The travellers return

5 March 2012
We were away for just two weeks but when we returned  and drove into our little lane, it felt like we'd been gone a lot longer than that. The trip home was exhausting and a bit harrowing in places as we had to drive through the edge of the flood waters but it was SO worth the effort. Both Hanno and I want to thank everyone who travelled to their local bookshop to meet us. We left a trail of loyal friends behind us and many book shops sold out of copies of the book by the time we left. I was amazed, and probably shouldn't have been, at the generosity and kindness of these people who we'd never met but who felt like, and treated us like, friends. Not only were there warm and comfy hugs there were jars of jam and pickles, home brew, banana bread, gluten-free muffins, dishcloths, soap, chillis in oil, cards and many good wishes brought along for us to take away as mementos. Thank you so much. Both Hanno and I were over-whelmed at the friendliness and generosity of you all. We were treated like the king and queen! It was quite something.

We stayed a few days at Tricia's on the way down south. This is a lovely family dinner at Tricia's - Hanno, Tricia, me, Danny and his girlfriend, Laura. David was behind the camera - cooeee David!

We checked into The Olsen, an art hotel chosen for us by Penguin. And yes, the cricket was on TV so that was on before we did anything else. Wow, such splendour! That bed you can see above is the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. I thought my bed at home was great, but this one beat it.

Along the way we also visited Byron Bay for an interview with local journalist Megan, 2GB in Sydney with Chris Smith (Sydney's biggest radio station), the ABC studios in Melbourne for a number of interviews, including one with Richard Stubbs (which made it into the Weekly Redux along with Graham Nash, Ralph Fiennes and the wonderful Frank Woodley!), and to the massive Herald Sun building for an interview there with journalist Jane Howard who whispered to me: "you wrote this book for me, didn't you?" We went from Byron Bay to Blackheath to Sydney to Melbourne to Ballarat to Castlemaine to Bendigo to Albury to Canberra to Bathurst - where we were caught up in the floods, and home via Dubbo, Gilgandra, Tamworth, Armidale, Dorrigo, Belligen and the Gold Coast. It was an exciting and life-affirming trip because everyone we met was generous with their praise of the book and the blog and we were made feel special every place we went! We were to have visited Wollongong to meet friends but that was not to be and the political shenanigans got our spot dropped from The Circle. Oh well.

On the beach at Byron Bay with Megan. 

Oh dear, I knew I should have written down everyone's name. I think this was at Albury. Sorry ladies, please remind me in the comments so I can add it here. Update: The pregnant lady at my side is Alison - it's baby number 3.

This is my Penguin publicist Dianne Biviano with me in the ABC studios in Melbourne. She did a wonderful job promoting the book and put together that incredible itinerary I posted.

Uh oh! This is what we found in Ballarat!

Also in Ballarat were Lisa and her cute baby.

Linda from The Greenhaven Good Life and Christine from Slow Living Essentials - in Castlemaine.

Lisa and Janine with Hanno in Bathurst. Lisa was the first radio journalist to interview me many years ago. 

In the ABC studio with Richard Stubbs. I really liked doing this interview. He was such an interesting man.

Hanno and I in the ABC Melbourne studios.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was to meet, for the first time, my editor, Jo Rosenberg. Over the course of me writing the book, and the editing of it, Jo and I developed a very special friendship. She is a little younger than my own children and she feels like a daughter to me now. Jo and her gorgeous husband Eli took us out to dinner at a wonderful  Caffe Cucina in Chapel Street. Wow, the food and atmosphere there was superb and while the rain fell outside and we talked and laughed over dinner, and when we walked in the rain back to our hotel a short distance away, I felt that this night was one I would remember forever.

Here is is four of us at Caffe Cucina - Jo, Eli, Hanno and I.

The next morning at the Penguin office, Jo and I in her office.

We went to the Penguin headquarters the next day to meet some other Penguins, namely Allison Colploys who designed the cover of Down to Earth. Oh my, what a charming girl she is! A delightful mix of shyness and youthful exuberance and just bursting with talent. Allison won the young designer of the year award in 2009. Hello Allison!  Meeting you was one of our highlights. :- ) I really was supported by a large group of talented women in the making of this book. On the way into the Penguin building I heard someone say: "there is Rhonda ... and Hanno!" It was Kate from Fox's Lane blog. We had never met before but I have commented on her excellent blog and she on mine so, naturally, in the way of the blogging world, we "know" each other. What a great surprise! This book certainly has lead me towards many incredible people; a wonderful side benefit.

I loved that people saw Hanno and I as a team, because we are that, and a couple of people asked him to sign their books too. He was recognised on the street and when he couldn't find the bookshop after parking the car, he asked Janine and Roger for directions, and they just happened to be on their way to meet us. I loved the friendships that have developed invisibly and easily over the years and that when I spoke about my family: "We stayed with Tricia.", "Kerry is staying at our place." etc, everyone knew who I was talking about and no explanations where needed. Lots of people asked about the babies and I will be sure to tell Jamie and Alexander that when they were little, people loved knowing how they were and what they were doing. But most of all I loved that I knew deep down to my bones that the trip was a success and we would have been poorer for not having done it. It was exhausting, hard work, scary, and a bit intimidating meeting all those people but we had such a wonderful time that I know we will not forget it - ever.

When we got home on Saturday night, as I lay in my own bed, the thing that made the most impact on me was the silence and the darkness surrounding us. Almost everywhere we stayed in those two weeks had unfamiliar noises and lights that illuminated the night. But back here at home I found comfort in the dark silence and I slept soundly in my own bed. Simple pleasures, yes, but genuine and satisfying nonetheless. It's good to be back with you.


  1. Welcome home!!

    I have been reading your blog since late 2007, and while I've nodded along with you a lot, and many (MANY) posts you've written have warmed my heart, I think this post has warmed it the most.

    It sounds like you had a wonderful time and were treated like a celeb! What great memories. Thanks for sharing them (and much of your life over the years) so freely with us all.

    I am all the way in Canada, but when I come to Australia, we are so going to come and meet you and Hanno (if you're up for it, of course!)

    I still don't have a copy of your book (we only have $20/month each for personal money with our budget), but I am looking forward to reading it!!

    ~Melanie in Canada

  2. What an adventure you've had Rhonda! Gosh, I'm so pleased for you both that you got chance to experience something like this - what fun to see your name up in the window like that, and to meet all those wonderful people!

    Can't wait til your book comes out on this side of the world :) Congratulations

    Jenni xx

  3. I`m very pleased for you and Hanno. As you said, you will never forget this trip and the people you met on your way.
    Please let me know if you can get an estemate about shipping two of your signed books to the UK.
    Look forward to hearing from you on
    Much love to you and your family.

  4. Lovely to have you back Rhonda - what an odyssey! It must have been an incredible, surreal experience now that your book is out in the world. I am so looking forward to buying a copy myself - I'm just about due for another trip to Hobart (I wait until I have a long to-do list) - so will look for it then. Do you think you might come to Tasmania? I hope so!

  5. and so wonderful to have you back, I missed you!

    Am delighted to read that your trip was such a blessing and a great success.

    I will be looking for the book here in Canada....maybe, one day?


  6. What an exciting time you have had - and how wonderful! That must have given you SUCH a jolt when you saw that big poster at the book shop! As Jenni says above - looking forward to the book being available over here - fingers crossed they send you here to promote it as well!

  7. I am so happy you were so well received by ALL and that you felt all the love and warmth we ALL have for you both. I just ordered my own copy of your book from one of the sites you listed. I'm in South Carolina - USA and to get a copy to me was $48 and some change. I'll be stalking our mail carrier until it arrives. I'm so looking forward to reading it.

  8. What a wonderful experience for you! And so lovely that your husband was included in signing autographs.
    Congratulations on your success!

  9. Wow!
    It seems like just yesterday you were setting off - and now you are home already!
    You sure packed a lot into that time.

  10. Welcome home Rhonda and Hanno,
    I love that feeling when you walk through the door after spending time away from home. I am so sorry I missed the opportunity to meet you on this trip. You traveled through my corner of the world on your home. Did you stop off in any of those towns that you mentioned? I will thump my desk and say 'darn it' if you mention where I live! All the recent rain would have made the countryside even more scenic for you as you drove through as everything is emerald green at the moment and glistening in the sunshine.

  11. Looks like you had a fabulous time away. Wish you'd been able to come out my way(Ipswich). I do have your book now despite a hiccup with Fishpond which lead to me getting it from Booktopia. Just love the book. Jeanette

  12. Dear Rhonda,
    This is my first time commenting. I have been following your blog since I began my journey into a more simple life. At 34 years old I am so disappointed that I have only recently discovered this beautiful way of living. Life is so much more beautiful when you take time to stop and appreciate it. Having said that, necessity has recently forced me back into the workplace full time after having 10 years off/part-time to care for my 3 beautiful babes. Simple/slow living is harder in the rush of full time work. I have just this weekend made my first batch of your soap. I am cautiously optermistic, I THINK it has worked. I have my own beautiful veggie batch and living in the tropics I am so excited that my planting season is about to begin for the year. I have taught myself to knit, although not very well, make my own laundry liquid, jam and cook from scratch. luckily I love it as working full time and studying a diploma and caring for 3 children and a hubby makes it difficult to balance. I love your blog, I can't wait to get your book in the mail. If only the rest of the world cold see the plessure in the things we see. thanks for all the inspiration Rhonda.
    Love Theressa

  13. I'm so looking forward to your book. Your blog is wonderful and the book certainly looks beautiful. The ball of twine caught my eye. I just happened upon your blog through a side page link on another blog I follow -- pure chance.

    My ordered book is somewhere between you and the western shores of Michigan. I did a double take when I opened todays post -- its tomorrow. Its still Sunday here.

  14. I am so happy for you and Hanno Rhonda. I loved reading about your trip and so glad you are safely home and away from all those flood waters.

    Gold Coast

  15. Hi Rhonda,what a great time you must have had,thank you for sharing those lovely photo's,the best one for me was seeing the huge sign on the Book Shop Window,advertising you would be in the Shop for book signing's!how great is that!i was hoping you were coming to Adelaide,but not to be!my Book will be delivered this week,and i can't wait to get it!glad your back safely,xx Carol

  16. Welcome home. The trip sounds amazing and I like Richard Stubbs too...vbg. As if you, Hanno and your book wouldn't be a success!!!

  17. What a lovely way to see lots of places on the Eastern seaboard. Sounds like quite a success. Enjoy being home again.

  18. I would have loved to meet Richard Stubbs too. I use to like his stand-up comedy routines, better than any of his peers or those around today.

    While it's often the trend to make a joke out of your girlfriend, wife or some other section of society women inhabit, Stubbs never crossed that line. If he ever got close, he did it tastefully and it was genuinely funny.

    I reckon it would take an intelligent man to make a living out of humour, and not by dragging some woman into every joke. I was thrilled to read your impressions of him. I'm not a Stubbs stalker or anything, LOL, he just stood out as a gentleman amongst boys, and that impression has stuck with me ever since.

    Glad to hear you got home safely. There's so much dangerous weather around lately.

  19. Rhonda, so glad you had such a wonderful experience traveling and promoting your book. I know you were quite out of your comfort zone. I love reading your blog. I am hoping my books (one for me and one for a friend) will arrive tomorrow!! I live in Texas, and the book and postage was around $48. Keep teaching us Rhonda!!

  20. Welcome back. It was so nice to meet you in Canberra. The book is great I love it.
    I tried the basic bread recipe. I have been looking for a recipe from scratch rather that using bread mixes. Being time poor I chucked all ingredients in the bread maker and result was a really good loaf of bread. The cost savings will be significant with bread flour being less than half the cost of pre mixed. Thanks Rhonda

  21. This post brought tears to my eyes. I am so glad to hear that you and Hanno are receiving the recognition that you deserve. Your hotel looks wonderful. All the photos show the excitement and happiness that your writing in bringing to people. I am reading your book and savoring it. It is terrific and it keeps me motivated and on task! I'm so glad you didn't give up!

  22. Welcome home!
    I'm relatively new to your blog...discovered it about two months ago. I love the information you so readily share, and I think I enjoy reading the comments from others just as much. I feel like I have found a new group of friends. I have been hovering for quite a few days now waiting for your new blog post, and now it's here. Thank you

  23. Hi Rhonda and Hanno
    I live in a mining town in the North West of WA. I ordered your book from our towns only bookshop, which after an anxious wait finally arrived on Thursday.
    Your book is lovely, filled with much wisdom, and practical tips.

    Congratulations, what a success.
    I hope you sell many copies.
    Kind regards
    Julie Davies, Karratha WA

  24. Welcome home Rhonda, That was lovely seeing people that you met up with whose blogs I read! I sometimes feel a bit isolated up here in northern Queensland, and enjoyed reading about your exciting trip. It doesn't sound as though you will take any time at all to settle back in.

  25. Welcome home, Rhonda and Hanno. I am so glad you are home safe, and sound, but your heart and soul is blessed with wonderful memories.

  26. I have purchased your book although it is at my sisters place at the moment so I need to pick it up. Sounds like a wonderful adventure for you and Hannah and 10/10 to Allison for the cover of the book, I think it's so meaningful, stylish and "down to earth" so to speak. Congratulations on your blog and book and you deserve all the success for sharing for free all your tips and tricks and simply life which lead to a successful "how to manual". Thanks Kathy A, Brisbane

  27. So glad your trip went well. You are a beacon to many who have wanted more choices than they knew about concerning how to craft the life they want to live. Can't wait to read your book. Welcome back home!

  28. Welcome home. There is no place like it no matter how nice the traveling and hotels are it is still your comfort zone. I was worried about the flooded area you had to detour around. Hope your back yard was still high and dry. So glad to have met you and Hanno. I have decided to pass my copy of your book to my daughter. It is too valuable for her to miss out on all this information. She's been asking questions in relation to simple living and I may as well save my breath and let it come from the horses mouth so to speak. lol
    Just fantastic to have met you both.
    Carla, Bendigo.

  29. Hi Rhonda,
    Lisa, who is in the photo with you in Bathurst is my sister. At Christmas time we found that we were both readers of your blog. She lives outside Bathurst NSW and I live in Humpty Doo NT. AMazing how we can be so far from each other and have a common interest. Lisa purchased me a copy of your book and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival in the post. May have to wait awhile due to her being flooded in. Jane

  30. Welcome back! Life is bringing you on some extraordinary adventures. A jouney you are graciously sharing with us. Thank you.

  31. I am so happy for you, Rhonda, and hopeful that your book will soon be available for purchase in the USA. I enjoyed this post and seeing all the photos. Welcome back, I have missed your blog updates. ~Julie

  32. Rhonda, reading this brought tears to my eyes. So happy for you and Hanno to have experienced this trip together. The huge sign in front of the one book store was awesome! Congratulations on all of your success and hard work putting this book together. I can't wait until it hits the US of A so I can run out and buy my copy.

  33. Welcom home. What a great trip you had and how lovely for everyone who met you. I wish I could have done the same!

    I'm enjoying your book very much

  34. Welcome back Rhonda and Hanno!
    It is totally up to you if you post this, and I won't be offended if you don't, as I am unaware if/how this affects your income. Booktopia is currently having a 20% discount on DTE book, making it $31.95Aus, however it would need to be ordered as they are waiting on resupply (I'm not surprised!) though orders are honoured at the discount price.
    The usual retail price is good for a hardcover book but I was thinking particularly that the overseas followers who need to pay much more in postage would benefit from this offer.

  35. What a wonderful report of your adventures. I'm so excited for you and Hanno. Congratulations on your huge success.

    brenda from ar

  36. Welcome back Rhonda and Hanno. What an exciting trip you had, being able to put a face to some of your blog followers, interesting interviews...
    Will you come to WA or Perth at all? Hope so. Best of luck xxx

  37. Thank you everyone. We have no plans to go to Tasmania or West Australia or anywhere else for that matter. We have the Queensland launch of the book next Wednesday at the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre and I have a few interviews to do from home and in Brisbane. I'll also be signing books just before Mother's Day in Maroochydore and talking at various local events here - Landcare conference, SC University and Permaculture Noosa.

  38. Hi Rhonda and Hanno, I just wanted to tell you about my son and his friend that came into Collins in Bendigo to get my book signed for me. My sons name was Damien and with him was Aled. Aleds mum and myself did antinatel classes together 20 years ago. The boys ended up being born on the same day so now there are birthday brothers. We belong to a playgroup that we have been a part of for the last 19 years. There are six
    families, the oldest child I'd nearly 20 and the youngest is 11. We do Christmas parties together go away for weekends, and we are all still the best of friends, so are
    the children and husbands. Last year we had the unfortunate task of burying Aleds Dad. Damien was one
    of the pall bearers and Aleds mum shared death with us like I had never had to do before. We As a playgroup
    sat with the family and we were closer than always. We recently had along weekend away and to outsiders they
    would never have been able to tell which child or
    husband belonged to who as we all flitted between cabins. I'm sharing this with you because my 19 year old son made plans with Aled last Wednesday but he still took him to your book signing. When I told Aleds mum she wasn't at all surprised. Congratulations on your book.

  39. Hi Rhonda, I'm so glad you're both home again safe and sound. What a great time you've had and thank you so much for sharing this wonderful adventure. I wish I could have met you, but The Netherlands are just too far away ; )
    Enjoy being home again !!
    Hugs from The Netherlands

  40. I really enjoyed reading your post Rhonda and felt as if i had come along on your wonderful journey. Not sure if you realise this but you and Hanno exude warmth, pride and excitement in every one of those photos...a joy to see.
    Welcome Back...have missed your words xx

  41. Dear Rhonda,

    I want you to know: I have tears in my eyes ;o) What a great story to be told! I am so glad you are both back, save at home. And I am so glad you two have had a wonderful, loving time. Thank God fot that.

    The only thing for me to say: shame we are not in your neighbourhood. But hey.. look at this (if you have a tiny second):

    It is coming!!

    Love from Holland x

  42. What a grand adventure! Enjoy your time at home, I'm sure there will be more book signings to come.

  43. Welcome back Rhonda and Hanno!
    What an adventure! Congratulations to you both! I am bursting with pride for you.
    Missed you so much.
    Trinidad & Tobago

  44. Just wonderful, Welcome home my friends, I feel as though we are close friends as I read about your daily adventures.I am very pleased to know that your book is selling well and that your first trip out for book signings was a success. The people treated you so lovingly and I thought that it was so sweet of your to mentioned those wonderful small but so simple and heart touching gifts.May you have many blessings as you continue your book signings and future sales.

  45. Welcome home ! When will the book be available in the USA?

  46. Welcome home Rnda and Hanno! I am so ga to see that your trip was successful and fun!
    What a great adventure!

  47. Hello, dear Rhonda!

    I'm glad that Hanno and you enjoyed your trip. I would have loved to meet you, but I'm in Austria. Maybe one day ... :-) Today I finally got my copy of your amazing book. With the postage all the way to Austria, it was quite expensive and I thought ten times about buying it. I think I made the right decision, because it was a good investment. It will help me grow in so many ways and I'm so looking forward to sit down with a delicious cup of tea and read through your book. Warm greetings from Uschi in Austria!

  48. Lovely story, Cathy. Such loving and close groups of friends are rare nowadays.

    LOL Monique. :- )

  49. hi rhonda & hanno - i'm really glad the trip went well. I was driving past abc studios and saw you outside waiting. By the time I hung a uey to come back and say hello you were heading off in a taxi, so I missed my chance to say hello. I've requested your book for mothers day: so it won't be long until I get to read it cover to cover. all the best. fleur

  50. Welcome home Rhonda and Hanno, what a hectic time you have had. Thankyou so much for the icecream recipe and also the Condensed Milk recipe. I'm having 8 ladies for lunch on Thursday so I'm off to give the icecream a try as well as the condensed milk .
    Margaret in Tas.

  51. Hello Rhonda and Hanno, I am glad you have had such a wonderful visit with so many of your existing readers, and I would guess now a lot of new ones.

    I was so looking forward to meeting you in Manuka - I work just down the road in Forrest, and my son had his afters day on Thursday = all the stars were aligning ... oops too many plans - a call to sick bay at lunch time saw me head home with a unwell little boy.

    So it will be another internet thank you for all you write and share, I haven't bought laundry liquid, toilet soap for 18mths. We have 3 chooks to provide eggs and lots of laughter and love (when I dig the vegie patch and let them in!!)Thank you.
    Glad you are home safely with so many memories. Janet

  52. Welcome home Rhonda and Hanno, I am thrilled that you guys had such a successful book tour. I have loved reading all about it and of course I was more than a little bit excited to bump into you that morning. If only I'd had my book for you both to sign. Enjoy your peace and quiet. I look forward to reading the next chapter. xx

  53. My book just arrived here (Isle of Wight, UK) from Fishponds. Now to sit and enjoy it!

  54. It was the highlight of my week meeting you & Hanno in Bathurst! (Well, that along with having the children evacuated from school during the floods!) Hope the floodwaters weren't too close for comfort on your way to Mudgee, and that life eases it's way back over your head (like a handknitted jumper with a loose neckline!!) Lisa x

  55. I am so proud of you and happy for you . Your diligence and wisdom shared paid off in well deserved recognition.

  56. Hi Rhonda,
    It was great to meet you. Yes, that photo with the pregnant one (me) was taken in Albury. Thanks for making the trip to meet us. The book arrived in store that afternoon but I only managed to get to town yesterday to collect it. I am now looking forward to reading about some more simple ways of living, particularly with baby number 3 on the way.


  57. Hi Alison, thank you. Take care, love, and let me know when the baby arrives.


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