3 Exciting New Initiatives

Each year I think this is going to be the year women adventurers will be equally recognised for their achievements. Each year I also hope my solo unaccompanied walk around Australia will be recognised and supported. This is the year!

 

As a woman adventurer I know first hand how hard, sometimes impossible, it is to have your achievements recognised. For example, when I became the first woman to walk the length (and breadth) of Western Australia solo without any support vehicles via the coasts I sent out media releases to every state and national news media program but it was only mentioned in passing by two local news programs when I arrived in Darwin. It is actually a big deal doing something like that, more than 6,000kms took 9 months of walking (broken up by safety breaks for summer and wet season). Being the first woman to do such a feat should have been something to celebrate. When I finish my 16,000km+ solo unaccompanied walk around Australia in Newcastle this year, becoming the first woman to do this alone without vehicle support, I hope there will be more interest and support for Australian and Women’s achievements.

 

It is a very real struggle to be acknowledged, even within adventure networks. Many of us are already 100% committed to our pursuits and will do everything it takes to achieve them but when our peers, friends, family and the public support and believe in us, when outdoor and adventure networks and businesses sponsor us, when media cheer us on it makes the hard parts easier and the good parts great!

 

Last year a group of women working in the adventure industry, founders of their own businesses and projects designed to encourage women to participate in outdoor adventure activities gathered together and created the Australian Women’s Adventure Alliance.

 

“The Australian Women’s Adventure Alliance (AWAA) is made up of a group of individuals who are ready to make a united stand to fight for equality, empowerment and inclusion for each and every Australian woman to be able to let their inner adventurer shine. 
No matter your size, shape, experience, race, age or background, we will continue fighting for this generation and those to follow, to make the outdoors accessible to all as a welcoming and even playing field.”

 

I am very excited about the changes we will see this year across the whole outdoor adventure industry. You can help by contributing to the Women’s Adventure Survey which will be used to advise, develop and expand the current limited clothing and gear range for women as well as activities and programs designed to encourage adventure for every woman. Click on the link below to take the survey.

 

WOMEN’S ADVENTURE SURVEY

 

The most exciting initiative to happen this year is the Women’s Adventure Grant by Australia’s leading women’s adventure magazine Travel Play Live! 4 women will receive a $5,000 grant to help their adventure project or expedition.

 

There are 4 categories.

Expeditions for Change

Adventure Film and Photography

Young Adventurers

Women Adventurers over 50

 

The Women’s Adventure Grant is unique because it doesn’t have an “epic” prerequisite for applicants or their projects. Every woman planning or already embarked on their adventure quest can apply. Don’t let the size of your project or social media following stop you from applying because our passions and endeavours are measured in more than numbers.

 

Click the links below to read about the grant and apply. Please share these links with other women who will be interested in applying.

 

ABOUT THE WOMEN’S ADVENTURE GRANT

APPLY

 

2018 is not only the year for recognition and support of Women’s Adventure Achievements but also record breaking support and sponsorship for Australian adventures and adventurers. Let’s get rid of our global reputation of not supporting our adventurers and become a nation who loves the great outdoors and the women and men who inspire us to get out there and explore.

 

For Adventure!

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Human Powered Adventure

There are many ways to explore the world and pursue adventure. Most of these do not require engines run on dirty energy or using other animals.

 

I call myself an human powered adventurer because I love the challenges and rewards of doing it without assistance or compromise. I walk, ride, snowshoe, swim, ski, paddle.

 

Harnessing natural energy rafting, sailing, surfing, flying, even solar charged propulsion are very viable and accessible options.

 

Adventure by our own strength, ingenuity, will-power and using clean and natural energy sources is gentler on our Earth, kind and smarter through it’s simplicity.

 

Go outside, adventure, be creative and have fun doing it!

Robyn Davidson

In 1984, when I was 12 years old, I read Tracks by Robyn Davidson about her 2,700km solo camel trek from Alice Springs to the west coast of Australia. A trek of this size, across a vast desert, undertaken by a woman alone had never been heard of before in Australia. Now Robyn’s journey stands as testament to the limitless potential we all have if we believe in ourselves.

I am a prolific adventure reader but this book resonated deep in my heart. I was still a kid but half way through the book I knew I would do something like that too. No book has impacted my life more than Tracks.

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There were many valuable lessons in her adventure but what hooked me in more than anything else was the freedom found in solitude when fully immersed in Wilderness without another human within hundreds of kilometres.

It isn’t a romantic ideal because Robyn made it clear that this kind of freedom doesn’t come easy, it comes with blisters, burns, confrontations, fatigue and letting go of everything. Our dreams are only limited by our willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve them.

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“In different places, survival requires different things, based on the environment. Capacity for survival may be the ability to be changed by environment.” 

 

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This was my first Tracks lesson as a young adventurer, the greatest things in life require hard work, perseverance and sacrificing comfort.

From this vantage point, after nearly 22,000kms of solo walking through Nature and Wilderness, I think this was also the most important lesson. At the time I did not recognised it as a lesson, I subconsciously absorbed everything Robyn wrote and carried it with me throughout my years of adventure. Through her story I instinctively knew life was not going to be easy and the biggest goals and rewards of any adventurer also bring the most hardship and risk.

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The next important lesson I carried with me was the importance of solitude in Nature. I was already a quiet, shy kid and preferred being alone in the bush or in the company of other animals. My own reclusive tendencies have been clinically diagnosed as social anxiety and autism. Solitude in Nature was my solace, sanctuary, safety as a teenager and still is now.

The way Robyn wrote about the feelings of being alone in the desert hit such an harmonious chord I knew I had met a kindred spirit in the pages of her story. Even a 12yo girl knows when she has met one of her tribe. I often thought about Robyn walking across the desert as I walked around Australia alone and understood some of what she felt out there traversing untracked outback wilderness. It always feels good.

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Dream big dreams and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from following them. In the well of wisdom, that is Tracks, is this spring of knowledge.

I have much to thank Robyn for, especially this. I can’t remember many of my life plans before reading this book but I have always had a reputation of setting myself seemingly impossible and danger fraught goals. Even if I have not hit every target and completed every crazy adventure I set out on I have achieved far more in my life than most people even dream of. Not least walking nearly 16,000kms alone around Australia inspired by Robyn Davidson, one of the world’s greatest Adventure Women.

Thank you Robyn for not letting anyone or anything stop you. Thank you for being a strong, intuitive role model.

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“And it was only then that I realized what I had let myself in for, and only then I realized how bloody thick I had been not to have predicted it. It would seem that the combination of elements–woman, desert, camels, aloneness–hit some soft spot in this era’s passionless, heartless, aching psyche. It fired the imaginations of people who seem themselves as alienated, powerless, unable to do anything about a world gone mad. And wouldn’t it be my luck to pick just this combination. The reaction was totally unexpected and it was very, very weird. I was now public property. I was now a kind of symbol. I was now an object of ridicule for small-minded sexists, and I was a crazy, irresponsible adventurer (though not as crazy as I would have been had I failed). But worse than all that, I was now a mythical being who had done something courageous and outside the possibilities that ordinary people could hope for. And that was the antithesis of what I wanted to share. That anyone could do anything. If I could bumble my way across a desert, then anyone could do anything. And that was true especially for women, who have used cowardice for so long to protect themselves that it has become a habit.” 

 

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All images are embedded from Rick Smolan’s National Geographic collection in Getty Images taken during Robyn’s trek across Australia. Please click each image for the original and more beautiful photos.

2018 Focus on Intrepid Inspiring Women

This year I will write a series about inspiring women in the outdoor adventure scene, how some of them have shaped the direction of my own adventures and the enduring legacy of their experience, knowledge, strength and courage.

 

Over the next few months I will introduce you to the intrepid women who have specifically had an influence on my own life from high school to the support and friendship I received from the adventure sisterhood while I walked solo unaccompanied around Australia.

 

Later in the year I will introduce you to women currently undertaking incredible expeditions and valuable initiatives empowering women to explore, discover and deepen our relationship with Earth and our own spirit.

 

There will be other posts about many different topics and my own little adventures throughout the year. There will be the continuation of the final 900kms of my 16,000km+ solo walk around Australia when the ankle is strong enough to return to trekking unsupported in the mountains.

 

A book is on the way which will be a wild, informative and fun collection of short stories about my own adventures around the Earth in some of her most wonderful places including the walk around Australia.

 

An new epic adventure begins this year. I will be preparing and training to ride around Australia for the big bike book tour of 2019. I have started paying off a Surly Disc Trucker which will be fitted out for a year of unsupported touring. A few small tours to get back into the swing of it testing out any new gear. Refresher bike maintenance course so I reduce the chance of being stranded in the outback. Refresher wilderness 1st aid and bush tucker courses will help too. You can be sure I will tell you all about them as they happen. Sponsors are welcome and will greatly benefit from their support.

 

One more project I want to start this year is all about sharing adventures through participation, joining people on their expeditions, people joining me on mine, planning adventures with friends and family because adventure is as excellent with good company as it is alone.

 

Before I head back to QLD in March to resume the walk around Australia I’ll make some rough maps of the remaining 900kms to Newcastle where I finish. I have previously trekked more than 1,000kms of the NSW coastline, along the sections I have already walked I invite people to come walk with me.

 

If anyone is interested in meeting up in Canberra in a couple of weeks let me know 🙂

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Orroral Homestead near Canberra in Namadgi National Park

 

ABC National Radio Interview

Thank you to everyone who tuned into ABC Summer Afternoons radio programme today.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time for my interview with Kia Handley due to a large number of New Year calls from adventurous listeners.

It has been rescheduled for the same programme, 1-4pm, tomorrow.

If you can’t listen in again Kia has kindly sent me a link to our full interview.

Enjoy some Australian adventure inspiration!

 

Hello 2018

Firstly, I recognise only parts of the globe start a new year on today’s spin around the poles. When you travel through the greater part of the world which celebrates on a different day, season, month you get to enjoy it more than once a year! And, admit it, Luna New Year fireworks are better 🙂 There are in fact at least 6 completely different New Years around the world.

 

So, how was your Gregorian year?

 

I had a few highlights. Going back to the alps for some solitary retreat in true wilderness off-trail was necessary to find some peace and clarity as well as some fun camping in the snow. Free tickets to the Happiness & Its Causes conference fueled my drive as i resumed The Happy Walk. This year, as I walked from Gladstone to Numinbah Valley, I left the old barrow behind and carried a backpack for about 1,200kms along 4WD trails, beaches and bushwalks. This gave me the opportunity to stay away from roads and take lots of detours and side trips, explore national parks and some incredible multi-day end-to-end walks including K’Gari Fraser Island Great Walk, Cooloola Great Walk, Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and (half of) the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk. The biggest highlight not in Nature was speaking at the Women’s Adventure Expo in Sydney. Before and after my presentation I was able to meet lots of incredible women also pursuing lives of adventure and personal challenge.

 

It was a cool surprise to end the year being nominated for the Liebster Award 2017 and asked to join the Actually Autistic Blog List , a list of blogs by autistic writers.

 

The Liebster Award involves a heap of rules which I won’t follow because I don’t like rules but I want to say thank you to My Dream Waldon for her nomination.

 

I’m hoping the New Year continues as it starts. Today, New Years Day, I will be on air with Kia Handley from ABC Radio (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) chatting about adventure during the Summer Afternoons radio programme. If you are interested in tuning into the show it starts at 1pm (Australia Sydney time) and live streams through NSW regional frequencies. Click this link for the Mid North Coast ABC station page and live stream link.

 

In a couple of weeks i will be having a chat with Jen Brown from Sparta Chicks Radio about walking 20,000kms alone and the intellectual, emotional and psychological breakthroughs and discoveries. As a podcast, this will be a deeper discussion than I have had with anyone else about adventure, motivation and strength. I’ll post again when I know the date it goes online.

 

I have about 900kms left to walk from where i fell, breaking and dislocating my ankle, on the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk to Newcastle. This will complete my 16,000km solo walk around Australia without support vehicles. About half of this i have walked previously and along those sections I will invite people to join me. You are welcome to be part of this.

 

I have plans for a long ride around Australia but before I head off I will write a book about my adventures on foot which contributed to over 20,000kms of walking solo in Australia and internationally. A Book Bike Tour might be the next big expedition. Expect to see the book on shelves before next xmas and if you said you’ll buy a copy I’ll ride to your door and make sure you did. Just kidding, I’ll only be interested in using your bathroom and laundry!

 

In 2018 there will be more podcast and radio interviews, some magazine stories, public speaking and adventure. I’ll update you throughout the year and let you know when and where to find exclusive extracts from the book as I write.

 

So that’s a wrap.

 

Happy New Year!

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Minimalism – More Than Having Less

In 1990 I left home with a guitar and pack on my back to work the harvest trail. In the last 27 years I tried “settling down” a few times without success. Even when i was married my ex and I worked and travelled extensively through SE Asia and the Pacific. I have been a traveller, gypsy, nomad, wayfarer, wanderer, vagabond, living on the road most of my adult life.

 

While walking around Australia, 8 days south of Darwin on the Stuart Highway, I met a guy walking from Stockholm to Sydney. Mats Andren, the-walk.se, calls himself a minimalist vagabond. I called myself an homeless wayfarer and was interested in this new name, minimalist.

 

“The minimalistic part is the paring down of possessions, un-needed “stuff” that just takes up space, both emotionally and physically. A large part of our modern working week is devoted to caring for our stuff. Paying for it, paying for the place to store it, paying for maintenance, doing the maintenance and looking/longing for new stuff to surround ourselves with.” Mats Andren, the-walk.se, Minimalism

 

It turned out that this new word was not a new concept for me and minimalism happened to be trending in modern society. I decided to research what others were sharing and how it was changing their lives. It is interesting to see how people all over the world arrive at the similar destinations. I had a lot of time to do this while walking around Australia.

 

Minimalism is about more than having less.

 

It is okay to aspire to less but when it starts complicating other parts of your life it is no longer minimalism. However, applying minimalism to other parts of your life can make it less complicated.

 

Mats and i did not talk at our first meeting about emotional minimalism but I explored it and the intellectual and spiritual levels of reducing the processes of the heart and mind to clear and uncomplicated thought and action.

 

Ask yourself how minimalism can be applied to to more than just stuff.

 

Being human, not Vulcan, we over-think and over-react. We fill our thoughts with what-ifs, buts, maybes, reflecting on the past, projecting into the future, even the present is filled with multiple interpretations and imagination.

 

If we take everything just as it is, before we add conditioned religious, cultural, educational, political layers, life is beautifully simple.

 

If mindfulness was our natural state we wouldn’t be wasting time thinking about other people’s thoughts and actions, comparing ourselves, wanting more than we need, looking for comfort in the wrong places.

 

Being in the moment, here and now, is one of the most valuable life skills you will ever learn. Your life is already full of all you need, see what is important, let go of everything else. Through mindfulness we can focus on what is, not on what was or could be. It is a great way to begin applying minimalism to our values.

 

It is not easy to minimise anything when you first begin. Be gentle, create lists or piles of material, intellectual, emotional, spiritual and psychological things you want to keep, you can discard and things you need to think about some more before making a decision. Keep revisiting your metaphorical and material “unsure” piles until they disappear.

 

I think you will be surprised by what you don’t really need. I was. There were beliefs, hopes, conflict and bias I had never stopped to question until taking time to self-analyse. When I let go of that extra “stuff” from my heart and mind it felt amazing, replacing all the immaterial clutter with clarity and peace.

 

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