Living simple life

A RIDE up Brown Mountain yesterday on steel-framed bicycles was anything but simple.

However, for young Melbourne couple Greg Foyster and Sophie Chishkovsky, it was all in a day’s work.

The couple is exploring the concept of “simple living” while travelling 4000km up the East Coast of Australia on bikes researching for a book.

Mr Foyster said the idea behind simple living is you can increase your quality of life by reducing consumption.

“Think about it as trading income for time,” he said.

“You have less money, but more time to enjoy life.

“It also encompasses various other aspects of life, like growing your own food, building your own house and making or mending your own clothes - living directly instead of paying the middle men.”

Ms Chishkovsky said the simple living movement was a reaction to the growing number of people wanting to ask questions about where products come from and where they are made.

“This way, you can ask questions directly to the producers and get answers from the people who know,” she said.

The book they hope to have published by September next year will detail the journey they are making and how they’ve changed along the way.

Mr Foyster said it will broken down into sections dealing with the main aspects of life and how they can be related to the simple living lifestyle.

Their stay in Bega will form the basis for a section on food.

Mr Foyster and Ms Chishkovsky spent Friday in Bega interviewing stallholders at the Sapphire Coast Producers Association (SCPA) market in Littleton Gardens.

As well as Friday’s farmers market, Mr Foyster and Ms Chishkovsky visited a small species abattoir and dined with Bemboka Banquet originator and head chef Patrick Reubinson.

“We were planning on doing a bike banquet, sourcing everything for a meal within 10km that we could carry on our bikes, but it is the wrong season,” Mr Foyster said.

“Instead we will be foraging some Jerusalem artichokes and wild rocket and Patrick will cook us a soup – maybe we will throw in some weeds as well!”

Mr Foyster said other fascinating interview subjects they’ve met on their travels included a high-profile lawyer who quit her day job to become a shearer, the co-founder of permaculture and a Tasmanian forest activist who has spent the last 200 days living in the top of a tree.

While being hauled up by rope to meet the activist was precarious enough for Mr Foyster, he said what was even more frightening was to see her shoelaces were undone.

“These are all people who are connected to what they consume,” Ms Chishkovsky said.

Mr Foyster and Ms Chishkovsky said they are not a charity – “there are more important causes than us” – but donations of people’s time, a meal or a bed for the night have been exchanged for sharing stories.

Mr Foyster and Ms Chishkovsky used their savings to purchase two 15kg steel-framed bikes and then loaded up with 25kg of gear each – clothes, sleeping bags and tent – “all bought with long life in mind”.

The ride started in Cygnet, Tasmania, and will finish when the couple reaches Cairns – likely early next year.

They are riding between 50-80km a day, camping most of the time, but also occasionally staying at the houses of their interview subjects.

Mr Foyster said their running budget is about $90 a week each.

Ms Chishkovsky said while “you are forced to live simply when riding bikes” there are some limitations.

“Some towns only have a supermarket as their only choice to buy food,” she said.

To counteract this somewhat, they are using one of their bike’s water bottle holders to sprout lentils in plastic containers and they collect edible weeds from the roadside to use in salads.

They cook on a methylated spirits stove and have a small solar panel to charge their electronic devices.

Mr Foyster and Ms Chishkovsky’s book, Changing Gears, is proposed to be released in September next year by independent Melbourne publisher Affirm Press.

• To continue following their journey, visit their blog at www.simplelives.com.au.

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