What Odyssey?

In early 2012 we decided to return to various parts of the world we visited in the early ‘70s and because two of my greatest joys are photography and writing I decided to share stories via a travel blog. It was called Fred and Bev’s Encountering the Past Odyssey Part 1 and it turned out to be a resounding success, not only for us personally but from the fact that the blog received and still is receiving hundreds of hits each week.


Part 1 of our Odyssey took us from our hometown of Tamworth in northwest New South Wales  to Darwin and Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory.  After a three-month spell there teaching ceramics to Aboriginal children we returned to Darwin and drove to Perth in Western Australia from where we flew to Thailand and walked part of the infamous Burma Rail.   From Thailand we flew to Istanbul and then, utilising public transport, we travelled through Greece, Albania, the former Yugoslavian states, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and France.  We arrived back in Australia in January 2013.

Following are some images from our Encountering the Past Odyssey Part 1.  I hope they inspire you to read Part 1 before delving into Odyssey Part 2.

An Australian free bush camp on our way north a week after our Part 1 Odyssey began.

An Australian free bush camp on our way north a week after our Part 1 Odyssey began

Bev and I were taken into an Aboriginal family on Groote Eylandt and this is our nephew Jamila

Bev and I were taken into an Aboriginal family on Groote Eylandt and this is our nephew Jamila

Railway cutting on the infamous Burma Railway.

Railway cutting on the infamous Burma Railway.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul. Istanbul is our favorite city.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul. Istanbul is our favorite city.

Meteora monasteries, Greece.

Meteora monasteries, Greece.

Lucky shot, Tirana Albania.

Lucky shot, Tirana Albania.

Bombed shopping complex in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina as a result of the 1990s Balkan war.

Bombed shopping complex in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina as a result of the 1990s Balkan war.

Perast, Montenegro.

Perast, Montenegro.

Vernazza, CinqueTerre Italy.

Vernazza, CinqueTerre Italy.

Guardian of Mirandol along the Robert Louis Stevenson trail, Cevennes southern France.

Guardian of Mirandol along the Robert Louis Stevenson trail, Cevennes southern France.

On the steps of the cathedral, Le Puy France.

On the steps of theLe Puy Cathedral, France.

Between the two odysseys Bev and I spent five months in the Torres Strait, the strait separating the most northern tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea. Those experiences are posted as well.

Dancers in traditional garb, Thursday Island Torres Strait.

Dancers in traditional garb, Thursday Island Torres Strait.

Our mudbrick home.

Our mudbrick home.


The 2014 odyssey will begin in Athens mid March and we will once again visit places of our youth.  We plan to visit the Greek islands, maybe travel through Bulgaria, Romania (two new destinations for us) and Hungary to Austria, Switzerland, Germany and eventually to Sweden.  

As was the case with Odyssey Part 1 the posts will include watercolour maps showing our route and photographs taken forty years ago, producing a then and now presentation.

One of the many watercolour maps included in Odyssey Part 1. Samothraki Island, Greece.

One of the many watercolour maps included in Odyssey Part 1. Samothraki Island, Greece.

The first posting for Odyssey Part 2 is a preamble relating to our past adventures including when I drove overland from Australia to London in 1970 and travelled through Central Africa on a BSA motorbike; and how Bev and I met and our subsequent travels in a VW Beetle around Europe and the Middle East in 1972/3.  The first posting also describes how we built our mud brick house and our philosophy as to travel and how travel has made us what we are.  It is expected the first posting for Odyssey Part 2 will be in mid March 2014.

Some readers might be curious as to how we chose Tbeartravels as our blog name.  Tbear is a small red soft toy with a ‘T’ embroidered on his chest. For many years he sat on a shelf in our home and when going on an expedition into central Australia some years ago I plucked him from the shelf and he joined us on the trip. Since then he has been a constant companion.  Tbear appears now and then in our blog writings, mainly for the sake of our grandchildren who ask their parents ‘where is Tbear now?’

Tbear in trouble when looking for honey!

Tbear in trouble on a green ant nest when looking for honey!

Hamish, Isabella, Jarrah and Xavier

Hamish, Isabella, Jarrah and Xavier waiting for news of  Tbear.

Bev and I hope you will tag along with us and Tbear on our 2014 odyssey. Please feel free to post a comment and tell us what you think.  If I had not received so many positive comments relating to our Odyssey Part 1 and the Torres Strait Encounter I wouldn’t have had the inspiration to continue posting.



63 Responses to What Odyssey?

  1. Salah Farah says:

    Hi Fred and Bev
    Hope you well and have great time in Europe. Are you still in Europe or back home?

  2. Salah Farah says:

    Dear Fred and Bev
    Hope you well and enjoying your long trip in Europe.

  3. Salah Farah says:

    Fred and Bev
    Hope you well and have joyful journey in Europe.

    • tbeartravels says:


      Thankyou for the best wishes. Bev and I are in Vallach (south Austria) at the moment. Its cold and wet. We left Zurich about a week ago and we are heading south to beat the forthcoming winter.
      Regards Fred and Bev

  4. Joan BC says:

    Dear Fred I have just acquired an iPad and it is perfect for lounging in bed and scrolling through your wonderful blog. Great photos – enough to give anyone itchy feet! D & I are off to Israel next week and then Portugal – will be good to have a break from chilly British weather.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Joan and David
      Thankyou for the comment. Bev and I were going to Israel in 1972, the Australian embassy even issued us with a second passport because we were not allowed in as with a Syrian stamp in the passport we travelled with. Unfortunately we never got there as we couldn’t get through Lybia. Re Portugal, you must go to the tile museum in Lisbon as knowing your artistic bent you will love it. Allow at least a half a day. Search Lisbon on this blog to get a taste of the museum.
      Fred and Bev

  5. Natalie Ong says:

    Hi Fred and Bev, stumbled onto this blog as part of my research following a serendipitous visit to your studio in Moonbi when we were exploring the area – we simply followed the signs off the main road! Ian was a most affable and interesting guide. Thank you for your gift of gentle wistful ceramic women and charming replica buildings to the world.

  6. Frances says:

    Very interesting/inspiring, can’t wait to visit Europe someday soon! Also brings back good memories of living in Indigenous communities. 🙂

    • tbeartravels says:

      Thanks for the comment re your first reading of tBeartravels. Thanks for putting up with us when we were in Tasmania recently. I have written most of the stories re our Encountering the Past Part4 (Tasmania), I’m waiting on my editor (Bev) to edit and post.

      Hope you can get to Europe, Bev and I miss the ancientness, the culture, the music and we too can’t wait to get back. If you do get to Europe might I suggest you walk one of the pilgrim trails in France and Spain. Search Le Puy on the blog, I wrote about the trail in that post.

      Regards Fred and Bev

  7. Jean-remy meyer says:

    Hi Bev and and Fred,
    Just a quick hello to congratulate you about your beautiful blog.
    Wish to meet you again!
    Remy and Olga

    • tbeartravels says:

      Remy and Olga

      Thankyou for the comment. The post Ouyre, Mid Pyrenees (the post you both appeared in) was a joy to write. I suppose you miss Larry now he has returned to Australia. How about a trip to OZ, you have us to stay with and also Larry…he is about 3500 km away though.

      Fred and Bev

  8. Amina says:

    Hello Fred & Bev, I’m gutted that I did not see your blog sooner. You guys were in my neck of the woods, Wanstead Park and I missed you. I live at Wanstead Park Avenue and would have lived to have introduced you to my children. I hope you’re both keeping well and enjoyed Morocco.

    Regards, Amina
    (the lady you met on the Central Line when you got off at Bank Station)

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Amina

      Had we known you lived in the Wanstead area we would have tracked you down and met with you.

      For readers of our blog I need to explain how we met Amina: Bev and I were travelling on the London underground with our fully loaded bikes and as is usually the case even though we were travelling out of peak hour time it was crowded.

      Bev and I with our bikes were standing just inside the doors and the hassle was each time the train stopped we had to shuffle our bikes from one side of the train to the other to allow passenger access to the door. Amina was standing near us and she suggested we place our bikes against the left door of the train as all stations from Bank on the door opened on the right side only.

      Amina, Bev and I fell into conversation and we chatted about work, life and travels. On the London underground people especially strangers rarely talk or smile at each other, they adopt a blank look and stare into space. Their expressions are a kin to being asleep but with their eyes open. Amina was an exception.

      Thanks again for the friendly conversation, you have our email so keep in touch.

      Fred and Bev

      PS Yes we did enjoy Morocco. I am running behind with the blog postings but today I hope to post the last of the Morocco postings……keep reading.

  9. John Coveney says:

    Hi Fred and Bev,
    Lovely to meet you both lost in Wanstead Park this morning! Hope you found your way to Ilford, and found time to reminisce at the place you once got your photography essentials.
    Best wishes on your forward journey.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear John
      The directions you gave us were right. In Ilford I kept looking at the parapets over the shops expecting to see Ilford Film sold here but as you know those days are long gone. The Ilford park was good for a ride around but not so much the main street. My how things have changed.

      Hope you enjoy reading the blog and your walks in Wanstead Park. The next tbear post relates to Fez in Morocco.

      Regards Fred and Bev

  10. Mia lane says:

    Hi Fred and Bev, it was nice meeting you at maggies and thank you for my bag I have been using it a lot. From Mia x

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Mia

      Thankyou for making contact. No worries about the bag, I think the colours suit you beautifully. For followers of this blog Mia is 8 year old and she visited our friend where we were staying in Wales. Mia and I did some sketching together and the bag I gave her which I bought in a charity shop was pink and yellow, I bought it to keep my art gear in.

      I thought the colous suited her better.

      Keep drawing Mia and maybe reading the blog too.

      Fred and Bev

  11. Great to meet you yesterday. I remembered to search ‘why kythera’.

    • tbeartravels says:


      Good to meet you too. Why Kythera was published in a Greek mag last summer and I was amazed the response. Another post you would like is Normandy. It’s in two parts, search the posts and read about a late friend who was in the transport corps picking up wounded soldiers in a Rolls during WW2. She was eventually evacuated as the German forces moved west. I have published on the blog parts of her personal diary. For an author such as yourself it would be a great drama/love story to write, yes love story as she met a Spitfire pilot as se moved west, she married him. If you want to know more about her and he surviving family let me know.

      Regards Fred

  12. colin and shanti says:

    Hi It was great meating you both in the flesh in the art class in Fairbourne

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Colin

      Likewise good to meet with you.

      Fred and Bev

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Colin and Shanti

      Thanks for the contact. Bev and I were pleased to meet you as well. Your activities at the art class is commendable, all those in the class seemed to be enjoying the experience. One day I will stop and concentrate on my artistic skills but for the moment there is little time as Bev and I like to be ‘Out There’.

      Fred and Bev

  13. Holly says:

    We found your b-bear at the deli in Oxford on White House road. We will leave him here for you to pick up. Safe travels to you. We enjoyed meeting you and hearing about your adventures. What an inspiration!

  14. Stefan and Emma says:

    Hey Fred and Bev
    Met you today in Wanstead High Street and discussed travel, cycling and sailing. You are very inspirational to all people wanting to travel. I will follow your blog and hope to keep in contact.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Stefan and Emma

      Pleased to meet with you, it amazes me how people ‘passing in the night’ as it were have similar interests. One of my desires has been to go to sea, but I think I have left my run a little late. For those reading these comments Stefan and Emma are soon to set off in their yacht from England on an around the world voyage. Bev and I have found yacht travellers a friendly lot. Bev and I were sea kayaking off the coast of Tasmania and the owners of a large yacht sheltering in a bay invited us to come aboard for Christmas dinner, we were cold and wet but unfortunately the swell was too great and we couldn’t get out of our kayaks. Yacht owners are for the most parts a happy lot and I think it’s because they have made their mark, worked hard and when they get on the water they intend enjoying the experience as best they can.

      Looking forward to following you movements, stay safe on the high seas and may you have many hours on the beach when you get into warm climes. If you get to OZ let us know.

      Fred and Bev

  15. Catherine Poole says:

    Met you tonight in tarifa!

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Catherine

      Thankyou for making contacting us via the blog. Bev and I are in Fez at the moment. We have done Tangiers over and an amazing Rif Mountain village, it was all blue. Hope you enjoyed your time in Tarifa.

      Fred and Be. Hope you go to Morocco one day, if you do let us know and we will set you strait where to stay etc.

  16. Loz nads Kieran and Lewis says:

    G’day there Bev and Fred, it’s great to know that you’re both making the next odyssey and we’re looking forward to hearing about your adventures. May you travels deliver you many new unexpected and inspiring adventures! Love the maps, blog and inspiration.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Nadine and Laurence and boys

      Bev and I cannot tell you how many times we think of you all. For readers of tbear blog Bev and I stayed with Nadine and Laurence in Perth during Encountering the Past Part 1. At the time Perth experienced the worst storms ever and we were glad they took us in.

      During the past three years of our travels we have experienced times when we needed a bolt hole and staying with you was one of the best bolt holes we have been in.

      If you read my reply to Max and Judy (posted today) you can read about what we have been up to and what’s planned fro Encountering the Past Part 3. We are still planning and we hope it will eventuate.

      Fred and Bev

  17. Max Giblin says:

    Marvelous photos for we two armchair travellers – brings back your delightful visit to our seaside cottage, south east Tasmania and also Maria Island. We are once more watching the Australian Open which was on telly when you visited you may recall. Nice your family has grown loved your grandchildren pictures. Love Max and Judi

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Max and Judy
      Pleased to hear from you via tbear. Bev and I have just returned home after being on our catamaran over on the coast. We have found a spot where we could live (other than Tassie of course), I am going to write about the spot in a future post. To come on the blog is Sweden, the history of maps including the most boring map in the world the progressive map on aeroplanes.

      Encountering the past Part 3 is now in the planning, we are thinking of going to UK buying a small used van, put a mattress (accommodation covered) in the back and a small canoe on top. One thing we have always wanted to do is canoe/camp the English and Irish canals. Bev and I lived in England back in the 1970s and 1980s so we have many stories to tell. We are so looking forward to getting on the road and writing and photographing the adventure. Hope to revisit India on the way back, that’s if we can get a visa (hard to get out of Australia).

      Hope all going well in your camp….we must come to Tassie again one day…maybe in our old age!!!

      Keep well Fred and Bev.

      P.S. There is a new tear (lost old tear in Dresden as you know). The new bear is called b bear he will make a show soon.

  18. marina gray says:

    Hi Bev and Fred just came across your blog – great reading. I well remember your trip in the 80;s when you found us in Terowie. Let me know if after all your world travels, you make it to the Terowie region again. Would love to catch up!! Think of you and the boys often Love Marina

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Marina

      Blow me down, Stone the crows fancy hearing from you after all these years. Yes, Terowie days were great days. Tim lives on Thursday Island and travels all the islands in Torres Strait and Toby after training as a photographer and film maker is now a builder. We will one day meet again. In the meantime stay in contact.

      Love Fred and Bev

  19. Great read.. good to hear you will be home. nothing nicer than your own bed and hot showers..xoxo
    Fenella Jane

    • tbeartravels says:

      Good to hear from you. Yes we are home but Bev is complaining our bed is too hard. Worst bed on trip was a fold out lounge and the best was at a swiss friends house in Zurich. Avid readers of our blog will know we are running behind, I’m writing normandy d day beaches at the moment and will post the story next week. A lot more to go tho, bike riding in Denmark and Sweden.

      May see you soon fj. Fred and Bev

  20. John Mc Sweeney says:

    Hi Fred and Bev,
    Lovely to meet you both at the Grand Hotel, Thursday Island, hope to catch up after the school holidays when we return to the Torres Straits, regards, John Mc Sweeney. Love the Blog

  21. Raymond Dart says:

    Hi Fred and Bev,
    We are thrilled that your trip is going so well, We ourselves are off to China and a Yangtze River cruise and then on to Myanmar to visit Yangon, Began, Mandalay and inle Lake before resting up in Hong kong on the way home. Continue to travel safely and keep sending those photos.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Bev and I appreciate your comments. We find it hard to believe we have done what we have, riding bikes to Berlin along the north flowing rivers. It has been a trip we will never forget. Maybe you could blog your forthcoming trip, be warned though it becomes addictive. Safe travels.
      Fred and Bev

  22. toby says:

    The photos are bloody good.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Thanks for the positive comment re pics, we appreciate the comment when it comes from a pro. My Cannon SLR fell off the bed onto a carpet floor in Bangkok and broke the lens lock natches so now looking for another lens. Keep plugging.
      Fred and Bev

  23. Di Woodward says:

    Hi Fred and Bev,
    It was good to meet you in Malestroit, Brittany, France today. I shall be following your blog with interest. Richard and Di Woodward.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Di and Richard
      Good to meet you too. As we travel we meet some interesting people with stories to tell. Please start writing your memoirs, when you do you will find memories buried deep in the past will re-emerge. We wait anxiously for the first chapter.
      Fred and Bev

  24. Monika and Giulia Wojdyla says:

    Hi still sitting in the train… Finally Guilia dropped off !!!!! And i can relax a bit… Nice meeting u guys! Come around to Cudrefin (opposite of Neuchatel- u can catch the boat, bikes for free) for a cup of coffee! Bye moni and Giulia

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Monika and Julia
      Thanks for the invitation. Great to meet with you both. For readers not knowing what we are talking about Bev and I met Monika and her 15 months old daughter on a train travelling from St Gallen to Bern (Switzerland). This is what travelling is all about , meeting new people and sharing their life stories. Julia is such a happy baby and it’s because her mother is open, friendly and happy. We feel we have picked up another grandchild.
      Fred and Bev

  25. Chris Coutinho says:

    Howdy Fred and Bev,

    It was a pleasure meeting the both of you this afternoon in Nigrita. I’m impressed with the quality of photos you have on your blog, and you have no doubt gained a fellow supporter. I wish you the best on your second odyssey.


    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Chris

      Would you believe we met two people by the name of Chris on the same day in Nigrita. One an American bike rider heading for Istanbul and the second and I assume it is you in a cafe. Anyway thanks for the contact, we are pleased to hear from all willing to take the time to encourage us on our way.

      Fred and Bev

  26. Pete and Di Lane, Marian, Queensland says:

    Howdy Fred and Bev. Looking forward with interest to the 2014 Odyssey. Travel safely. Cheers, Pete and Di Lane

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Pete and Di

      Thanks for the contact. We have been meaning to put you on our email list but somehow you are not on it. Please send us an email…you have the address.

      Bev and I are in Thessaloniki gathering ourselves together before the next leg to Zurich. I am a little behind with the blog and the reason is I can’t help putting in detail and gathering the info and researching takes so much time. There is no doubt going into the detail is a learning curve for us both. I find it difficult to understand what people who travel with out the desire to learn get out of travel.

      Keep plugging Fred and Bev

  27. Toby Hillier says:

    Righto, heres my comment. Look forward to the next installments of the retirees travels. Xxo

  28. Hi Fred,
    Angus Douglas here, getting in touch after a long absence of reply after your enquiry about my father-in-law’s melted Land Rover. He said he’s fine with you featuring photos. It is a pretty attention grabbing thing; that trail of molten aluminium. After they dusted themselves off following the big fire, Tim levered the now solid aluminium blob off the gravel and he now has it mounted as a three metre long sculpture on the side of the only surviving shed. The other sheds had numerous types of stuff inside which also melted such as boxes of preserving jars which turned into strange coagulated twisted pools of glass, two motorbikes, a bunch of filing cabinets that turned into mausoleums of completely charred, carbonised silver pages. I mention this not to revel in the grim scenes following a bushfire but to emphasise that there was absolutely no remaining wood left on site, just the altered forms of metal, glass and ceramic.
    By the way, the blog is fantastic and inspiring, thanks for all the seemingly incidental details, which animate the stories.

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Angus

      Thanks for the liquid Landrover pics, when I have time I will edit them into the post of our Encountering the Past Odyssey Part 1. I will let you know when I do. Re the fire…of all threats fire is no doubt the worst. Hope you and your family are getting back to normal.

      Thanks again Fred and Bev.

  29. Ray and maree Dart says:

    Hi Fred and Bev,

    Maree and I will follow your travels with much interest as we are inveterate travellers ourselves and are ever rewady to here of new places and adventures.

    Ray and Maree Dart

  30. Ann Gaites says:

    Hi I found your site and shared it on face book

    • tbeartravels says:

      Dear Ann
      I’m pleased you are now plugged into tbeartravels. I suggest you read the reply I have made to a couple of readers re our future adventures.
      Regards Fred and Bev

  31. Hi Beautiful Bev. and Fearless Fred,
    I do apologise for failing to respond earlier to your blog. Even now I have not read all your odyssey. I am so involved in horticultural and botanical activites and events that other than time for reading and domestic household tasks, spare time is elusive. Be assured, however, I shall read it..

    Not having read your blog yet, I am not acquainted with your botanical questions but would dearly like to answer them so be patient and when I eventually read the chronicle, I shall answer to the best of my ability.
    Take care and thank you for keeping in touch; love and best wishes from us both,
    David and Anne

  32. Erika Angst says:

    Hi Fred and Bev, I have just entered your blog for the first time. Although you had mentionned it some time ago. Sorry 🙂 It’s great to read about your trip. You are such an extraordinary couple. It’s wonderful to have met you 22 years ago in Moonbi. Looking forward to seeing you in December. Will now visit your blog regularly. Love, Erika and family

  33. Pieta Mott says:

    Hiya Bears,
    Following you with envy. Can’t wait to explore the travels. Hope you’re both well. Cya. PM

  34. Raymond McLaren says:

    Hi Fred and BEv, thanks for introducing me to the world of blogs, we should hav had these in the days of scrounging at Carr;s junk place in 1970/s will keep up wioth your journey and hope all goes well with ther sections “outside Austrlalia”, where camp;ing out can be “different”.

    Safe journey

    Raymond McLaren Moonbi

  35. Hi Bev and Fred.
    Found your site and have enjoyed it. Joanne and I will be watching with interest as you go along. Our old site where2pedalto.com is still around though only for archival purposes these days. Our new blog is at 2wander-yonder.blogspot.com.au/ in case you want to catch up with our travels (not sure you will have time though :).
    Take care and stay safe.
    Andrew and Joanne

  36. Meg Roberts says:

    It will be so interesting to follow your travels on this blog. Who had ever heard of blogs, and websites and internet when you did the earlier journeys? Enjoy your trip, we will be tagging along.
    Love to you both.

  37. Teddy says:

    What a woman that Bev was and still is!!!! No wonder you grabbed her Fred!! Love Teddy Bear xx

  38. Bill Hall says:

    Hi Fred, This is going to be a very interesting read for me. Even on this first page there are many things I never knew about you and Bev. Looking forward to reading more. I still remember my days at Moonbi working in the Pottery shed and helping with the mud brick buildings.. Great times. Hope all is well. Bill.

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