News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 26, 2012

A foreign Christmas in Terre Haute

Australian traveler takes up Wabash Valley family’s offer to spend holidays away from home

Lisa Trigg
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Hoosier hospitality has traveled around the world with an Australian who spent the Christmas holiday in the Wabash Valley.

Darren Sebire has stayed in touch with Steve and Lorraine Burris since meeting them in February on a cruise out of Sydney, Australia. A 33-year-old photographer and TV cameraman from Melbourne, Sebire began his global journey with the idea of seeing new places and meeting new people after ending a long-term relationship with a girlfriend.

But after the cruise ended in China and the cruise companions parted ways, the Seelyville couple continued to follow their new friend’s postings on Facebook as he passed through China, Mongolia, toured Europe, and then headed to the United States.

“We invited him to spend Christmas here,” Steve told the Tribune-Star on Christmas Day. “We were on the cruise for 23 days, so we got to know him well on the ship. And we just followed him on Facebook.”

Sebire was glad for the bed and comfortable sleep time once he reached Indiana. His almost year-long journey so far has taken him across China on the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Ukraine where he visited the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site. He said he liked Kiev, Bosnia and Serbia, as well as the French Riviera.

“I’ve sorta been all over the world,” Sebire said. “I’ll look at a map and decide where to go. I’ll stay one or two days, and if I like a place I’ll stay longer. If I don’t, I move on.”

By the time he got to Helsinki, Finland, Sebire said he realized he had not traveled by plane at all on his journey, so that became a rule for him. He decided to travel only by bus, train, car, boat or whatever kept him grounded.

“Most of the time now, I’m just trying to find a way to get to Rio for Carnival,” he said. But, since that is still several weeks away, he is not booking any travel plans. In fact, as of Tuesday evening, he was planning to head north to Chicago before heading to South America on the last leg of his venture before returning to Australia.

Sebire said he visited the U.S. about nine years ago in the winter. On this journey he has landed in Florida, traveled up the East Coast and zigzagged around America. He traveled to Calgary, Canada, and headed south to San Francisco -- a city he really enjoyed -- then on to Los Angeles and back east to Denver. He has become familiar with Greyhound bus routes, as well as the flat and lonely plains of Kansas.

Sebire said he grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne in a small family, and he worked for a television station in Australia, until a breakup with his girlfriend that prompted him to do some traveling. He said he sold off all his belongings but what he’d need on the journey, and six weeks later found himself in distant places.

During his travels through Europe he spent a lot of overnights in hostels, which are low-cost spots for journey-minded young people. But in the U.S., hostels are not prevalent outside of big cities, he said. There are some places he would have liked to have visited in the States, he said, such as Savannah, Ga., but he didn’t stop because there were no suitable accommodations.

The variety of scenery in the U.S. is impressive, Sebire said. He has seen the tropics of Miami, the Rocky Mountains, beaches of Los Angeles, and places in between. He managed to see all of the sites where the Space Shuttles have been retired, he said, because he has always been fascinated by the space program. Since he started out his U.S. tour by seeing the Atlantis at Cape Canaveral, he decided to see the other shuttles as well.

“I’m trying to find not so much the touristy things that people think about,” he said.

He will have traveled more than a year by the time he gets home, and that feels about right. The next few weeks will be spent in Brazil, Argentina, maybe Chile, he said.

He spoke to his mother in Australia by phone on Monday night, and she told him it was raining on Christmas Day. That’s pretty typical for home, he said. But he’s not used to the blizzard-like Christmas that was predicted to fall upon the Wabash Valley.

South America and a summer climate was looking pretty inviting, he said.

Anyone wanting to follow Sebire’s travels can look him up on Facebook.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812 231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa