Most people try to change things up to minimise their commute time. Instead, Talia took a different tact and every day for a week, she changed her mode of transport to make her commute an adventure in itself.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Cycling to work in Meanjin / Brisbane a few months ago, I marvelled that I could cover the 20km powered by only an ingenious gear system and four Weet-Bix (aka my bike and my breakfast).

I pondered how many Weet-Bix it would take to power the equivalent journey in my small car. A thousand Weet-Bix to equate to the petrol used? A million?

As I sweated up a hill, I wondered how many different ways I could get to work and how many Weet-Bix each of them would require.


The idea was brewed up on a morning commute to work!

I began brainstorming a list of outlandish possibilities in my head, mentally crossing out snowmobiles as weather incompatible and hot-air ballooning as financially improbable.

By the time I arrived at work for my 8:30am meeting, I had what I felt was a feasible, and satisfyingly alliterative, list which I deemed the 5Rs: raft, road, run, rail, and ride.

I decided to try and commute to work using a different mode of transport, every day for a week.

First up, Reconnaissance

Before the 5R commuting could start, however, I had to complete the first R, reconnaissance. Most of the options were easy enough, but the rafting leg was going to provide much more of a challenge.

While I could walk from my house to an entry point on the Maiwar / Brisbane River in five minutes, the river stopped about 10km short of my office.

Undeterred, I scoured Google Maps and discovered that there were some more obscure paddling options that could possibly get me the rest of the way.

Energised by the possibility, over the next few weeks, I conducted ‘reccies’ (reconnaissance missions) across the city.

I pulled over on random industrial highway shoulders and poked my head into under-passes. I bush-bashed through overgrown abandoned blocks to reach small stinky drains and flood-debris-clogged creeks. My friends and family thought I was a little nuts.


Things got pretty weird in the reccie stage!

Eventually, I’d plotted a route from my home near the city, to within two blocks of my office. It would be upstream the whole way, and with a 3km/hour paddling pace, there was no way I would make the 20km total journey in a single morning.

I’d need to leave much, much earlier.

Sunday and Monday – Raft

Eventually the right wind and tides aligned with a not-too-busy work week, and I told my boss that they could expect me at work the following Monday ‘sometime between 5am and 5pm…’

Sunday morning at 5am, I left home, walking the two blocks to the river for launch.


5 Days 5 and Ways to Get to Work, Talia Rose, map

My route!


At the turn of the tide at 5:30am I was on the river and paddling madly upstream. I needed to make it out of the tidal zone before it switched again at lunch time.

For the next few hours, I dodged the large City Cat ferries and sheltered from the heat as I traced the Brown Snake (the local’s affectionate name for the Maiwar / Brisbane River) upstream.

Navigation has never been one of my strongest skills, but I made both my turns – left onto Oxley Creek and then left again onto Stable Swamp Creek – without incident. Then things started to get a bit tricker.The Brisbane floods six months earlier had left the tiny ‘creek’ choked with debris. It was only a couple of metres wide to begin with, but now it was a mess of branches.


A ‘sticky’ situation

I could barely make out the water ahead. I quickly put my paddle away and took to grabbing logs and branches to try and pull my raft through.

Flood debris rained down from the branches scraping on my head as I tried to squeeze under sections. I counted 14 spiders in my boat at one point.

Wearing my steel-capped gumboots and mildly water-resistant pants, I sloshed out and into the mud multiple times to pull and tug my little boat through un-paddleable areas.

I saw abandoned bicycles and car doors; I had some too-close encounters with swamp-rats; and I wondered how my little inflatable would go if it caught the rusty edge of a long-abandoned fridge.

At one point, I reached an impenetrable wall of weeds and clawed my way up a steep muddy bank, dragging my boat behind me.

I popped my head up, meerkat style, to find myself on the edge of a major road. As I portaged down the footpath, an elderly gentleman crossed my path with a quick look left and right – he was either looking for the water source that I was supposedly paddling, or more likely, looking for an escape route in case I was as strange as I looked.


5 Days 5 and Ways to Get to Work, Talia Rose, tunnel, raft

This part was a bit of a drag


Having navigated the obstruction, I paddled the last few kilometres as the sun began to set and arrived at a small park I’d previously scoped as a potential overnight location. I took a quick, accidental nap in my boat before I summoned the energy to set up my tent, gobble some food, and konk out.


Having a well-deserved rest

Monday morning dawned, and I set out again at sunrise, with only 5km left to paddle!

Moseying along through smaller and smaller drains, I poked through the back of the Brisbane industrial area. I was both tired and smelly when I finally approached the weir where I would exit.

Grabbing my boat under one arm, my gumboots squelched across the pavement as I walked the final two blocks to my office front door. Thankfully (especially for my coworkers), my office has a shower.

14 hours of paddling and a night in the park later – my work week had begun.

Read more: Kayaking the Brisbane River


That’s a wrap on commute one!

Tuesday – Road

To allow myself to still have a semi-productive work week, I structured the commutes so that I broke up the physically demanding days with some easier travel methods.

However, having spent 14 hours getting to work on Monday, driving there on Tuesday was almost too easy. It was bleak and raining which aligned well with my dismal thoughts of getting to work in a combustion-fuelled motor vehicle.

Sitting in traffic was no fun, although it was still incredibly efficient in comparison to my creek-based adventures of the previous day. I was at work in half an hour.

Note: This commute was so boring I forgot to take a photo. Unfortunately, you all know what traffic looks like.

Wednesday – Run

Wednesday’s commute was the one I was most concerned about – a casual 21km run to work. Aside from the extremely occasional Park Run (maaaybe 3-4 per year if I’m feeling inspired), I am not a runner. I find nothing about the process enjoyable.

I gave myself heaps of extra time that morning and set off at 6am. I appreciated my partner jogging along beside me as motivation and to bear witness to my gasping breathing.


Just a casual half marathon before work

A cyclist yelled at me for jogging on a bike path, and I mentally replied that I could guarantee I would never be doing it again.

As I crossed over the bridge, I stared longingly at the river – paddling might be a lot slower but boy was it more enjoyable.

Two and a bit hours and a half marathon later, I was sitting at my desk feeling that ‘oh that was no worries I could totally do that again’ self deception that happens post run.

Thankfully, the rest of my days were already allocated to other modes of transport so I couldn’t test that endorphin induced bravado.

I was halfway through the week!


The working day begins!

Thursday – Rail

Thursday was ‘rail day’, so I’d be using public transport rather than being fuelled by Weet-Bix alone. The train station is a cruisy seven-minute walk from my house.

I switched lines in the city, hobbling up the flights of stairs to the platform as my legs reminded me again that I am NOT a runner. I tried to hide my grimaces and with each painful step reminded myself that this had all been my idea…

Despite the sore legs, the commute was a relaxing hour and a bit. I listened to a podcast, people watched and arrived at work on time. Again, no photos (I didn’t want to be that weird person).

Friday – Ride

My last day took me full-circle, back to the bike seat on which I had hatched my initial hare-brained plan.

My bike’s name is Bluey, and she and I had a delightful cruise as I marvelled at the efficiency of mechanical gears.


An easy ride to finish off the working week

I spent most of the time singing along to the Moana Disney soundtrack, and soaking in that Friday feeling. I rolled up to work, body exhausted, but very proud of my 5R commuting week.

I couldn’t wait to not go anywhere, by any means, for the entire weekend ahead.

The Bonus R – Reflection

I was pooped. I hadn’t socialised, played sports or done any life admin, all things that would normally fill my non-working hours during the week.

All I had done was get to work. I hadn’t answered the Weet-Bix question, but I had developed a newfound appreciation for all styles of commuting. My interactions with colleagues that week started with, ‘How did you get to work today?!’


Just one of the many adventurous ways I got to work!

Since the week of 5Rs, I’ve returned to my usual commute methods, taking my bike or the car to work.

However, now that I’m recovered, I’ve started plotting a company-wide initiative, ‘Active Transport to Work Day’, and this time…I’ve procured some rollerblades.