success of this daring tale.
The tenacity, organisation and synchronisation skills required are testament to her and her team’s unique abilities to anticipate and also to their highly developed research skills, sensitivity and patience.
The quick and accurate response to the dire events of Sarah’s journey showcases the integrity of the whole team. In particular the offsite expedition leader Gregory Barbezat is always forthright and expedient in his reactions to the crises that occurred throughout the expedition.
Her sponsor’s visions are prerequisites to human development, understanding and growth.
Their generosity fostered the adventurous and soaring spirit of a pioneer and also recognised the courage and bravery required for exploits into extremely challenging environments.
Sarah rejoiced in being alone but was never lonely. She communicated with herself and her surroundings.
Her testament to the details within her diverse locations enhances and hones her literary expertise.
Throughout the journey she is supported and encouraged. In the first instance her mother was steadfast in her love and reassurance.
Sarah’s deep affection for her dog D’Joe is a touching characteristic of her story. The telephone conversations between Sarah and her dog are whimsical interactions.
The ritual and nourishment of making tea is almost a Zen like experience for Sarah.
The repeated occurrences of boiling water on an open fire are soothing, recuperating and nourishing. They provide the comfort of consistency.
The simplicity of living each day within an aura of calm contentment merged with extreme physical exertion is echoed in each step of her solo hike.
Sarah’s equilibrium and controlled restraint is ever present and gives her strength and power in many of the threatening situations she tackles.
Her composure and lack of fear is triumphant over intimidating people, menacing animals, terrifying situations and daunting natural elements.
There is laughter and joy in this tale to uplift the human spirit and endorse the buoyancy and cheerfulness of its hero. There is also much appreciation for all the wonders small and large of her journey. Sarah constantly gives thanks.
Nature massages Sarah’s being and walking is the conduit for her response to her surroundings.
“I permanently adapt to my environment, which becomes instantly familiar. Is this why I find myself precisely here? Is it to shed the habits of my old life? Is it indeed the only way to maintain my life’s internal fire?”
Resolve, dogged persistence and fulfillment pervade this astonishing adventure tale and Sarah shares the miracle of her journey Wild by Nature, with an endless spirit of generosity.
Rose Niland, NSW Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016