RETURN FROM WORLD TOUR TO NEW HORIZONS
On the 20th of December last year, the train pulled up at Wodonga station, and a rather limp, pale, and flu-ridden passenger unfurled his battered suitcase through the door and very nearly fell out into the baking heat. That was me, just three months ago. I was exhausted in a way that I have rarely, if ever experienced, returning after nearly four months on the road touring the book - a journey, which I updated mostly on facebook (such was the pace, 35 cities and as many or more flights) that took me through too many highllights to detail here. Among them though were events I can't help but summarise, so I will try to be brief. There were of course the many, many reunifucations with long neglected friends right across Australia during a tour that took in all capital cities except for Darwin (writing for 4 years tends to inevitably lead to a rather solitary and in some ways selish existence that comes with the territory of books), a week among the indigenous and settler community of the remote Haida Gwai island group in far north west BC, Canada, the winning of the Grand Prize for literature in Banff (the International Mountain Book and Film Festival), visiting my late fathers supervising professor in Mankato, Minnesota, being introduced to a packed auditorium at National Geographic's Washington DC headquarters by Australian Ambassador to the USA, Kim Beazely, sharing a yarn and a drink with my editor Anton Mueller, and publisher George Gibson at the Explorers Club in Manhattan, presenting at the University of California in Santa Barbara, having a slot on BBC TV breakfast in the UK, the film winning the peoples chooice award at the Dundee Mountain Festival, and finally, managing to spend my birthday with my horses, Ogonyok, Kok, and Taskonir in Hungary, before heading home via Finland for a reunion in the sub-arctic with friends who I haven't seen in more than a decade....
It has been a magical time for me of worlds colliding, things coming full circle, and dreams crystalising, many new friends made, and friends reconnected. It will take some time for it all to sink in.
And yet despite all that I have just summarised, there have been many exciting things already punctuating 2014, even in its tender few weeks and months. Ahead, I am excited to announce that I will be leading a new trek to the Altai of Siberia in Russia - see details below.
Here are some of the highlights:
FEATURE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN WEEKEND MAGAZINE
In January I was fortunate to be commissioned to write a feature about my relationship with Australian landscape. This was an opportunity to share the legacy of my father who introduced myself, my two brothers and sister to the inspiring coastal environment of Waratah Bay - stretching from Cape Liptrap, to Wilsons Promontory. I was grateful to be able to write about the way in my experience as a child in Gippsland played such a pivotal role in my pursuit of adventure, and the way in which my journey by horse from Mongolia to Hungary became interwined with my home after the unfortunate death of my father in 2006. Many will not be subscribed, but here is a link to the piece that I wrote:http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/return-of-the-nomad-to-gippsland/story-e6frg8h6-1226820418642#
PERTH WRITERS FESTIVAL - On the Trail of Genghis Khan is #1 Best Seller at the festival, and #1 Dymocks Travel Book.
In Febraury Tigon and I were fortunate to be invited to participate in the Perth Writers Festival. It was a privelege to be able to brush with author stars, like Hannah Kent, Elanor Katton, Thomas Keneally, Richard Flannagan, Lionel Shriver, Moris Gleitzman in the green room, and even better to be able to listen to a much larger array of writers from across the globe. Writing is a very solitary excerise, and to have the social element at festivals is something that I was greatly appreciative of (Tigon, was also appreciateve of all the pats he received in the green room, and the array of cup cakes on offer). I will never forget listening to Richard Flanagan tying together thenes of Love, the Burma Railway, and Manus Island Detention Centre, or Thomas Keneally's take on the 'legitimization of cruelty' that seems to have unfolded with the latest asylum seeker policies of the Australian governent. I was was very lucky to be invited into the fold of fellow bloomsbury authors - Anchee Minh, Robyn Davidson, DW Wilson, and Jaspreet Singh, with whom I shared the not too infrequent drink and bite to eat (all facilitated by publicist extraordinaire Brendan Fredericks).
One of the highlights was having the opportunity was presenting together with Robyn Davidson i. Reading Robyn Davidson's 'Tracks' some years ago left a deep impression on me, as it has on whole generations of Australians. Her journey from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean wth just her camels and dog for company paints a rare picture of the terrain at Australia's inner heart, and the intersection there between men and women, aboriginals and Australians of foreign descent. Robyn's dream for the book to be realized as a film has recently come to fruition, and after the event, I went to a special screening where some in the audience were families who had looked after Robyn and her camels more than thirty years ago. 'Tracks' is currently showing in cinemas across Australia, and Bloomsbury has re-released her world besteller by the same title.
In the end, it was a very pleasent surprise to hear that On The Trail Of Genghis Khan had not only topped the best sellers at the festival, but had sold more than a single book in the history of the Perth Writers Festival. That, I think, is largely owing to Tigon, who armed with an inkpad 'pawed' his autograph onto more than 100 copies! Two weeks after the festival it was announced that my book is currently the #1 bestseller at Dymocks bookstores.
APPEARANCE AT THE NEWCASTLE WRITERS FESTIVAL 5-6TH APRIL
I'm proud to announce that I will be participating in the Newcastle Writers Festival, in events on the 5-6th of April. This is one of a number of festivals that I hope to be a part of for the remainder of the year. Please find all the information you need to book a ticket and visit the festival at:
NEW in 2014: THE RUSSIAN ALTAI "ALTAI HIGH TRAVERSE"
Departing September 1 2014
Nestled into a southern toe-hold of Siberia, on the frontiers of Mongolia, Kazakhstan and China intersect, lie the remote Russian Altai - a remarkable range of 4000m+ glaciated peaks where dense taiga forest, alpine plateaus and raging rivers meet with camel-trodden steppe, and the fringes of Central Asian desert landscapes. The unique ecological tapestry of the region is mirrored by the Altai’s mixed cultural heritage, renowned as the cross-roads of Islam, Buddhism, Orthodox Christianity, and Shamanism. At the heart of Altai culture are the indigenous Altai people – nomads, who submitted to Russian suzerainty in the 19th century, but who still play an important role in the life, and governance of the semi-autonomous ‘Altai Republic.’
In September this year, Tim Cope will lead a 10 day trek for World Expeditions in the shadow of the Altai’s highest peak, Belukha (4506 metres). Tim, a Russian speaker who first visited the Altai in 2000 and has since become impassioned about travel to the greater Altai mountain range, will accompany the group from the village of Tyungur through a series of mixed forests, and alpine ridges, culminating with a crossing of the Karatiurek pass (3060m).
Scheduled in early autumn to coincide with the turning of the deciduous larch and birch and the tourism off-season, the trek promises to be characterised by stable warm days, cold clear nights, and quiet trails. Packhorses –a quintessential in the life of Altai nomads- will be used for the cartage of equipment, and the group will additionally be accompanied by local guides, and a translator.
Like on all of Tim’s journeys, he hopes that the journey will be vehicle for people to come to know the culture of the region, and the unique relationship that the people have forged with their environment over many centuries.
Limited spaces available now. Enquire and book through World Expeditions