Freedom is a constant struggle for a blind person. Public transport can be inaccessible. Taxis are expensive. Catching buses can be very boring. Looking out of the window to see the sights is simply unproductive. I've often found some people have been concerned about the way I travel. I am not afraid to go to places that are unfamiliar and this will never change.
I find travel very exciting.
When I was younger, I travelled around Queensland and Western Australia. I also traversed many remote areas of country Victoria. I chose not to travel as a tourist but rather enjoyed travelling and working a little too. I liked to get to know an area and live there for a while. Living in Mildura was particularly fun. I earned money picking grapes.
I went through a stage in my life where I decided to live it rough. It was part of my own personal journey as a blind person. At one time I had no fixed address. As an activist I worked on many environmental projects such as forest blockades in East Gippsland and Western Australia. This involved many confrontations with police and loggers. Travel was dangerous and inaccessible. Negotiating bush terrain was scary. But I conquered my fear.
Learning to survive
I made some amazing discoveries in my travels. I absolutely enjoyed sitting in roadhouses and talking to the truck drivers.
Some years ago I mapped out a travel route from Melbourne to Cairns. I was travelling there for a job interview on an Aboriginal community. I got some fabulous rides in trucks. From roadhouse to roadhouse I travelled on. I even got to drive a big truck for a little bit during a joyride from Melbourne to Wagga.
Sometimes I would have to wait on a highway. Hitchhiking is dangerous and illegal but I went through a time when I completely rebelled against authority. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn how to survive on my own.
Now I use mobility aids for travel. Although I adore dogs, the guide dog is not my preference when travelling. I use a white cane with plenty of common sense and intuition.
My lifestyle is different now to when I was younger. I consider myself spoilt. I catch public transport. My partner drives me to where I need to go in the car.
As an activist, I have taken up radio broadcasting and writing. I've completed a Diploma of Herbal Medicine. I also provide advocacy support for prisoners. I no longer have to prove to myself that I can survive on my own as a blind person. I have the confidence and expertise to control my own destiny.
This is my own personal journey. Blind people have as much right to freedom as anyone else in the community.
Do you have a personal journey you can share? Leave us your comments.