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ADVENTURE

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EMPOWER

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INSPIRE

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DREAM

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CHANGE

First Time Fever Doing old things in new ways

Bucket List Hike The Hume and Hovell Track

A Pilgrim’s Journey

Tales from the Camino

ISSUE #16 2019

Women’s Adventure & Lifestyle

AU $14.95 ISSUE 16


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ISSUE#16

an dura h

C reery Wetla nds, M

Letter from the Editor I remember the first time I ever skied backward. It was a blue-bird day in Hokkaido Japan and I was on my third day of ski school. I was a diligent student and keen to get the hang of an activity that was completely foreign to me. I’d spent most of my early years in rural Australia and participating in snow sports was not a thing. Confident and capable skiers whizzed by as we paused at the top of my first big hill. I listened gravely to my instructor as he explained the techniques for tackling steeper gradients. How to hold my hands, where to place my feet, how much to bend my knees and how I must look ahead to where I wanted to go. Satisfied that I appeared to understand what was required, he raised his left eyebrow, nodded his head and vanished silently into the powder. When all I could see was white, I took a deep breath, furrowed my brow and pushed off. Wheeeeeeeee! I was flying. This was incredible. The swish of the snow, the wind in my hair, the smiling faces of the people…behind me.

Disoriented, I realised I was moving away from people rather than towards them. I had no idea what to do. We hadn’t covered this scenario in the briefing. Nevertheless, I was fixated on making it to the bottom without falling, backwards be damned. As the ground leveled, my pace slowed and I managed to stop in the vicinity of where I was supposed to be. Chuckling through his neck warmer, the instructor offered me a gloved high five for a job well done. It was a funny experience that I think about now and again when I’m nervous about doing something for the first time. While my technique was far from textbook, I still made it, and that’s all that counts right? This issue you will find a stack of stories on being a beginner, learning how to do old things in new ways and discovering activities that light you up. Perhaps you’ll find something that inspires you to get your skates on and try something out of your ordinary. Happy travels Love Mel xxx

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Copyritght TPL Publishing PTY LTD 2015. No part of this publication may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publishers. DISCLAIMER: A large portion of original material is created by TPL Publishing and its contributors, including text, fonts, photography, and art work - content used from public domain like social media sites we agree are not the property of TPL Publishing, and in all cases media permission has been sought via electronic or verbal agreement. The content and views expressed in this magazine by individuals and TPL Publishing are provided in good faith as information only. No guarantee is made of the accuracy of the information provided. We have done our best to credit all photographers. In some instances photos have been provided to us by those who appear editorially and we have their permission to use the images. We apologise if anything appears incorrectly. It will be a genuine mistake, let us know and we will ensure to mention it in the next issue.

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c ontents THE GIANT MANTA RAYS OF REVILLAGIGEDO Stephanie Venables

WALKING LE PUY CAMINO Samantha McCrow

CHARLIZE EVERITT: RISING STAR Melanie Chatfield

ADVENTURE IN THE SLOVENIAN HILLS Kylie Travers

ADVENTURES FOR CHANGE: PUSHING THE WAY Lisa Edmonds & Helen Smith LOVE ART: HELEN BULLOCK TPL Interview

DISCOVERING THE HUME & HOVELL TRACK Caroline Grandjean-Thomsen

ROCKIN’ IT AT SEAL ROCKS ADVENTURE FESTIVAL Cynthia Colli

A WEEKEND IN BANGKOK Melanie Chatfield

EATING ELEPHANTS TAKES TIME Jeanette McGill

NAVIGATING A COMEBACK Jarka Kluth

LA TROTTINEUSE: KICK THE WORLD Blandine Barthélemy

FINDING FUN AGAIN Tanya Hall

LOMBOK, INDONESIA: WHERE SURFING IS ABOUT FUN Audrey A. Hills

KAYAK ADVENTURES: THE FORGOTTEN BACKWATERS OF THE MURRAY RIVER Meg Law

EXPLORING MANDURAH: THE AQUATIC CITY Melanie Chatfield

BAREBOAT SAILING FOR BEGINNERS Melanie Chatfield

17 DAYS & 7 DESTINATIONS: SOLO Natalie Drake-Brockman

CLIMBING AMA DABLAM: THE SCARED GIRLS GUIDE Stephanie Quirk

DOING OLD THINGS IN NEW WAYS Sputnik THE PURR-FECT HOLIDAY HOME Madolline Gourley A NEW NORMAL: HOW ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRANSFORMS US Nicole Rowles PICTURE PERFECT PUMAS Michelle Lawford CYCLING THE CANAL DES DEUX MERS WTH MUM Tanya Lake CITY SLICKER TO FARM GIRL: VOLUNTEERING AT A PERMACULTURE FARM Lauren Holyoake FIVE TO THRIVE: MODIBODI TPL Interview GOURMET ON A BUDGET Karen Barfield

THE WINDING TRACK Jacqui Parsons

READ MORE Head over to our website for bonus content and previous articles travelplaylive.com.au

STAY CONNECTED We love to hear from you, so be sure to tell us all about your travels and adventures. Contact us at hello@travelplaylive.com.au Share your photos with us on Instagram by using #travelplaylivemagazine for your chance to feature.

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T he

GIANT MANTA RAYS O F

R E V I L L A G I G E D O

For 28 hours we saw nothing but blue. Sure, there were a few white caps and the occasional seabird, but the majority of the time was spent trying to decide where the sky ended and the sea began. On the second morning, I woke to the feeling of the boat swaying back and forth, walked out of our cozy cabin and on deck to be greeted by the sight of a huge volcanic island looming on the port side – we had arrived at San Benedicto, and it felt like we were anchored at the edge of the world.

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WORDS BY: STEPHANIE VENABLES

People travel for a variety of reasons, some to adventure, some to relax, some to experience new cultures. Me? I travel for manta rays, and at times this takes me to places I can’t even pronounce. The Revillagigedo Archipelago (revi-ya-he-hair-doh) lies 250 nautical miles (approximately 400 kilometres) southwest of Baja California, in Mexican waters. These four volcanic islands emerge from the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean and are commonly referred to as Socorro, after the largest island in the chain. They were declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2016 and a marine reserve and national park in 2017. The archipelago is known for its unique ecosystem and the waters are bursting with life, making it a worldclass scuba diving location. Divers are drawn here by epic encounters with larger, pelagic species (predatory fish like tuna, barracuda and wahoo), numerous species of shark (Galapagos and silky sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads, and whale sharks), along with humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins and most importantly for me, giant manta rays. As a marine scientist and manta ray researcher, I have been lucky enough to dive with these incredible creatures in a number of different countries. For the past five years, I’ve worked with the Marine

Megafauna Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on the research and conservation of large marine species. Joined by my best friend and trusty assistant Laura, and Frida Lara from Pelagios Kakunja – a Mexican-based research and conservation organization – we were leading a citizen science dive expedition onboard the Quino El Guardian liveaboard. The islands were one of Frida’s main study locations for her PhD research, so she knew the dive sites like the back of her hand. Frida is a fellow shark lover and the stories of her dive experiences in the area made me even more excited to get under the water. Such expeditions are a win-win as they enable researchers to get out to remote field sites and collect data, as well as provide an opportunity for scuba divers to learn more about the places and species they are diving with, experience things from a scientist’s perspective and assist with research. I was particularly excited about the Revillagigedo trip, as it had been on my bucket list for years. Since I started working with manta rays in 2013, I’d heard stories about the mantas of Socorro. Apparently they were the friendliest that people had ever encountered. Inquisitive and curious of divers, they often came close enough to take a spa bath in your bubbles. It sounded too good to be true, and I was dying to experience it for myself.

The archipelago is known for its unique ecosystem and the waters are bursting with life, making it a worldclass scuba diving location.

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Our mission was to collect manta ray tissue biopsies for a genetics study (part of my Phd work), as well as take photos of the manta rays we encountered to add to a long-term identification catalogue managed by colleagues at the Pacific Manta Research Group. Manta rays have unique spot-patterns on their underside that enable us to identify each individual, like a fingerprint. By collecting and cataloguing ID photographs, scientists can track individuals over time and build up an idea of the population that inhabits an area. It’s a simple, non-invasive and effective way of learning about wide-ranging marine species. We also had to trial a method of floating drop cameras that Frida intended to use for shark studies on an upcoming research trip, deploy an acoustic receiver station to pick up the signals from tagged animals in the area and to conduct microplastics tows for a colleague looking at the impact of plastics on manta rays. It was a busy agenda, but luckily we had a team of keen citizen scientists to help us out. There was a buzz of anticipation before our first dive as everyone excitedly put on wetsuits and made sure their dive gear was set up and ready to go. Photographers triple-checked that cameras were charged and underwater housings sealed. Frida, Laura and I made sure we had all of our equipment, jumped in one of the small boats with the dive group and zoomed towards our first dive site – El Cañon. As we approached the drop point and put our masks on, Frida looked at me and said with a smile: “look out into the blue for tigers,” and with that, we rolled back into the bluest water I have ever dived in. I have to be honest, my first thought was “damn, this is cold”. Spoiled from years of diving in the tropics, the cooler waters of Revilla certainly took a bit of getting used to. The reefscape was different too, in place of the carpets of coral and small, colorful reef fish were stark rocky pinnacles and steep walls dropping off into the deep. This was the perfect environment for the big pelag-

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ic animals that we had come here to see. The first day did not disappoint, we saw mantas and I managed to collect a few biopsies while Frida and the team deployed the acoustic receiver. Giant manta rays can grow to a whopping seven-meter wingspan. They are gentle giants though, feeding on tiny planktonic animals in the water column and don’t have a stinging barb. Mantas are absolutely amazing creatures to encounter in the wild. Sadly though, they are threatened and global numbers are in decline. This is mainly due to fisheries that target them for their gills which are used in traditional Asian medicines and being caught as by-catch in other fisheries. The mantas we saw were extremely chilled. They hovered above us and were truly mesmerizing to watch as they use their wing-like pectoral fins to propel themselves through the water, I had a feeling things were just getting started. As the trip progressed, the dives got better and our smiles grew wider. Day 3 took us to the tiny islet of Roca Partida, the northernmost island in the chain. From the surface, Roca Partida looks just like a tiny floating iceberg, painted white with guano. But from below, it was a majestic cathedral spire rising up from the deep and piercing the surface. As the currents rushed around the rock, shoals of trevally congregated in groups so big they blocked out the light. Hammerheads lurked in the deeper waters, Galapagos sharks and yellow-fin tuna hunted in the blue, and white-tip reef sharks formed cuddle-puddles in the rocky indents dotted into the rock face. I didn’t know which way to look, I was awe-struck. We only saw a single manta in the distance, but that didn’t bother me at all. Frida, Laura and I fought the currents and circumnavigated the rock at least twice on every dive trying to keep up with all the action. The pièce de résistance was El Boiler, a submerged volcanic seamount off San Benedicto famous for encounters with manta rays

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yelled: “she’s giving birth!” Amazingly, the female dolphin had followed the rest of the divers to the surface and was swimming around with them, mid-birth, with the tiny tail sticking out! This was unheard of. To top it off the manta rays had sensed the excitement and were circling underneath, turning upside down to check out the action. After 10 minutes at the surface, the female decided it was time to go and with a flick of her tail she swam away, leaving us speechless and laughing with joy, what had just happened? We were incredibly lucky, dolphin births are rarely witnessed in the wild and as we hadn’t seen the calf come out fully, the group was hoping that everything was okay. The good news is that a group diving at El Boiler a few days later saw the same female with a newborn calf by her side, phew! It was a trip of a lifetime. We saw 32 individual manta rays, over seven shark species and had a unique dolphin experience. Revillagigedo had certainly lived up to everyone’s expectations and we had plenty of time to recount the memorable moments on the long trip back to the mainland.

The pièce de résistance was El Boiler, a submerged volcanic seamount off San Benedicto famous for encounters with manta rays and curious dolphins.

and curious dolphins. Within minutes of us dropping into the blue, the mantas arrived and it turns out that the stories were true. This was unlike any interaction I’d ever had. The mantas were inquisitive, they circled around the group, cruising slowly past at eye level and some hovered right above you – letting the bubbles tickle their underside. When we swam to the other side of the seamount, they seemed to follow us – it was incredible. Even when we began to ascend they came up with us. Towards the end of the dive, a group of playful bottlenose dolphins had arrived and kept circling us. One of the larger females was heavily pregnant and especially interactive with the divers. The atmosphere on the boat was electric. When it was time for the third dive of the day, everyone was in their wetsuits and ready to go, keen to get back in and see if the mantas had stuck around. What we didn’t realize is that we were about to drop in for one of the most memorable dives of our lives. The mantas were still there, and at one point we swam a little deeper to get a biopsy of a melanistic male. After I had taken the sample we were approached by a pregnant dolphin, she swam up and stopped in the water column in front of us, hanging vertically and staring with inquisitive eyes. I looked over to see the rest of the group surrounded by mantas and dolphins, I couldn’t believe this place! We realized it was time to start our ascent and as I reached the surface, Frida stuck her head out of the water and

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MEET

Steph Venables

Steph is a marine researcher, PhD candidate and conservationist who's work focuses on the ecology and population genetics of manta rays. Steph is passionate about conservation and travel. The ocean is her happy place and she hopes to play a role in protecting it for future generations. marinemegafauna.org

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T R A V E L

P L A Y

L I V E

A D V E N T U R E

G R A N T

C A T E G O R Y

W I N N E R S

Adventures F O R

CHANGE P U S H I N G

T H E

W A Y

WORDS & IMAGES BY: LISA EDMONDS & HELEN SMITH

Two Australian women, two wheelchairs and over 250 kilometres along the Portuguese Way Camino de Santiago. It was a trip that pushed the limits beyond what even they imagined was possible.

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Adventure is unpredictable. That’s part of the attraction. You might wake up with the best-laid plans, but the more you travel the more you realise you have to learn to manage the unexpected. Adaptation is key and gear can have a huge impact on how well you survive in different environments. For those of us who use adaptive equipment like wheelchairs, the desire for adventure is no different. But it can be even trickier to predict what conditions will be like, making it particularly challenging for those who want to step outside the status quo. The current knowledge base of feasible multi-day outdoor trips for people who use a wheelchair or other adaptive equipment is scant. So, embarking on a well-known pilgrimage like the Camino de Santiago is something of a leap of faith. There was a lot to consider. How could we load our wheelchairs with enough gear for several weeks of travel, yet remain light and balanced? How do we train effectively when it’s impossible to get sufficient detail on the terrain? How do we find out if the track is even possible to do by wheelchair? In true Aussie style, we took the ‘she’ll be right’ approach and arrived in Porto, Portugal. Relaxing with a glass of port we started to wonder. What on earth were we doing? Pilgrims have walked the Camino de Santiago for over 1000 years. Traditionally motivated by religion, modern-day pilgrims walk for all sorts of reasons, often relishing the chance to immerse themselves in nature and reflect upon the simplicity of life. We opted for a section of the Portuguese Way, a route that hugs the natural coastline north towards Santiago. Not only did this promise stunning scenery and local culture, it looked flatter than the inland route. In hindsight, we really were guessing on how doable this section of track would be. We didn’t know anyone that had tackled this part of the trail by wheelchair, let alone unassisted (carrying all our gear). The thing about travelling by wheelchair is that really benign features can present unexpected challenges. For instance, if sand blows over a beach-side track, then wheels can become bogged making it difficult to push. Eroded tracks, fallen trees, and water damage can all make a perfectly good track harder than expected. As a result, it’s hard to predict the pace. Downhill sections, wheelchairs fly. Uphill, a very different story. The average walker can anticipate covering 15–20 kilometres per day. For folks in wheelchairs, it completely depends on the terrain. While we could get a sense of the macro-terrain by looking at a topographic map, at the micro-scale we were at the mercy of sand, steps, and hills. Many pilgrims speak fondly of the ‘spirit’ of the Camino, and it delivered to us in full through the kindness of travellers and the generosity of locals. We were two thirds into our trip before the first flat tire – not bad considering the distance and terrain. But it was only then that we realised the obvious oversight in our gear inventory: the repair required two identical Allen keys

and we’d only brought one of each! So much for trying to save on weight. Fortunately, we were staying in a small village with a local bike shop and a helpful mechanic. Perhaps the most enjoyable thing was that people thought we were completely nuts. There were so many unknowns. So much that could go wrong. But in a world where we are increasingly obsessed with ‘wheelchair access’ being flat, smooth and easy, we forget that every person – regardless of whether or not they use a wheelchair – has an inbuilt thirst for adventure. And that it fundamentally makes us feel alive. In fact, the very essence of creating a challenge is what makes for a journey worth setting out on. The Camino challenged our mind, body, and spirit from every angle. We pushed each other through tough times and relied on each other's strength and determination to complete the journey together. We are so in awe of what the human body and mind can achieve. Each day was a complete test of endurance, courage and mental toughness that squeezed out every last bit of all of those things. The possibilities are unknown until you allow yourself to present in a raw form with only absolute necessities on your back and oblivious to what lies ahead. It’s being out of your comfort zone that provides the most challenging yet rewarding feeling anyone could ever experience. We hope you enjoy a few snippets from our journey. Day 1: Porto to Vila Cha – 15km We left our accommodation before sunrise and headed up to the Cathedral of Porto, the official start of our trip. We finally found our way through the city, up and down hills to the metro. We took a short wheelchair friendly ride to Matosinhos on the coast and spent the day negotiating cobblestones and navigating through sand that covered the boardwalk in sections. After six hours we were happy to settle in to our accommodation and are excited about what tomorrow brings. Day 2: Vila Chã to Fão – 29km We left as dawn began and continued along the boardwalk. We were blessed with an exceptional array of colours as the sun rose, and stunning scenery for most of the day. We enjoyed the sun and stopped for some stuffed crab. After lunch, the track became increasingly rural, passing through farmland and more dreaded cobblestones. The bit proved the hardest with long stretches of soft sand. Inch by inch we pushed our way through it. We reached our hostel mentally and physically exhausted. Feeling happy to have arrived and dying for a shower. Day 3: Fão to Moldes – 17km We woke to a cool, foggy morning with a magical sunrise. We had to take a gamble on whether to follow the sandy coastal track or take the hilly inland route. We decided on the official coastal Camino through the backstreets of local villages. Plenty more cobblestones and gnarly hills to tackle, but not without the helping hands of pilgrims and kind locals. The track descended into a forest pathway and down to the river. It became

Perhaps the most enjoyable part was that people thought we were completely nuts.

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very narrow, rocky and impossible for us to pass. A local family were behind us and didn’t hesitate to carry us over the rockiest terrain. They were followed closely by local mountain bikers who hauled, pushed and carried our chairs to the river crossing where we parted ways. Initially we struggled to find a bed but luckily bumped into some familiar pilgrims who invited us to share their rented house. The day was full of adventure and kindness. The true spirit of the Camino in action. Day 4: Moldes to Correco – 20km The hardest day so far, not only covering difficult terrain but starting to feel the aches and pains of pushing day after day. Up and out at dark, our head torches lit the steep cobblestone roads that went up and up to a cathedral. It was very slow going. We quickly became exhausted but were grateful to witness the sky evolve into different colours. At the top of the hill, our pilgrim friends appeared and agreed to rope up and help us tackle the narrow uneven tracks and rocky boulders through the forest. No one in their right mind would seriously consider

Day 6: A Guarda to Baiona – 30km Up and out by 6am we tried to capitalise on the time difference, only to realise that sunrise was an hour later in Spain! So we had two hours with a sky full of stars and only head torches for light. We made great time and stopped for croissants and coffee soon after sunrise. After taking a narrow cycle pathway through the back streets and down to the cathedral, we continued on the road that hugged the stunning coastline. Eight hours later we made it to beautiful Baiona. The hostel was perfect: modern, clean, fully accessible and we could wash our hair! Day 7: Rest Day Day 8: Baiona to Vigo – 26km Feeling stiff and sore we left the hostel and followed the coast, picking up a great cycle pathway in most parts. This failed spectacularly when the track ended abruptly on a beach walk. We backtracked and headed up seriously steep streets to the road. A local stopped to help and

The last bit proved the hardest with long stretches of soft sand. Inch by inch we pushed our way through it. doing this, but it sure makes for a memorable Camino. It was an awesome downhill run to the coffee shop for a very welcome breakfast. Day 5: Correco to A Guarda – 14km We took a train to the ferry to cross the border into Spain, but the train attendant forgot to offload at our stop so we had to push back an extra 6km. This included a very risky crossing over the train track – luckily with the help of a kind Irish pilgrim who materialised out of thin air. We chose the coastal track which started out well, hugging the water's edge but soon turned into a sandy bike track. We headed inland onto the road before joining the path again, a beautiful boardwalk into a very pretty, colourful town. The very primitive hostel was at the top of the hill, and we finished the day with pilgrims and pizza.

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took turns pushing us up the hill. Roughly 6km out of Vigo we turned inland and followed the river. The climb was steep and long, a killer at the end of the day and almost enough to bring you to tears. But, we made it. Day 9: Vigo to Arcade – 23km We woke to an overcast and drizzly city. After breakfast, we found our way back on the track and delighted to see those yellow arrows. It involved our first big downhill and then a slow steady climb up with breathtaking views. We were up high, on mostly unsealed paths wet and soggy from the rain. We pushed through some beautiful green forestry filled with our very own Aussie Eucalyptus trees standing proud. We continued along the main Camino way until we got completely bogged in a muddy farm track. Fortunately, two pilgrims appeared in time to push us through the worst of it.

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Day 10: Arcade to Pontevedra – 13km We left at dawn and followed the yellow arrows towards a pretty river crossing. We began climbing up and up following a trail that bypassed the rougher forest terrain. We finally reached the top in the pouring rain. There was no relief as going down a steep, windy, wet road safely was not easy. We were ravenous by the time we reached the bottom and needed refuelling fast. Magically, a family bakery appeared. The kind owners welcomed us and served us fresh croissants and coffee, all on the house. Day 11: Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis – 22km After visiting a beautiful church in the main part of the town we turned north. We followed the main road out of Pontevedra, towards Caldas de Rais, a very busy road which makes for a very stressful trip when you are pushing in the lay-by with little room for error. The road was hilly, and the most enormous uphill was right before our lunch stop of delicious cheese and ham. Day 12: Caldas de Reis to O Faramello – 25km While enjoying breakfast, to our surprise a lovely man pointed out an article about us in the Galicia Times newspaper. We laughed our heads off, famous at last! We set off on a long steady climb towards Padron. After the last 11 days of hoping we would get to Santiago we can now truly say we will. It’s a surreal

feeling and the magnitude has not yet sunk in. We finished the day at the local cafe, chatting and laughing with pilgrims, the last supper before Santiago. Day 13: O Farramello to Santiago – 12km We left at dark and pushed from the village back up to the main road. It was absolutely pouring with rain, so we decided to make use of a coffee shop while it got light and the rain eased. But it didn’t. We began climbing, passing through busy villages. About 5km out from Santiago Helen got a flat tyre. We pulled into a nearby petrol station to take shelter and pump it up, hoping it would last. On the outskirts of Santiago, we took a smaller street directly north to the cathedral, weaving through the narrow cobblestone backstreets. At exactly midday, we made it to the cathedral with the bells chiming and soaking wet. Despite the rain, the square was still packed with pilgrims glad to have arrived. Over 250km in 13 days. After a rest and some food, we headed to the pilgrim's office to claim our Compostela certificate – a very proud moment. We bumped into some familiar pilgrims and enjoyed paella and sangria together. We talked and laughed about Camino stories for the rest of the evening and said our goodbyes. We will take the Camino spirit home with us and keep it, and all it provides, in our heart. Our gratitude is endless and we are so touched by how much love and support we had.

A local family were behind us and didn’t hesitate to carry us over the rockiest terrain.

BIO: L I S A

EDMONDS

Lisa came to Australia in 1986 on a 12-month work visa. But in 1987, aged 20, she was involved in a motorbike accident that left her a paraplegic. She stayed in Australia to pursue a new life and a successful career in sport, competing at four World Championships and three Paralympic Games (winning silver in Sydney 2000). Lisa has always had a strong sense of adventure and is forever finding new ways to push boundaries and confront her fears. The outdoors is is her happy place and travel is her passion. @pushingtheway

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BIO: H E L E N

M A R G H E R I TA S M I T H

Helen is a 33-year-old paraplegic with a passion for the outdoors, travel and adventure. She has been using a wheelchair for just four years and in that short time has begun to push the boundaries of what’s possible. She swims, kayaks, camps, and bushwalks as much as possible and recently spent two weeks scuba diving in the Solomon islands. Helen finds it hard to stay inside! pushwalk.com

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LoveART

Helen

BULLOCK

Nat met Helen on her recent trip to London and was immediately drawn to her as a person. She stalked Helen’s Insta page and was equally drawn to her designs and her illustrations of eccentric women. Helen, and her creations, are alluring and fun and so we approached her to design our issue #16 cover. The brief: A woman with no particular identity, age, size and in no particular place. A natural, casual, adventurous, non-pretentious, fun, free and dreamy theme. We hope you can relate to our playful lady and that she inspires you to get your skates on and find your happy place through adventure!

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When you get a brief like the one we gave you for our cover, what process do you use to come up with the final idea? With most jobs the first thing I do is ask the client to highlight the work of mine that they like (as I have a variety of styles) and this then helps define the direction and mood. In the case of this particular artwork, I searched for some images of girls skating to inspire me, and then through trial and error, tried to project the mood and feeling that you guys were after, trying different styles and materials. My work looks like it takes minutes (which it often does) but there are MANY attempts before I get to what I want! Once I've found some ideas that I'm happy with, I then send it to the client. There's often a few back and forths, where we're both searching for the right vibe. And yes! Then it's done!!! Athleisure (activewear) seems to be a popular and growing trend. How do you see fashion meeting practical adventure gear into the future? I think Fashion definitely influences adventure wear... and I imagine vice versa too – especially perhaps in terms of technical fabrics, complex fastening, etc. You can also see this cross over through celebrity and fashion sports collaborations .... and well! Perhaps due to the influence of Instagram, people want to look good and look the part in all situations, so aesthetics becomes equal to the practicalities of the garment. You sell prints of your favourite illustrations (and other products) from your website. Can you tell us a story about one of your personal favourites and one of your most popular pieces? It’s SO difficult to select a favourite! Impossible in fact!!! So I’m going to give YOU the job!!!!!!!

Helen, you’re a designer and artist. How do you define your niche and what does your job entail? My work is full of colour and scribbled marks... so I guess my niche is that I can provide a playground of colour and energy! My job is often to give life to a client’s idea, and to add a personal touch along the way. The day to day is pretty fluid – sometimes unfortunately there is some emailing – but mostly I feel super lucky as my job is often to draw, to paint, to research... My friend often tells people that I get paid to colour in!! I mean! What a great job!!

You describe your prints as “bold, strong in colour, and illustrations are unique, at times capturing strength and beauty, others awkwardness”. Where does your inspiration come from? So! I do have set research days where I seek out inspiration... library and gallery visits, or films and rummaging around at a car boot sale, etc. BUT! Really... I find inspiration everywhere. Recently I was obsessed with the patterns and layout of random marks on the pavements, so now have a phone full of photos of pavements! OR! I keep seeing the same teenage boy on the street, and each time he's carrying something unexpected! And yes! I'd really like to draw him!! You’ve done a bunch of collabs. Can you tell us about one of your favourites? How was the experience and what do you love about the end product? My most recent collab with Italian brand iBlues (Max Mara group) and it was so much fun! Sometimes when you work with clients, your work can get diluted – but in this case, I was so pleased with the outcome, and it felt completely me. I provided the artwork, and then the client created the silouhettes, which means that you get a true cross-pollination of work, and you get the chance to see your work through someone else's eyes. Also, a real bonus to this collab was that I got to go on a mini-tour to promote the collection, taking me to China and Hong Kong. Which of course was AMAZING. To top it all off, I was also involved in an art fair, where I was able to dress a hotel room with fabrics from, and inspired by, the collection. ABSOLUTELY more of this type of collab please!!!

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(But!!!!! I am ever fond of my graduate collection! So for nostalgia's sake, let’s say that!!! Or! I’ve just done a drawing called Ask Me To Dance for SHOWstudio. And yes! I feel very drawn to her !!!) helenbullock.com


Rockin'it

S E A L

R O C K S

A D V E N T U R E

F E S T I V A L

WORDS BY: CYNTHIA COLLI IMAGES BY: BEN CIRULIS (LABELLED) & CYNTHIA COLLIE

My husband Barry and I just returned from a six month Pacific sailing adventure. We were happy back in our home in Sydney, with our familiar surroundings and a house that didn’t rock side to side … for about a minute. Two days in, we were itching for another adventure, this time in our own backyard. With a van full of accoutrements – surfboard, freediving fins, wetsuits, mountain bikes, kayaks, tents, snacks and three mates – we headed north up the New South Wales coast for a roadie like no other. Our destination was Seal Rocks Adventure Festival. A three-day weekend of activities for young and old. Packed with sports to try, environmental and craft workshops, fun games, health and wellbeing activities and fantastic night time entertainment. A scenic 3.5 hours drive north of Sydney, Seal Rocks is a coastal haven perched on a peninsula of Myall Lakes National Park. Long sandy beaches flank both sides of the point and can be accessed via a walking trail from Treachery Camp, home to the festival and one of the best campsites I’ve ever visited. Day 1: A Worimi Welcome We arrived as the Welcome to Country smoking ceremony was underway. Seal Rocks is part of Worimi country. As Worimi Dreaming legend goes, Bayami, the Great Spirit, created this world. When he saw all life here living in harmony, he stepped back into the sky from which he came, and watches over the wonderful place he created. I felt Bayami in the starlit canopy at night and in the warm golden skies of the mornings. I thank the Worimi people for sharing this paradise with us. First up on Friday night, the Adventure Short Film Festival. The films

I love how adventure can mean exploring new things with surprising and happy results.

Photo By Ben Cirulis

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Photo By Ben Cirulis

featured diverse men and women from around the world, able-bodied and not, each exploring their own version of adventure. Watching the films I realised that ‘adventure’ gives everybody a chance to experience the planet in their own way. The films also taught me about the world. Did you know there are 4000 metre high snow-covered mountains in Iran? Iranian Snowboarder Mona Seraji showed them to me, in Erik Bulckens’ film Persian Powder. Trailblazer Mona, along with two Aussies Michaela Davis-Meehan and Amber Arazny tore up the Iranian slopes with style and massive smiles. Day 2: Bend, Stretch, Surf & Dance It was a perfect start the day; outdoor Bush Meditation and Solar Flow Yoga session as the morning sun crawled up over the horizon, dispersing the sea mist that rolled over the cliffs. Next was Doofercise! Dancing around to 80s party tunes in fluro lycra without a care in the world is probably THE most fun I can have before 9am. Later that day, I got creative and joined the lovely Shelley in a Shibori fabric dyeing workshop. I love how adventure can mean exploring new things with surprising and happy results. Elsewhere, people rock-climbed, slack-lined, made fire without matches, played epic dodgeball games, went zorbing and tried circus. Happy with my dye job, limber body and calm mind, I wandered down for a body surf at Lighthouse beach to join Barry who was surfing up a storm. After a big day, salty, happy and hungry, we showered, ate some great grub and danced til’ midnight to a high energy funk band The Regime.

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Day 3: Doof & Dive I can’t help it, I’m Doofercise obsessed! I woke up to Whitney Houston, slapped on some lycra and bolted out of the tent to join in, my unbrushed hair looking just like hers. Then, with ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ still swirling around in my ears, our crew headed to Sugarloaf Bay for a snorkel and freedive session. I soon settled into the freediving meditative state with help from our Forster diving guide. We swam out into the crystal clear water – home to sea turtles, grey nurse sharks, healthy reefs and silvery schools of fish. One of my favourite moments was diving deep to be eye-to-eye with the placid sharks resting on the bottom of the cove. With the sun setting, our time at the Festival came to a close. We packed up and headed home, reflecting on what adventure means. It reinforced how important it is to explore and play in our own big, Australian backyard. How else can you discover the secrets of this phenomenal land we live in? Disclaimer: The author was a guest of Seal Rocks Adventure Festival.

Photo By Ben Cirulis

As Worimi Dreaming legend goes, Bayami, the Great Spirit, created this world.

Photo By Ben Cirulis

MEET

Cynthia Colli

Cynthia is a digital designer, writer, and co-founder of a cheeky eco-movement. She geeks out over natural history, and seeks to know indigenous stories of every First Nations country she visits. To her, there's nothing better than the freedom that both the underwater world and a pen, can bring. Instagram: cyncoco

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Eating Elephants

TAKES TIME

WORDS & IMAGES BY: JEANNETTE MCGILL

I loll in my tent in a down cocoon. My body is warm and relaxed with my breathing steady and audible behind the oxygen mask. I’ve eaten warm soup and calorie-laden chocolate and pass the time watching the feet of the new Camp Four arrivals. I am ready. My own gear is arranged for the middle of the night start. It is summit push on Mt Manaslu (8163 metres) and as I lie listening to the general clatter and occasional hiss of escaping oxygen that is a high mountain camp winding down at the end of a climbing day, I am reflecting on how it was that I arrived here. In 2013 I realised that a few years of ‘life’ had got the better of me. I found myself at over 100 kilograms on my couch and I needed a challenge to catapult me forward. Having grown up in the mountains I wanted to reconnect with this passion and had always wondered if I could get up

an 8000 metre mountain. There are 14 extreme altitude mountains in the world, with Everest being the highest and most famous. Another 13 equally challenging mountains exist across the Himalayas and Karakorum. I was drawn to the 8th highest mountain in the world: Manaslu. And so I set myself a goal. But as they say in Africa: how do you eat an elephant? In small pieces. So I established a plan and got to work training. The first attempt In 2015 I had actually been lying in a similar position: in a tent and in limbo on the side of Manaslu. But I had to retreat without a summit due to accidents and poor weather. I returned to my Johannesburg corporate desk and subsequently relocated to Melbourne, Australia. Yet I still had a lingering thought gnaw at the back of my mind. It had become a life goal of mine to summit an 8000 metre mountain. The mental itch wouldn’t go away and I needed a goal to revive some work/life balance. Clearly eating elephants and achieving big goals take time to realise! The second attempt Fast forward to 2018 and after a weather delay in Kathmandu, I was happy to arrive in the now significantly expanded village of Samagaun (3620 metres). That afternoon, I walked up the lush Budhi Gandaki Valley filled with bright late-summer foliage to the first major crossing of the Dhudh Kola River. This stroll allowed me to transition from the

I reached the summit of Manaslu at 09h15 and became the very first South African woman to do so.

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stop-start frenetic flurries that characterise Kathmandu domestic airport departures to the slower passage of mountain-time. After breakfast a day later I set off and thoroughly enjoyed the scenic trek up the Sama Hill to the now-familiar Base Camp located in the usual damp and misty rain shadow (4850 metres). Following the Buddhist blessing rituals, I could start climbing Manaslu. There are four camps at increasing altitudes on the mountain. Before actually going for the summit one has to complete acclimatisation rotations to ensure your body adjusts to the increasing altitude and reducing oxygen. This process is repetitive and can be tedious ensuring one has the mental stamina to handle the climb and the tenacity to stick with the goal. With my all-important acclimatisation rotation now complete a weather window had presented itself. There were two suitable summit days in the forecast and the majority of the 192 clients and 200 Sherpas were ready to go.I was both nervous and excited. I wrote out the summit plan in my journal using my acclimatization times to each camp as yardsticks, overlaying my food and clothing requirements, reminding myself of the technical climbing parts and tips I’d thought about for each section of the climb. I wrote down critical health signs and warnings around altitude sickness. I also had motivational tips from my various mentors that included sound bites such as: ”First, sleep on any thoughts of quitting” and, “Be truly grateful for the opportunity ahead”. All these notes I re-read a few times before organising my backpack and hoping my altitude brain would remember the important parts. After a respectful rice offering at the Buddhist altar, I set off up the hill yet again. Five years of patience and hard work since imagining this 8000 metre goal was soon to be distilled down to the next five days. I reminded myself of the sound-bite a good Sherpa friend repeatedly tells me: ‘Don’t think too much’.I focused on the push for the summit. After three days of consistent uphill climbing, I was in my tent at Camp Four (7450 metres). The only order of business for the remainder of the day was to hydrate and rest. I was at a critical juncture: a little nervous now because I was entering unknown altitude territory, but at the same time comfortable, fed and warm. Being so high is detrimental to one’s body due to the reduced oxygen available. The next steps would take me into the ‘death zone’ and the only way I would find out how my body would perform was to head on upwards and continue to take bites of the elephant. The last push I woke at midnight and slowly completed the preparation sequence including some hot tea, a palatable chocolate bar, and chemical hand and foot warmers attached to my thermals to keep my body warm. At 01h30 I left the comfort of the comparatively warm tent for the subzero dark night. The past five years of dedi-

MEET

cated training had become five days of pushing for the summit and had now literally come down to the next five hours. The trail started from just behind our tent and I stepped into the line of people. I kept moving upwards, with the sound of breathing rasping in my ears. All I wanted was for the sun to rise as I plodded through the night. Eventfully, tinged on the eastern horizon, I saw the night begin to fade. With increased visibility I realised that I was on the fore summit, it was around 06h30 and I was close to the true summit. Little did I know that the hardest part was still to come. At just under 8163 metres I happened upon the slowest moving queue on the planet. Eventually, after almost three excruciatingly patient hours, shedding a few emotional tears, some thumping of my palms on my thighs to stay warm, and shuffling my feet on a precarious ledge, it was my turn to make the final ascent. I reached the summit of Manaslu at 09h15 and became the very first South African woman to do so. To date, just five Australian women have reached the summit with sadly only four returning home. We took a few hurried photos then retreated down alongside the remainder of the patiently waiting line. Two days later I was back at Base Camp. I had completed my goal! It had taken five years but I had done something I had never done before. I had eaten that elephant. Large goals take time to plan, prepare and to execute. I firmly believe that we are all able to do things we have never tried before. While I might have some mountaineering exposure, I had never reached 8000 metres. The self-confidence that develops from creating a plan, executing on it patiently and kindly to one’s self, and then achieving the goal over a significant span of time is immeasurable. So, if you have had this niggling idea to SUP down the Yarra, buy a coffee shop or start a beehive I would fully support you developing a plan and start nibbling on your elephant.

Jeannette McGill

Jeannette McGill is a respected global leader supporting people to achieve personal goals either as a 20-year global mining executive responsible for technology deployments or in the outdoors where she guides individuals or groups and climbs mountains herself. She is the head of a mining services division for a blue-chip Australian company, a Non-Executive Board member and holds a Ph.D. from the Colorado School of Mines. She is passionate about leading people to achieve things they never thought possible. mcgillsmountains.com

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When I chose my first longboard, I couldn’t imagine where this wooden plank would take me. Today I discover more and more unexpected and beautiful places with the help of a great community of skaters.

Photo Credit: Famke Van Hagen Novis 022

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Giulia Alfeo, Longboard Dancer (Germany) 023

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LOMBOK INDONESIA: W H E R E

S U R F I N G

Is Aout Fun

Photo By Hernรกn Regiardo


Photo By Penelope Morgan

WORDS BY: AUDREY A. HILLS

Without a doubt, Indonesia is a surfing mecca. Ever since the pioneers of surf travel sent back footage of the waves of Uluwatu in the early 1970s, the archipelago has been on the very top of every traveling surfer’s bucket list. No one will deny that Indonesia’s waves are some of the most powerful, hollow, and intimidating that exist. Razor-sharp coral reef, steep take-offs, and big open barrels attract some of the best surfers in the world, but what about the rest of us? Is there a place in Indonesia for the enthusiastic amateur female surfer? Time slows as I attempt to pull into a slightly overhead crystalline cylinder comprised entirely of swirling Indian Ocean. That is, until everything speeds up when my attempt at getting barrelled fails and I humbly tumble back into the sea. I don’t freak out. This wave wasn’t a fluke. It won’t be my last chance of the day. Plus, paddling back out over the reef is equally eventful when you’re surfing with a pack of girlfriends. I holler as Sophie, my neighbour in Sydney, takes off on a set and our whole crew goes ballistic when she makes the drop and hits the lip. When the next wave rolls through, two women share a ‘party wave’ at the encouragement of the locals. My days in Lombok are each a variation on this theme: sharing perfect waves with friends and strangers. Years ago, I dreamt of Bali. Growing up in Southern California, Bali seemed as far away from home as possible. Exotic, tropical, remote – all the things I needed after three years of law school. I also fantasised about I proving myself as a surfer on the Island of the Gods. Once I graduated, I packed up two surfboards – a 5’9” Stretch Quad

and a 6’2” hand-me down Rusty pin tail with a pink tail pad – and headed to Indonesia with my best friend. After the longest bout of air travel I had ever experienced, I arrived in Bali. I vividly remember the first humid morning, which I spent smelling clove cigarettes, marvelling at the colourful offerings, and getting lost in the laneways of Kuta. I checked the surf out front of our hostel on Poppies II and the swell was maxing and unsurfable as huge waves full of churned-up sand detonated on the beach. The next day, I made my way down to the Bukit Peninsula and came face-to-face with the legendary Uluwatu. Six-foot sets rolled across the reef and broke in the shallowest places while 60 guys scrambled to be in position at the peak. I shuddered as I held my Rusty underarm at the mouth of the infamous cave that surfers must pass through to get to the surf at Uluwatu. I could sense the raw power of the waves, feel the hunger of the crowd, and anticipate the difficulty of the paddle out. I turned around, walked back up the stairs, and ordered a Bintang at the first warung I saw, feeling totally defeated. Fortunately, I knew Indonesia was more than just Bali. Af

I also noticed that the best local surfers worked as surf guides and instructors that catered to beginner and intermediate surfers.


ter all, an archipelago of over 17,500 islands must have ample empty waves somewhere. At first, I was reluctant to explore further afield; I was a green American, scared of malaria and Muslim extremists. But at that moment, drinking beers above the waves I dreamt of surfing, I was so disappointed that I knew I had to go for it. That night I booked a ticket to Lombok. Just a 20-minute flight east of Bali, lies Lombok. As I drove away from Praya International Airport, I realised it was time to adjust my expectations. While Bali’s dominant religion is Hindu, Lombok is almost entirely Muslim so golden mosques replaced the vibrant offerings and exquisitely chiselled temples of the island next door. Unlike Bali, Lombok’s climate is more similar to that of Northern Australia with arid landscapes instead of jungles and rice paddies. Also absent was the heavy traffic that lingers like a bad hangover everywhere you go in Bali. I made it to Kuta, the epicentre of the surf scene in Lombok, in less than 20 traffic-free minutes. The next morning I went to a bar to find the local boys an acquaintance had befriended on a prior trip and recommended as surf guides. I had to wake them up as they slept on table tops and in hammocks in the bar, likely a bit dusty from the night before. “Can you take me surfing, please?” I begged, half expecting that they’d just roll over and go back to sleep. To my surprise, they sprung to action ordering me breakfast delivered on the back of a motorbike and loading my boards onto their cars. “Let’s go, Mom,” said Yoko, the twenty-something bartender of the Surfer Bar. The area surrounding Kuta is home to a series of huge bays that offer more sheltered surf spots, protected from the relentless swell that pounds the coastline from the south from March to October. Conversely, when the surf drops at anytime of the year, a drive to the outside of these bays will allow an eager surfer to take advantage of unhindered swell on the exposed beaches.

Photo By Hernán Regiardo

On my first trip, Yoko and the boys took me to an unbelievable beach to the west of Kuta. Every grain of sand was round like a tiny beach ball and the sunsets were as fiery and picturesque as any I’d ever seen. At high tide, I put my board in from the sand. I paddled safely over the reef without touching the bottom to a peaky right and left. When the swell picked up, I gathered some friends and took a longboat from a small fishing village to the mouth of one of the massive bays. There, I traded 5-7 foot lefts with my boat mates all day long without seeing another group of surfers. Although this was one of the most challenging surfs I’ve ever had in Lombok, a gentler and longer wave awaited us just inside the same bay. After pushing myself out of my comfort zone on the outside wave and having a few wipeouts, I had a more comfortable redemption session on the inside wave. At the breaks closer to town, I encountered more surfers and crowded line-ups. But I was surprised at the attitude of the locals and the vibe in the water. Everyone seemed chilled out and less aggressive than many beaches I’ve surfed in Sydney. Lots of people were working on consistently catching their own waves and transitioning from the awkward white water to green wave phase out in the lineup. I also noticed that the best local surfers worked as surf guides and instructors that catered to beginner and intermediate surfers. The locals

Photo By Penelope Morgan

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often encouraged myself and others to take off on big sets or paddle harder even when they weren’t teaching lessons. Turns out loads of less-than-pro-level surfers come to Lombok to work on their surfing without the pressure of critical waves like Uluwatu or the mega crowds found at other spots. Generally, that meant fewer people being aggressive, snaking, or intimidating other surfers. As a result, it was common to see as many women surfers as men in the water. I was hooked. I started coming back to Lombok every year and getting to know the locals and expats. As time went on, Kuta’s main drag became livelier: new cafes, restaurants, and bars popped up every visit. I now had my choice of accommodation from an ultra-trendy poolside capsule hostel to a private villa in the hills. I could also get an epic flat white in the morning and a margarita at the end of the day. These creature comforts aren’t necessary but certainly boast the island’s credibility as a discerning surfer’s favourite holiday destination. However, way more enticing than the beverage selection is the fact that my ‘gurfer’ buddies and I have found a place where it’s acceptable to be a woman in the line-up, openly working on her surfing skills rather than just trying to stay out

of the way. Every surfer makes mistakes: eventually, we all go over the falls, miss a section, or accidentally take a wave out of turn. We all need the time and space to practice so we can avoid these universal grievances. In Lombok, I found a place where I wasn’t ashamed to take risks in my surfing because the pressure to perform or go to the back of the line-up was alleviated by all the other people out there who just wanted to have fun and improve. Most, if not all, women surfers can agree that we crave warm water, long waves, and a side of nasi goreng, but we don’t want to be scared out of our minds, get into an argument, or get injured. If you seek a balance between pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone and making sure surfing is still fun, Southern Lombok should be at the top of your list. This is the Indonesia I was searching for: Indonesia for the rest of us.

...my ‘gurfer’ buddies and I have found a place where it’s acceptable to be a woman in the line-up…

Photo By Hernán Regiardo

MEET

Audrey Hills

Audrey is a writer, surfer, traveller, and “mom” originally from California, who currently resides on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. You can usually find her surfing, cooking, camping, planning future adventures and trying to keep up with her daughter. Through her writing, she hopes to inspire women to travel more, search further, and get off the beaten path with and without kids in tow. seaheartssurf.com Photo By Penelope Morgan

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The

Adventurers

Do you remember getting postcards from loved ones recounting snippets of their latest adventures? Here at TPL, we love to get updates from our tribe on what’s keeping them busy. Whether it’s planning an epic trip, being on the road, or reflecting on achievements, we like to stay in touch and share in the excitement.

al Taylor

Photo credit: Dany

“You’re doing what? WHY?” That’s generally the reaction I get when I tell someone I’m running the entire length of New Zealand later this year. We’re talking 3000 kilometres in one hit. And I’ll be the first Australian woman to have ever done it. I won’t lie – I’m nervous. In training, when it’s cold and dark outside and my legs are tired from running 100 kilometres a week, I wonder how I’ll feel in New Zealand knowing I still have thousands of kilometres to grind through. But sometimes, you just have to leave your fears at the door and push beyond what you ever believed possible. Right there – that’s the ‘Why’. Lucy will start running from Cape Reinga on 11th November. adventurouslucy.com

Luc y Barn ard If you’re prepared to fail, you’re prepared. Water poisoned and out of food; shortly after I took this photo, I quit the expedition. When I continued, I set more realistic goals, planned breaks and was kinder to myself. Taking my work seriously while giving myself permission to enjoy it has been critical. I don’t fight failure anymore, I accept that failures are inevitable, and enjoy telling the stories that come with them. Lucy is in pursuit of becoming the first woman to walk the length of the earth. From Ushuaia, Argentina to Barrow, Alaska.

Lucy CLark

tanglesandtail.com

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E X P L O R I N G

MANDURAH T H E

Credit: Visit Mandurah and Russell Ord Photography

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C I T Y

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Credit: Ryan Chatfield Images

WORDS & IMAGES BY: MELANIE CHATFIELD

Set amidst the Peel Yalgorup Wetlands System, one of the largest and most diverse estuarine complexes in south west Australia, Mandurah provides a picturesque home to fish, native animals, plants and birds, and is the perfect location for an active, nature-based weekend away. Mandjoogoordap – the name of Mandurah in the dialect of the Bindjareb People of the Noongar Nation – translates as ‘meeting place of the heart’ and it’s easy to see why. The region offers uncrowded coastline, vast inland waterways, food, culture, art and history, all less than an hour’s drive from Perth. Blessed with natural beauty and an abundance of saltwater creatures, the region has drawn fisher people and holiday-makers for generations. Along with many other West Australian sandgropers, I have fond memories of spending long hot days at one of Mandurah’s whitesand beaches; bodyboarding, boating and chomping on my dad’s freshly caught prawns.

calendar of events. While summer at the beach is always hard to beat, spring and autumn are great for outdoor exploring, hunting wildflowers and spotting wildlife.

The protected waters of the Estuary are popular with kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders.

Blue swimmer crabs are native to Mandurah and the annual Crab Fest (March) celebrates the glistening waterways and pays homage to the delicious little nippers. There are also around 100 bottlenose dolphins who call the region home making it almost impossible not to spot one.

Over the years, Mandurah has blossomed from a sleepy fishing village to a vibrant city that attracts not only an increasing number of visitors but people yearning to live an ‘outdoorsy’ lifestyle. It had been many years since I’d visited Mandurah as a tourist and I was keen to learn why people loved it. Excited by the idea of a fun and active mini-break, I packed my mum, aunt, family friend and my walking shoes and we set off to check out Mandurah’s natural assets. The focal point of the aquatic city is the Mandurah Estuary, an outlet for the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary (a body of water double the size of Sydney Harbour) so staying near it’s ‘heart’ Mandjar Bay was perfect for a weekend. We were impressed with how much there was to see and do both on and off the water so we parked the car and opted to boat, bike or walk instead. The city has a year-round holiday vibe, and the sense of community is evident in the number of activated spaces and diverse

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MEET

Melanie Chatfield

Melanie is the Chief Editor of Travel Play Live and loves all adventures great and small. She is happiest exploring places that surprise, delight and challenge her to think differently, and adores being active and outside. An exuberant music lover, she also has a reputation for stalking local bands and road-tripping to overseas festivals.


R I D E ,

S T A Y,

F E A S T ,

S E E

E X P L O R I N G M A N D U R A H - T H E A Q U AT I C C I T Y Credit: Visit Mandurah and Russell Ord Photography

Credit: Les Imgrund and Visit Mandurah

Credit: Visit Mandurah and Russell Ord Photography

NATURE With over 26,000 hectares of estuaries, lakes, rivers, and conservation reserves, the internationally significant Peel-Yalgorup Wetlands System is bursting with plants and animal species and regularly supports more than 20,000 water birds each year. Twitchers can barely contain themselves from October–March when thousands of birds take time out from their 25,000 kilometre migration along the East-Asian Flyway from Russia to Australia to rest and recuperate. To learn more about the environmental significance of the wetland’s samphire saltmarshes try the Ways to Nature Guided Nature Walk which offers a two-hour (3km loop) ecological tour. Through the keen eyes of a knowledgeable expert, what appears as a fairly straightforward landscape is wonderfully revealed as an intricate and fascinating ecosystem full of diverse inhabitants. We followed the path of brilliant Blue Wrens, listened to the animated squawk of hungry parrots, and were transfixed by the graceful antics of nesting Osprey. (The mosquitos are enthusiastic so don’t forget repellant.)

Credit: Les Imgrund and Visit Mandurah

PADDLE

ART

The protected waters of the Estuary are popular with kayakers and stand-up paddle-boarders. You can follow one of the downloadable canoe trail maps to explore the inland routes or simply hug the foreshore. Playful dolphins love to swim up close to watercraft and we watched as one did a spin, exposed his belly and left happy squeals in his wake.

For a creative fitness fix, walk or ride along the Art Trail and explore 15 public works including paintings, sculptures, and mosaics. Don’t miss the colourful paved and painted Tuckey’s Lane which is home to good coffee and creative stores if you are looking for a gift.

Credit: Visit Mandurah and Russell Ord Photography

BOAT WALK The city is flat and walkable with plenty of open spaces, boardwalks, and footpaths to stroll or run along. Wander through town, exploring shops and galleries, or amble over the ‘old’ bridge to the war memorial. Try one of the long-distance walks and aim for the beachside suburb of Halls Head, stopping at the popular Blue Bay for lunch and a swim. Several of the nature reserve walk trails offer sheltered bird holes which include a comfortable spot to sit and view wildlife.

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Exploring Mandjar Bay and the Peel Inlet from the water is ‘Mandurah-tory’. No boat? No problem. You can hire your very own deluxe pontoon boat from Mandurah Boat and Bike Hire and be captain for the day. The boats are simple to operate, you don’t need a skippers ticket and we parked ours easily at one of the public finger jetties to grab a coffee. Ogle at some of Mandurah’s most elaborate homes and gardens as you cruise the network of canals. Or pack a picnic and steam further afield to Boundary Island where we discovered a natural patch of peace and quiet, unpopulated except for the resident kangaroos and peppermint trees. If you’d rather be chauffeured, climb aboard the Dolphin Shuttle and linger at one of the timed stops along the route. More than just a water taxi, the enthusiastic local skipper and her crew will happily share their knowledge of the waterways and birdlife, tempting you to stay on board all day.


Credit: Mandurah & Peel Tourism Organisation (or MAPTO) and Russell Ord Photography

CYCLE

DINE ALFRESCO

To explore faster or further, hire a bike and cruise along the foreshore, do a city loop (7km) or follow one of the scenic coastal rides. Mandurah Boat and Bike Hire offer light, easy to operate and well-maintained bikes and even have a tandem for hire if you want to share the love.

Dolphin Quay Marina is a popular spot to hang on weekends, so get in early to secure a seat on the deck of one of the restaurants or cafes. Enjoy watching the boats or keep an eye on your kids as they splash about at the man-made beach. For tasty food, a fun vibe, friendly staff, and water views try The Local Shack. The menu is reasonably priced and it’s no hassle to split the bill. For something light, order the salt and pepper calamari and avocado salad or the fresh grilled snapper with vegetables and sweet potato fries.

Credit: Visit Mandurah and Russell Ord Photography

STAY Kick your shoes off, unpack your bags and settle into one of the neat, well-appointed Mandurah Ocean Marina Chalets. With a range of accessible options on offer, it’s a great choice for a mixed group of travellers. All you need are your personal effects as basic toiletries, clean linen, fluffy towels, tea, and coffee are supplied. While amenable to the self-caterer, it’s a three-minute stroll to the closest food options for those less keen on cooking. The gardens, rustic design, communal laundry, and outdoor BBQ facilities give the place a natural and relaxed caravan park feel – perfect for a no-fuss getaway.

S TAY I N G L O N G E R THAN A WEEKEND?

There’s plenty more to explore in surrounding areas if you have the time. • Mountain bike, walk or visit the Caraholly Orchard Farmers Market in Dwellingup. • Explore the Murray River with a kayak. • Take a trip to the Lake Clifton Thrombolites. • Camp by Lake Navarino in Waroona or Lane Poole Reserve in Dwellingup. • Rent a houseboat and enjoy a trip from Mandurah or Ravenswood.

BRUNCH For those who love to sleep in, Mataya Eatery has you covered. They will deliver a fresh and wholesome breakfast made from seasonal produce right to your door! If rising with the birds is your ideal way to start the day, try Nourishing the Soul Cafe. Perched on the edge of the Creery Wetlands it’s a top spot for a healthy feed and the perfect place to join a guided walk of the wetlands or catch the Dolphin Shuttle.

PHOTOGRAPHY Mandurah’s iconic bridges, jetties, birds and beaches are popular among photographers and no visit is complete without experiencing a blissful sunrise or sunset from any one of the many vantage points along the coast or canals.

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• Checkout Serpentine Falls in Serpentine National Park.

P L A N YO U R T R I P

visitmandurah.com parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au maps and information on national park locations, trails and campsites. Trailswa.gov.au walking, cycling, culinary trails in WA Disclaimer: The author’s itinerary was supported by Visit Mandurah.


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DAYS Seven Destinations

WORDS BY: NATALIE DRAKE-BROCKMAN IMAGES BY: NATALIE DRAKE-BROCKMAN, GRAND RESORT BAD RAGAZ & HEIDILAND TOURISM

SOLO

Up until mid-life as an adult I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to explore much of my home, our land abounds in nature’s gifts, Australia, and a few destinations in south east Asia, but there has always been this itch to discover more.

I was the one that turned down the post-study adventure in my early 20’s and instead worked hard to build my career working full time, with a part-time night job to pay for the part-time university degree I completed as a mature age student simultaneously. When planning my 40th (two years ago) Europe was on my mind and yet, after several attempts to plan a trip with mates, I threw it into the too hard basket...until early June this year when I made it happen and I was brave enough to go solo. I was encouraged to travel by rail and after a few conversations with different transportation stakeholders, I landed myself a Eurail Global Pass. One major decision done and dusted. It was also recommended that I limit my destinations with the 17 days I had available. Damn you Europe for being so accessible. I was literally spoiled with choice. Other than Wales (time with friends) and travel time 2–3 days realistically travelling from the south of Western Australia, to London via the Qantas Dreamliner (17 straight hours there and back) I had about 10 days for the rest of Europe. D E S T I N AT I O N

2 :

W A L E S

I had a total of four nights (two each way) with my friends in Wales. This leg of the journey was not so much about the places but more about those faces that I missed and which I guess were the main catalyst for getting my skates on for this adventure in the first place. I’ll keep those fond friend memories all to myself, but I was most impressed with the sites that we managed to see during my brief stay in Wales.

D E S T I N AT I O N L O N D O N ,

E N G L A N D

My friends’ new home Penarth is a lovely village. The timing was perfect to experience the Penarth Festival and the Downhill Derby, go-cart races. I visited Cardiff, the capital, and home of Roald Dahl, and the now-closed Dr Who museum.

1 :

( S T O P O V E R )

There was one country locked in the moment my trip was confirmed: Wales (UK). Two of my besties and their children relocated there from Australia three years ago. But first, to get there, I had to stop over in London (England). I only had one night and no sleep so naturally, when my mates made themselves available for the grand tour, I was relieved that they could take charge of the itinerary and decide how time would be best spent with the limited hours I had available to explore my sovereign’s home town. You haven’t seen the last of me London!

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The coastline was quite special, and I was lucky enough to experience a short walk along a section of the 870 mile Wales Coast Path. “Wales is the first country in the world to provide a dedicated footpath close to most of its coastline. The Path runs through eleven National Nature Reserves and other nature reserves, including those managed by The Wildlife Trusts or Royal Society for the Protection of Birds” (Wikipedia) I’m keen to return and experience more of this Celtic country, trek more of the rugged coastline and world-famous coastal Path and of course more quality time with my long lost chums.

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SOLO

D E S T I N AT I O N F R E N C H

3 :

R I V I E R A

Most of my loved ones know how spontaneous I am, how I do dread a schedule, planning ahead and often find both difficult to commit to. They will crack up when they learn how the first solo destination was chosen through error. Whoops! I made a boo boo when I didn’t apply the six P’s (Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) and booked a flight to Nice (France) instead of Pisa (Italy). I know right! My footloose and fancy-free approach had failed me in this instance, yet I decided a spontaneous detour to the French Riviera couldn’t possibly be too hard to handle! I didn’t get to the provincial lavender fields, the niçoise salads were disappointing, the language a real barrier and my French Airbnb experience was far from awesome, but I did get to experience my first perfectly pebbly Mediterranean beach swim, a tuk-tuk along the famous Promenade Des Anglais (site of a shocking terrorist attack a few short years ago in 2016), a meander through the magnificent Marché Aux Fleurs – Flower Market and I spent a lovely day and night in the dreamy perfume capital of Grasse in the Riviera hills north of Cannes. Lastly a mind-blowing regional rail journey around the Mediterranean coastline between France and Italy. Total WOW factor and better still I could just hop on and off with my Eurail Global Pass. As I said in numerous social media posts, “You can’t get views like this from the plane”.

R A I L W A Y

V S .

R U N W A Y

• The views. It’s all about the views. • If you pass a place that you like the look of you can jot it down to consider visiting as well. You get this up-close visual taster of what experiences are on offer. • Cheaper and just as comfortable (possibly more comfortable) than a plane seat especially if you’re travelling in 2nd or 1st class. • You get an up close experience of locals interacting. • I loved the downtime which forces you to rest, slow down, write, reflect. • There is often food and drinks available in 2nd and 1st class but mostly I packed healthy snacks and grazed.

I realised my lack of planning had most probably not given me the best experience of the French Riviera and so I would give it another go, another time. For now, I was excited about my Cinque Terre adventure and it was at this point that I was able to reflect and be proud of time spent planning for minimalist lightweight backpacker-style travel.

• With the Eurail Global Pass I could jump on and off between destinations with ease. I found this very handy because it saved time lining up to buy tickets (you will need to do this if you are wanting 2nd or 1st class seats though).

I packed practically, carefully choosing outfits that were light and would pack down that I could mix and match and that would allow for a lot of physical activity (comfort very important), to avoid back and neck injury and long waiting times in transit.

• Super easy to travel with a lightweight and small backpack.

I chose a small backpack with dimensions allowing for hand luggage travel. I researched this at the time, as I believe the size varies (so check for the destination you are travelling to in advance) but it is approximately 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm) and less than 10kg. In this instance, size mattered and I was aiming for small, light and compact. Only necessary inclusions and cleverly a lot of the clothes I packed I could throw away without separation anxiety if I wanted to make space for mementos, as I did. There were some better clothing and gear choices I could’ve made and so I’ve asked Macpac to make some suggestions for lightweight and compact backpacker travel gear and apparel.

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• You can charge your phone in most seats. • The train infrastructure connects with the heart of CBD’s so you can usually jump on and off with instant entertainment available. Saves time and other transportation expenses. • If you make a boo boo it’s easy to just jump off and find the train you’re supposed to be on without completely throwing out your itinerary which will happen if you board the wrong flight.


Gear {Travel Play Live}

GUIDE

SALMON

MACPAC

Rapaki 26L Pack Made for adventure, the Rapaki features tough Oxford nylon fabric with a PU coating and a comfortable T-Bone™ harness with an adjustable hip belt and sliding sternum strap. Hydration compatible, this 26 litre pack has a laptop sleeve, front daisy chain loops for cycle lights, twin side and hip belt pockets and a walking pole attachment.

OUTLINE GTX Women’s Hiking Shoe Some adventures are equal parts connecting with friends, having fun outside, and discovering new

MACPAC

Traverse Pertex® Rain Jacket A lightweight rain jacket featuring Pertex® Shield Pro fabric, the Traverse is waterproof, breathable and body-

places. The sleek OUTline GTX Women’s is ideally suited to such

mapped for increased durability in areas of wear. Fully seam sealed with a DWR

adventures, with lightweight and flexibility like a running shoe, but

finish, this jacket features adjustable cuffs, hem and hood — hood zips

enough grip and protection for any trail.

into collar — plus water-resistant YKK AquaGuard® zips (not waterproof).

MACPAC

Fast Track Shorts Made from a fast-drying nylon/ elastane blend to optimise freedom of movement and durability, the Fast Track Shorts have zipped pockets, reflective detailing and a comfortable elasticated waist — ideal for fast-paced adventures.

MACPAC

MACPAC MACPAC

There & Back Tights Performance tights, the There & Back Tights have strategic DWR-treated stretch panels to help manage moisture while on the go. Treated with Polygiene® odour control technology and gusseted for freedom of movement, these slimfitting tights have a comfortable low profile waistband and multiple pockets.

Limitless Tee

Eyre Tank

Designed for fast-paced activities in warm weather, the Limitless Range is a high performing, next-to-skin series of seamless garments. Made from a polyester/nylon blend, this tee features Polygiene® odour control technology and strategic mesh panelling for increased breathability and moisture management.

Light and stretchy, the Eyre Tank is made from a moisture-wicking polyester/elastane blend for increased breathability in warm climates. Designed with an active fit, this two-tone tank features Polygiene® odour control technology and a small envelope pocket at the back.

MACPAC

Light Hiker Socks A lightweight, technical hiking sock for moisture management and comfort on the trails, the Light Hiker is made from a blend of merino wool, nylon and elastane. The merino is naturally temperature regulating and odour resistant, while the nylon adds strength and the elastane provides stretch. It has ‘loop pile’ cushioning through the foot and an elastic arch for a supportive fit.

MACPAC

Hiker Cap A versatile sun hat, the Hiker is a six-panel nylon cap with an internal mesh sweatband for comfort in warm climates. Featuring a UPF 50+ rating for excellent sun protection, the Hiker comes in one size with a traditional webbing and clip adjustment at the back for a personalised fit.

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DAYS

Seven Destinations

SOLO

D E S T I N AT I O N C I N Q U E

T E R R E ,

4 : I TA LY

Cinque Terre was the next leg of my adventure. And my legs were put to good use for three sensational days and nights. Wow, wow, wow! Was how I described this micro-adventure. I thought that coastal regional train ride was the peak #1WOW for the day, actually a few steps off the train into the first village I arrived at, Monterosso, that was the #2WOW. I literally could not believe my eyes. I felt like I had walked into a dream. #3WOW was when I found out they served Prosecco at the beach bar – on tap (I only had two – one of my rules was not to overindulge in wine while travelling solo). I gave myself permission, and the afternoon off, to soak up the lovely lazy vibe of Monterosso beach and bay with my little deck chair and umbrella, my 2 x glasses of sparkling (actually plastic) and the cooling waters of the crystal clear Mediterranean. I had another dip early the next morning before the crowds and that was next level WOW. The next few days consisted of many more #WOW moments but another great choice I made, as a solo traveler, in her 40s, and after my not-so-awesome accommodation experience in Nice, was to opt for affordable hotels. Yes, hotels were going to cost

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more than shared accommodation but I could navigate sites like Booking.com, which I used several times successfully, for last-minute deals, safety, and quality assurance. All very important for me at that time in my life. I did hunt for a middle-aged female chain of hostels but couldn't locate any that screamed you will be totally safe and comfortable staying with us. If I had my choice, normally I would've opted for camping or camper style of travel but I had to be realistic and careful for this trip. And careful I was most of the time. Consciously careful throughout my solo adventure. I took a bit of extra time to make decisions. I didn't freak out when I made errors. I just worked through everything logically without removing too much fun. I did, after all, have a family to go back to and I intended to return unharmed as well as fulfilled. I took some calculated risks though. The weather was unusually

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warm and I'd heard mixed reviews of the walking trails between the villages that make up the Cinque Terre. Some were still closed after the tragic landslides from the flooding in 2011. I could've found a number of reasons to not walk those trails, alone, but I am so very glad that I did. The landlady from my accommodation in Vernazza cautioned me about walking in the middle of the day. I listened, and I was grateful. It was hot and the walks up and down those mountains (roughly two hours between each village) were not for novices (although many were doing it in their best frock for their perfect picture and they were evidently the ones that were struggling and probably weren't enjoying the journey). There were a lot of walkers though so do not feel like you'd be alone on those tracks. I met many walkers, some English speaking and a few from Australia! The walking, the panoramic views, the divine food and wine, the beautiful unique pastel-painted villages, the arts and culture (I made it by chance to the opera thank you Google Events – a sundowner performance in an old catholic seaside cathedral – absolutely freaking memorable – see the image I snapped in the interval of the local ladies bathing at sundown). The quality of the carefully handcrafted gifts and souvenirs, everything and everybody was authentic, unique and amazing. There was this causal elegant vibe of the people. They just had it going on in that place. An almost indescribable place that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. As a solo traveller who is no longer single

or 20 or 30 something (cue violins), I did find it difficult to socialise. Actually, I didn't have much time and so I wasn't on a friend making mission. I didn't want to stay in hostels because I was not seeking out a party time and valued sleep as a high priority. I did find myself drawn to a lovely lady during yet another divine dip in the crystal-clear waters of Manarola, Cinque Terre. At first I noticed her pearls and then the ease in which she entered and bobbed around the waters. She had reef shoes on as well and I thought how practical and made a mental note of that for my next travel checklist. I built up the courage to strike a conversation with this lady named Trixie as we fought the current, grabbing onto the nautical ropes in the marina in which we floated. Sometimes we're drawn to others for a reason and I just wanted to shout out to Trixie and thank her for that swim, the chat and the lunch and wine that followed. The afternoon spent in your company I felt was what both of us needed and, without revealing the detail of your story, I hope you made it to your Elton John concert and are still finding your happy place on your travels through Europe to this day. With a smile on my dial I grabbed my backpack full of clean clothes. Thank you Corniglia for presenting a laundrette at just the right time on that ridiculously hot and sweaty day because I now had an excuse to browse the gorgeous little shops. I found a few treasures in those villages.

R I S K

M A N A G E M E N T

You may fall asleep on the beach as you lap up the sun rays and the sound of the ocean. Don’t take your valuables (unless you can strap them to yourself in a waterproof bag) and then you can swim for hours stress-free. If you wake up too early you might miss the crowds and have the beach all to yourself. A flexible itinerary may be necessary. Be prepared to change plans. I went to hike a trail and the office for the pass was shut. People stay up late and sleep-in in Europe! You may be forced to drink Prosecco on the beach, on tap, yep!... to fit in of course! If you’re hiking, I would opt for sensible footwear and clothing. Sacrifice the perfect selfie for comfort and enjoyment. Take a lot of water, hat, and sunscreen. The only choice of swimming, food, wine, shopping, nature-based adventure is AMAZING. If you can handle that – dive in. Be careful, the people are really nice and friendly. I felt warmly and respectfully welcomed by the Italians.

Ah those memorable moments on the Cinque Terre trails. Soo much walking, so much natural beauty so much #WOW!

D E S T I N AT I O N M I L A N ,

I TA LY

5 :

( S T O P O V E R )

I thought about how best I could spend the less than 24 hours I had in Milan. Although Cinque Terre was incredible, I was in need of a little clean-up and rest. There were two souvenirs I wanted and hadn’t found and I had 1.5 hours to find them so they became the focus of this stopover -– Italian bikinis and sandals. It was hectic but I was victorious and I had a little bit of time for some pampering and a clean-up at yet another great last-minute hotel booked through Booking.com. You’ll understand why this was necessary when I talk about my next destination.

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D E S T I N AT I O N B A D

R A G A Z ,

6 :

S W I T Z E R L A N D

I was invited to experience a truly magical destination as a guest of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. This destination, a one-hour mind-blowing regional train ride from Switzerland’s best known city, Zurich, presented a truly unique and mesmerising three-day adventure. From the indulgent healing waters flowing from the world-famous Tamina Gorge to the captivating Alps scenery, a backdrop at every glance. This is a wellness destination worthy to consider when weighing up your options from the selection of Western Europe and Scandanavian countries. Within the Bad Ragaz destination, of the Heidiland region, these were the major highlights that I have to share with you. I warn you though, the absolutely breathtaking views will be mentioned on repeat throughout.

THE PADDLE Walensee Lake Image by: Heidiland Tourism I paddled the Lake on a very cool and overcast day. I was surprised that I was the only one paddling! Oh, how I would’ve loved to paddle further when it was slightly warmer and the sun shining (like in this Heidiland Tourism image). In fact, the day after was ideal weather. You get that sometimes.

PEDDLE & HEIDI The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz treated me to a 14 kilometre guided mountain bike tour through Bad Ragaz and up the Pizol mountain (Glarus Alps of Northeastern Switzerland). I was surprised how the Rhine River waters surged past us only metres from our bicycle path. My tour guide said only a few years ago they would normally be having picnics on the banks that were now flooded by the torrent. I was also surprised at how great the electronic mountain bike experience was. I had always thought that was the cheats bike that had no health benefit whatsoever. How wrong I was. This bike allowed us to travel further and reach great heights (300 metres) quickly while still allowing for a great work out. You can actually change the settings from a standard mountain bike and then switch on the power as required. We stopped to fill our water bottles with thermal spring water from the Heidi fountain. You remember Heidi the childhood novel? This was the author and Heidi creator, Johanna Spiry’s, home and inspiration (Maienfeld) and the fountain was constructed in 1953 in her memory.

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RAIL The Rails and the view of the Alps & lakes


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E U R O P E

DAYS

Seven Destinations

SOLO

THE TAMINA GORGE AND ENCHANTING LIGHT RAGAZ SHOW

Image by: Heidiland Tourism I was invited to experience Light Ragaz. Here is a little bit of Tamina Gorge and Spring history that the show is built upon in a truly enchanting interactive mustsee Bad Ragaz experience.

“1535 AD Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, known as Paracelsus, a wellknown natural philosopher, scientist and physician, commences his work as the first balneologist at Bad Pfäfers, situated at the entrance to Tamina gorge. For ages, illustrious guests and people in need of cure have been treated at Bad Pfäfers by bathing in the life-giving water of the thermal spring. Following a legendary tale, a white dove once has shown two servants of the nearby monastery the blue gold, which bubbles from deep inside the earth to the surface and emerges with exactly 36.5 degrees Celsius. Once, while climbing down the steep and rugged cliffs of Tamina gorge, Paracelsus saw the glittering and sparkling of the thermal water from far away. When he touched it, something mysteriously happened. Through the water’s purifying effect on the body and mind, he became able to see things, which usually are hidden to human’s eye.”

THE GRAND RESORT BAD RAGAZ

(Light Ragaz, Heidiland Tourism)

Image by: Grand Resort Bad Ragaz This is the place you simply must consider for an absolute wellness treat for yourself and your loved ones. A first-class yet casual and welcoming vibe with a mysterious appeal in close proximity and integration with the Tamina Gorge and Spring. The healing waters flowing at body temperature throughout the resort (for drinking and washing), accessible for all overnight guests. The Tamina Therme is a public thermal bath. And while you can be absolutely assured to be prescribed nature as a wellness treatment on its own, a range of other specialist services and treatments were on offer from spa indulgences, cosmetic improvements to groundbreaking innovative treatments for illness and disease. This Resort is like a wellness city. A place where you can feel comfortable walking the grounds in your dressing gown and slippers, relax, unwind, improve, treat and potentially heal the body, mind, and soul.

D E S T I N AT I O N P A R I S ,

Bad Ragaz has a range of accommodation options and what I believe is the unique major attraction in this destination, the Tamina Gorge and Spring, is affordable and accessible for all residents and visitors at the Tamina Therme (public thermal bath). They may be land-locked in Switzerland but as I said to an employee of the Resort, who envied the Australian coastline, “oh but you have the ultimate pristine environment with magnificent mountains, lakes and thermal springs plus so much more.”

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F R A N C E

7 :

( S T O P O V E R )

I have to admit the thought of Paris as a stopover on the way back to my friends in Wales was rather romantic, even if I was travelling solo. Realistically I knew it was again a less than 24-hour experience and it was going to be hectic so I settled for viewing many of the major tourist attractions from the River Seine on a sunset cruise sipping French Champagne (out of plastic though!). I enjoyed blowing hubby a kiss under the Pont des Arts (aka Lovers Bridge) but it was sad to see the blackened Notre Dame. Overall it was an ok way to spend a night in Paris and hopefully I’ll be back for another visit and a closer look in the future. Travel Play Live


NAT’S TIPS 40 FEMALE F O R

+

T H E

SoloTraveller

• The 6 P’s (Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) will improve your experience. • Pack light. Think minimal and you’ll save time, luggage fees and your back and neck. A small backpack less than 10kg and 45cm hand luggage. • Your walking shoes and light breathable walking gear are essential. Walk everywhere you can to burn off those extra travel calories and save money on transportation. • 2 pairs of shoes max. A tip I picked up from my Cinque Terre friend, Trixie, is to pack reef walking shoes. Throw fashion out the window for these trips (but wear your pearls). • Less destinations the better. Stay in each destination longer for a better experience. • Apart from essential walking apparel and gear pack old clothes that you won’t miss if you swap them out for souvenirs. • Pick souvenirs that aren’t going to take up too much space and try not to get overly obsessed about them because it can easily overshadow the main experience – the sightseeing and the memories you are building. I heard of one great idea in a recent book I read by Gabrielle Stone, Eat, Pray #FML where she chose a bangle to remind her of each destination. I thought that was a great idea. • Large, lightweight water bottle. You can refill mostly everywhere and just ask if you are unsure about water quality. There was fresh drinking water available in all the destinations I visited. You will save so much $$ and it’s a big win for waste and protecting the environment. • Graze through the day, shop in mini-marts (such good quality food now) and buy one great meal. I located community markets where you can find seasonal and amazing snacks plus it’s fun to be amongst the vibe of a community market. • Make a mental note of clean toilets. You can pay for a good toilet experience at some train stations and they are worth the money! • Always have your hand sanitizer on you. • Research how to reduce battery drain and

save on data with your mobile phone. There are some great tips like lessening the screen brightness and timer for screen saver plus only calling or sending loved ones pics when you have WiFi range. I think paying for extra data is undeniably worth it so contact your service provider before you go. I cannot count the amount of times Google maps saved me (but it is a data and battery drain to use that app). • Always charge your phone as soon as you see a powerpoint and invest in a power bank. They are amazing. The 2nd and 1st class seats on the train often have power available and it is a true blessing and I often upgraded for this very reason, oh and for a decent quality loo experience. • Always write down your accommodation address and phone number in case you run out of mobile charge. Take a bit of extra time to be across the detail of what you’re doing, where you’re heading but also when you need to be heading home in what direction. • If you go by rail you are guaranteed to see so much more. Eurail Global Pass is very handy. Saved a lot of hassle. Worth it with language barriers and you can go almost anywhere really. Make sure you research though as some destinations required a bit more planning and a small fee to book 2nd or 1st class seats. • Leave passport in room if it is safe to do so. • Leave your backpack in the room before exploring with a smaller bag. I also noticed you can leave packs in train station storage areas and I am sure there are other places to store packs securely. So much easier to roam without all your gear. Ask if you can check your bags in early at each accommodation. • Booking accommodation last minute can save money but reduce your choices. Just keep an eye on supply and demand. I felt safe and sound in budget hotel rooms as a mature solo female traveller. Pay more for that security. If I was with another person I’d travel differently. • Take a small over the shoulder carry bag and security pouch (I bought a souvenir one in Wales UK) Both very handy.

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• Take copies of passports, medication letters from your doctor, etc. • Take different credit cards, small amounts of cash or equivalent $100–$200 AUD for each currency. I found a credit card with no international fees extremely handy overseas. You can pay with a credit card almost everyone these days. • Toothbrush, paste, hat and sunscreen essential. Deodorant not essential (haha just kidding). Just pack light. I took my little No Pong anti-odorant tin which is an all-natural Australian product and perfect for travel because you can put the empty tin to use for storage. One tin was more than enough for my entire adventure. • Small lightweight beach towel, sunglasses and two pairs of bathers (old ones if you want to swap them out like I did in Italy). My Tesselate towel never disappoints. It goes everywhere with me. • Keep your dirty clothes in a plastic bag away from your clean clothes so they don’t contaminate your wardrobe. • Netflix data cord if you’re lucky enough to be in hotels with WiFi and adaptors. • Use Google translate whenever you can’t get the message across. Plan the main words in advance and write them down. ie key words. • Use apps to connect with locals or join groups with international solo travellers. Do in advance and see if you can connect, helps with research. • Whattsapp was good to keep in contact with loved ones. • Ask questions when you can’t understand. Don’t be shy. Get confident and ask away. • Prepare for the change in time zone. My body was sleep deprived (couldn’t sleep on the plane). • If on medication ask for a note from your doctor. Order an extra prescription. Find out what you can do if you lose your medication and always have enough to cover a few days in a hard container in your hand luggage.

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GRBR Im


SURROUND YOUR SOUL Surrounded by tranquility, space and time, we offer you an exclusive retreat for relaxation. Nestled admist the foothills of the Alps in Eastern Switzerland. A world of nature, enjoyment and inspiration. www.resortragaz.ch

THE LEADING WELLBEING & MEDICAL HEALTH RESORT IN EUROPE 041

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LA TROT

TINUEUSE K I C K

T H E

W O R L D

WORDS BY: TPL & BLANDINE BARTHÉLEMY IMAGES BY: BLANDINE BARTHÉLEMY

Blandine Barthélemy is a French woman kicking an unprecedented world tour on a push scooter (a footbike). On the road since 2015, she's travelled nearly 50,000 kilometres, crossing all of Eurasia solo and unsupported, living and sleeping in the wild. Blandine landed in Australia earlier this year and we were intrigued to learn about her unique journey. What’s been your experience of the Australian landscape, people and culture so far? I left from Indonesia and arrived in Darwin, so my first taste of Australia was the Northern Territory. Then, I began kicking south to Western Australia, tackling the Kimberley and the Gibb River Road, the Pilbara, and Karijini. Now, I’m just getting out of the upper Gascoyne, which I crossed in two weeks on dirt roads in absolute autonomy. Coming from south east Asia I had missed being in such open landscapes, solitude, and dry weather so spending my first months in desertic or semi-arid areas feels perfect to me!

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Getting deep into remote territories via unsealed tracks is a great way to connect with lands and have access to the traditional outback lifestyle – when there are living souls around. I’m experiencing the flow of Grey Nomads each time I’m on highways, and I’ve had a good glimpse of people from urban areas that like to take road trips with their 4WD. I’ve also been immediately confronted by the history of the Aboriginal people and the present situation. Why did you decide to do this journey? I was 32 years old when I decided to thoroughly change my way of life. It came as a punctuation to a long process of questioning what

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the ‘good life’ could be and how to act in order to reach it. I sold my belongings, quit everything and went to live the simple, wild life on the road. Doing a tour of the world or becoming an adventurer had never particularly been ‘a dream’. I was certainly inspired all my life by historical and fictional figures of emancipated women, or any stories illustrating an individual will to get free from desires that are not really ours, and the sense of a quest that unfolds where personal tenacity and public impact meet. So it began as a challenge somehow, personal and political. Reflecting on how far you’ve come and the places you’ve been, what’s your biggest revelation? I would say realising that things are not given once and for all. For me, the simple good life (which is always connected to a larger issue: the common good) is something that must be practiced every day, always repeated in a kind of asceticism. There was, of course, the usual revelation

where you should go towards. Try to get detached from forms of domination or relationships of power (that’s hard), but keep sensible to humanity in people. Forgive but be determined. Especially with yourself. Learn humility. Learn to take things even slower! Keep true to your ends, don’t compromise too much. How has your body and mind changed as a result of this journey? It varies. For example, in the first year, my body changed a lot and I even stopped having periods because of the intense change of lifestyle. After a time, it got used to the new way of living, but it has obviously learnt to adapt pretty quickly in one way or the other. There are variations in how much fat I store, how quickly I get muscular, and of course, I think my body has become quite a marathonian machine. I’m kicking four or five hours a day (which is supposed to be twice as much energy as spent on a bike) in all kinds of conditions and relief. My mind is totally integrated into that. I’m all clear when my body is clear and well.

Know yourself or learn to know how you work.

What do you look forward to each day? Nowadays, as I’m mostly confronted by dirt roads (which are quite hard work on a manual scooter) and absolute solitude (which I love), at the beginning of a day I’m looking forward to reaching a certain state of body/mind where I feel I can kick on for hours. Once again, it’s an ascetic exercise, I have to slow down almost to a point of non-movement, but in fact, I’m making great efforts, only they are in harmony with the terrain. I enjoy the precious moment in the morning when I brew coffee on the fire, take the time to breathe in the sun. I wonder what the day will bring. I enjoy cooking on a fire in the evening; taking the time to chew through each element like it was a discovery, a first time, and reflect on the day that passed. I enjoy getting acquainted with wildlife and trying to live amongst it. I drink in the landscapes and use all their historical powers as fuel.

After Australia, where do you go? What happens when you return home? I don’t know yet! There will be the Americas at a point if I go on like this for years. But I have not decided from where (perhaps from Asia to Korea and Japan to cross to Alaska or will I make a giant leap – preferably on a boat – to South America?).

about the reality of the world, which modern nomads are known to discover rather quickly. It’s not at all like it is pictured in the media, which does not really come as a surprise! And I have discovered the prevalence of kindness in people in any given country. But the really important lesson of the road for me has been about the necessity of continuous practice and examination of the smallest of my daily deeds, followed by rational choices that hopefully lead to ‘goodness’.

Nowadays, home is the place I wander in. But if I settle again somewhere, it will certainly be in continuity with everything I’ve lived and learnt on the road. wot.latrottineuse.com

Where have you felt the most joy? In places where I feel closest to the answers of my quest for the good life. I mean, places where I was able to experiment in the length of letting go of what’s not essential, of much of what’s been taught to us and expected from us, especially as women, which requires time and space to practice. For me, it was Norway, Turkey, and now, after four months here, I can definitely say Australia. What personal qualities do you need to survive and enjoy a journey such as yours? Know yourself or learn to know how you work. Listen to intuition as well as calmly examine situations. Stick to the inner knowledge of

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Walking L E P U Y

CAMINO A

T A S T E I N

O F

P I L G R I M

R U R A L

L I F E

F R A N C E

WORDS & IMAGES BY: SAMANTHA MCCROW

In May, on a whim, I flew 16,781 kilometres from Melbourne to Paris. I set out alone to walk a section of the Via Podiensis (Le Puy Camino) through south-west France. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I’d been thinking about the Camino for years. It is the longest, most spiritual walk in the world. Medieval pilgrims took to the ancient trail in their thousands, seeking atonement or pursuing a fertility rite. I just wanted to press pause on my normal life and have an exciting adventure. Time was marching on, I was over-caffeinated and hyper-connected. I wanted to relax, breathe deeply, slow down. And now that I can see 50 from here, I’m no longer doing things by halves.  I liked the idea of a romantic walk and a certain level of solitude, so I chose the Via Podiensis – an oh-so-quiet and stunningly beautiful trail through rural France, with intact medieval villages and isolated farm settlements. I was hoping I would get more than sore feet out of it, and equally excited that each day would be a step into the unknown.

Some days there were only two or three other people in sight. My rather modest pilgrim journey began on the iconic Valentré Bridge in Cahors and ended beneath the superb Gothic cathedral in Condom. Over eight days I notched up 160 kilometres and endless hours of glorious walking under big blue skies on winding forest tracks, through rolling countryside exploding with vivid red poppies and waving fields of wheat; along paths lined with crosses and chapels – all of them unlocked, so pilgrims can stop at each one to reflect or pray.

I had my first 30 kilometre walk on Day 1 and fell in love with life again.

The route begins in the pilgrim town of LePuy-en-Velay in Auvergne in Central France and runs through the volcanic hills of the Velay region finishing 736 kilometres later in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port at the foothills of the Pyrenees. From there, it merges with the Camino Francés (the most popular of all the Camino routes) and extends another 780 kilometres to Santiago on the western shore of Spain.

The overwhelming majority of people walking this route are French, although I did meet some Germans and a scattering of other nationalities.

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Days and daylight seemed to stretch on forever. Navigation was easy because the trail is very wellmarked with frequent (and comforting) horizontal red-and-white stripes, one above the other. ‘Wrong direction’ signs (red-and-white crosses) are nailed to trees or painted on rocks. I had my first 30 kilometre walk on Day 1 and fell in love with life again.

The villages are magical. The charming hilltop hamlet of Montcuq is an absolute treat with its medieval alleyways, timbered facades and remarkable doors. Lauzerte, one of the most beautiful villages in France (there are 156 spread over 14 regions), appeared like a mirage. I found myself hypnotised by the vast panoramic views of the landscape below and uncharacteristically gawping at the splendid baroque altarpiece in the

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Church of St Bartholomew. I was about 16 kilometres into my first day of walking when the world-famous camaraderie, hospitality and spirit kicked in. I took a petite pause at the charming little village of Lascabanes, joining a handful of other French walkers sipping beers in the hot afternoon May sun. I was barely able to string a French sentence together but I was saved by Marguerite, an effortlessly kind, deeply religious 28-year-old Parisian social worker who set to work expanding my vocabulary and correcting my pronunciation.  We walked together for the remainder of the day, exclaiming ‘magnifique’ and ‘superb’ at the unfolding landscapes, and enjoying lengthy French exchanges with other walkers.  Some were walking the full 1600 kilometres, all the way to Santiago. Others were back for the third or fourth time, walking a different stage every year. There were young professionals missing a sense of purpose, a primary school teacher from Switzerland, two French nationals with ailing horses, a retired policeman from

On the third day, when the rain and wind came, I suited up in head-totoe wet weather gear and set off early along the flat towpath of the canal of the Tarn and Garonne rivers, headed for Auvillar, 20 kilometres away. Despite the weather, the walking was introspective and enjoyable. I caught a French pilgrim from Brittany whom I had met on the first day. We walked at the same pace, pausing briefly to sing happy birthday to a 73-year-old French man on his fourth Camino and then again for sustenance in a small town where I witnessed old-fashioned Frenchness – gastronomy, morning drinking, cigarette smoking and cheek-kissing. The following day, I walked most of the way to Lectoure with Dajana, a spirited 32-year-old business analyst from Germany. She was walking to the ‘end of the world’ (Finisterre), a 2430 kilometre three-month pilgrimage from her hometown of Lake Constance. When the picturesque hilltop village came into view we were euphoric. We entered the historic walled town and made our way to the impressive Cathedral of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais. I lost track of how long we sat in the pews but I do remember an overwhelming feeling of calmness. 

I liked the idea of a romantic walk and a certain level of solitude…

What I loved most about this day was the inspiration that my walking companion and new friend gifted me. The tendency to compare ourselves to others is as human as any other emotion. But it is a habit with numerous shortcomings. The story I was telling myself was that my Camino wasn’t long enough and that I wasn’t a real pilgrim – choosing hotels over traditional albergues (hostels) and using a luggage transfer service instead of carrying all my belongings in a heavy backpack. I changed my story that day to one that better honoured my individual journey. I was grateful for the simplicity of my walking routine and unashamedly proud of what I was accomplishing. I dismissed the notion that to be authentic it must be uncomfortable in some way.  But more than that, I was living in the moment. And it was divine! I have been racing through life at a pace that is unsustainable. Physically slowing down (walking) was helping me to mentally slow down.   When I accompanied Marguerite to mass for the pilgrim blessing in Moissac’s majestic Abbey Saint-Pierre, one of the most beautiful Romanesque buildings in France, I cried. The memory is still vivid and powerful.  I can also recall the tiny details of my many conversations with Dajana because I had the time and space to really listen to what she was saying. I focused all my attention on her instead of on my own mind chatter. It was uplifting. 

Chicago, a widower from Hamburg – a tapestry of beautiful souls. My Camino ‘family’ swelled and shrank in wonderful ways.  Evenings were as much a part of the journey as the walking. After arriving in a lovely French village, I’d check into my hotel, slip into sandals and re-emerge for the pleasure of the first aperitif, lively conversation, abundant local wines and, with luck, more of the illustrious Rocamadour goat cheese.

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flower-bedecked medieval village, which every year receives a large number of pilgrims on their way to St Jacques de Compostela. I’d arrived on the day of the superb annual rose market, a unique event in the region. The main square was overflowing with lively banter and roses in all colours, scents and shapes. I did a tour of the magnificent 14th Collégiale St Pierre and then settled in for a few hours and a few beers with Dajana at the charming L'Etape D'Angeline, situated right on the village square. I counted all my ‘Camino angels’ who had unhesitatingly offered me kindness. I understand now what it is about the Camino that brings people back. The physical challenge for sure. The accomplishment is worth every blister and aching muscle. The camaraderie of course. On the Camino, as in life, people are everything. Strangers one minute, family the next. If you are open, the connections are rich and meaningful.  The gift of time is perhaps the most precious. I thought about a lot of things when I walked. Along with too many changes of clothes, I had packed worries and disappointments, failures and expectations. I unburdened myself and left them all behind.  Next time I will pack lighter, walk further and return the kindness of strangers. Buen Camino!

On Day 5 I was distracted. And it was the only day I got lost. I set out early from Lectoure, headed for La Romieu, just 18 kilometres away. The trail took me along quiet back roads to Marsolan, a tiny village on a steep hillside. Then it was easy walking through woodland and out on to vast open fields. The air was filled with the smell of hay, wild grass and damp earth.

RAW Travel is Australia's leading specialist for international walks. They offer tailor made walking adventures along all the Camino routes, including Le Puy in France. RAW makes it easy with pre-booked accommodation, meals and daily luggage transfers all included. Get in touch to find out more or join one of their free information nights. rawtravel.com

After the chapel at Abrin, the route goes northwards to La Romieu. I missed the turnoff and instead, unknowingly, headed directly to Condom, as medieval pilgrims would have done. An hour later as I was taking my picnic lunch under a tree, a young French couple joined me and enquired about my day. They pointed out my error. I had two choices – walk back uphill through the muddy fields or stay en route to Condom. I was struggling physically with a tender right ankle and a wretched toe blister. Clods of mud clung to my boots, making my efforts more difficult. In the ancient pilgrimage tradition, the Camino provided me with what I needed when I really needed it. I only had to walk a kilometre before a French cheese farmer offered me a ride, putting me back on track and delivering me to a bustling La Romieu – an incredibly pretty,

MEET

Samantha McCrow

Sam is a writer, hiker, ocean swimmer, trail runner, volunteer lifesaver and adventure traveller based in Melbourne. She's excited by the outdoors, authentic connections and inspiring her two children to embrace the world. Sam has her heart set on exploring Timbuktu and Mongolia next year. Disclaimer: The author travelled with RAW Travel.

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Ellie Creek, Fraser Island (Australia) Photo Credit: @placesweswim 048

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You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do! -

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Discovering the

HUME AND HOVELL TRACK

WORDS BY: CAROLINE GRANDJEAN-THOMSEN IMAGES BY: CAROLINE GRANDJEAN-THOMSEN & MATHIAS RANGEL WULFF

This time last year, I got an itch that needed to be scratched. An urge to shake up the apparent ‘predictability’ of my life – the same daily commute to work, the same office desk, the same conversations, the same mindless scrolling on my iPhone, the same annual escape to another overcrowded tourist spot. I wanted to discover a new place, but in a challenging way. I wanted to explore, exercise, and most importantly, create space for inward reflection. Serendipitously, around the same time, my friend Steve asked me to join him on the Hume and Hovell track: “There’s this 440 kilometre hike out in the middle of New South Wales that no one really knows about. It will take about a month to walk it. Wanna come?” I jumped at the opportunity. The track extends from Yass to Albury and follows

the footsteps of explorers Hamilton Hume and William Hovell on their expedition to Port Phillip in 1824. I’d never done an independent overnight hike before. And now I’d committed to a freaking massive one. I quickly found myself clueless and overwhelmed. What gear would I need? How much weight could I physically carry? How would I navigate? How the hell do I manage getting my period in the bush? Where do I even start?

As we got more remote, kangaroos and wallabies sprang up everywhere.

Then came a massive wave of fear and selfdoubt. Was I strong enough? Fit enough? Prepared enough? Too sensitive? Would I really survive a whole month with so few things? What if I got lost and died?

My insecurities made me commit and I started to research. I was relieved to discover that plenty of ordinary people like me have completed long-distance hikes, and generously share tips and tricks about how to prepare. I surfed the internet, visited hiking stores, and spoke to friends and colleagues. Before I knew it, I was all geared up and on the trail. I took off in October to walk the entire 440 kilometres with my friend

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and we were almost ambushed by a herd. I thought I’d be greeted at some point by a spider on a toilet seat – but luckily, we never met. Twice, I was unpleasantly surprised by a snake. The first one was asleep in the sun, likely in a food coma, right in the middle of the narrow track. Distracted by a photo I’d just taken on my phone, I almost stepped on it. Startling each other, I screamed as the black snake jumped a metre in the air, flashing its fangs at me before slithering into the bush. Not learning my lesson, I walked into another snake in knee-high long grass, again distracted by my phone. Serves me right. We also saw several echidnas, such cute, timid little animals. Unfortunately, we found one echidna trapped on a mesh fence in the blazing midday sun. Its spikes were tangled on the wire trying to burrow under it. We tried to release it, by digging out the dirt underneath the fence to give it room to move. The poor echidna was petrified of us but couldn’t move, so we did what we could quickly and then left, hoping we didn’t traumatize it. I hope it managed to escape.

Steve. Two other friends joined us for different sections. We caught the train from Sydney to Yass and hitchhiked 4 kilometres to the track’s official starting point at Cooma Cottage, where Hamilton Hume lived for most of his life. For four weeks I was a snail, carrying all my life’s necessities on my back. With no luxuries, internet or instant gratifications to distract me, I experienced a deep appreciation for Australian nature and hiking life. The walk led me through national parks, state forests, privately owned farmlands, and country towns. There was a mix of everything; pretty and ugly. I dove deep into remote eucalyptus bushland, and through bright green pine forests that looked North American. I walked around massive lakes and dams. I crossed countless suspension bridges. and climbed Mount Wee Jasper (1121 metres). There were exposed farmlands with the biggest undulating hills I’d ever seen (and had to climb). I also did a fair bit of road and highway walking, and some of the track found itself in the middle of mass tree loggings. We saw animals every day. While road walking, we passed many properties with horses, llamas, baby goats, sheep and farm dogs. As we got more remote, kangaroos and wallabies sprang up everywhere. Native birds were constantly chirping in the bush. Wild brumbies were a beautiful sight. We spotted big lizards on tree trunks and watched a pair of eagles gracefully take off together from the dense pine forest. On the more exposed parts of the walk, we saw some hysterical emus. There were hundreds of cows on the farmland

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Camp life was a joyful reward after each intense day of walking. We’d arrive at a secluded campsite in the middle of nature. After setting up my tent, I’d gather firewood, and do some stretches, savouring the day’s sunset. I would light the campfire and cook up a simple three-course dinner, typically miso soup, a creamy pasta with tuna, topped off with a hot chocolate and Snickers bar for dessert. Content with a warm, full belly, I’d retreat to my tent and pass out, ready for a new day. After two weeks, I started acclimatizing to the daily hiking ‘routine’. Wake up, get dressed, breakfast, pack up tent. Walk, morning break, walk, lunch. Walk more, arrive at camp, set up tent, relax, dinner, then sleep. The routine was occasionally spiced up with some ‘amazing’ luxuries. One campsite was a caravan park, so we splurged and stayed in a cabin complete with a hot shower, washing machine, pillows, and blankets – heaven! The tiny corner shop had meat pies, chips, and soda which I devoured, thanks to ‘hiker hunger’. I felt so grateful for these small pleasures. It also felt strange to have so many instant gratifications. People at the caravan park found it funny to see how excited we got eating a meat pie with sauce. Something I found special about the Hume and Hovell track is that it seemed to be one of Australia's least walked long trails. Apart from people we met at places accessible by road, in four weeks I met only one section hiker and one other end-to-end hiker. I usually walked separately to my friends and so this big expanse of nature felt like it

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was all mine. About halfway through my journey, while in deep remote bushland, I took advantage of this. One blistering sunny lunchtime, I skinny-dipped alone in the refreshingly cool waters of Buddong Falls. At several remote campsites, I’d walk around naked through the forest. The contrast of a tough day weighed down by sweaty, stinky clothes and a heavy pack, to stripping down bare, was amazing. Feeling the raw earth beneath my bare feet, the soft sunlight warming my exposed body, and surrounded only by trees, I felt so light and free I could almost fly. Overall, the walk had its ups and downs. Some days were a breeze, and I felt on top of the world. Other days were a big slap in the face and I just wanted it to be over. I’ll be honest. It was tough. Even day one was a deep dive – 28 kilometres, or 40,000 steps – along a highway and fire trails with a fully-loaded 18 kilogram pack. I thought I would get used to it after a few weeks of walking. But I didn’t. After only a few hours each day, I’d be wrecked. My body would feel beaten up, fatigued and smelly. My feet would be killing, and each day around the 20 kilometre mark they would tell me: “Enough. Time to stop. I don’t want to walk anymore”. Obviously, I had no choice but to keep going because if I didn’t, I’d run out of food and water, and have to camp in the middle of nowhere. What I found interesting was that this was as much a mental game as a physical one. The more I focused on my negativity and suffering, the worse it got. But when I reframed my attitude to, “ok, acknowledge these feelings, and just deal with it,” it strangely helped me to push through – like on my hardest day, a 30 kilometre hike in the heat of the sun, walking through exposed farmlands with massive hills. (It was also the day we got lost, which was frustrating and slightly exciting at the same time). Life throws us inevitable hardships. But, just like a tough hike, if you know where you’re headed, and push through one step at a time, you look back and suddenly realise how far you’ve come. I experienced this every single day. I also experienced a greater version of it when I finished the hike at the Hovell Tree in Albury, 440 kilometres later. It was such a distant goal at the start. Suddenly, on the last day, I realised I had taken over 577,000 tiny steps, to get to my massive goal. It seemed to arrive from nowhere.

TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS • Check out the official website: humeandhovelltrack.com.au • The official Facebook page regularly updates trail conditions and detours. • Purchase the official six map information pack. • To make navigation safer, don’t rely solely on the maps. Refer to a GPS or an App on your phone with the track uploaded before starting. • Catch a lift or a call a taxi to Tumut instead of walking 10 kilometres from the trail to town. • Get to Tumbarumba (‘Tumby’) by calling Ria at the caravan park for a pick up. (Hitchiking might be hard with little passing traffic). • Source resupplies from the large supermarkets in either town or send boxes to your accommodation. • Fill up on water at camp before heading off each day – water is scarce on the trail. • Bring a water sterilizer and water filter – unless you like drinking mosquito larvae. • Beware of snakes! They can sleep on the track in the sun, in the long grass or leafy ground. • Look after your feet by investing in the right boots and socks – you will thank yourself!

Completing my first long-distance hike, gave me a sense of accomplishment. Not just because I had finished it, but because I’d experienced so many personal learnings on the way. The journey taught me about simplicity, patience, and appreciation. Walking in nature for a month showed me a simple life filled with richness. I discovered nourishment by disconnecting from the world, in turn, fully connecting to myself and my current world. By slowing down and paying attention, I learnt to appreciate all the small things I would normally overlook in my busy urban life. Post-hike, it’s slowly changing my life. I have less urges to buy ‘stuff’ – if it doesn’t fit in my backpack why bother? I go to fewer events, without the FOMO, because I’ve experienced how little I need to enjoy life. I also realised how much I sit down – on the couch, at my work desk, in the car. So now I walk and cycle more, and try to get out in nature as much as possible. This helps me connect to the present moment with my surroundings. I am excited to continue my journey of long-distance hiking. I want to keep discovering new places, meet like-minded people and refine a newfound skill. I want to challenge myself not just physically, but mentally – to keep building on my reflective learnings. I am inspired to help others who have always wanted to go on an adventure like this, to show them that they can do it too – all it takes is preparation, determination, and perseverance.

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Caroline Grandjean-Thomsen MEET

Caroline is a presenter, explorer, and culturalist. She is passionate about discovering the world to exchange cultures with others, and connecting people through storytelling and movement. carolinethomsen.com


A Weekend in

BANGKOK WORDS & IMAGES BY: MELANIE CHATFIELD

They say one night in Bangkok and the world is your oyster. So we doubled it and went for two.

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Eat From fresh produce markets to fine dining restaurants, delectable food options are plentiful in Bangkok. With a hunger for something authentic, we caught a taxi from the city (30 min $5) to the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. Surrounded by trees and packed with locals it was perfect. We merged into the flow of people and squeezed between the immaculate stalls of fresh seafood, curious fruits, and quirky memorabilia. Our bellies rumbled as the tang of fragrant herbs and meat smoke wafted into our nostrils. With a heaving plate of grilled langoustines, we sat at one of the communal bamboo tables and braced our lips for the heat of the sliced red chilli. Stuffed, we wandered down some wooden stairs and climbed into a longtail boat for a scenic ride on the waterways. Options ranged from multi-stop temple trips to a one-way jaunt to a nearby market. Feeling lazy, we chose a 45min loop, put our feet up, and watched as dense gardens and smiling vendors floated by. Culture Content to skip the red-light debauchery of Pat Pong Road, we

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booked tickets to see Calypso Cabaret, an extravagant celebration of the artistic flair of Thailand’s transgender artists. Dazzling yet tasteful, the threehour performance is family-friendly. While the lips may not always sync with the songs, the glitter, elaborate choreography, and unbridled enthusiasm are superb. The theatre is amongst the Asiatique river-front night markets and there are plenty of food options. We tried Baan Khanitha, an organic farm to table Thai restaurant which prides itself on using quality, homegrown ingredients. Try the delicate fish cakes, pungent Tom Yum Goong soup, and stir-fried morning glory to start. Drink With more bars in Bangkok than you can poke a swizzle stick at it’s hard to choose a favourite. For a relaxing afternoon cocktail sidle into Hemingways. A historic, wood-panelled venue with a well-stocked bar, elaborate Bloody Mary making station, and tropical garden. For lovers of a late-night speakeasy, try the intimate and eclectic Muse, offering creative cocktails and a dizzying view from the 24th floor.

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Walk As far as South East Asian cities go, Bangkok pavements are fairly pedestrian-friendly so it’s easy to explore on foot. While I had grand plans for a morning of lizard spotting at Lumpini Park it will have to wait till next time. Poached eggs with passionfruit and a sleep-in won that contest. Shop Bangkok is brimming with state-of-the-art shopping malls, each jostling for attention by offering something unique. Jet setters will love Terminal 21, an airport themed venue with each floor styled after a major city. Don’t miss the London Underground inspired toilets. Relax Thai Massage is their speciality and it’s everywhere, including along the famous Khoa Sahn road. An hour traditional massage costs around 300 BAHT ($15) so I couldn’t resist a mani and pedi as well (500 BAHT). No need to book but be warned, if you’re uncomfortable with awkward folding of your arms and legs opt for the oil session. Sport Rajadamnern Stadium is the home of Muay Thai kickboxing, a sport steeped in honour and tradition. Even if you don’t normally watch combat sports, what’s not to like about rippling abdominals and the fervour of gambling spectators? A traditional live band sets the mood, their pace quickening as the tension builds with each flying knee. Unless you love beer with your popcorn, it’s worth eating elsewhere. Disclaimer: Author travelled at own expense.

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Navigating WORDS BY: JARKA KLUTH

A CO ME B AC K

IMAGES BY: JOERG KLUTH

In a flurry of speeding white sails, blinding salt spray, 100 other boats, and high-pitched yelling, there was no way out, no last split-second opportunity to avoid the oncoming disaster racing down the face of a high rolling white-capped wave, and unfortunately, I knew it. There had been no avoiding it. No possible alternative manoeuvre. No forewarning. Suspended in my harness, my legs were numb and lifeless. The periphery a blur. “Stop! Stop! It’s going to be bad. Get ready for a crash!” Screaming last words over the whipping wind to my 17-year-old daughter, before I realised the sailing boat charging towards us, just off the congested start line, was, in fact, going to hit me and not the fibreglass hull of our dinghy. A 400+ kilogram impact into the side of my hip catapulted me still fully in trapeze harness attached to the mast, to a bone thumping halt on the leeward side of the boat where I hung waiting for the boat to capsize onto me. Remarkably, my less than 50-kilogram superhero daughter instantaneously revealed her latent physical and mental muscle, managing to battle high winds, 2.5 metre waves, and rigid shock, to keep the boat upright and haul my dead weight back into the boat. As she signalled for the medics on standby at the National Sailing Championships in Perth, we had only days to recover to compete in the Women’s World Championships.

had in fact blown in my favour that December day. I narrowly avoided a lifetime relationship with a wheelchair in exchange for three nasty fractures. With the initial prognosis of ‘bum sitting’ and no weight bearing for at least four months, my best friend kindly commented to her puritanically holistic medicine friend, “You are going to need serious meds to stop you going crazy!” As an active, ‘all you can embrace’ person, I was now charting unfamiliar waters with a compass bearing pointing, as far as I was concerned, in the wrong direction. Suddenly Lao Tzu’s, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” loomed as an insurmountable enterprise. That one step an ever-moving mirage.

As an active, ‘all you can embrace’ person, I was now charting unfamiliar waters…

After an initial X-ray and the false diagnosis of “muscle bruising” was changed to the more accurate (yet convoluted) medical description, “Intra-articular fracture of the right anterior acetabulum extending to the anterior articular surface, displaced fracture of the left superior pubic ramus and a vertically oriented fracture of the right sacral ala with buckling of the anterior cortex,” it became apparent that the Fremantle Doctor sea breeze

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Initially, it was pain that won in the heavyweight fight between physical malaise and mental determination. Hip pain, head pain, and heart pain. There was no way I was getting back into the boat for the World Championships. That opportunity had evaporated into the salt air, sunk to the bottom of the Indian Ocean or blown straight to the shores of Rottnest Island, carrying with it the hours and hours of pre-regatta preparation, sweat, and tears. I quickly discovered there is a deeply unsynchronized connection between discomfort (both physical and mental), comfort zones and courage. Climbing three flights of stairs with the absence of both an elevator and correct diagnosis was all I needed for confirmation of that reality. Without superpowers, courage I reasoned, is rarely the default response to all things excruciating or new.

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A wise old man once said, “Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision” (Winston Churchill). There is no recipe for courage on any of the celebrity cooking shows. I didn’t find a healing poultice or herbal remedy for courage bubbling anywhere. There’s also a definite absence of ‘Moving Your Comfort Zone for Dummies’ on Amazon. Nevertheless, a road is rarely walked for the first time and often not alone. Long-time famous self-development guru Stephen Covey clearly didn’t suffer excuses (and mine were not going to be anything exceptional), with his candid tonic, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space where we choose our response.” He went on to say, “Happiness like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.” The correlation of wisdom between these two wise gents was unmistakable. I secured my boots, grabbed my crutches and packed as much available courage into my rucksack as possible. It was hardly going to be a rapid march forward, or linear trajectory towards the initial stages of regaining movement, walking, working and driving, let alone a return to my avid pursuit of outdoor adventures. Life is slow when the trek is carried out on crutches, not Leki hiking poles, and spent floating around in hydrotherapy pools. The healing of fractures is about as speedy as a 16th century Pavan. Every footstep is considered, every access path negotiated. Forward planning from one end of the kitchen bench to the other, or from the bedroom to the laundry is paramount; value-adding (accomplishing many tasks whilst headed in one direction) and route mapping an acquired obsession.

Excuses abounded and proved an ever-present temptress. Moving through the fear of one leg lift to achieving three sets of fifteen, from side planks of five seconds to the goal of seventy-seven, to regaining core balance and standing on one leg without reservation or anticipation of pain. Clearly “I can’t” was comfortable, encouraging an aching resignation keen to settle deeply, where life threatened to remain a tiebreaker. But tiebreakers belong to tennis, not one of my recreational pursuits. A shuffle to the letterbox was in my line of sight. A 100 metre totter to the end of the street. “Start small, be realistic, be kind,” whispering reminders. An overwhelming dissatisfaction with the present formed the solid impetus for change and goal setting. A concerted effort to “Not let the darkness steal the joy within my soul,” or “Let my circumstance become my compass” (Rend Collective), became my tablespoon of accountability. The letterbox materialized, passing street signs were photographed as milestones, hydrotherapy became gym sessions as the pain gradually became past and gradient a godsend. With an inflow of ‘energy-oxidants’, spurring the ever-present whisper of optimism, milestone achievements became a communion of triumph over human frailty. A recognition and reaffirmation of an intrinsic capacity to grow further, stretch longer, continue harder. Each new day an occasion for thankfulness and a sincere and renewed connection with hope for the road ahead.

The word Algebra from Arabic "al-jabr" literally means the “reunion of broken parts". What’s the formula for the reunion of broken parts? An obvious consideration when the couch is your constant companion. What principles are needed to restore equilibrium, a balanced equation?

Every serious injury leaves a memory embedded in muscle or mind, and most times in both. A natural reflex drawing down on pain or responding to opportunity. The opportunity to embrace a challenge or be controlled by circumstances. I’ve learned that injury doesn’t come with a roadmap, GPS or even an ETA. Patience and determination don’t appear on the Pharmaceutical Benefits list.

As the days turned to weeks and then months, attributes crystalized, and an equation began to manifest. An unwavering husband, dedicated loved ones, a chorus of positive well-wishers, skilled practitioners, determination, the patience of Job and an enormous serving of positive attitude, (along with blood thinners and a few painkillers), seemed the perfect antidote. Otherwise summarised as: Support + Encouragement + Unconditional Love + Perseverance + Positive Attitude = Healing.

What it does come with most times is choice. Walking forward, even in the midst of doubt, the shadow of my trail past continues to form, testifying progress. Benchmarks are challenged and further milestones established. Routes from the bed to the kitchen, kitchen to the couch, couch to the letterbox, letterbox to the end of the street, micro strolls of 500 metres, one kilometre, and three kilometres. Eight months later, mountain trails a solid reality, and fourteen months later, a sailboat the sweetest reward.

However, formulaic theories and practice often battle it out on the field. Maths was never my forte, but I’ve always loved psychology, so the showdown was good. The algebraic reality comprised of the smallest of increments; getting into bed without assistance, showering independently, dressing autonomously, moving up and down steps, carrying a cereal bowl or cup of coffee with one crutch, perfecting my penguin waddling skills whilst regaining the ability to walk, and finally, five months later, permission to drive a car.

Freedom to choose in the minutest of seconds a path of problem or possibility lies within us all. And hopefully;

MEET

“I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.” – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.

Jarka Kluth

Successful sailor, coach, organisational team and culture leader; Jarka Kluth is passionate about seeing individuals identify, embrace and live out their full potential. Next to her day job in management, Jarka is a sailing, hiking, reading and writing enthusiast. Her trails have taken her to multiple continents, with years spent hiking in the German Alps. Passionate about seeing individuals identify, embrace and live wholeheartedly, she is a member of the ‘She Sails’ committee of Australian Sailing, set up to encourage and support females in the area of sailing participation and personal growth.

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must donts

Tell us about an adventurous event that we should add to our calendar and share with our community hello@travelplaylive.com.au.

eve

WOMEN OF DISTINCTION EXHIBITION Where: Old Government House When: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–3:45pm (until 16 August 2020) National Trust (NSW) are all about women as they launch a brand new and revolutionary exhibition at their heritage-listed property, Old Government House, Parramatta. The ‘Women of Distinction’ exhibition explores the untold stories of the Vice-Regal women, servants and visitors who lived in, worked at or visited the building over its many decades of change. Women such as Elizabeth Clarke, who was convicted in England of stealing goods to the value of £60 and sentenced in 1807 to seven years’ transportation to NSW. nationaltrust.org.au/exhibitions/women-of-distinction

WOMEN’S ULTIMATE ADVENTURE WEEKEND Where: Perth region, Western Australia When: 13–15 December 2019 Three days of action-packed adventure that will test your limitations, body, and mind by taking risks in fully supported, nurturing, fun and safe environments. A weekend created to inspire you to push through barriers and fears, encouraging personal growth, self-confidence and a positive mindset through building a connection with other like-minded women in the great outdoors. This weekend is an experience like no other. An experience that allows women of all ages and fitness levels the opportunity to bond and connect, helping each other to be the best version of themselves both mentally and physically through adventure-based activities. downunderdiscoveries.com/tour/womens-ultimateadventure-weekend

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5KM FOAM FEST Where: Various Locations (Australia) When: 30 November (Victoria), 14 December (Sydney) & 11 January (Queensland) Whether you’re a mud run junkie or a foam fatale, we know you’ve got a dirty side. But when it comes to lacing up your shoes for another fun run, you’re gonna want a little more than just some dirt on your shirt. So come get filthy clean! With over 24 awesome obstacles, it’s the Foamiest, Muddiest, Funnest 5km challenge out there. This event is family friendly (8+). Whether you’re an expert mudder or a first-time foamster, you’ll LOVE running, jumping, and bouncing your way through our 24+ obstacles filled with mud, fun, and fluffy white foam! the5kfoamfest.com

WANDERLUST 108 Where: Various Locations, Australia When: 19 October (Brisbane), 26 October (Sydney) 9 November (Melbourne) Wanderlust is a leader in the yoga lifestyle space –encompassing events, centers, and media. The Festivals are multi-day yoga, music + outdoor celebrations held in awe-inspiring locations around the world. A one-day mindful triathlon, combines a 5km run/walk, yoga and meditation in your favorite city park. Wanderlust Centers are a re-imagination of what a yoga studio can be. Led by the new Wanderlust Hollywood in Los Angeles, our centers bring the festival experience to your home city, offering yoga, meditation, live music venue, a café and restaurant, Speakeasy lectures, and most of all, a vibrant and passionate community. wanderlust.com/aus

events

MORE UPCOMING October Wildfest

Southern Highlands, New South Wales 4 October – 3 November 2019 wildfest.com.au/ Spring Challenge Whanganui Whanganui, New Zealand 18–19 October 2019 springchallenge.co.nz Wild Women’s Adventure Race Noosa, Queensland 19 October 2019 triadventure.com.au

November

The Big Adventure Sydney, New South Wales 9 November 2019 cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

Act-Belong-Commit Women’s Adventure Day Perth, Western Australia 16 November 2019 adventurouswomen.com.au

December 6 Inch Trail Marathon

North Dandalup, Western Australia 20 December 2019 6inchtrailmarathon.com

February

Bouddi Coastal Trail Run NSW 2019

2020 Busselton Half Marathon and Fun Run Busselton, Western Australia

Kilcare, New South Wales

8 February 2020

16 November 2019

busseltonrunnersclub.org.au

bouddicoastalrun.com.au

Oscars100 Hut 2 Hut 2020

Rat Race Bucket List series: Race to the Wreck

Mount Buller, Victoria 14 February 2019

Namibia, Africa 18 November 2019

Augusta Adventure Fest 2019

ratracebucketlist.com

Augusta, Western Australia

The Stand Up Surf Shop King of the Cut

2 November 2019

Mandurah, Western Australia

Augusta.rapidascent.com.au

29 November 2019

Three Bridges Run

supwa.tidyhq.com

hut2hut.oscars100.com.au

March

Oxfam Trailwalker Melbourne 27-29 March 2020 trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/melbourne Surf Coast Trek 2020

Sydney, New South Wales 3 November 2019

Aireys Inlet, Victoria 28 March 2020 givewhereyoulive.secure.force.com

threebridgesrun.com.au/

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namaste journeys MEANINGFUL JOURNEYS TO NEPAL

Holi ~ Festival of Colour 26 Feb 10 Mar 2020

www.namastejourneys.com.au 058

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T H E

WINDING Track

WORDS BY:

JACQUI PARSONS

Breathe deep And feel the cool, fresh air fill each lung You’ve made it here, to this place Along the road to old from young The winding track stretches behind in memory Signposting where you’ve grown The future unfolds ahead in cloud Holding lessons that remain unknown Your choices brought you here Carving links that form your lifelong chains Moving slowly, through water and earth Over the northward plains Your muscles have kicked, they’ve screamed In the scrambled, painful length Only to relax at the peaks, wishing for more With a fierce yet gentle strength At times the track stretched wide With others running by your side

ABOUT

At times you stood alone, quite still Breathing into your quietening mind The cool air feels safe Traveling deep into your young life  Reassuring you of your ability To stand alone in happiest delight You’ve soaked in rays of knowledge From mighty summit to harrowing crawl  Learning the harder the challenge the taller you stand With every wonderful footfall You wonder if ahead waits someone Walking to where you’re bound And if their warm breath could enhance the cool Of the world you’ve sought and found How glad I shall be, for the stumbles and patience Knowing they led me perfectly here To this knowledge, this outlook, this person I am And to you, the one I’ll hold dear.

Jacqui Parsons

Jacqui is a 25-year-old living and working in Sydney, Australia. She is a hiking and outdoors lover who has recently completed part of the Camino de Santiago through Spain and Portugal. It was in this beautiful setting that this poetry was written. Instagram: @jacquiparsons22

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T O U R

I N

F O C U S

Adventure

IN THE

SLOVENIAN HILLS

Hike. Eat. Laugh. Learn. Grow. What started out as a small, father-daughter trip along a historic trail, soon turned into a unique opportunity to get off the beaten track, hike through the glorious wilderness, and sample many of Slovenia’s provincial delights. By leaving logistics like arranging meals and accommodation to someone else, I had the chance to switch off from the rest of the world and truly connect with my surroundings. Exploring the trail with only a day pack of refreshments left me free to simply enjoy the journey, taking photographs along the way and challenging myself with new experiences. I had time for quiet reflection as I passed tall birch and pine trees, walked along streams, admired waterfalls and stopped to refill my drink bottles in the cool, clear Slovenian springs. The sound of running water and wind rustling through the leaves helped me relax and take in all the beauty of the trails. I increased my confidence and gained a deeper sense of self through hiking steep inclines, descending into valleys, and exploring farms, homesteads and hidden trails. Travelling further than I ever thought I could, and finding I am fitter and stronger than I knew. Every day provided an opportunity to taste the best of what Slovenia had to offer, from country style lunches prepared by proud Slovenian farm women, to wine and dinners in different villages.

About the trip The Crow’s Flight accommodates a variety of women on multi-day adventures exploring Slovenia. With journeys designed to allow you the opportunity to experience the cuisine of each province, culture and nature without the burden of carrying your entire pack. The goal is to provide a once in a lifetime experience where you explore, eat, laugh and connect. With a traditional menu which can be tailored for allergies, wild trails and experienced, local guides, the trips are perfect for everyone from beginners to experienced.

Slovenians love to share their food and alcohol. There is a tradition where if you pass by a home on your journey or come through the Pohorje Mountains, you have a shot of schnapps or two. The best being the homebrewed and flavoured ones you find within the little cottages on the hills.

Go with a group or join a group and make new friends. This experience is open to all, enabling everyone to achieve their own goals, connect with their inner-self and others in nature while enjoying the freedom. What does freedom mean to you?

Exploring Slovenia opened up a whole world of freedom for me.

thecrowsflight.com

MEET

Kylie Travers

Kylie is an avid adventurer, travel writer and mother of two who travels full-time across the globe. She loves the outdoors from diving to hiking and is always seeking the best nature has to offer. kylietravers.com.au/thecrowsflight

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Jump on the TPL website to browse the full digital Directory.

Big Heart Adventures

Patch Adventures

Big Heart Adventures was born from the idea that we can change the world through travel. Travel broadens our minds, teaches us new lessons and challenges our ideas and beliefs while promoting tolerance. Big Heart Adventures offers themed, unique, culturally authentic, hosted group active and adventure travel experiences. Each trip aims to raise community and self-awareness as well as raise funds for charities and non-profit organisations through corporate donations, fundraising by individual travellers and offering participation in community projects where possible in the destination country. bigheartadventures.com.au

Patch Adventures is what happens when a travel industry insider starts a women’s international adventure company. You’ll visit the highlights of each country, sure, but you’ll also catch additional experiences that are just not available to independent travellers. You could sleep in a historical Caravanserai in Iran, hike with a Berber guide in Morocco or get way off the grid in Myanmar. Visit the website to learn more. patchadventures.com.au

Rocky Travel Rocky Travel is an award-winning site for the Solo Traveller to Australia and Italy. Michela, the author, swapped a life of a manager for a less ordinary life. Her mission is to help others travel more, simply and smartly. Her bespoke small group tours are for the curious, adventurous solo traveller who loves walking and experiencing the lesser-known places of Italy and Australia. Check out her Tasmania Walking Tour, the Dolomites Hiking Trips, and the Best of Sicily Round Trip. rockytravel.net/small-group-tours-of-italy

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FUN

Finding

A G A I N

WOR D S BY: TA N YA H A L L

IMAGES BY:

MATTHEW KELLY

What does running, hiking somewhere new, and becoming a parent all have in common? They challenge me. Nurture me. And remind me that life is supposed to be fun. “Broccoli volcano.” The definitive voice of the two-year-old on my back made me pause before my next glute-enhancing step. We were hiking up the Gra de Fajol on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees Mountains, and I was focused on putting one foot in front of the other with 17kg of squirmy child on my back and a full bladder. Despite my evident discomfort, I couldn’t help but smile bemusedly as I tried to decipher what on earth my daughter Matilda was talking about. The week before, we had hiked through a dormant volcano region in northern Spain called La Garrotxa. Before this experience, Matilda had never seen a volcano before, but now it was something she could refer to when looking at a mountain peak, along with her much-loved food of broccoli (haha). That was pretty cool. It was also a much more fun description of the area than that of any guidebook I had read. Matilda had thankfully not yet learned the word “magnificent”. For six weeks, my husband Matt, our young daughter and I had uprooted ourselves from our suburban Brisbane home and plonked our daily lives in the historic Spanish town of Girona. Two-year-olds are notoriously unpredictable, as is an active adventure on the other side of the world. Combining the two was fraught with potential nerve-wracking moments, and the challenge of juggling mum-time and me-time loomed even greater there without the wider network of support I’m fortunate to have at home. As we stood on top of the city walls dating back to the 9th century, I was struck by the momentous achievements of the past people who had created history here. The sense of awe that was inspired in me at that moment never left for the rest of the trip.

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Walking along the walls offers an excellent view of the old city but for an even better vantage point, it is well worth throwing some cheese sandwiches into a backpack and taking to the surrounding mountains. Hiking in this region offers a chance to experience an ancient wilderness and provides a welcome escape from the crowded cobblestone paths of the old city. There are several hiking trail options from Girona itself which merit lacing up your boots. They spiral up mountain ranges and pass stone buildings hugged by ivy – which provide excellent refuge whenever the weather turns. Trails also lead eastward to the beachside Costa Brava area with its collection of ocean caves and grottos to duck your head under. The intricate network of paths also makes it possible to walk between towns. While a car will undoubtedly get you to the next chocolate croissant quicker, speeding along at 80 kilometres an hour misses much of the detail on the way. Neatly arranged vegetable allotments became a reason to pause. I pointed out how radishes grow to the keen little eyes behind me, and we took time to meow back at stray cats. With such an array of trail options to choose from, it was always the challenge of mountain hiking that drew me. The soaring perspective never failed to remind me that my daily life was beautifully small. Alpine beech forests sprinkled bright green light over us which was miraculously calming for both myself and an overtired toddler. Sharing this experience with my little one really reminded me to not take life so seriously. On more than one occasion it began to rain while we were in the middle of the wilderness. While my first reaction was to

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screw up my face at the sky, hers was to laugh giddily and hold her little arms above her head. Her joy at the situation prompted me to embrace the moment and actually feel the rain, rather than just get wet. We passed a number of other hikers on our path and shared an especially warm smile with parents and grandparents who also had mini-explorers on their backs. Matilda met kids who spoke German, French, Dutch, Russian and of course, Spanish. She quickly realised that a smile and a wave allowed you to share a special moment with someone no matter how they said “hello”. A German traveller in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Beget couldn’t help but come over to us when he saw two wide-eyes peeking over my shoulder. Circling his hands theatrically above his head, he exclaimed, “Her neurons must be exploding with all of this ancient beauty around her!” Despite the constant wonders before us each day, Matilda was very much still a two-year-old. A few digs into my sides with her heels were a clear sign that we had gone far enough for that particular stint. It did take a surprisingly long time before she reached that point of needing a break though; her attention span was much longer than it was in a shopping trolley. At the start of each hike, she would be just as full of the wonder of adventure as we were. The excitement of a new path into rogue woodland stirred a sense of exploring the unknown in all of us as a little family. We would talk about what we all saw, and from her vantage point on one of our backs, Matilda would point out mice, birds and tiny flowers that we two grown-ups would have otherwise missed after inevitably slipping back into a destination-focus. While hiking together offered a chance for me to enjoy the sensation of little fingers gently tapping on the back of my neck, I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate my own time as well, as did Matt. To keep our own promise of making this trip as active as possible for ourselves, he would cycle on non-hiking days while I would run.

bly challenging. I ensured that I was kind to myself though, and eventually found a good balance of pushing through discomfort before slowing to a walk to give my body a chance to recover. Alongside lactic acid, the most triumphant sense of satisfaction flowed through me whenever I made small summit after small summit on my own two legs. I know I was lucky to experience these running escapades because my husband looked after our daughter and vice-versa. It meant we each had to push through the physical tiredness from our own adventures to then continue to play with Matilda on her own terms. Because Matt had promised me time to run after he did a big ride, all of a sudden he wasn’t allowed to just siesta himself after reaching the top of the Vallter 2000 climb, which he probably would have done pre-child days. Instead, I’d speed around them both ankle-deep in a creek, throwing sticks into the water and cheering me on as I strode past. Bringing our two-year-old on this adventure perhaps limited the distance we travelled, but the chance to see this part of the world through the eyes of a wide-eyed toddler more than made up for the fact that we couldn’t spend an extra few hours on a trail. Running and hiking in a new country, and becoming a parent have all dared me to take on life in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. Both experiences have also reminded me that life is supposed to be fun, and having fun is when I’m at my best. Fun for me is running through a strange forest and reaching a fork in the road. It’s following the line of sight that a little finger is pointing to in a thick canopy. Fun is also standing on shaky legs, looking at a daunting mountain bordering two countries and thinking it looks exactly like a broccoli volcano.

Sharing this experience with my little one really reminded me to not take life so seriously.

Running is something I have hit my stride with since becoming a mum. Alongside the post-pregnancy health benefits, carving out my own activity has made sure that I’ve kept my own sense of identity while adjusting to my new responsibilities of frequent nappy changes and extracting squished banana from hair (both hers and mine). It has lifted me mentally, emotionally and physically, and now provided me with a way to strike out on my own and explore a new country. I would run in the mornings or after lunch during the traditional siesta time. While the slower pace of hiking offered the benefits of really taking in my surroundings, moving through the various trails at a faster pace allowed me to cover more territory, and sprawl out to remote towns further afield. Both activities complemented each other on this trip nicely. Poppies, dandelions, and daffodils lined even the busiest freeways which at times I would have to jog alongside, but I found I was going at a better pace to notice fuzzy petals rather than two-tonne trucks. Rivers were rife throughout the region, and I would take every opportunity I could to find a bridge or rocks to make a crossing and look down into the flowing ecosystem beneath me. Pounding the pavement on the same routes at home was starting to get predictable, but suddenly being amongst snow-streaked mountains added a much-needed sense of adventure to my exercise regime. Running on my own here was not without its risks though, and on one of my hill loops I did get nipped on the ankles by an overzealous dog bolting out of his unfenced casa. While up north in The Pyrenees, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to run up the imposing mountain trails. Running on a constant incline was incredi-

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MEET

Tanya Hall

Usually found behind a plate of food, Tanya is a restaurant reviewer for various publications and on her own website. To offset her love of blueberry Danishes, she is a keen runner and hiker and loves sharing these activities with her young family. australianfoodie.com


KAYAK Adventures T H E

F O R G O T T E N O F

T H E

B A C K W A T E R S

M U R R A Y

R I V E R

WORDS & IMAGES BY: MEG LAW

Once upon a time adventure travel was only for the hard-core. An all-or-nothing proposition reserved for the seriously fit and hardy. The realm of people prepared to trek for weeks on end or scale the steepest rock face. These days, being adventurous is much more accessible to everyone. Opportunities abound to wander the unfamiliar, explore the unknown and connect with incredible places. You just have to scroll through Instagram to notice the global demand for adventurous travel. People crave experiences that resonate on a deeper, more emotional level. We want something personalized, more attuned to local culture, something that inspires us along our path of self-discovery. I recently experienced the magic of combining physical activity, nature, and culture into an adventurous travel experience when I joined a group of strangers on a three-day kayaking expedition along the Murray River. We all had one thing in common: the desire to connect fully with our destination. The Forgotten Backwaters: Gunbower Creek and Edward River Catch, Power, Exit and Recovery… repeat. My forearms were tingling with numbness and my shoulder muscles were screaming for relief. Yet, amongst the weariness and fatigue, my heart sang. Here we were on the final day of our kayak expedition heading downstream along the forgotten backwaters and estuaries of the ‘Mighty Murray’, listening to the cacophony of frogs, kookaburras,

and kingfishers and passing the towering river red gums looming overhead and perched gallantly along the river bank. A white-bellied sea eagle gracefully hovered along above us as our bright yellow and red canoes meandered their way along the river; splashes of colour amongst the ochre water. It was the most surreal landscape, so quintessentially Australian, like we were passing a series of Tom Roberts or Arthur Streeton impressionist paintings. The current was so strong that we had to steady our boats with our oars and use it to steer away from the multiple logs poking precariously out of the river. As the river flow swept our boat past the tangle of branches, I pushed off the bottom and tried to avoid crashing into the large fallen eucalypt trunk taking up half of the waterway. What an adventure! The last few days we had been exploring the secret waterways of the Murray River from Barmah to Koondrook in New South Wales (NSW). A group of keen paddlers doing some serious log hopping, bird watching and navigating in our plastic vessels without a rudder. The Murray River is home to some of the best kayaking and canoeing

The Murray River is home to some of the best kayaking and canoeing experiences in Australia.

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experiences in Australia. Putting aside the adrenaline-fuelled hardcore rapids for a minute, and replacing this with the extraordinary tributaries, backwaters, creeks, and lagoons. It's easy to fall in love with these waters. Towering red gum and box lined forests frame the snagged waters and are home to an incredible array of birds that enjoy the lush river surroundings. On this particularly warm autumn day, we saw an abundance of bird life on the lagoon – part of the Gunbower Creek – from birds of prey to spoonbills, pelicans and my favourite, the kingfisher. Not to mention the odd ‘roo’ intruder hopping by on the riverbank trying to match the pace of us paddlers…or was he in fact chasing the shaggy brown feathered emu awkwardly running along the opposite bank. Guess we will never know. Gunbower Island, near Cohuna, lies on the floodplain between the Murray and Gunbower Creek. It has a water frontage of 130 kilometres, with 20,000 hectares of state forest covering about 80 percent of the island. Edward River is a peaceful, lesser-known alternative to the nearby Murray River, so it’s ideal for paddlers of all experience levels. You can appreciate the tranquillity of a number of national parks from the vantage point of the water, and take in the incredible bushland from a different perspective. The forests and wetlands draw fishermen, canoeists, campers and walkers. The many varieties of waterbirds are a huge feature, but it is the opportunity to paddle in these forgotten backwaters and hidden estuaries that really appeal to me. I love paddling. That sense of freedom and adventure hits you within the first few strokes of a paddle. The remote access to spots you can't get to in any other way, the unique views of nature. I love how my mood can dictate whether I choose to attempt adrenalin-fuelled racing in the ocean and open water, or mindfully and silently glide my way through the wetlands in a meditative state. In both instances, I consider myself adventurous – just in two entirely different ways. For me, there is something about the water that automatically calms me down whenever I’m around it. As my paddle takes each dip, I feel a wonderful sense of oneness with nature.  Did you know there are actual studies proving the positive effect

of water on one’s overall health, which helps to encourage and improve mindfulness? This includes what is called ‘Blue Mind’, a term coined by TedX guru, Dr Wallace J. Nichol, which is the supporting science that shows how being near, in, or on the water can positively impact your overall happiness, mental health, productivity, self-awareness and connection to your surroundings in nature. After a few days gliding along the waterways and exploring the abundant riverbanks that sustain so much life, suffice to say I concur that being near water can indeed improve mindfulness. And it appears I am not alone as the Murray region has invested significant spend into creating dedicated kayak and canoe trails into its tourism mix. The Murray is already a recognised tourist destination, with 6.1 million visitors spending $1.8 billion in the region last year. The lure of nature tourism is strong and with many people already paddling the Murray from end to end, significant infrastructure is being invested into the trails and forgotten back waterways to open up the area to the reach of adventurers who want to connect. Take, for example, Australia's first all-abilities kayak launcher, which sits on the Edward Riverbank (near the town of Mathoura, NSW) and is a complete game-changer for Murray Regional Tourism. The new kayak launcher allows for a kayak to be lowered into a metal cradle and you step or lower yourself in with handrails along each side to easily pull yourself into the water and… you're off! Genius! What these secret waterways of the Murray River offer people are immersive adventurous experiences – to sleep under the stars, to paddle on the water, to listen to the birds and wildlife. It is that connection to a ‘sense of place’ we are all seeking. You can never outgrow adventure. Real adventure immerses you in a destination, connects you with the environment, nature, a new culture and its people. The magic of the mighty Murray is that it allows you to tap into your inner adventurous and curious spirit, feel viscerally inspired by these hidden waterways, and help you to become more of a conscious traveller. After all, adventure travel is now for everyone.

As my paddle takes each dip, I feel a wonderful sense of oneness with nature.

ABOUT

Disclaimer: The author was hosted by Murray Regional Tourism.

Meg Law

Meg is a travel writer, explorer and adventure enthusiast who lives on Victoria’s famous coastline: The Great Ocean Road. An avid kayaker, Meg is happiest when paddling down the river or travelling the globe with her husband and two mini explorers. traveltales.com.au

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Bareboat Sagiilninenrsg for be

WORDS BY: MELANIE CHATFIELD

Do you long for the freedom of a live-aboard lifestyle? Fancy exploring turquoise waters and deserted beaches on a boat you can’t afford? Ever wondered if you could hoist a mainsail? If yes, then bareboat sailing could be right up your passage. It’s hard to fathom that anyone would be prepared to hand over their million dollar sailboat to a complete novice, someone without a boat license or years of nautical experience. But they do. Chartering a boat ‘bare’ means agreeing to operate and navigate the vessel yourself for a short period of time (anything from a few days to weeks depending on your budget). No skipper. No crew. Just the friends or family that you invite. The experience gives you choice over where you go, what you do and how long you want to be somewhere. No regimented itineraries, no waiting for strangers or compromising on activities. Sound like bliss?

Aye Aye Captain Feeling queasy with responsibility? Don’t worry, on-boarding inductions are thorough. Experienced staff will spend several hours briefing you on the safety features and teach you skills to drive, sail and anchor. While prior technical knowledge is not essential, it helps if you can listen to instructions, read a chart, and problem solve.

Bareboating is particularly popular in the sun-kissed, calm waters of the Caribbean, Whitsunday Islands and Mediterranean…

Bareboating is particularly popular in the sun-kissed, calm waters of the Caribbean, Whitsunday Islands, and the Mediterranean, where conditions make it easy for beginners to learn the ropes. This means anyone comfortable with being on a boat can give it a try. So long as you have a basic understanding of how boats work on water, you can don that Captain’s hat and set course for a secluded cove.

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Things can get a little physical if the wind gets up so the ability to move around the boat safely, pull on a rope and swim is useful. Knowing how to immerse yourself in the magic of where you are should be a given.

Before the charter company gives you the heave-ho, you’ll need to show that you can handle the boat under power, tie-up, drop the anchor, and pick up a mooring. If you, or the instructor, are struggling to cast off any doubts, there may be an option to hire a skipper until you get the hang of it. Worst case scenario you stay put, pop the champagne and chill in the yacht club for a week.

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What to expect Boats vary in size and price depending on the level of luxury you desire. Twin-hull catamarans are frequently used for bareboat charters as they offer more stability and deck space than a mono-hull. The bigger the boat, the more you need to manage so give some thought to how many people you want in your crew, and the tasks you might need help with. Did someone say sunset hors d'oeuvres and cocktails? Cabins typically sleep two people comfortably in a double or bunk bed and include a small locker space for personal items. Compact internal bathrooms squeeze in a marine toilet, shower, and washbasin, and many boats feature a breezy deck hose to rinse off the after-swim salt. Your new home away from home should come stocked with boating essentials including tools, emergency equipment, kitchen appliances, and cooking implements. Linen, float toys, snorkelling gear, and audio-visual connections may vary so check what you need before you arrive. A week without coffee or popular music could result in a mutiny. Staying Safe Conditions can change quickly on the water. The designated skipper must maintain a good awareness of their environment and the wellbeing of their crew. Your charter company may schedule a regular check-in via radio or satellite phone to provide a weather update and make sure everything is ship-shape. If you’re worried about being a fish out of water, learn the basics before you leave home. Sign up to a ‘come and try’ sailing day at your local yacht club. Find a mate with a boat and ask if you can

crew. Apply for your boat license or skipper’s ticket. Watch all five Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Smooth Sailing While diving into a bareboat experience for the first time may sound daunting, with a little preparation and a healthy appetite to try life on the tranquil seas, you too will be hooked. • Read up on your destination and plan a route. Include a few contingency options in case the winds change or the rum punch gets the better of you. Allow plenty of time to get to your next anchorage (where you plan to sleep overnight). Know how long it will take to get there and work backward to figure out what time you need to set sail. • Plan your food menu ahead of time and shop accordingly. There is a limit to what can be stored in cupboards and fridges and, depending on your route, access to re-supply may not be feasible. • Bring a reusable water bottle and buy large water containers to refill rather than using single-use plastic. Ration water use for showers, dishes, and toileting. A blocked toilet in a confined space is a quick way to soil friendships. • Pack light to maximise the space you have in your berth, but don’t forget sun protection, warm and waterproof clothing. • Watch out for what other boats are doing and try to give them plenty of space – they may not be as experienced as you! • Pay close attention to tide times, markers and instructions designed to protect the beautiful marine environment. • Learn the lyrics to a few sea shanties. Everyone should know what to do with a drunken sailor.

WHEN TO GO Whitsundays: June – August offers cooler temperatures and humpback whales. December – March is the wet season and can be hot. Carribean: March – June offers fewer tourists and the tropical fruit and flowers are in season. Mediterranean: May – June or September – October is comfortably warm without the crowds.

BOATING LINGO Pick Anchor, Port Left, Starboard Right, Hoist Lift, Sheet Sail ropes Bow Front, Stern Back, Fore In front, Aft Behind, Gunwale Boat wall Scupper Drainage hole, Jib Foresail, Head Toilet

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Climbing

AMA DABLAM A

S C A R E D

G I R L ’ S

G U I D E

WORDS BY: STEPHANIE QUIRK

Sometimes climbing a mountain is not about climbing a mountain at all. It is an act of courage and summoning of self-belief. When you stand before your biggest challenge, it is only you who can take a step forward. This is a mountaineering story that’s not about mountaineering. Sitting on a small milk crate in Kathmandu, I haggled the price of some second-hand double insulated boots – so good and warm they would be perfect for climbing Everest. A few hours earlier, after arriving in Nepal, I’d been staring at myself in the mirror. My first thought was: “You don't look so bad for someone who has travelled 24 hours on a cheap flight.” Then, a dark voice in my mind spoke: "It doesn’t matter anyway. You're going to die.” I wondered if that was a premonition. Or was it my A-hole-anti-cheerleader-inner-voice? Perhaps one of my ego’s 10,000 heads showing up as fear, an attempt to turn me around instead of facing potential failure. I was here to climb Ama Dablam. The beautiful mountain I'd been dreaming about; staring for months at printed pictures stuck above my desk at work. I’d been invited by my Nepali friend Subin who runs a mountain guiding company. I’d taken an unpaid month off work,

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booked my flights and was set to join a Czech expedition. Despite the thoughts of impending doom, I went gear shopping anyway. What if I die? It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about death. I’d thought about it a lot leading up to the trip. Like, when I say a lot, I mean every day. And some days, every hour. I’d have little joking conversations with people at work about death. They'd offhandedly say “I hope you come back” and “please don’t die”. I would smile and wave them off, replying “I don’t have a death wish.” But really, I wanted to tell them I'd been thinking about my own death every day for months, and I was scared shitless. That convo, however, tends to bring the mood down, and I wasn’t about to start being that bummer person in the office. It all seemed a little dramatic. I mean, I had been to the mountains before and climbed at altitude in the Himalayas. I’d been on a mission

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for the last five years to learn about mountaineering. I’d even quit my job and moved to Chamonix for a full year to cut my climbing teeth. Most of my smaller forays had been with friends, a summit of Mont Blanc, my climbing in the Alps. My bigger expeditions I’d always joined a commercial expedition, buying a spot with a crew. This mountain, however, Ama Dablam, would be the highest, steepest, most remote, and most technical of any I've tried. That combination, of pushing my boundaries in altitude, technically and in outright physical hardness, was what had me concerned. I was outside my comfort zone in a whole lot of high consequence areas, but how could I refuse my first ever non-commercial invitation to a mountain? Months before departure I commenced my research. I had so many questions for Subin. How long was the summit day? (Would I be fit enough to do that and get myself safely down? I thought privately.) Did I have a personal sherpa or would I be climbing by myself? Would I have to haul loads and make water? I googled jumaring, watched YouTube videos of the route and went on refresher abseils with friends. I dug up my notes from previous mountaineering courses and poured over them. The mountain in my mind would oscillate between being totally doable, my training and research on point, to being a reeling dolly effect of rock exposure as I imagined myself climbing the difficult pitches. I would stand at the water cooler at work, sick and gripped with fear when I thought of falling to my death. I didn’t want to tell people about it, I didn't want to scare them, or make them think I was morbid. I wondered if I was to die, was I happy with what I've accomplished in my life? Had I really been the person I wanted to be and really done all those things I wanted to do? What was it that had me shaking? Dying. Falling off the end of a rope, or getting hit in the head with a rock and falling as I lost consciousness. The rope snapping or me clipping onto the wrong rope (an old one from past years expeditions) and it turning to dust in my hands. Being exhausted and making a mistake which would cause my own death, getting AMS (acute mountain sickness) and not being able to be evacuated. Dying in a tent from hypoxia (gassing yourself from stove fumes, that's not a joke, it happens quite often). Not being self-sufficient enough to get myself down if something happened to my team. Leaving my dog behind (seriously), not living a longer life, being the most inexperienced, looking like an idiot, being unable to technically accomplish the objective. I could go on but you get the point. As these thoughts raced around my head I had an idea: If I could just understand the fear itself, then it would be some sort of exposure therapy, and me 'getting it' would make it go away. So I researched fear and the things on my list I was afraid of. I looked up the number of deaths on Ama Dablam and the way those people died. Articles of the death toll in the Himalayas for the current season flooded into my social feeds. I separated myself from those people, somehow I'm different, I told myself in a forced delusion. The value of fear I logisized fear. That its seizing, gripping physicality was all in my head. I listened to motivational podcasts. I wrote mantras, pages of You Can Do It. In my research, I stumbled across Kirsten Ulmer who wrote The Art of Fear. She believes fear has been seen as the enemy, something to be conquered and gotten rid of. That the ‘there's nothing to be afraid of’ relationship with fear is the problem in the first place. I got it, theorized it and understood it philosophically.

Be scared. It's alright. You can be scared and do this thing.

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Fear is a really helpful tool that made our lizard brain survive all these years. The problem being good 'ol logic (aka prefrontal cortex) came along and assigned a story to that fear so we can 'understand' it. But trying to understand fear is just about as useful as trying to understand Love. It's a feeling, an emotion flowing through the body which makes you do weird and wonderful things. I suppose they're just all things on the same spectrum. My research consequently was of no help. 'Understanding' fear would not cure me. It’s ok to be scared So how did I overcome the fear you may ponder? I didn't. I was scared to my bones. And I went to that mountain anyway. The other voice in my head, the one I like better than the scared A-hole one, tells me in positively colourful language not suitable for print, but along the lines of; Fear is not going to stop you. No way. Be scared. It's alright. You can be scared and do this thing. Only on the walk to base camp did I figure it out. My fear was not fear which helps you in the mountains. It was worry and anxiety living in projections of my future. Fear and intuition about something being wrong, ala lizard brain 'a snow leopard is going to eat you type fear' is actually pretty helpful. It kicks your butt into gear

and equates to: You + shot of Amygdala = Unstoppable Warrior Woman. This worry? This worry I can work on. On the mountain whilst I was climbing, the fear kind of dissolved. I mean, I was there on the mountain. I took a day at a time. I breathed. I couldn't possibly be scared or worried because I had to focus on getting things done. The actual logistics of packing each day, the trek in, camp housekeeping, doing training climbs on the boulder at basecamp. Not to mention the card games I had to win. I know that after all that build up it seems like I may be making light of it. I still got scared, and at night in the tent when we heard avalanches it was pretty white of my eyes inducing. But I made sound decisions and kept evaluating my level of risk comfort. A day at a time I focused on what I needed to do, and how to do it correctly. At Camp 1 on the summit push I got AMS, and the beginnings of a full-blown bout of gastro. I made the decision to descend while the team went on. And while I cried at Camp 1 after I made that choice not to go for the summit, I am very happy I did. I learned that there is a difference between hazard risk assessments and perceived fear. After assessing the risk, it takes guts to accept it and step forward. My advice to my future scared self? “If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” – T.S. Eliot

This mountain... would be the highest, steepest, most remote, and most technical of any I've tried.

ABOUT

Stephanie Quirk

Stephanie is a high school teacher, adventurer, artist and writer based in Sydney. She merges her interest in art and philosophy with being outside and under the sky. Greatness, grandeur, awe and wonder. Those things excite her greatly and keep her in the pursuit of immersion. She aims to climb Everest in 2020. Instagram: _fulgora_

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LovePODCASTS We asked our community to share their current ear candy.

TOUGH GIRL PODCAST

FIERCE GIRLS

HOSTED BY: SARAH WILLIAMS

PRODUCED BY: THE ABC

Sarah set up Tough Girl Challenges as a way of motivating and inspiring women and girls. As host of the Tough Girl Podcast she has interviewed over 200 inspirational female explorers, adventurers, athletes and everyday women who have overcome great challenges. Tough Girl Podcast won the Women’s Sport Trust Media Initiative of the Year Award in May 2018, the Shextreme Adventure Podcast Competition in 2019, and has been downloaded over 900,000 times in 174 countries. toughgirlchallenges.com

Fierce Girls tells the stories of inspirational Australian women. Turia Pitt, Yvonne Goolagong Cawley, Cathy Freeman, Jessica Watson, and Nancy Wake are just some of the women featured in the podcast. Each story is narrated by another fierce Australian woman including Lisa Wilkinson, Steph Gilmore, Dame Quentin Bryce, Carrie Bickmore, and Yael Stone. They’re the stories that we need our girls and boys to hear. abc.net.au/fiercegirls

THE WANDERLUSTERS MIND HOSTED BY: ABBY LEWTAS

Tune in to the Wanderlusters Mind and you’ll feel a part of the adventure; wandering into the minds of globetrotters and being captivated by their stories of travel. You will be entertained by their adventures, the lessons they have learned, and personal growth transformations sparked by curiosity to explore the world. Guests talk about challenges and triumphs over their mindset, returning home after long term travel, and how they step out and continue living an inspired adventurous life. thewanderlustersmind.com

FIND YOUR FEET HOSTED BY: HANNY ALLSTON

Through her Find Your Feet Podcast, Hanny seeks to understand what drives the incredible members of our community to find their feet and strive hard to live rich, purposeful lives. By sharing their powerful messages, Hanny hopes that the stories continue to make large ripples of positive change. For Hanny, it’s not what her guests achieve that is fascinating, but rather, how they achieve such excellence. She believes that these inspiring individuals can help us all to progress one step closer to finding our feet in whatever dreams we dare to dream. hannyallston.com.au

SPARTA CHICKS HOSTED BY: JEN BROWN

Sparta Chicks Radio shares inspiring stories coupled with practical advice from successful women (and a few good men) about the realities of fear and self-doubt, courage and bravery, success and living life on your terms. From world-class athletes, brilliant business minds, to the stories of everyday women, this podcast will help you tap into your inner strength, courage, bravery, and determination so you can chase your dreams too. spartachicks.com

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OT H E R I D E AS F O R YO U R

Listen List Women On The Road She Explores Safety Third Dirtbag Diaries Why In The World Real Trail Talk Wild Ideas Worth Living Salted Spirit Soul Mammas Water People


Holly (United Kingdom)

On why she loves rolling:

It feels like riding an intense wave! # L I K E A G I R L

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Charlize

EVERITT R I S I N G

S T A R

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WORDS BY: MELANIE CHATFIELD

IMAGES BY: KIAN (RAW EDGE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Meet Charlize. The 15-year-old from Boomerang Beach, New South Wales, who is paddling her way to a professional career in surfing. Born into an active family, Charlize cut her baby teeth on the Farnborough Beach break in central Queensland and joined the local boardriders club when she was just four. “Mum and dad took us to the beach nearly every day and encouraged us to swim and surf,” Charlize says. “Dad always pushed us on to waves until I was strong enough to paddle. I was a very determined child and wanted to do it myself.” At age six, Charlize started competing in the Yeppoon and Agnes Waters surfing festivals. Since then, she’s been racking up the results, placing fifth in the 2019 Rip Curl National Final in Wollongong, and first in the Under 16s Regional Surfing Titles in Newcastle. “I love competing because it’s fun but challenging,” she says. “I get to travel to lots of beautiful places around Australia and meet cool people.” Locally, Charlize competes in the open women's division and plans to enter the World Surf League Pro Juniors next year. As an up-and-comer, Charlize recognises the value in learning from older surfers. “It’s important to have mentors so I can learn about surfing and competing from people who have had years of experience,” she says. “Bethany Hamilton is so inspirational and helps you believe anything is possible if you dream big and never give up. I also love watching Carissa Moore surfing because she is a powerful surfer who does lots of progressive maneuvers. I would love to surf like her one day.” Charlize works with a coach from Surfing Australia’s high-performance center in Casuarina who she hopes will take her all the way to becoming an elite athlete. “Coaches help me to learn more technical aspects of surfing, how to assess beach and surf conditions, nutrition and training plans, and how to set short and long term goals,” she says. “It’s always been a dream of mine to become a pro surfer one day. I know it isn't going to be easy and it will involve a lot of hard work but I like the challenges.”

She trains every day and works hard on having a positive attitude. “My main motto is ‘surf eat sleep repeat’ but I also say ‘the ocean is my happy place’ and ‘good vibes only’. To get myself motivated I usually do some warm-ups or stretches and say to myself ‘if in doubt paddle out’”. When she’s not at the beach, Charlize can be seen ripping it on a skateboard, playing soccer and training mixed martial arts. “I have always been an extremely active child and like to be fit and healthy,” she admits. As someone who loves the outdoors, it’s not surprising that Charlize is passionate about protecting the environment. “I live in one of Australia's hidden coastal gems. The beaches, lakes, and envi-

It’s always been a dream of mine to become a pro surfer one day.

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ronment are pristine and we need to keep them that way,” Charlize warns. “I am so lucky to surf at lots of beautiful uncrowded beaches around Pacific Palms with sea life like dolphins, whales, turtles, stingrays and fish every day. I believe everyone should use reusable cups, bottles, and bags and not use single-use plastics like straws and plastic bottles.” Charlize is a fan of Take 3 for the

Sea’s approach to cleaning up our oceans, as well as the World Surfing League’s initiative #stoptrashingwaves which encourages all surfers to use plastic-free items and eat local produce. “We should only leave footprints when we leave the beach and take all the rubbish with us,” she says. As a strong and powerful surfer, Charlize is happiest surfing big waves and would love to try Jaws on the north shore of Maui one day. “It would be so scary but I think if I trained for it I would give it a go. I would also like to surf at Supertubes in South Africa, Pipeline in Hawaii and big waves in the Mentawai islands.” Given her drive, determination and talent we doubt it will take Charlize long to paddle her way right to the top. Instagram: charlize.everitt

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christmas reading for your girl?

stories of grace and grit for young women issue 14 on sale now 075

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THINGS old new D O I N G

I N

W AY S

WORDS & IMAGES BY: SPUTNIK

A little while back I decided to start doing some of my running races carrying a giant Rainbow flag. The premise, was simple: discrimination can be loud, but nothing should be louder than love. I didn’t overthink it. Hell, if I’m being really honest, I hardly thought about it at all. I bought my flag, tied it to a broom handle, and before I knew it was turning up to a half marathon never having run even a few steps with it. I had literally zero idea whether I’d actually be able to do it. I’d love to say I was courageous, but mostly I was just naive and more than a bit stupid. Sometimes it’s a fine line. And all of these things can be useful at times. As I took up my spot at the starting line, I saw people eyeing me off with a mixture of what I’m guessing was confusion and disbelief. They possibly also thought, and rightly so, that I was crackers. It’s a big flag. Really big. And the idea of running 21 kilometres with it is, quite frankly, rather ridiculous. But also fabulous. Obviously. And sure enough, it was within the first

500 metres someone sidled up to me and asked the question I guess a few people were wondering: “You’re not running the whole race with that thing are you?” they asked. To which I answered “That’s the plan”. Because it was. Even if it wasn’t a particularly good plan. Confidence, combined with that stupidity, is a lovely thing when you’re only 500 metres into a 21 kilometre race. But then, that’s the nature of trying new things. You can research. You can train. You can plan, prepare and practise. But none of those things are doing it. And while all that other stuff is nice, it’s what we do that really counts. Not necessarily how well we do it, but talk is cheap, so doing stuff, walking your walk, running your run, or waving your flag, is what life is all about. Plans are useful. Dreams are lovely. But

That’s why doing new stuff is so awesome. Zero expectations.

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Photo By David Fielding

I had literally zero idea whether I’d actually be able to do it.

getting shit done? That’s life right there. Knowledge may well be power, but naivety? Not knowing any better? That can also be a powerful force. Sure doing new things can be a bit daunting. Or worse. Let’s get real, doing some new stuff can be downright terrifying. But new stuff is also liberating because no one, including yourself, expects you to be great at it. Or at least shouldn’t. The first time you ever run a race, it’s your PB (Personal Best) time, and rightly bloody so. Maybe you’ll get faster in the future, maybe not. One thing’s for sure, the more you run, or do anything, the harder it gets to always get better. You have good and bad days. You plateau. Maybe even get worse or slower. After a period of progress it can get exponentially more difficult to get even a little better. Or take a disproportionately high amount of energy and effort to make a marginal improvement. And that’s bloody frustrating. That’s why doing new stuff is so awesome. Zero expectations. Sure, there can be a steep learning curve, but you can also make lots of progress fast. It can also be super fun. And that lack of expectation is genuinely liberating. When I run a half marathon, I’m usually comparing it to last time and/ or to my PB and agonising a few seconds here and there. But run it with a massive rainbow flag and it’s all bets are off. Run 10 or 15 minutes slower than usual? Meh, it was the flag. So even doing an old thing in a new way, cuts you some slack. Makes it different. Makes it exciting again. And if you’re trying to make a little point about equality and inclusion, maybe even makes it important. I’m a great advocate for trying new things, whatever that may be for you. A lot of the time, you’ll try things you don’t end up liking all that

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much. And that’s fine. Do you know how you find the thing you love the most? By crossing off plenty of things you don’t love at all. In amongst all those new things, and all those things you don’t love, you may just discover your new favourite thing. After ten years of running I have no idea how many races, some fast, some slow, I’d become a bit disillusioned with running. I’m older, fatter and slower than before, and all that’s been more than a bit frustrating. But running with my giant rainbow flag really has fired me up, gotten me excited again, given me a new sense of purpose, and if some of the feedback I’ve gotten is anything to go by, made my running a much less selfish endeavour and done a teeny tiny bit of good. All because I didn’t think too much about why it wouldn’t work, how hard it would be, or how stupid I'd look. So by all means plan and dream. By all means prepare and practise. But never ever underestimate the power of just getting out there and giving it a red hot go.

MEET

Sputnik

Sputnik is an internationally awarded Creative Director who loves exploring, writing, taking photos and the relentless pursuit of WOW. He believes in making waves, blazing trails and being awesome to each other. ootw.com.au Travel Play Live


T R A V E L

P L A Y

L I V E

ADVENTURE Ambassadors A huge heartfelt thank you shout out to all of our volunteer Ambassadors who have significantly helped to lift our profile. The following ladies have gone above and beyond for TPL – including being our reps at the Gutsy Girls Adventure Film screenings (which we sponsored) across Australia earlier this year. Jump on our website www.travelplaylive.com.au and learn more about all our incredible Ambassadors and support and encourage them where you can.

This wonder woman spent hours building our Ambassador profiles. Thank you Kylie :)

This wonder woman is our cafe mag drop super star.

Kylie Brown QUEENSLAND

“I enjoy exploring places that are remote, untouched and wild. I have a passion for science, the environment, and sustainability.“

Frances Stanton ACT

Andrea Bayliss

Larisa Conman

“I enjoy solo hiking and I like to write about some of my experiences on my less-than-serious blog: getlostwithandybee.com.”

“Water activities are ‘my thing’. I’m a keen scuba diver and underwater photographer.”

VICTORIA

NEW SOUTH WALES

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“Living life like the adventure that it is. I enjoy running, dancing, and painting with friends to relax, as well as going on wonderful adventures with my family.”


T R A V E L

P L A Y

L I V E

ADVENTURE Ambassadors

Vonna Keller

Monique Bortoli

“Free Lance-Free Spirit, making adventure my career. Film Projects, Mountaineering, Guiding, Training, Leading, Expeditioner and Medic.”

“I’m an active member of my community and an advocate for getting women and families outside. I love that we are a tribe of women who support each other, in adventures great and small, we

TASMANIA

NEW SOUTH WALES

encourage, we shout out and we praise awesomeness on all levels.”

Kathy Chislett QUEENSLAND

“My biggest passion is hiking... healthy for both the body and mind. I entered a TPL Magazine photo competition and to my surprise, I won and became the covergirl for Issue #12.”

Aneta Tankir VICTORIA

“When I’m not playing the role of taxi driver, negotiator, and sometimes climbing pole for my kids, I like to get outdoors, explore and photograph all the beauty and earthy connection that nature provides.”

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Joelle Breault-Hood NEW SOUTH WALES

“For as long as I can remember, the outdoors has been an integral part of my life. I work with young people and adults towards cultivating adventurous habits and a passion for the outdoors.”

Fee Hackel VICTORIA

“I am a passionate mountain lover. This eventually led me to where I am now, a “mad hiker” and often nicknamed “Mountain Goat”. No kidding (bad joke!) I have been over 5,000m in altitude four times.”


A New

NORMAL

H O W

A D V E N T U R E

T R A N S F O R M S

T R A V E L U S

WORDS BY: NICOLE ROWLES IMAGES BY: ANDREW BANKS

I used to think I knew my limits. As it turns out, I don’t know anything. Flipping through the Tonsai Beach climbing guide book, a comprehensive breakdown of the thousands of rock climbing routes on the remote Thai peninsula, I felt terrified. I was filled with doubt. Still recovering from a mystery illness that I’d struggled with for almost five months, I felt I hadn’t trained nearly enough to take on a challenge like this – a gear-intensive, knowledge-intensive, and skills-intensive trip to one of the world's most famous rock climbing locations. Before we’d even boarded the plane, I was questioning my mental and physical strength. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Maybe this was a mistake. What if I got injured? What if I relapsed and became ill again? What if I slowed my climbing partner down?

was new terrain, at times climbing hundreds of metres above sea level on heart-fluttering exposure above unfamiliar, forbidding jungle or deep ocean off an isolated island in the Andaman Sea.

Adventure travel matters because it is an avenue to establishing a new normal.

On my first day at the cliffs, I was so frazzled that I couldn’t even think straight. I almost dropped my rope, which would have left me trapped at the top of a route – a rookie error I thought I had outgrown years ago!

There were moments of pure terror, like when I was making my way up the chimney of the first pitch of a route called “Thai Stick”. We were high up, having hiked a long uphill trail and then scrambled up a long rock face, just to get to the start of the route. On one side of me, there was this confined space, which seemed to be growing narrower by the minute. On the other, a wild expanse of air and jungle and sea, a head-spinning distance below, gaping like open jaws that would swallow me if I slipped. The climbing was difficult; I couldn’t do it. I was scared, panicked that if I fell awkwardly, my hands or feet might remain jammed inside the rock.

What if. What if. What if. But ready or not, I had already said yes. I needed this trip. My health had been out of my hands for some time, and I was desperate to take back control of my body and my life. I wanted to push myself, to do something improbable. I wanted to prove to myself that I could. Under any circumstances, outdoor sport climbing is scary. And this

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I said, “I don’t think I can do this.” I said it, breathlessly, over and over. This painful, panicked mantra. When self-doubt takes over, it’s toxic. It permeates your mind and wages an assault on rational thought. I hate it, that feeling of helplessness as my mind and body shut down under crippling stress, and all that

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mal, and that’s the perfect time to create a new normal, a reality in which you shut out the little voice inside your head that’s telling you “no”. A reality in which you truly believe you’re capable of trying…and in trying, you will eventually succeed. If I had said no to this trip, afraid for my health, or that my lack of skills and fitness would lead to failure, I would never have discovered how fast past my limit I could push myself. Returning home, I discovered that my expectations for myself had been altered – what I might have considered a normal level of courage and confidence before the trip had pushed past an invisible barrier that I had set for myself long ago, and had been rewritten. I was more willing to take risks, to learn new things, in the workplace, in my personal life, and in the mountains. Adventure travel matters because it is an avenue to establishing a new normal. Once we find it, we can readjust our expectations of ourselves, strive for bigger and better things. Once we find our new normal, we can push our limits again and again.

Instead of picturing myself falling, I pictured myself climbing to the top of the route.

My new normal is this: I have no idea what I’m capable of. I believe we are so powerful that very few of us will ever know the limits of our fearlessness, our vigour, or our courage. But we can escape our normal and try.

doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Suddenly, I’m incapable. I felt alone up there. I could see my climbing partner, but strong wind whipped against the rock, carrying his words of encouragement out to sea. I couldn’t rely on someone else’s skills, or someone else’s validation of my skills. If I was going to do this, it had to come from me. So, I tried a different kind of self-talk. “How am I going to do this? I can do this. How am I going to do this?” It’s amazing how quickly things can change. When you simply give yourself the option of being capable, it’s as if a switch flicks in your mind, and this boldness takes over, this willingness to just try. Instead of picturing myself falling, I pictured myself climbing to the top of the route…and that’s what I did. One move after another, I sent one of the longest, most exposed and most challenging lines I’ve climbed to date. It is, realistically, a humble achievement for any strong climber, but the grade didn’t matter. I’d battled the route, and won. More importantly, I’d battled against my own worst impulses…and I’d won that fight, too. Although I hate self-doubt, I love fighting it! Hardship, I believe, is a sort of immersion therapy to self-doubt. Taking a risk, struggling through, and achieving, are all proof – in fact, even giving your all and failing is proof – that yes, we CAN. This is why adventure travel matters. At home, when you’re in your normal rhythm, it’s too easy to talk yourself out of things. We all have work commitments, family commitments, life admin, to use as compelling excuses not to venture outside our comfort zones. On a holiday, you’ve already broken yourself out of what’s nor-

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MEET

Nicole Rowles

From Monday to Friday, Nicole is a Channel Nine television presenter, but she leaves the TV glamour far behind on the weekends, venturing into the wild to explore the prehistoric canyons of Mount Barney, bush-bash through the untouched wilds of Cania Gorge, and climb to sleep in a hammock 70 metres off the deck at Mount Beerwah. Nicole is passionately spreading the word that every single woman can find out-of-this-world adventure. Instagram: nicole.rowles

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Picture Perfect

PUMAS WORDS & IMAGES BY: MICHELLE LAWFORD

It’s May, and my guide Mauricio warns me that it’s very difficult to track pumas this time of year. Daylight hours are limited and the wind can prove tricky. Nevertheless, I’d come determined to capture some candid photographs of Patagonia’s elusive Mountain Lion.

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I had intended to come to Torres Del Paine in Summer, but here I was in Autumn, when the sun rises at 9.30am and by 11.30am, the pumas start looking for a hiding place to sleep. By the time we arrived in the National Park at 2pm, the wind was blowing at least 70 km/h. The problem with it being windy is that it’s impossible to hear the guanacos scream. Guanacos are a bit like llamas, and a favourite meal for a puma. When they sense a threat they stand and scream and that is how the trackers find the pumas. Despite Mauricio’s warnings, we do spot some sleeping pumas; hidden except for a tiny glimpse of feline ear. We wait patiently for sunset, tantalised by an occasional yawn or roll, just discernible behind rocks and shrubs on a ledge etched into the hillside about 300 meters away. As the light fades, one, then two girls awaken. The guides have named them Petaca and the other Blinka, because she seems to be blind in one eye. They are unperturbed by our presence and we get amazingly close. Actually, it is Blinka and Petaca who come amazingly close to us! As they saunter straight towards us Mauricio whispers to me: “They know me, don’t be scared.” But I am never scared. It’s unbelievable to be this close to a predator and it’s a dream shoot with lots of close-ups. Afterwards, Mauricio laughs and congratulates himself, “I am the best guide

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in all of my beloved Patagonia.” Then he returns to his cautionary mode, “Don’t expect that everyday!” Torres del Paine is known for its spectacular scenery and most visitors cast their eyes up to the sky to marvel at the wonders of the famous towers. We pass breathtaking vistas that rival any in the world but our eyes are cast down, scanning the monochrome ground of distant hills and valleys. The pumas blend in so completely in this habitat that I often find it impossible to see them, even with binoculars, even when I am told where to look, and even sometimes when they are right in front of me. The next morning, we encounter Blinka again and she allows us to walk with her in the darkness. We must have hiked up and down hills for hours but honestly, it felt like 10 minutes. As a pale light smudges the landscape, she poses for me in front of the famous jagged towers. Incredible! As usual, Mauricio is way ahead of me when I spot Blinka turn and head straight towards me. I kneel to the ground to photograph her approach and sense my porter Pierre, is anxious. “Problemo?” he calls out to Mauricio, but Mauricio can see I am totally relaxed. He smiles, shakes his head and continues on. My residence, which I share with a skunk, is deceptively called La Cabana, which sounds like a luxury resort in the Bahamas but must surely be Spanish for ‘tin shed’. Despite its humble disposition, when I come back from a long day of puma tracking, and see smoke coming from the chimney, it feels like home. I know my cook Eduardo has stoked the pot belly stove and is fussing about in the kitchen with a tea towel over his shoulder. Eduardo was a tourism manager in Venezuela but had to flee his country because he was under heavy surveillance. His crime? He married the daughter of a government minister who has been in prison for a decade for disagreeing with the government. Each night, while Eduardo cooks my dinner he continues my political education. He’s also an authority on the plight of the Harpy Eagle; his brother and son both work in Brazil to conserve this important bird of prey. Eduardo, Mauricio, Pierre and Ramiro (my tracker) live close by at Pumalab, which sounds like a high-tech research facility but is in fact another tin shed. By day three, I have become used to the bizarre morning routine. We

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Picture Perfect

PUMAS

On the afternoon of day four we follow a puma as she makes four aborted attempts at a hunt, leaving a trail of screaming guanacos in her wake. I lost count of how many hills we climbed up and down and up and down. I am not as fleet of foot as a puma, so there was a mad scramble to get to the crest of the hill to try and get a silhouette shot and then a mad dash down the hill to get a shot of her coming towards me and then back up the next hill for that prized silhouette shot. If I was too slow and missed the shot, Mauricio would push me up and down the next hill and then the next and the next. “Not only am I the best guide in Patagonia but also the best personal trainer,” he laughed. When we got back to La Cabana Eduardo was chatting to a fox, no doubt discussing Fidel Castro’s enduring influence on the political situation in Venezuela. Everyday, there is much conversation and laughter between Mauricio, Pierre, Danielle and the other trackers who radio back and forth in Spanish. The elusive Ramiro even joins in the banter. At some point during the day we always pass another tracker. Mauricio stops, and there ensues a very intense, animated, lengthy discussion with many hand gestures, pointing and clearly the giving of directions, again with much laughter and exclamations. When we carry on and I ask Mauricio, “What did he say?” The reply is always the same: “Nothing”. Photographing pumas in the wild, in low light and high wind, is not easy. Once you have actually found one in the dark, you have to keep up with it. More than this, you have to anticipate it’s next move so you can position yourself ahead of the puma. Otherwise, you will only get photos of puma bums. Blinka was unique in her willingness to let us walk next to her. Later on that day we find a puma and it turns out to be Blinka again. She is clearly hungry and is in stalking posture. Then, Ramiro radios in that he has found a large male, about a 30 minute drive and then another 30 minute hike from our current position. We have to make a hard call; stay with Blinka or go for the male. We stay and follow her. She prepares for a kill and we make a dash for a viewpoint just above a lone guanaco. She attacks and she’s so fast I don’t actually catch the moment. It’s over in a matter of seconds. Blinka attacks from below and sinks her claws into the side of the guanaco but the animal kicks and bucks and Blinka is violently thrown around like a cowboy

...there I am, alone, in pitch darkness, standing on a mountain in Patagonia listening to guanacos screaming. set out while it is still dark. Ramiro is already somewhere out in the darkness looking for pumas. Mauricio and I head out too and suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, Mauricio says to me, “I am going to run and look for pumas over beyond the next two hills. You can’t keep up with me, so you stay here and if it's ok with you, I’ll be back in an hour.” Off he goes to look for pumas and there I am, alone, in pitch darkness, standing on a mountain in Patagonia listening to guanacos screaming. I have also become used to the fact that we rarely hear from our puma tracker, Ramiro, even though Mauricio is in constant radio contact with him. He is forever whispering into the transmitter (with the soft Latin rolling of the ‘R’), “Ramiro, Ramiro” as if intoning a lost lover to return. Ramiro often does not answer, and Mauricio continues to softly implore him for a response, “Ramiro, Ramiro”. Eduardo also has a transmitter and we sit together at lunch at La Cabana and laugh as we hear Mauricio tenderly whispering, “Ramiro, Ramiro.” It is in fact Danielle who often seems to find the pumas. Danielle is 28 years old and has grown up with pumas. She has been officially tracking them for the past five years. By day four I have become accustomed to the sound of guanacos screaming. This sound is called the guanaco alarm and sounds like a car alarm. I have ceased to have any feelings for the guanacos; clearly they exist solely as a food source for pumas. I think the collective noun for a group of guanacos must be a buffet of guanacos. Everywhere I walk, the ground is littered with guanaco bones; testimony to the prowess of the puma population here.

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in a rodeo. She tries to hold on but gets tossed in mid air, hits the ground and the guanaco escapes; trampling Blinka with it’s hooves. I get amazing frame- by-frame footage of the action. Any sympathy I had for the guanacos seems redundant. They can clearly take care of themselves and I am beginning to appreciate how tough it is to be a puma. Blinka must be desperately hungry to attempt a kill in daylight and she must have sustained serious injuries, but apparently, getting your arse kicked by a guanaco is how most hunts end. Day five; 8.20am, still dark and we head to a carcass Ramiro found in the night, near the last known location of the big male and where two foxes are cleaning up. Then, he radios in. We drive to the top of a deep gorge with a lake below. From here we scan the landscape. It seems futile until we hear a scream. There is a puma there somewhere. Mauricio runs as swiftly as a puma and suddenly I see him perched on top of a distant cliff. How does he do it? He is there with Ramiro and they have spotted the puma. Mauricio appears in front of me like magic and shows me where the puma is across the ravine, close to the top of the cliff on the opposite side. “It's too far to drive,” he says, “we walk.” While the logic of this eludes me, there’s no time to waste asking questions. I look down and wonder how we will cross the lake. We head down and the angle is so steep and the ground so loose, I wish it were snowing because it would be much easier, safer and faster to ski. Mauricio seems to read my mind and shouts out: “They don’t call them mountain lions for nothing!” Once down I realize we are not going to cross the river; we are going to walk around it. By 11am we reach a vantage point 300 metres from the puma. It’s getting late and if we risk trying to get closer, the puma might equally run or find a cave for siesta. I set up the tripod with the 500mm lens and capture the puma deftly climbing the cliff face and then disappearing over the top. Mauricio asks to see a photo of the tail of the puma to determine whether it was a male or female. “How can you tell?” I ask. “Big balls,” he smirks. My last magical morning with the pumas was spent with a mother (Bonita) and her 11-month-old cub. In the lilac pre-dawn light, mother and baby licked and nuzzled each other as gentle snowflakes began to fall. A soft golden sunrise illuminated their whiskers for a few enchanted moments. I cannot tell you how hard it was to leave. Mauricio asked me for a photo of a close up of Bonita to help document her facial characteristics and her current state of health. If I can help in this small way, I am thrilled. The Chilean government takes no interest in pumas. Their fate lies in the hands of a private organisation fuelled by the passion of one man and the team of animal-obsessed people he has gathered around him. Charles Munn is considered by many to be the father of conservation in South America. By educat-

In the lilac predawn light, mother and baby licked and nuzzled each other as gentle snowflakes began to fall.

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ing local residents and indigenous communities about the economic advantages of preserving wild animals and wild habitats, he has established a network of lucrative ecotourism ventures. This has been incredibly effective in stopping the destruction of habitats and the extinction of animals, while embedding an infrastructure of research and conservation throughout South America. Very clever! His wide-reaching achievements demonstrate to all of us what one person can do. It gives each and every one of us pause to think about what we could do to conserve our own Australian wildlife, in particular our precious koalas facing extinction. When governments fail to act, it is our responsibility to step in. For now, the wild pumas of Chilean Patagonia are in good hands. I will treasure forever the surreal moments I spent walking with the magnificent Blinka in the majestic sawtooth mountains of Torres Del Paine. As Mauricio says: “What a cat!”

Michelle Lawford

Michelle Lawford is a wildlife photographer, writer, adventurer and advocate for the planet. Her goal is to inspire, excite, and promote awareness and action. All profits from sales of her photography are donated towards research and conservation programs that protect wildlife, habitats and support local communities living in harmony with wildlife. wild-photography.com.au

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Love BOOKS

BEWILDERED AUTHOR: LAURA WATERS

What happens when you leave your life behind to hike in the wilds of New Zealand for five months? This memoir tells the story of one woman’s 3,000km journey from one end of the country to the other, a walk that stripped away her identity and gave her a fresh perspective on the world and her place in it. As she battled challenging terrain and the demons of anxiety, nature did its work, rewiring her brain and rewilding her soul. soultrekkers.com.au

#TRAVELPLAYLIVELOVEBOOKS

Are you an author or consumer of incredibly fabulous reads? Then share the love with the TPL tribe. Use #travelplaylivelovebooks or email your ideas to hello@travelplaylive.com.au.

UP ALL DAY AUTHOR: REBECCA WELLER

Rebecca Weller embraced an alcoholfree life with a steely determination to reach her true potential. But as she celebrates her second year of sobriety, she’s challenged to determine what that really means. Up All Day is an uplifting memoir for anyone who has ever had to conquer themselves in order to conquer their dreams. Because it turns out the biggest battle we’ll ever face in reaching our creative potential, is the one that takes place inside of all of us. bexweller.com/books

SAVED AUTHOR: LYDIA WILLIAMS

Little Lydia loves sport. She lives in the outback and is friends with all the animals. When she asks Kangaroo, Emu and Koala to play sport with her, she soon discovers that each of them has a special talent. Kangaroo has a very impressive hop. Emu is super speedy and Koala is the best climber. Lydia is hoping that she can find the sport that’s perfect for her. This funny and triumphant picture book by Lydia Williams, goalkeeper for the Matildas, is an inspiring celebration of self-belief, the joy to be had in sport, and the importance of persistence. allenandunwin.com/saved

EAT PRAY #FML AUTHOR: GABRIELLE STONE

What does a woman do when her life has fallen apart and her heart has been ripped out and stepped on twice in two months? She goes on a wild adventure, makes some bad decisions, and does a sh*t load of soul searching. But most importantly? She finds out how to love…herself. This is so not Eat, Pray, Love. This is Eat, Pray, #FML. eatprayfml.com

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The P U R R - F E C T

HOLIDAY

Home

WORDS & IMAGES BY: MADOLLINE GOURLEY

International travel can be affordable thanks to an increase in house and pet sitting options. In exchange for a roof – sometimes a really amazing roof – over your head, you’ll provide love and care to someone’s pet(s), and make a home look lived in.

This is something I’ve been doing for a little over a year now. It helps me to justify an international trip every few months because I’ve got a free place to stay. How to find one Like anything, there’s a heap on offer. Some websites I’ve used and recommend include: TrustedHousesitters – Offering a higher level of security than other sites, sitters must submit a form of identification before they are approved to use the service. You can pay extra for a police check to sit against your profile, although I haven’t done this and it hasn’t bothered any of the owners I’ve sat for. housecarers.com MindMyHouse

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House Sitters America. Each of these sites charge the sitter an annual membership fee. Homeowners pay to join TrustedHousesitters, but can sign up to housecarers.com, MindMyHouse and House Sitters America for free. I’ve also browsed Nomador and House Sitters Canada, but there hasn’t been a sit on either site that’s piqued my interest. Yet. Starting out Now you know about some of the better house and pet sitting sites, here’s some advice to help you get a sit. Experience. When I started out, I didn’t have any ‘experience’. I’d looked after a family member’s house and pet, but I hadn’t done sits for strangers. I think as long as you can look after your

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be on your profile – don’t repeat yourself. The application is also an opportunity to ask the owner any questions you might have or seek further clarification on anything you need. Be prompt. Hopefully the owner is prompt, too. Try to respond to any messages you get on the same day they’re sent. Some owners give the sit to the first person to apply or reply. Make a good impression. Owners – just like employers – can always Google you to find out more about who you’ve said you are. You might want to think about a social media clean up or an update to your privacy settings.

own home and pet, this should be enough. And don’t forget to mention you have your own pet, provided you actually have one, on your sitter profile. Uploading photos of you with your pet, or of your pet, also helps.

How to get that 5-star review So you’ve got yourself a sit. But remember, it’s not a hotel. Here’s some extra advice to make you become a sought-after house and pet sitter the world over.

Message the owner each day to let them know how their pet is doing.

First, find a local sit. If something does happen to go wrong on your first sit, at least you have a pre-existing local support network to reach out to or you know who to call. Example: On a recent sit in Boulder, my car wouldn’t make it any further up a snowy mountain. I was stuck five minutes away from my destination (i.e. the house I was looking after). This was until a stranger eventually stopped to tow me. If I was in Brisbane, and it snowed in Brisbane, I could have called a friend or roadside assistance. But if this was my first house and pet sit, I would’ve been a mess. Homeowners usually give you a list of emergency contact details (friends, family, their vet clinic), but I don’t think that would have helped my car situation.

Keep it casual. When you’ve found a sit you’re interested in, write your application like how a real, down-to-earth person would communicate with their friend or workmate. You’re not writing a job application or an assignment. Simple words and short sentences. Maybe two or three sentences about you and your experience, and why you’d like the sit. Most of the information the sitter wants should

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Message the owner each day to let them know how their pet is doing.Send photos and videos as well. I usually use WhatsApp to connect with the owners. If you’ve encountered any problems, contact the owner ASAP.

Let the owner know if a parcel has arrived and where you’ve stored it. Some of the parcels I’ve received while house sitting have actually been cat treats and cat food, and the owner has said to use these products while I’m there. Throw out any fresh food before it expires. Vacuum and sweep the floors on your last day. Take any rubbish out and put fresh liners in the bin(s). Wash the sheets before you leave and put a fresh set on the bed. Put fresh towels out also. While it’s not expected, I always leave a thank you note and a small gift from Australia for them to come home to. You might even score a second sit with the owners when they come home to see they’ve got fresh sheets on their bed. Or, better still, they’ll leave you a 5-star review to help you out on your house and pet sitting journey.

Madolline Gourley

Madolline is an Australian writer and editor making her way around the world house and cat sitting for strangers. She’s seeing the world one cat at a time. facebook.com/onecatatatime.co

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C Y C L I N G

T H E

CANAL des Deux Mers W I T H

M U M

WOR D S & I M AG E S BY: TA N YA L A K E

My mum had never really been a cyclist. But after I gave her my old bike, a step up from her old rusted treadlie, she had a new lease on life. The next thing we knew she was spotted cycling most days on the footpath, on her way to work, to Dragon Boating, or just doing a 60 kilometre round trip – because she could. I’d mentioned cycling across France and she suggested we might go together. I booked the flights before she could change her mind. We decided on the two canals, as the routes seemed to be largely off-road, well sign posted and mostly flat. The first (the Canal du Garonne) led from Bordeaux to Toulouse) and the second (the Canal du Midi) led from Toulouse to Sete. We were both nervous. We would be cycling independently, and didn’t have the luxury of a support vehicle, or a technician if our hired bikes had issues. Mum was mostly concerned about her fitness: at 70 she was worried about keeping up with me, as well as hills. I was worried about getting lost. However, the mapping app I downloaded into my phone; ‘Map Out’, did not let us down. I didn’t have a French SIM, and once I’d downloaded the French map in the app, it worked without wifi or roaming and always showed us where we were. We didn’t get lost once.

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As for the fitness, to say we over-trained on Sydney’s hills was an understatement. The route we took: ‘The Canal du Mers’ (Two canals which lead from Bordeaux, near the Atlantic in the East, to Sete on the Mediterranean in the south), were almost completely flat, mostly all off-road and signposted. We aimed for 60 kilometres a day over 10 days, and it was much easier than we expected. We came across a number of retired Australians cycling the same route, and waved at the many German and British tourists sunning themselves from their boats on river cruising holidays. The hardest thing was arriving into a small village at midday only to find everything shut, including our booked accommodation, until after siesta around 2pm. We soon learned to fill our bellies with Café Cremes, and our panniers with Pan du

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Chocolates, baguettes, fromage, fresh cherries, and a little Vino – enough to have a picnic lunch along the way. The track petered out on the Canal du Midi in the second half of the trip, so we veered onto the quiet country roads instead. The traffic was courteous, as most French are cyclists themselves. A welcome change from the aggression of Sydney drivers! The town of Sete finally appeared after cycling alongside the gleaming but freezing Mediterranean. Still, we couldn’t resist a victory swim. If you’re worried about such a trip, it’s incredible how things fall into place once on the ground. We were lucky not to have any issues with our hire bikes, but it’s amazing how people will help. There’s usually a cycle shop nearby, or at the least – a roadside angel. If you’re thinking about such a trip – I say, do it! It was a beautiful way to spend two weeks with my mum, the French were so helpful and friendly, it didn’t cost a lot, and the memories will stay with us forever.

We aimed for 60 kilometres a day over 10 days, and it was much easier than we expected.

ABOUT

Tanya Lake

Tanya is a photographer and writer living in Avalon, Sydney’s Northern Beaches. She is a mum to two girls, who love surfing. She’s been known to escape on self-funded photo assignments to Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste and Australia’s desert communities. Tanya is obsessed with the idea of cycling around the world, especially because that way, she can eat six meals a day. tanyalake.com


CITY SLICKER

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V O L U N T E E R I N G

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P E R M A C U L T U R E

F A R M

WORDS & IMAGES BY: LAUREN HOLYOAKE

Exhausted from modern day life, sitting down all day in a windowless office and seriously craving anything resembling green nature, I embarked on four months of exploring. At a Ted talk on permaculture, I found myself interested in the principles of sustainability and caring for the earth. While this was a world away from my white-collar office job, the idea of doing practical work and immersing myself in nature sounded like the perfect medicine. I had heard volunteers were needed at a permaculture farm and earth education centre in Byron Bay. Before long, I found myself packing my bags and flying across Australia to spend a month getting my hands dirty, learn about nature and understand what it’s really like to live in a community. Week 1: Connection to nature One of the first things I noticed when I arrived was the unspoken ‘uniform’ here. Dreadlocks, shaved heads, hemp clothing, no bras, mandala tattoos, and unshaven armpits. If you are channelling the hippie look, you are definitely trending here. I am embraced in long hugs, hold hands around the table before meals, and notice people love to skinny dip. Yep, this environment is very different from what I am used to. I am not altogether sure how I will fit in, but I decide to see it all as one big learning experience.

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I wake up around sunrise to pick kaffir lime (which smell incredible), clear weeds for the fruit plants, and pull out reeds to be replanted to help filter the greywater system. It feels amazing to spend the day in the sun, touching plants and feeling the soil between my fingers. I feel like I am getting a natural high after a long period of ‘nature deficit disorder’ working full-time in an office. It’s more than just being around plants – the active process of rehabilitating the earth and caring for it makes me feel better inside too. The vast majority of waste is recycled throughout the farm and it is rare that I see any plastic packaging. I start to really question how we live our modern life. There is something so natural about waking up with the sun every day, breathing in the smell of plants, no TV, communal living and eating organic food you have just picked from the garden. We are busy here and I go to bed tired, but I feel contented and there's a flow to everything rather than a maddening multi-tasking rush. It feels good to really understand where your food comes from. The experience

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of making a salad, realising you've run out of greens and then grabbing some out of the garden (instead of lining up at the supermarket) is wonderful. It's definitely made me think about how important community and nature is in our lives and makes me wonder how did our current lives get so far away from that? Week 2: Balance This word could not be truer here. I am possibly eating the healthiest and most delicious food I've ever had: gluten-free vegan meals made with organic food, fresh from the farm. The food is incredible, it looks delicious, the flavours are incredible and it tastes alive! My body feels stronger with each day. And, I think I am putting on weight because I am gorging myself so much! I also have moments where I crave hot chips, burgers and a large glass of wine which surprises me. I was expecting my gut biome to magically and rapidly change that I no longer crave carbs and alcohol. I honestly thought that if I lived 100 percent healthy like this, I'd feel nothing but distaste for junk food but unfortunately, it just hasn't happened...yet! Again I am reminded that balance is a very human thing we all crave, no matter how good our intentions. Having said that I've been grateful for the no alcohol on site rule and when we do travel out to the Byron Bay town it feels like a grateful treat eating pizza

and drinking beer once a week, rather than the norm. I have also had some really deep and interesting conversations with people here. Conversations might range from nematodes in the soil and drinking compost tea to ways of enhancing creativity. Some of these conversations have also been soulful and I am reminded that no matter who you are or where you live, at some level our struggles are all the same. While this might sound somewhat negative, I think there is also something very connecting and reassuring in knowing that no one really has all the answers, there is no job or place that is nirvana and we all have the ups and downs that come with being human. Yes, this place has so much that I think is moving in the right direction of what we need in the world and I am constantly touched by the love that the community put into the work they do and each other, but ultimately we are all still human. Week 3: Boundaries It sounds like such a boring concept but it's so important, especially when living in a community. Adjusting to lots of people, warm weather and very early mornings can take its toll and I've realized the importance of listening to your body and prioritising what to do and not to do. I've heard people say there is a never-ending list of things to do on a farm and it's so true – feeding chickens, pigs, donkeys, harvesting, creating greywater systems, running the markets, and the list goes on. I feel like one of my lessons is honouring my boundaries and being OK to sit with saying no, instead of caving in and burning out. Living with 20 people and so much sensory stimulation can be tiring if you have introverted inclinations. It's made me realise how much we need connection as well as space on our own and finding a place for both. I have loved taking my meal and sitting under a tree, simply listening to the birds by myself and giving myself permission to do that. I have also really enjoyed the default being connection and choosing to ‘opt-out’ of social interaction versus the default being isolation and having to choose to ‘opt-in’, which I often feel in my life back home. I definitely feel less stressed here and it makes me wonder why that is so. I think starting the day early and finishing the six-hour workday by noon has been great to give time out for rest and relaxation. I think also being so integrated with nature and having everyone live on-site means you never have to drive to see a friend or go out to a gym. There is qi gong every day, parties and many interesting workshops from syntropic farming to compost. Week 4: Minimalism Wow, this is a big one that I'm super passionate about and it's definitely been reinforced that you really don't need much to be happy. I share a room with two other people, sometimes we have no water and phone reception can be terrible. Often, I wear the same clothes every day because I know I'll be trudging through

...the active process of rehabilitating the earth and caring for it made me feel better inside too.

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I feel like one of my lessons is honouring my boundaries and being OK to sit with saying no...

mud in my gumboots so what's the point? But far from feeling gross, I find I love seeing the dirt under my fingernails and feeling close to the earth. I love that no one shaves, almost everyone is makeup-free and how liberating that feels, particularly as a woman, where being natural is the dominant and affirmed culture in this community. I feel a lot more at ease in my own skin and I wish everyone could experience not having the pressure of the unrelenting and unrealistic beauty standards we are so often subjected to. When you don't have much, you get creative with finding pleasure in the small things. Sometimes we grab a coffee

ABOUT

and sit at the ‘horse cafe’ under the mango trees just yarning away about life. Hearing the sounds of birds and feeling the warm dappled summer light on your skin is better than any cafe I could dream of. The Final Word I highly recommend that anyone wishing to learn about permaculture, reconnect with nature and get back to the basics of life, consider volunteer work on a farm. It will certainly challenge a few of the norms society has given us, and provide time to reflect on the type of community you want to create in your own backyard.

Lauren Holyoake

Lauren is a clinical psychologist who loves spending time with plants, camping, hiking, being in the sunshine, travelling and playing pickleball. She has a passion for ecopsychology, enjoys eating out at vegetarian cafes and finding hidden treasures at her local op-shop.

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5 Thrive to

K R I S T Y

C H O N G

Modibodi

WORDS BY: TPL & KRISTY CHONG

Kristy Chong is a fash-tech entrepreneur and a social advocate for women's health issues. As the founder of underwear brand Modibodi, she’s changing the world by helping women change their undies.

Your range of high tech, period and pee-proof apparel offer women a sustainable option to using pads and tampons. What does it feel like to disrupt the feminine hygiene market? In 2013, I was a full-time mum of a two-year-old and five-month-old, living in Seattle (USA) surrounded by tech start-ups. At the time, I was training for a marathon and had been experiencing some occasional light bladder leaks. The only available option was to use a pad which was inconvenient, uncomfortable and a hazard to our environment. I felt that women deserved a better solution and I knew that I was going to have to create a whole new product category for women. As the disposable hygiene industry had not yet evolved, I had an opportunity to turn an idea into a product. Modibodi became the first Australian organisation to deliver high-tech protective leak-proof underwear, swimwear, and apparel for periods and incontinence. Our work enables women to chase after their goals and has a positive impact on our environment every day – and that feels pretty good. Technology plays a huge part in the effectiveness of your products. What should active women be looking for when investing in underwear? All women should be looking for underwear that provides full protection, looks and feels great, and is sustainable. In designing our products we consulted with up to 100 textile engineers and fibre companies (both in the United States and Australia) and spent almost two years of prototyping, testing and fine-tuning to develop the first range of leak-proof underwear using the Australian patented Modifier and Modifier Air Technologies. This technology keeps the body protected from leaks and ensures the wearer is cool, dry and odour free – something you can’t get from normal cotton underwear combined with a disposable pad, liner or tampon! You pride yourself on catering for all bodies and featuring images of real women in your advertising. Why is that important to you? When I first started Modibodi, I wanted to empower all women to embrace their bodies and have confidence in themselves. I sought advice from industry professionals to market this range of life-changing undies and was repeatedly told we’d need super glamorous models to make unmentionable topics (menstruation and incontinence) tolerable to Australian women and the media. I refused to believe this was the only way we could have a presence in the market and from day one we’ve drawn on our customers (everyday women) to help model and sell our products. I have to admit it wasn’t easy at first, asking someone to get their photo taken in their smalls is no small ask! Six years later though, we have customers contacting us to take part in our photoshoots that celebrate women of every size, ethnicity, and age. From mums to athletes, nans to our movers and shakers in the business world, you’ll see every type of woman – filter and photoshop free. We keep it real because we know that women are at their best when they can be themselves. Running a global business must be tough at times. How do you stay active and take care of yourself? Managing Modibodi and a household of four children can be a handful. I love to workout and going for a long run gives me that important ‘me time’ to think and clear my head. Spending time with my family and being at home is a crucial part of my recharging process. It’s all about planning in my house, as well as setting realistic goals. What life lessons will you take from this period in your life? With every step forward Modibodi takes we’re always looking for ways to give back. We take pride in our support for women on a global scale with our corporate social responsibility ventures, including our Give A Pair program, which allows you to buy undies for yourself and a ‘virtual pair’ voucher that gets distributed to refuge centres, homeless women, girls fighting period poverty, and underprivileged women across India. modibodi.com

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Gourmet on A BUDGET WORDS BY:

KAREN BARFIELD

The lights are dim, the heavenly voice of an Italian tenor fills the air, the wine is superb and tantalising aromas waft from the kitchen. It’s the setting for a romantic dinner after sunset drinks at a Venetian bar on the edge of the Grand Canal. We are relaxed in ‘our’ apartment, the one we have rented several times over the past few years. The iPod is playing our favourite Italian playlist, the wine is from a local supermarket, and the food procured at the fabulous Rialto Mercato. No exorbitant prices, no tips and plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. This scenario is the norm for us – whether in Venice, Rome, Florence, Paris or Barcelona. And in the countryside areas of Burgundy, Provence, Tuscany, Umbria, and the Italian Lakes, the same situation applies, but with the addition of a hire car for travel to and from surrounding villages. Market visits involve observing what the locals are buying, joining queues at the stalls that attract the most people and seeking recommendations and cooking tips from butchers, fish-mongers, green-grocers and other customers. Conversations are always welcomed, informative and just so much fun, despite and often due to, the challenges associated with language. Breakfast is usually enjoyed in ‘our’ apartment or cottage, after which we head out for coffee and frequently an irresistible little pastry. Lunch is normally bread, cheese and fruit (sometimes packed as a picnic) but occasionally we dine at a café or restaurant – generally less expensive than eating a restaurant dinner. Train travel always includes a picnic, much cheaper and so much more enjoyable than the plastic-wrapped fare sold from a catering trolley. Most apartments have basic cooking staples like olive oil, vinegar, salt,

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and pepper, and often much more can be found in the cupboard. The first stop after arriving at our accommodation is the local supermarket – for bottled water, wine, beer and a small supply of things like bread, butter, eggs, flour and pasta. And what do I cook? Often a fillet of fish, or a slice of veal or chicken, served with a salad or simple vegetables, followed by a piece of cheese and fresh fruit. Although I have been known to whip up the odd local delicacy. Coq-au-Vin, Boeuf Bourguignon, Roast Chicken and Artichokes in a Buttery Lemon Sauce in France; Spanish Omelette in Barcelona; Pasta Cacio e Pepe (butter, parmesan, and pepper), Carbonara (bacon, cream, butter, and cheese) and Puttanesca (anchovies, garlic, olives and tomatoes) in Italy. All really easy to cook, delicious and inexpensive – and the recipes are easy to find on the internet. Travel provides wonderful opportunities for adventure. Cooking local produce in traditional ways just increases those possibilities. If you’ve never ventured into this type of dining experience, I would highly recommend you give it a go. The following recipes are from a dinner we shared in Venice in Spring.

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ASPARAGUS & PROSCIUTTO ENTRÉE INGREDIENTS

6 asparagus spears 6 slices of prosciutto Olive oil and lemon wedges (optional) METHOD

1. Place asparagus in a frying pan with a cup of cold water. 2. Bring to the boil, cover (maybe with a dinner plate or alfoil), lower the heat and cook for 2 minutes. 3. Immediately drain the asparagus and drop it into cold water to stop the cooking process. 4. Drain and wrap each spear with prosciutto, drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.

PASTA MARINARA INGREDIENTS

Fresh or dried pasta from supermarket 8 prawns and/or 1 or 2 baby squid and/or 1 or 2 small fish fillets Olive oil Garlic clove, finely chopped Salt and pepper Parsley and a drop of white wine or a dob of butter (optional) Lemon wedges or cherry tomatoes and basil to garnish METHOD

1. Wash the seafood and cut into small pieces. 2. Drop the pasta into boiling salted water and cook until “al dente”. 3. While the pasta is cooking, gently fry the garlic in a little olive oil for 1 minute. 4. Add the seafood, salt and pepper and toss carefully until just cooked. 5. Mix in parsley and a drop of white wine or dob of butter in the hot pan with the seafood during the last minute of cooking. 6. Drain the pasta, adding a spoonful of the pasta liquid to the seafood mix. 7. Toss the pasta with the seafood, garnish with lemon wedges or cherry tomatoes and basil, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

ABOUT

Karen Barfield

Karen has travelled to Europe (mostly Italy and France) many times during the past 20 years with her husband Brian. They prefer to rent apartments and cottages in Europe and use hire-cars outside of cities. Karen lives in Perth and is now retired from her career that combined I.T. and H.R. Instagram: Lizzybarman

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Hannah Wales Coast Path (UK)

“Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.” Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)

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B A Z

L U H R M A N N

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Travel Play Live Issue #16  

Travel Play Live is the only travel and lifestyle magazine in Australia written entirely for and by women. Issue #16 featured: Helen Bullock...

Travel Play Live Issue #16  

Travel Play Live is the only travel and lifestyle magazine in Australia written entirely for and by women. Issue #16 featured: Helen Bullock...

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