Find out the latest indie author news. For FREE.


Veronica Caven Aldous
Australian Women Can Walk

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

In 1979, 22-year-old Veronica Caven flew from Melbourne with two friends from art school for a gap year adventure. They planned to travel across Asia, perhaps to Europe, but had no firm itinerary. After six weeks, Veronica and her friends separated, but she carried on, exploring India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal on her own. The diary she kept during this transformative time has been adapted into Australian Women Can Walk. Set during the final days of the hippie trail, this is a story of resilience and self-discovery with side dishes of naivety, anxiety, risk, grit, romance and humour. In Part 1 she was relaxing on a houseboat in Kashmir but also exploring the town, canals and hills, including an intense trek up to a Himalayan glacier. In Part 2 she moves down into the south and coastal regions of India and Sri Lanka. In Part 3 she treks in Nepal, takes a pilgrimage to Rishikesh, the “yoga capital of the world”, checks out the scene on Freak Street in Kathmandu and visits more north Indian cities. Veronica’s travels introduce her to many wondrous sights and interesting people. And the young woman who began her journey as a sheltered student with no shortage of existential questions grows in confidence and courage as she experiences life in one of the most challenging yet rewarding and varied environments on earth. With some of the author’s photographs and sketches included, Australian Women Can Walk offers an immersive experience of an extraordinary place and time. At this present time in history, we now find ourselves in great need of inspiration, renewal, and meaningful connections. There are so many beautiful places and people in the world, and this book reminds us of it.

Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Australian Women Can Walk is a smart memoir about one woman's formative college gap year travels in 1979. Traveling with art school friends, author Aldous crosses Asia, hanging out on houseboats, backpacking, and learning about life along the way.

Prose: Aldous's prose is simple and straightforward, yet self-assured. While her lines are sometimes awkwardly written and the text has a few tense issues, overall the writing is strong and appealing.

Originality: While there are similar memoirs about traveling in other countries, Aldous's discussion of politics, like the impact of partition and the way she connects her reading with her experience, sets this book apart. The diary format also enhances the original quality of the work.

Character Development/Execution: Author Veronica Caven Aldous has a wonderful eye for sense and place descriptions across the execution of the text. The memoir's short sections lend themselves well to the slice-of-life style of Aldous's journey, and the photographs also enhance the story well.

Blurb: A wonderfully executed memoir about a young woman's travels and adventures in Asia as a 22-year-old art student, Australian Women Can Walk nails the experience of youthful discovery on the page.

Date Submitted: November 22, 2021

This memoir of visual artist Caven Aldous’s journey through India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal in 1979 is an ode to her feminist awakening and self-reflection on the directions of her life. She began her expedition with friends but wound up with quite different travel plans—completing the trek on her own—and, in telling the story, showcases a confident nature while always remaining humble and embracing the process of learning from experience. Caven Aldous’s writing is fluid, as she captures moments of transcendence (“Existentialism ... became very clear to me during the shikara trek”) as well as the vital details of the everyday (“wide winged eagles"), all of which combine to deliver an intriguing snapshot of her year-long journey through Asia.

Throughout, Caven Aldous finds her passion for travel and exploration intertwined with her aspirations as an artist; she beautifully mirrors these with the unexpected education she gleans from reading philosophical literature during her journey. She emphasizes the beauty of meeting strangers along the way, feeling “a wonderful closeness with them at times,” and shares her practice of Transcendental Meditation, which guided her through tough days on the road, aided in her decision making, and offered peace when she felt alone or overwhelmed.

Caven Aldous’s memory is remarkable, and the retelling of her travels intricately detailed. Readers will be able to easily imagine the far-flung settings and what traveling alone must have been like for a young woman in the late 1970s. As she explores the world, she also explores her ambition, anxiety, excitement, and weariness in subtle yet wholly human ways, while also threading crucial historical and cultural insight and context into her storytelling. Caven Aldous’s Aussie upbringing paves the way for her gap-year adventure, and the traveling methods of the era prove fascinatingly different from today, lending novelty for readers of younger generations. Fans of globetrotting and mid- to late-twentieth-century history will thoroughly relish this vintage travelogue.

Takeaway: A richly inviting diary-style memoir of a young woman’s trek through India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Great for fans of: Barbara Savage’s Miles From Nowhere, Dean Nicholson’s Nala’s World.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B+

IndieReview, January 12, 2024

IndieReader Book Review 2024

Having overcome some early travel anxiety, she took in the places and people around her, reading voraciously all the while. Sartre, Hesse, Plato, Asimov, Borges, the Bhagavad Gita, any number of texts about Indian religion, texts about the Indian system of alternative medicine known as Ayurveda, and so on fall under her gaze. Yoga and meditation feature strongly. ... Perhaps the most affecting aspect of AUSTRALIAN WOMEN CAN WALK is the abiding imagery of a world gone by—a world in which backpackers still communicated by letter, one found one’s way with paper maps or oral directions, and there were no Yelp reviews to guide you to the nearest tourist hangout. ... an engaging account of the author’s gap year in the late 1970s.

Craig Jones for IndieReview