By Jed Lanyon
Healesville author Heather Ellis has released her second book, Timeless On The Silk Road: An Odyssey From London to Hanoi on Sunday 7 April.
Her new book is a memoir from her solo motorcycle journey across the Silk Road in 1997, and follows on from her first book Ubuntu: One Woman’s Motorcycle Odyssey Across Africa.
“It’s a book that has a number of different layers to it. You keep reading it because you want to know what happens next,” said Ms Ellis.
“It’s very much like my first book where you feel like you’re on the back of the motorcycle with me, and you can’t get off.
Ms Ellis was unexpectedly diagnosed with HIV in 1995 after returning from her first trip through Africa, while in the process of planning her next journey on the Silk Road.
“The doctors sort of said, ‘well you’ve got about five years’. So that’s five years before I get sick and develop AIDS and die.
“So I thought I’ll go on one last adventure. One last search for meaning, and that’s what this journey was,” Ms Ellis said.
“I called it Timeless on the Silk Road. I was time less, I didn’t have a lot of time.
“It’s also a timeless land. It’s the cradle of civilisation,” she said.
The book details how HIV affected Ms Ellis’ travels.
“I was quite healthy most of the way but then I started getting quite ill towards the end of the journey as I went into China and I managed to get down to Hanoi in Vietnam and from there I went back to Australia.
“By that time, the treatments that people take now who are living with HIV had been discovered,” Ms Ellis said.
“So it was in the nick of time for me.”
Ms Ellis explained how her new release compares to her first memoir from Africa.
“They’re just two different journeys. The similar theme that would run throughout the two books is the theme of spirituality, of becoming aware of meaning in chance encounters and coincidences that synchronicity of life.
Ms Ellis said that she now applies the same philosophy towards her everyday life.
“The feeling of things will always work out and that everything happens for a reason.
“There’s no need to worry. As long as you take the steps to make things happen, everything will kind of fall into place,” she said.
Timeless On The Silk Road has been endorsed by Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler and explores other themes of Ms Ellis’ health and wellbeing.
“I was in denial over my diagnosis. It was a pendulum of denial and acceptance.”
The HIV diagnosis only motivated Ms Ellis to want to tell her story.
“I really felt I needed to share what happened and just the amazing adventures I had.
“And then on top of that, when I was diagnosed with HIV I didn’t want to let that story die with me.
“It was like, here I was at 30 years old with nothing to show for my life,” Ms Ellis said.
Ms Ellis will feature at the PAVE Festival in Emerald on 10 April for her book launch.
Signed copies of Timeless On The Silk Road are available at Verso Books in Healesville.
Timeless On The Silk Road is available online and in bookstores. To buy a signed copy, visit: http://www.heather-ellis.com/