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How a Perth man’s gap year turned into a way of life

In the late 90s, David McNamara boarded a plane from Perth for a post-university travel adventure. He’s been backpacking ever since.

Now aged in his late 30s, Mr McNamara has now made a lifestyle of his time on the road, despite having been broke, robbed and even drugged on his travels.

‘At that time back in the late 90s it was a rite of passage for a lot of Perth people and Australians, to go to Europe,’ he told 6PR’s Chris Ilsley.

‘Usually after a while, the weather gets you down, home calls you a bit stronger, but for me it didn’t. I come back regularly for visits, but I kept finding a reason – or no reason at all – to keep going and keep travelling.’

While he has no plans to settle in one location anytime soon, the globetrotter did name the English city of Manchester among his favourite destinations in Europe.

He said each country offered its own adventures, memorable experiences and newfound friends.

‘Three years ago… I finished a trip off going through the [United States]. I was running out of money and what was supposed to be a three week swansong in the US turned into eight weeks because I started couch surfing around and my money went a lot further,’ Mr McNamara said.

‘I ended up in Charleston, South Carolina and that’s a place I kept coming back to. I really like the idiosyncrasies of the south.

‘With the United States, the thing that compelled me was… it is 50 states and each one of them has really got its own character and is really quite different.’

Working a string of minimum wage jobs left Mr McNamara without many luxuries, but he soon learned that books were cherished by fellow travellers.

That realisation inspired the Perth man to put pen to paper, which resulted in his first book – Loves, Kerbsides and Goodbyes.

Now, Mr McNamara is working on his second book and has launched a crowdfunding effort to publish it.

He said he hoped Beat Zen and the Art of Dave would be swapped and traded among English-speaking travellers.

‘It’s a fun concept. You view a book with a narrative, but then a narrative of the book starts to come out when people share books and pass them on,’ he said.

‘It’s very much a backpacker thing because a lot of the time you’re travelling for long periods of time, you’re in countries that don’t have the same language as you, so books become quite an important currency.

‘Swapping a book, exchanging a book with other travellers becomes pretty commonplace.’

Learn more about the crowdfunding effort here and listen to the full interview below.

For more Perth Tonight stories, click here.

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