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Jono & Laura: Champion the wonder

We are Jono, Laura and Neddy: two humanoids and one creature of the dog variety. In February 2015 we embarked on an open-ended trip around Australia with a fifty-year-old caravan in tow. Australia is amazing and we think that we’re quite possibly having the best time anyone has ever had, anywhere. The three of us are dancing to our own spontaneous tune and we’re so grateful to wake up each day and know that the hours stretched out are ours to treasure.

So far our highlights have been discovering the pristine beauty of Wilsons Promontory, marvelling at the iconic coastlines of the Great Ocean Road, roaming the bush-filled Grampians Mountains (Victoria) and experiencing outback life in the Flinders Ranges (South Australia). We’re currently exploring the South Australian Peninsulas (Fleurieu, Yorke and Eyre) before tackling the Nullarbor and beyond.

We’re lucky that our caravan is one awesome vehicle. Despite its age and a leaking window unit (right next to our bed, of course) it’s in great shape. Just before leaving we did some interior paintwork and put down new flooring, so it feels really fresh and clean. We couldn’t be happier with our unique little home on wheels and we love that we have the freedom to unhitch and enjoy 4WD-access-only adventures, too.

When packing to leave we were shocked at just how many belongings we’d managed to accumulate, despite the fact that neither of us are big shoppers. We left eight boxes with our parents, which seemed reasonable at the time, but is now kind of funny because we couldn’t tell you what’s in them. Oddly, it gives us a vague feeling of comfort to know our “stuff” is there so we still have some work to do in that regard.

These days every item has a purpose-or-five and it’s our instinct to do things from scratch, rather than “scratch” being something we need to make time for. We even have a hand-cranked washing machine, which adds its own special something to the lifestyle. Though - we’re not going to lie - we do sometimes miss the convenience of an electric washing machine! We’d love to have our own “van chicken” but we don’t think she’d appreciate life on the road, or Neddy, in quite the same way we do.

There’s people who totally “get” our journey and want to do it themselves. Others find the idea interesting but slot such an undertaking into the “I’ll probably never have the time or the money” category. And then there’s those who are utterly perplexed by us. “But why would you want to drive across the Nullabor? You know you can catch a plane and get there on the same day. You should do that instead”, a shop assistant suggested recently.

To anyone reading this who does “get” our adventure: believe us when we say that if we can do it, anyone can. We’re the type of people who have to go back to the house three times for forgotten items, arrive at our destination to find that we didn’t bring what we actually needed and then lose something while we’re there. On top of that we knew less than nothing about caravanning when we set out.

In recent weeks we’ve broken our navigator, suffered a mouse invasion, lost Jono’s wallet, dropped our caravan while driving, discovered a mould problem, had our water pump and caravan brake/indicator lights malfunction and our entire 12 volt system die an unexpected death. It’s scary when things go wrong because we have invested everything in this trip. However, we don’t for a second wish we were still in Sydney with our money safe in the bank.

Like so many others we’d been squirrelling funds away with the idea that one day we’d buy a house. Perhaps we will do that in the future. But for now we’re investing in ourselves and who we want to become. The fluidity of our life on the road means there’s no longer a sharp relief between our work and play. All day, every day, we’re immersing ourselves in the things we’re passionate about. We’re living small but experiencing big, eating well, taking photographs, surfing, writing, revelling in nature. And we’re learning more than ever before.

With luck, this trip might just help us figure out how to fund a life on passion. We want to better ourselves and better our world. It’s a sweeping statement, but that’s the dream. Either way, we’ve discovered how wonderful it is to Champion the Wonder and we plan to do it just as long as we can.

Website: championthewonder.com
Instagram: @championthewonder 

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Nathan: Child Nomadica

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Nathan: Child Nomadica

Name: Nathan Thompson

Email Address: childnomadica@gmail.com

Subject: A Dream of Knowing Wild Places

Message: Hi there, my name is Nathan Thompson. 18 months ago, myself and two of my closest friends decided we wanted to travel the country, spreading love, music, and art around the United States. We decided to call this journey Child Nomadica. 

But Child Nomadica is not just a road trip. It is the philosophy of travel in its rawest form. We all have different motivations, but it is what unifies us that makes us such a great group: love and the thirst for adventure. Our mission is to fully embrace culture, nature, and the inner-self with the intention of spiritual fulfillment. Through our journey, we want to show others another world is possible. 

We are currently running a crowd-funding campaign, fueled by a video that I personally spilled my blood, sweat, and tears in to making (well, not literally). It tells the uplifting and positive story of Child Nomadica. We would really appreciate it if you took a moment to check out our video The link is https://www.gofundme.com/y3ahnuc4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yju5OZ5Hd14

With much love, Child Nomadica.

Follow: Child Nomadica Facbook

 @childnomadica instagram

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Mik & Brandon: Adventure Kooks

Hey everyone! This is Mik and Brandon and together we started Adventure Kooks- just a little bit about us- we are both from Ventura County, CA and have been living in Utah for the past few years and we are loving it! Utah is where most of our adventures and voyages take place, but we are excited to visit and discover new places too! Things that we are doing now began because of our love for the outdoors and the relationship we’ve created with each other.

Newly married, Brandon and I have always felt pretty eager and ready for adventure. It seemed like all we could think about was the amazing plans we were constantly making. Which place to climb, what mountain to ski, what we were going to do next. We’ve been captivated for quite awhile by the idea of the van life and the freedom that it offers. While going to school full time and working, we have not had the mobility that we crave- so we constantly dreamed about the future when Brandon would graduate and we would go on our dream ski trips. It was all just dreams until Brandon found an ad on KSL. We drove two and a half hours just to take a look and ultimately drove home late that night with what has been the greatest purchase we’ve ever made (besides our two pups); Our 1994 Dodge Van. We have had the van for almost a year now and during that time she’s made her voyage from the great Wasatch Mountains of Utah to the Southern California Coast and back again.

Those trips we took really showed us the improvements we could make with the van and we started a pretty hefty remodel in the middle of summer. It hasn’t been easy and we are learning the amount of time it truly takes to dive into a project like this. When we first bought our beloved ram van she had shag carpet- it seemed alright at first but we quickly realized that if we wanted to take her on ski trips and to the beach we needed something a little less water absorbent, that wouldn’t stay wet for several days after a trip. Since ripping out the carpet we have repaired the rusty floor of the van, cut outdoor carpet to be a barrier between the metal floor and the fresh new plywood above, laid down sheet vinyl for a more water proof interior, painted the wood paneling and kitchenette of the van, added a Goal Zero generator and paneling system and a Dickinson heater to keep the van cozy in the cold northwest winters. We hope to have everything complete by December because Brandon will be graduated and then its officially game on! We’re still pretty new to this community of adventure lovers and van enthusiasts, but we are digging every minute of it and we think what everyone is doing is so rad! It has inspired us in so many ways and has really encouraged us to take our passions to the next level. We can’t wait to show everyone the finished product of the van, share our adventures, meet more incredible people and add to the good vibes that we feel in this awesome community every day! To see more of what us and our two pups are up to follow us on Instagram @adventurekooks and feel free to keep in contact with us. We love hearing from everyone and getting to know you!

Love,

Mik and Brandon

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Jess Bonde: Chasing the midnight sun

Chasing the midnight sun….

The end of April found us driving to Chester, England. This is where our van journey commences and Jess and I made one of the more defining purchases of our trip. Victor Whiskey, a 1995 LT35 VW, was filled with as much character as we were adventure. The rest of April, May and most of June found us cruising through Europe and North through Denmark and Sweden. We crossed the border into Norway at the small mountain town, Åre.

Driving the E6 North following the Westerly coastline of Norway, we were instantly struck with the mountain magnitude in which Norway starkly contrasts the neighbouring Sweden.  Driving along the fjords, Jess and I knew we had found what we’d been hoping for in our travels; sheer cliff faces plummeting into deep blue and turquoise seas. We had four days to cruise to Bodø, where we were to ferry to Lofoten. We made our way North, stopping at pullovers outside small fishing towns, finding isolated beaches to spend the night. Catching fish from the roof of Victor, cooking over campfires and beers on beanbags on our sun-deck, set the scene for our most anticipated destination. Apart from the occasional urge to pull over for a long-board down some of the seductively smooth and windy mountain roads we cruised without delay. 

Sitting in our kayaks at 2am, drifting until we reached a point in the fjord where the water was so utterly still we ceased to make ripples, made for a good time to reflect on the past couple of months. We had planned a 6am kayak trip through Reinefjorden. However, at midnight, after looking at the water and the sky from our chosen camping spot we decided not to wait.  We launched and began paddling through to Kjerkfjorden, where the sun was still present, setting the sheer cliff faces aglow with an orange and pink haze. After the sun disappeared we paddle back towards Forsfjorden where we reached the sea kayakers dream of complete stillness, glassy waters and waterfalls. We realised that our whole trip so far, starting in Southern France at the very start of summer and heading North through Belgium, Germany and Sweden were all in preparation for our time in Lofoten. We had been chasing the midnight sun. Our nights became shorter and our days longer until we had no known ‘night-time’ at all. We have become somewhat nocturnal I guess. With the sky starting to turn golden and begin its setting at 10pm- merging into sunrise, with the final shift from golden, pastel skies into the crisp blue of morning at 4am, who would risk sleeping through that?!

Our time up in Lofoten rolls into a blur of hiking and fishing. Apart from the endless sun and forever being awed by the mountains, fjords and surrounding nature, the people were also a highlight. Whether it was in the local village or the summit of a mountain, all people we seemed to meet were undeniably open and friendly. Possibly due to the minimal population base or due to the mountain air, everyone appeared to genuinely have the time and desire to stop and chat, conversations that went far beyond small talk, which can be challenging mid way up a difficult climb, I can tell you! This created yet another reason to fall irrevocably in love with the place.

Prior to our arrival in Lofoten we were both feeling a touch anxious. We had built up the wonders of this place so much in our minds that we feared our expectations might have got the better of us. We need not have worried. As unforgettable as we imagined Lofoten to be, it was so much more! We suffered mild delirium, which happened shortly after our arrival; this occurred primarily due to sleep deprivation caused by our need to stay up all day and night to soak in the wonders of the place as well as the general sleep inhibiting light.  Our pituitary glands were on overdrive! Surviving on minimal sleep paid off, as we both felt extremely satisfied with every un-wasted moment of our experience chasing the midnight sun.  

Follow: https://instagram.com/j_bonde

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Jelena & Siu On: The Travelleurs

It happened one night after my partner Siu On and I, Jelena, had been watching a rock climbing movie about the history of climbing in Yosemite Valley. As the end credits finished rolling, Jack Kerouac’s poignant words flash on the screen and sealed our fate; we looked at each other with not a word passing between us, and we knew it was time to stop talking about the things we were dreaming about doing, and actually do them.

 At the time Siu On and I had just returned from a six month holiday traveling around the world, and I had returned to my job as a Government Procurement Policy Officer, writing mundane newsletter articles and Procurement Manuals five days a week, and secretly planning dream holiday adventures in my head. Siu On had finished up two years of a Masters Degree and was now in Australia on a working holiday visa, mowing lawns whilst we were trying to figure out how we could escape falling into the trap of career-marriage-mortgage thats so prevalent in our society. Apart from the usual four week once a year vacation leave, or the times where I would panic like a trapped animal and quit my job to figure myself outwith traveling, only to return to the 9-5 prison when the money ran out, did I ever really live a life I felt was truly fulfilling.

 We were one of the so-called weekend warriors, whose tribe members would leave the constraints of the city and working week behind to pursue outdoor adventures in their chosen sport. For Siu On and I this was rock climbing, and wed make the six hour round trip after work every Friday down to our favorite area, Margaret River, to hit the wall hard and climb until our hands couldnt form fists. We loved those weekends where we lived dirty and simply, and all we did was climb with a group of like minded people. Siu On and I would spend our week nights waxing lyrical on how we could live this lifestyle full time without the need to do jobs we hate, or have our family and friends worry about our strange life choices. However, Kerouacs words that night, cut deep, really deep. We were at a crossroads in our lives where we only had two choices; to follow the herd or to go against it. That night we choose to go against it and plot our escape.

 Unlike what you see in the movies, our escape wasnt an immediate pack up our things and hit the road type of scenario; instead it was meticulously planned with an emphasis on biding our time, minimizing possessions and being frugal with our spending. No matter how you put it, penny pinching isnt sexy, but for us it was necessary. With our plan in hand, we ticked off the to doitems including handing our resignations at our respective jobs and selling off countless possessions. Fast forward four months from the day that we said our final goodbyes and reversed out of the driveway of my parentshome, and we have covered almost the entire southern part of mainland Australia, including West and South Australia, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory and now New South Wales. Our great Australian road trip has allowed us to see more of Australia than most Australians have in their life time, with highlights including remote camping on the limestone cliffs of South Australia, seeing snow for the first time in a long time in New South Wales, and rock climbing as much as we like and when we like.

 Although its not all sunshine and roses as weve had our fair share of money woes, loneliness and car troubles; however, its the lure of the unknown, the endless possibilities and new experiences that is keeping us going. We have been blessed with the kindness of strangers offering us housing, food and advice; and have met amazing people ranging from the wise grey nomads to outlandish European backpackers. All of the experiences we have been having has also helped shape our dreams for our future, with Siu Ons adventure photography business (Auyeung Photography) and my first steps into a serious writing and photography career. However, I know that I couldnt be happier living this life right now than any other, and everyday we revel in that one question that brings us so much joy and excitement: What will we do today?

 “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

— Jack Kerouac

 Links

Website: http://www.thetravelleur.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thetravelleur

Instagram: @thetravelleur

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Stephanie: The Pirate Adventures

ROAR: Hey Steph! We came across your awesome lifestyle through you photography on The Pirate Adventures. How did this idea come to life?

Stephanie: I was in the Army for five years working as a Marine specialist where my job allowed me to spend long stretches at sea. I've always had a deep love for the ocean so felt like a bit of a pirate exploring. It seemed fitting to take a little of my old life and combine with all the new adventures to be had in the future.

ROAR: We love your husky! What's it's name and how did you become companions for life?

Stephanie: Ah she's the most beautiful girl in my world. Her name's Ava and she's 5. I got her and her sister Kodah from pups when I lived in Townsville. They were inseparable together and are by far the best things to ever happen to me. The last 6 months has been the toughest of my life though. Ava was hospitalized for a week and shouldn't of survived, but she's my little fighter and pulled through.

Unfortunately a few weeks later Kodah was hit by a car and didn't survive. We both lost our best friend that day, and I will always have a big hole in my heart. Ava then needed  further shoulder surgery a few months later. It's been a heart breaking road, but also fueled this big adventure I've undertaken with her. I wanted to see Ava happy again as well as a healing space for the muscle rehabilitation she requires. I thought a trip around Australia would be a pretty good place to start! Kodahs ashes are traveling with us, and will be spread in the most beautiful spots we find around the country.  

ROAR: Your photography of wild places and settings get us so excited to go exploring. How did you get into photography and do you work as you explore?

Stephanie: Thanks so much! I've always had a passion for photography but never pursued it until this year. I actually bought my first camera a year ago but it sat collecting dust for a little while until I stumbled across my favourite photographer Dean Raphael on Instagram. He taught me so much, and I became inspired and motivated to make a start capturing the things and places I love. 

I actually work as a personal trainer, but have taken a year or so off to just travel and take photos. I would love to one day turn my hobby into a career so that's the dream! 

ROAR: What have been some highlights so far of living your adventurous lifestyle?

Stephanie: I've only been on the road for about three weeks now! So everything is still really new to me. At the moment I'm loving being with my wolf all day everyday and growing an even deeper connection together. I started the trip off with some mechanical problems so my adventure has only  really begun this last week. Highlight so far has been camping out at Tiparra rocks in South Australia. I'm reversed onto the edge of a cliff with the ocean behind me and not a soul in sight!

ROAR: Thanks for your awesome adventure story and we can't wait to share your photography through the ROAR Network when your website is complete. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

Follow The Pirate Adventures: @thepirateadventures instagram link

ROAR:  What are you most excited about in 2015?

Stephanie: Oh so many things! All the incredible places I'm sure I'll see with Ava. I've got no real plans and that's what excites me! Just the two of us in our new tiny home creating the most awesome memories together. The goal is to explore as far around Oz as we can and find places to sleep at night that make my heart explode.

I'm also really excited for this adventure to be a catalyst in growth and change. To see where I started out a few weeks ago and where I end up in a years time. It's an experience I'll probably never be able to do again on such a big scale, so I'll be making the most of every second. 

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Tamra & JT: School of Life Bus

Hi, we are two native Texans working on building our bus life in North America. 

We've done the whole traditional American lifestyle, chasing down your dream job and working 40+ hours a week. At twenty-five, we bought our second home, a home we thought was our dream home, where we thought we would raise a family. However; after the first few months, we realized that this life is the same as the one we traded it for. We wanted change and we knew that to really make the changes we wanted to, we needed a huge lifestyle shift.  

This is how we decided to build a tiny home in a school bus, our journey to bus life started June 13, 2015. We call our bus the School of Life, this is because it is going to take us on the greatest adventure of our life. An adventure that will be full of learning, discovering, growing, and awakening. Now, we are not naive, we understand that this bus is not going to be a cure all. It's not going to just create the change for us, rather push us in the direction where we have to create change from within. We see the bus as a way to get freedom from society, standards, and expectations by separating us from societies norms. The tiny home on wheels will grant us the freedom to travel and explore as far as the bus can take us, meet many amazing people, learn many valuable lessons, teach valuable lessons, and help as many people as we can. This life should be about giving and we want to have time to do things we are passionate about and spend less time working solely to earn money. 

We are still building the School of Life Bus, you can follow that process and find our more about us on our blog and on Instagram (@schooloflifebus). We will be moving into our bus hopefully within the next month or two, but we will not begin our journey on the road until after the new year. 

Love & Good Vibes Always,

Tamra & JT 

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Mike & Soph McCarthy: So Much Sea

SO MUCH SEA // mike & soph mccarthy

Ever since I met the Mulvilles I’ve been on a mission to marry a great woman and travel Australia with her.

The Mulvilles, Cam and Kate, live in Yeppoon QLD and I visited them once when I played at a wedding nearby. They had a classic old Toyota Troopy they were trying to sell and I wanted it so badly (it was out of my price range by a long shot). They had recently travelled Australia in they Troopy and I was in awe of their adventures.

Skip forward a dozen or so years and here I am on the North Coast NSW with my amazing wife, Sophie, and a troopy with most of our earthly possessions inside.

We have been travelling around and through Australia for the last six months playing music, surfing, fishing and camping under the stars. I am a blessed man.

Our home is Avoca Beach NSW, an area known as the Central Coast of New South Wales. It’s Darkinjung country and is a stunning area nestled between Sydney and Newcastle. Sophie and I were swimming at Avoca when we both realised it was time to start planning a trip around Oz. So we worked hard and planned our trip for the next 18 months. I am a musician and songwriter and Sophie is a music teacher and also plays melodica, piano and sings with me.

We left Avoca Beach and travelled south to Crookhaven heads where we found great south coast waves, flathead and bream in the rivers and friendly locals. Our first house concert was in Werri Beach and we played on a pontoon to a beautiful group of people. We cruised our way down to Eden, stopping at many of the fun surf spots and national parks on the way

We made tracks out into the Victorian High Country, notably Bright and Mount Hotham where we really tested out the Troopy though some stunning and rough terrain. It was here that we coined the name ‘Dusty Slim’ for our beast of a vehicle.

Our travels then led down to Melbourne, Torquay and Geelong where we played and met up with some old friends. We fell in love with Melbourne all over again and could have stayed if it wasn’t so early on in our journey. There is so much happening in that city and creatively we felt right at home. Even though many times on our trip we have thought ‘geez we could live here’, there is something amazing about momentum.

And so with that momentum we found ourselves on the ‘Spirit of Tasmania’, the car and passenger ferry leaving from the port of Melbourne down through Bass Straight and into Devenport Tasmania. Wow, Tasmania, what a magnificent place. We had five incredible weeks in Tassie, hiking (The Overland Track and Freycinet peninsula), surfing, fishing, four-wheel driving adventures and playing music in the pubs down there.  We also had a chance to have an Easter break with Soph’s family who flew down to have a week’s holiday with us at Four Mile Creek on the east coast.

The next stop for us was Bendigo, Victoria. We had a date with The Old Church on The Hill. I decided to pull out our recording gear for this show. One studio microphone into a pro tools rig was all we used for the recording and it worked a treat. The church sounded magnificent and the atmosphere was incredibly warm.  I spent the next few months preparing to release this as a ‘live’ album and it came out on Bandcamp early July 2015 (check it out at http://music.mikemccarthy.com.au and read the review by Rebel on a Rainbow)

From Bendigo we meandered our way past The Grampians and back down to the coast and camped out near Portland for a few weeks. Portland is a big shipping town with timber seemingly being the biggest export. It is a rugged stretch of coastline and we enjoyed exploring although it was possibly the coldest we’ve been on this trip. One day whilst fishing in Port Fairy a local fisherman gave us a couple of fresh yellow fin tuna steaks, he had three fish well over 15kg and they were really impressive. When we returned to our camp a couple of French guys came over and gave us a few bottles of local wines as they had been working on the winery and must’ve been payed in bottles as their car boot was full of boxes of the stuff. So we ate and drank like royalty around the fire that night.

Old Slim Dusty had his biggest test when we entered South Australia and decided to camp behind the sand dunes. We had read about this camping spot up a beach and over the back of the dunes. It sounded rad. The weather was horrendous and the surf was huge and wild and perhaps in retrospect I shouldn’t have been so ‘gung ho’. We hit the beach and within twenty metres were bogged pretty deep. The sand was so soft and the beach on a difficult angle…we were so stuck. To cut a long story short, Soph and I dug for two hours, dropped the tyre pressure to 7 psi (extremely low) said a few prayers and safely backed the troopy out of trouble just in the nick of time. Waves had just started to hit the tyres as I backed out of the bog. We had averted a mini catastrophe and felt pretty pumped actually. We decided to camp on dry soil that night.

We didn’t end up spending much time in South Australia as the weather was pretty ordinary and work opportunities just weren’t opening up for us. We decided to head through the middle of the country and have a desert experience. I had been offered some music work in Alice Springs and Jabiru in the Northern Territory. So, all of a sudden with our plans changed, we were pointed north and on our way to Alice. The desert was unlike anything we had experienced. A barren landscape in many ways yet then all these little surprises like huge salt lakes and strange rock formations that appear out of nowhere. There’s nothing quite like driving for eight hours, pulling over on the side of the road, collecting some wood, cooking your meal and camping out under a canopy of stars, what an experience. We visited Uluru (or Ayers Rock) and it really was a special experience. We understood, on an even deeper level, the strong connection to country that the Indigenous people have. All through our travels we learnt more about the fragile and precious land we have been blessed to live on.

We played some great gigs in Alice Springs and then up in Darwin too, notably the Darwin Ski Club on sunset. I don’t know who would go water skiing up there but there is a club for it. I was always on edge about crocodiles in the NT. We saw quite a few too. Fishing the billabongs in Kakadu for Barramundi the kids would constantly see ‘Gingas’ and often I was the last to spot them. We had an awesome time in Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. It was so beautiful and we met some great people up that way.

We decided to drive across the gulf country along the Savannah Way from Katherine in the Northern Territory to Cairns in Far North QLD. What a trip. Five days of corrugated roads, creek crossings, flies and livestock. By this stage we had the troopy firing towards the Coral Sea, we were so keen to swim in the saltwater again.

After washing off for a few days at Binalong Bay, QLD we headed south to Yeppoon but the weather was pretty awful so we charged on to Noosa where we caught up with our old friends The Wegeners. Tom Wegener is a master craftsman in surfboard building. He is well known for his adventurous builds of old style longboards and Alaia’s. We finally got some waves at Noosa and I felt a flood of relief being back in the ocean.

We had some more gigs booked in around Byron Bay and spent a little over a month in the area, surfing, fishing, playing gigs and visiting old friends. This area never ceases to amaze me and there are so many spots to explore.

Now we are on the journey home via the beautiful North Coast NSW through fairly familiar territory. I guess it will be weird being home, yet we are excited to see our friends and family. I guess it’s good to note, as one wise traveller we met in Tasmania told us, “Even when you’re not ‘travelling’… you’re always travelling.”

If you would like to read more and see pics from our trip please go to http://tumblr.somuchsea.com

Cheers,

Mike and Soph

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Berg and Ocean: How we started our Vanlife

Lennart & Julian are two mates from Germany who are on an amazing Vanlife Adventure in North America. Thanks for sharing guys.

How we started the Vanlife Thing

Buying a van, fitting it out and traveling through North-America - a once in a lifetime road trip. That was our dream before we took a plane and left Germany. Our story is about making plans come true. Read, how we came to our rolling home by getting a passenger van and converting it to a camper.

Finding a Car in a Country you have never been before

Our project started in Denver, Colorado. Luckily, we were able to stay in an apartment for the first couple of weeks from which some friends of us just moved out. Pretty early, we found out that a lot of used stuff gets bought and sold on Craigslist. So, what we did was a lot of searching the internet. On one hand we checked Craigslist daily. On the other hand we checked websites of local dealers.

We decided to look for a Ford Econoline. These vans are pretty common in North-America. A Volkswagen Vanagon could have been the ultimate vanlife vehicle for us. But we decided not to get one for several reasons:

It is already outfitted
It's small compared to Econoline (E-Series)
It’s way easier to get spare parts for E-Series in North-America
we grew up with VW camper vans and wanted to experience a real american car :)

Two weeks after our flight to Denver we checked out a van at Denver Fleet, a car dealer who had advertised a van on Craigslist. It was the first and the last van we inspected in person. It was an extended 15-passenger van with windows. We did a test drive, talked to the dealer and discussed with him what our plans are.

In the end we bought it and became proud owners of a Ford E-350. We left the seats at the dealer and started to plan the conversion into a rolling home.

About fitting out a Van

Because of the fact that we bought a passenger van there was no need to built in any insulation. That saved us time and work.

As foundation for our upgrade we built a flooring made of OSB. That gave us the option to build up the whole construction on a wooden base. As a consequence we did not have to put a single screw into the body of the van. A back conversion to a regular passenger van is possible without any remains.

After the flooring we built the bed and cabinets. The whole interior is made of OSB as well. It is cheaper compared to plywood and we like the rough look of it. Furthermore we didn’t have to treat the wood with paint or varnish.

The bed frame is very versatile. It has four independent moving parts. As a result we can convert the bed to a bench in the front, a bench in the back and we can lift the head section if we want to. Also, we can access our storage under the bed easily.

Furthermore we have a second board battery and an inverter to run our electrical equipment on 110 Volts. For example, we can dry our ski boots overnight and off the grid.

As soon as we hit the road and lived in our van we figured out that we needed some improvements. Our stove had to be set up with all it’s hoses and connectors every time we wanted to use it. The cutlery and dishes were flying around in different boxes. We decided to build an all in one kitchen.

The portable Camp Kitchen

Our kitchen is made of pretty lightweight and thin plywood. It is pretty portable and fits under our bed. We can pull it out at the back of the van. It’s possible to place it right behind the van or everywhere else.

The kitchen holds cutlery, a pan, pots, a month’s supply of spaghetti, pesto, spices, all kinds of cans and other groceries. It also features a custom compartment for our coffee utensils like beans, coffee machine and a grinder.

Another device of our van interior is a nice tiny sink. We made of a salad bowl which we found at a grocery store. It catches the water of our water tank and even has a drain. We are now able to clean our dishes easily.

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We have a lot of storage in our van. Nevertheless we were sure that we needed more. Each of us has two pairs of skis and a whole bunch of winter equipment. In summer we want to go surfing. Where would we put some surf boards? We needed a roof rack.

Our custom made Roof Rack

We tried to get a nice roof rack for our van. Luckily, we stayed for a while at a friend in Oregon. He handcrafts training carts for sled dogs and they are made of steel.

So, we had the chance to weld our own custom made roof rack. It will fit our surf boards, a cargo box when we want to add one and also doubles as a platform for videography.

This is truly the trip of our lifes, we’re doing all of this with much blood, sweat and tears. If you like our project, we would be more than happy if you spread the word about it.

Follow Berg and Ocean: Facebook, @bergandocean instagram, Berg and Ocean Website

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Daniel: Vanlife Adventures

I've been slowly working on my freedom machine; Elena, a 1985 Nissan Urvan, so she's ready to tackle whatever adventures lay ahead! There's still a lot of things to complete before she's all ready, yet being impatient we've already set off on a couple of adventures and been treated to some of nature's magic along the way! Life's definitely beautiful when on the road and soaking it all up with El! Home is where we roam :) 

Happy vanning! 

Thanks!

Danny!

FOLLOW: @danielspencer_ instagram

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Elisa: France & other destinations

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Elisa: France & other destinations

"It does not take everything to make a world, you need happiness and nothing else"says french poet Paul Eluard. I try to keep those words in mind like a post-it on my forehead. It makes life and everything more simple to me.

I've spent most of my childhood and teenage years on a 9 meters- sailing boat in Hendaye, in the South-West of France at the Spanish frontier. From the marina, if you take binoculars, you can see what people have for dinner on the other side of the channel. You can almost pretend that you eat Spanish tapas and drink sangria with strangers everyday haha. Thanks to my grand-father, I've learnt how to live with the basic minimum and realised that the basic minimum was more than enough to make me happy. When your home is in motion, the world suddenly becomes your living room. That's probably why I like spending most of my free time in my 'Nautilus' van. It's a Hyundai H100 from 1994, very small, small enough to make you feel big. With my best soul, we try to leave as often as we can, at least every week, all around France and Europe, to escape and to dream in real. 

I've always liked to feel not at home and feel like being a stranger to someone, because I feel a better person when I lose my points of reference. Being far from home asks you to be stronger and to rely on people you don't know. To be honest, I'm not able to do that at home cause I'm a very solitary person. I appreciate being hidden in a corner of my secret garden during weeks. I like to write, to read and I love to contemplate the landscapes, watch people without them seeing me and witness the world I live in. I like to write about all that. However, during roadtrips, I see things differently. I go to meet people that I wouldn't have met if we had stayed in our comfort zone in France. For example, in 2013, I've travelled on the route 66 with two friends of mine. We left with underpants in our backpacks and skateboards under our feet. We met unique people along the road from Chicago to Los Angeles, across 7 states. Last year, we left again on the Pacific coast and travelled more than 4000 km from Seattle to L.A! According to Brigitte fontaine, French composer-songwriter-player and singer of avant-garde music "We've got no place except in the middle of the world which is obviously all around".That's what I feel.

Thanks to my job as a freelance journalist- writer, I can travel as much as I want. Although I call Biarritz my home and I share a co-working space with four other girls. I can work from anywhere on earth. I'm passionate about writing, poetry, analogue photography and travels. This is the perfect balance that makes my life ideal.

Follow Elisa: @elisarouta instagram ,Twitter Linked in Elisa's Website and work

Thanks a lot to both of you,

Good vibes from Biarritz,

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Karina & Jason: Tinshack Adventures

ROAR: From what we can see the two of you have headed to Far North Queensland and are setting up a simplified life with tin sheds, vans, veggie gardens and chickens! Tell us about the two of you and how you ended up where you are?

K&J: Jason and I met just over three years ago, at the time I was living in what I jokingly called the Ghetto in a Queenslander cottage with some friends in Cairns; I also rented a room out to backpackers that worked as dive instructors/white water rafting guides.  Jason was already living in the little tin shack in Gordonvale, which is 20 minutes south of Cairns. It is renowned for being a sugar cane farming town. 

When I moved into the tin shack with Jason, it was very much a bachelor pad, though with a homely touch we converted it into a nice little home. The shack is on a 10 acre property, which used to be the old Cairns Gun Club, our land lord and friend lived in the house on the block and allowed us to live in the shack. When I moved in, it already had the toilet/shower block which doubled as the laundry and the other side was converted into a studio. Added onto that was the shack which had a tin roof, shade cloth walls and a caravan. This space is our kitchen/lounge area. Once I moved in, we converted the car port into a bedroom, we laid treated pallets down covered them in lino. We built a breakfast bar at the end and hung up three large curtains which doubled as our fourth wall. Jason grew up in the 70’s and his mum was a bit on the wild side, I have always been attracted to the alternative lifestyle and we both enjoy living a simplified life we found a similar energy and lifestyle in one another and have joined together for this journey!

ROAR: Changing up your lifestyle and focusing on what you really want to do with your life can have challenges and you have to make sacrifices for sure. Tell us about some of these that you guys have had to make?

K&J: Our lifestyle choices are most certainly challenging, but we wouldn’t call it a sacrifice. Challenges we faced which we have found a fun challenge, is living in the tropics in a home which is quite open living. The monsoonal season made everything wet and humid, our house mates are quite often pythons and mosquitos, and of course frogs. When we had really heavy down pours the frogs sing the song of their people loudly. Our kitchen sink is outside, we cook on a single burner gas cooker and the slow cooker and microwave are our favourite kitchen accessories.   The thunderstorms left us feeling extremely vulnerable, but excited at the same time. We don’t own a dryer, so the laundry fills up quickly with clothes hanging everywhere and fans blowing up a storm to dry them!  Our living arrangements by no means are perfect, it changes day to day and we often need to think ‘outside the box’.  Tropical winters by southern standards aren’t that chilly, but we definitely needed to put on an extra jumper during winter, as we have no ‘solid’ walls or heating (or air con!). Jason has set up a good solar system which allows us to run 90% of a power through that. Living this lifestyle is exciting; it gives us a freedom to focus on what is really important to us and what we want to do!

ROAR: People are always interested in how people living alternative lifestyles survive financial? How do you survive financially and what are your tips?

We both still work part time, in a chosen fields; Jason does electrical/solar installations and I work as a veterinary nurse. We both enjoy a chosen careers, no job is perfect. Though we still work, we do a lot of revamping old to new again. Our bedroom floor is made out of pallets! We have free range chooks, we feed them vegetable scraps and chook food, we have a little veggie and herb garden, we shop at local markets for produce and we ride our bikes down to the local shops inside of driving if we need to grab some milk and bread! All these little things count! But we limit what we buy brand new, if we can. There is a lot of wastage in this world and revamping seconds can be great projects!

ROAR: What have been some highlights and funny stories along the way?

K&J: Our biggest highlight to date has been the purchase of our Toyota coaster bus which we are slowly converting into a motorhome, it’s been a challenge but also a dream of ours! We picked up in Brisbane and drove back up the coast to Gordonvale, neither of us have made such a big purchase before and extremely excited about this adventure going ahead in 2016, when we hit the road.

Living in the rainforest has been wonderful, we have a few large green tree frogs that live with us, and quite often they would be on our big elephant ear plants or in the laundry, toilet and shower.  When we had heavy rainfall the tiniest greenest little frogs used to appear and there would be hundreds of them everywhere, especially where we had a light on catching insects.

As we had free range chooks, this attracted a python or a few looking for a meal and Jason has sprung out bed to rescue them by wrestling the python. We would always release them in a safe location, but always far away from a chooks!

Until a kookaburra ate it, we had a giant Golden Orb spider that had built a beautiful web in our garden. We would catch beetles for it and feed it, she was stunning.

Our funny stories relate mainly to our foster dogs, we foster through an amazing organisation called North Queensland Animal Rescue Inc. they take in dogs from the pound or private surrenders and place them into foster care with families (like us). We foster the dogs until they get adopted; all our fosters have had the best personalities! We had one foster accidently hit power window button with his paw, this caused the window to go down and because he was leaning out to sniff the breeze he just rolled out the window and fell out of the car; luckily we were only going 40kms. Chase was fine, not even a scratch just the look on his face of ‘what the hell just happened’? Since then we always put the child lock on for all the windows just in case. A kelpie called Timmy, was the sweetest dog, but had an obsessive compulsive disorder with swimming. He had habit of jumping into any pool of water and happily swims in circles for hours. He just loved water, his love for water happened by accident when he fell into a pool.

ROAR: What are you excited about in the near future?

K&J: We are excited about hitting the road in our motorhome for full time travel in 2016 for an undetermined amount of time! This year we are converting the bus and hope to have it ready for the next adventure for us!

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Share Your Adventure: Nat & Dan

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Share Your Adventure: Nat & Dan

Karijini National Park, The Pilbara Region, WA

Spending the majority of our time scouring the Australian coastline for marine debris and trash means that we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to head inland. Sticking to the coast like glue, we avoid detouring in fear of missing that perfect beach, that perfect wave … or in our case particularly, that one beach covered with plastic trash from distant lands.

But there was one detour we could not miss while travelling down the WA coast – Karijini National Park in the Pilbara region.

Travelling south from Broome the landscape is as harsh as you can imagine – long stretches of red dusty plains, only disturbed by the odd road train pummelling along the road towards you. You pull into Port Hedland and the heat is stifling, the coffee is overpriced, and your lack of hi-vis attire makes you immediately stick out as an outsider. This is definitely mining land and it isn’t much to write home about.

Heading east from Port Hedland we drove for hours through dusty plains, the cruising speed of 90km/hr in our 1990 Troopy disgruntling the many road trains and mining vehicles. For hours it felt like we were headed nowhere – just dust and dirt for as far as the eye could see.

Finally the flat plains gave way to rolling hills and the highway began to curve through a rolling gorge – the dramatic change in landscape was so swift that it took our breath away. Close to hitting nightfall, we pulled up in a rest stop that overlooked the surrounding valley and settled in for the night.

There wasn’t a soul to be seen. The only reminder of society being the distant hum of road trains passing in the valley below.

We clambered up on to our roof rack and sat amongst the jerry cans with a couple of cold brews to watch the sun set. It was the best rooftop bar in Australia.

Waking at dawn the next day we headed off into Karijini, eager to clamber through the gorges we had heard so much about.

Karijini is spectacular. Out of the long red desert plains, huge cracks in the earth’s surface open up creating long intersecting gorges where the land falls away. On top, the harsh desert climate is barren and stifling hot, but deep in the gorges, shadowed by the cliffs above, the environment becomes wet, lush and green. Creeks run along each gorge, creating a little oasis in the middle of this iron ore country.

We spent the day exploring the gorges, climbing down at one end and wandering along until we reached the other end a few kilometres away. The waterholes in most of the gorges provided pleasant respite from the scorching sun.

Our final walk was one of the highest graded walks and took us into one of the deepest gorges. The walk started with a steep descent down metal ladders – each rung hot enough from the sun to make holding on quickly uncomfortable. Reaching the bottom, we were surrounded by green bushland – the whirr of cicadas and grasshoppers in the air, along with the constant buzzing of flies, filled the gorge with life. As we started along the trail, creeks emerged and our entrance disturbed the many lizards heating themselves at the water’s edge.

Soon the gorge narrowed and the cliff sides towered above us – we began to recall the warning signs about flash floods and wondered whether the rains might come at any minute.

The trail makers led us criss-crossing across the creek, until there was no longer a ledge to keep dry on and we had to remove our shoes and wade through the icy waters. It felt like a true outback adventure.

Once back on a bit of dry earth further down, the gorge opened into a huge amphitheatre, with naturally carved seating sloping up one side of the cliffs. Sitting there, surrounded by walls of earth and with only the blue sky above, you get a real sense of this being ancient land. There is an awe that hangs over this place and you feel like you are breathing in millions of years of evolution and life.

The trail continued, past a long brown snake sunning itself on the rock, into the “spider walk” – a narrow crack in the earth. There is only one way along this part of the walk and that is to awkwardly shimmy along with one foot on each wall. The rocks, smoothed by years of rushing water, fall away beneath you into inky black water – sure, you wouldn’t die if you slipped in, but it would be a very rude shock to the system!

At the end of the spider walk, the gorge opens into a cavern – the end of the trail. This is Kermit’s Pool – a deep plunge pool of black freshwater which then plunges over a waterfall into the next gorge along which visitors are restricted from accessing. Here in the cool of the carven, next to the deep water, the chill in the air seemed a million miles away from the harsh heat which hovered just 50 metres above us.

As we climbed out of the gorge, arriving again at the desert’s surface – we felt like we had come back to the real world - the cool tranquillity of the bottom of the gorge felt like a distant memory.

We’ve done hundreds of walks and hikes around Australia and Karijini stands our as one of the most memorable – the land of the Pilbara feels so ancient and calm. It is a feeling we will never forget. 

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Share Your Adventure: Tahoe Runaway

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Share Your Adventure: Tahoe Runaway

Hi ROAR network and friends! It's Jeff and Angela - a vagabond couple from Reno/Lake Tahoe. We are so lucky that when (we aren't on the road) that Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains are our backyard and playground.

Jeff’s a fly-fishing nut

And Angela is a stand-up paddle-boarding aficionado.

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One of our favorite things in the world is our 1974 Toyota Chinook pop-up camper.

Our home on wheels lets us ramble around the U.S. doing the things we love –flyfishing, skiing, stand-up paddle-boarding, mountain biking, cooking by the campfire and generally spending as much time as possible outside and in nature. It's good to unplug!

We both love photography and to document our travels so we can share them with our friends, family, and other travel geeks all over.

We've also done a bunch of international travel. Last year we traveled 8 months in a full circle around the world! We visited 20 countries and explored something like 85 cities!!

Our trip started in Europe where we rode trains, ate gelato, drank champagne, explored local markets and caused as much trouble as we could.

After Europe we were ready to rough-it a little. So we hopped over to Nepal and then worked our way down India. We made our way from the Himalayas, to desert Bazaars, and finally to the beaches of Southern India. It was beautiful and challenging and we loved every minute!

We spent the next 4 months in South East Asia living the beach bum lifestyle.  Enjoying the pristine beaches and jungles in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. 

After learning to cook traditional Thai curries, riding scooters through monkey forests, scuba diving in Raja Ampat and surfing in Bali we thought we would maybe never come home!

But of course after many months we started to itch for some mountain air.  Nothing beats the crystal clear water Lake Tahoe back home. 

This summer we are trying our hand at “vanlife” in our Chinook. We plan to cruise through the Canadian wilderness and some amazing National Parks. After our stint on the road we are heading out to Black Rock City for another year at Burning Man! This always marks the end of summer for us, then 48 hours after Burning Man we are hopping over the pond to Europe/Morocco for another backpacking extravaganza.  

Follow along with us on our blog Passports-and-Champagne.com or on Instagram @tahoe_runaway and @jeff_edwards 

Thanks for letting us share our story with you! See you on the road somewhere!

Angela & Jeff

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Share Your Adventure: The Blonde Nomads

As a young adventurous family of three …and soon to be four with baby blondie due in July, we love to get out and see as much of our amazing country as we can. So in September last year we hit the road for a family adventure and with the help of our sponsors New Age Caravans we were traveling in style in a 20ft Luxury Caravan with all the mod cons you could ask for!

Heading up the East Coast of Oz we hit some of our favourite spots - Seal Rocks, Crescent Head, Hat Head National Park, South West Rocks and the Tweed Valley to mention a few! We embraced each day with new excitement and wonder, exploring as much of each location as we could. 

Taking photos and capturing memories along the way is something we love to do. Tracy is a professional photographer by trade and Rob is an avid GoPro user, especially underwater, so our cameras are never far from our side. The photographic opportunities were endless on this trip with an abundance of wildlife, sunsets/sunrises and of course underwater action as we snorkelled tidal creeks and the tropical waters of Heron Island.  

South West Rocks and Hat Head National Park proved to be an amazing haven for camping, hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, snorkelling and surfing! The beach which you can drive on with a permit, has awesome waves and endless ‘treasure’ to find dotted along the waters edge and the tidal creek on one side of our camp was perfect for our little girl to explore and swim. Depending on the wind and time of day we could take our pick for the best sheltered areas to explore. We were also excited each night to be able to light a campfire and look up at the stars.

Traveling with a toddler is very different to traveling alone or as a couple. We used to squeeze as much as we could out of each day, often driving to explore a new location, finding a beach and jumping in for a surf, snorkel or fish! This would follow with a quick lunch stop then we were off until sunset doing something else adventurous and exciting!! …But now we have to slow it down a little and stop and smell the roses, pick them… and maybe even make a fairy garden with them! Having our little girl with us has shown us that exploring and traveling is not just about all the fun activities you can do in a new place but also having the time to appreciate the small things around us each day - a spider spinning its web, soldier crabs digging their holes and making sandcastles at the beach. 

By slowing down we had the opportunity to really chat and meet our fellow travellers we crossed paths with. There is a real sense of community within the Nomads of Australia and we have met some really amazing people along our journey. Another great camp spot was just outside of Childers called Iron Ridge. After checking in via CB radio and meeting friendly hosts Mark and Jane we had a real sense of being in the outback. With cattle and dams on the property you were free to explore the area and in the heat of the day you could cool off at Woodgate Beach which was only a short 25 minute drive away. At night we could enjoy a fire under the stars which were AMAZING!!! Our little girl Marli loved feeding the cows, collecting firewood with dad and the simple things like lining up as many rocks as she could find in a row… who needs toys when you have nature!! 

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As we continued up the coast we headed to Tin Can Bay to hand feed the Dolphins, Hervey Bay which is famous for whale watching and Gladstone. Off the coast from Gladstone Harbour you can catch a ferry over to tropical paradise, Heron Island. So for a change of pace we left our ‘home on wheels’ with some friends and spent four amazing days on Heron Island. As part of the Great Barrier Reef the island is so picturesque it looks like you are living in a screen saver!!! You can snorkel right off the beach and swim with tropical fish, giant sting rays, reef sharks and sea turtles!! We had an amazing four days of adventure and took way too many photos but it’s so hard not too when you are surrounded by warm tropical turquoise water, white sand and pandanus palms.

Once we waved goodbye to our island paradise it was back on the open road to find some new places to explore. We like to stay somewhere for a week, or at least a minimum of four days, that way we can have a real good look around and explore as much of an area as we can. We love to go on walking adventures and just pop Marli into our backpack and off we go! On one hiking adventure around a seaside headland we were stuck in a mini downpour of rain and had to take cover under a water tank roof (a lucky find out in the middle of nowhere) Marli thought it was great and enjoyed sitting half soaked watching 3 whales breaching off shore and a few kangaroos hopping by escaping the rain. As we headed off to explore each day we loved finding hidden deserted beaches, one of our favourites was just off Broken Head in NSW. We climbed over the headland away from the main beach to find an empty secluded bay. It was the perfect spot for a picnic and a quick swim. There is something magical about finding a beach with no footprints, the coastline looked so untouched it reminded us of Jurassic Park and we expected a Velociraptor or Terradactal to do a fly-by! 

As we travel we post the images we take of our adventures on our Instagram and Facebook pages (The Blonde Nomads) and by doing this we have connected with some amazing people. These connections have lead to some wonderful opportunities and friendships that we will always treasure. Making new friends and meeting like-minded people is something you should always be open to and by doing so on this adventure we had the opportunity to go jet skiing, stand up paddle boarding, fishing on an amazing mother ship and even stay with fellow travellers in their home! Sharing a love for adventure and the outdoors is an easy way to connect with people. Once you get chatting to new friends you also find out so much more about the area you are visiting. There is nothing like a little bit of local knowledge to help you get the most out of exploring a new area. As keen fishermen we managed some great catches from gaining this knowledge… which also meant fresh fish in our bellies for dinner!

Back down the coast at Crescent Head we met more great people and discovered ‘the magic spot’ for collecting pippies! At the end of a fun hour digging in the sand we had buckets and buckets of pippies!!! Most ended up back in the sand but we did keep a few as our new friends offered to cook us up some ‘Pippi fritters’ for tea!! What a way to end the day - enjoying a cool drink under the stars and eating your ‘catch of the day’ with new friends. 

We love Australia and its amazing different natural, untouched environment. From the dry, dusty, red dirt in the outback, to the pristine aqua waters and white sands on our beaches to the luscious green rainforests and never ending bushlands and National parks. We can't wait to get back out there as a family of four to explore the West Coast of Oz and beyond! We aim to teach our children to appreciate the simple things in life, only take what you need and to respect mother nature's gifts. We also want to inspire others to break away from the ‘normal’ rules society places on us which often involves working long days, having fancy material things, a large mortgage and little to no holidays. Stop dreaming about that big trip you plan for retirement… make your dreams reality - grab the kids, pack up and do it now!!!  

The Blonde Nomads – Rob and Tracy Morris

Website: www.theblondenomads.com.au  |  Email: theblondenomads@outlook.com.au

Instagram: @theblondenomads  |  Facebook: www.facebook.com/theblondenomads

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Share Your Adventure: Heidi & Ricardo

A trip to the Galapogas Islands through the eyes of Heidi. 

Four friends headed off to the Galapogas Islands. Myself (Heidi), my husband (Ricardo), my sister (Beth) and a friend that became family (Carly). Our trip was full of adventures all documented by our newly purchased GoPro and a 7D Cannon camera. Our first stop was a surf in the ocean. With many reef breaks to choose from we were spoilt for choice. We had so many fun surfs, which were made even better by the schools of seals who would play in the water and catch waves with us. As we paddled through the water you could see them checking us out. They also made themselves at home on the beach, sprawled out, it was a very cool experience. 

Walking around the island brings exciting discoveries as there are so many weird and wonderful animals and the water is so full of life, you never want to swim without goggles. We caught a boat out to Lyon Rock, a great place to see lots of ocean animals. We swam with snorkels between the rocks and saw many Galapagos sharks swimming casually like a pattern on the bottom. We also saw a large hammer head shark.

Galapogos is such an amazing place full of special animals that made us appreciate that there must be a master designer. Knowing him makes life beautiful and everyday was an adventure from here to eternity.

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Madison Jeffrey: VANLIFER, MOUNTAIN CLIMBER

Step by step, I think back and reminisce over the month I spent in my van.

I set out, destined for adventure, destined to find true serenity, and found it in so many different things, things that opened my eyes to the mystery the every little speck of life holds. Everywhere I looked there was something, a little something that completely blew my mind could even exist, let alone that I could see it. I wanted to have an open mind, to see everything as if it were for the first time.

Starting off the trip one afternoon, straight after work, I jumped in the readily-packed van, turned the music on and headed off, immediately lost in the beautiful Australian landscapes. Time danced by, and about 6 hours, 2 rest stops, 1 self-timer photo, and a bottle of caffeine later I ended up inland from Coffs Harbour, at a place called Never Never.

“Never Never”. It sounded daunting just to say the name of it.

Being a 20 year old girl travelling alone, there is a constant choice as to whether you let fear into your mind, or not. I always choose to block it out. I didn’t want to think of it on this trip. All I wanted to do was come to a point of completely embracing what was actually around me.

After cooking a light meal on the stove top, I jumped onto the roof of my van and lay down, staring into the star-lit sky, in complete awe of just how small I was. Not one sound of humanity, just nature, I looked up in wonder and grew more excited for what I was about to experience, who I was going to meet, and what I would learn along the way.

I woke up to the most stunning display of colour in the sky, packed a little bag and headed into the bush surrounding my van. Walking through the most vibrant green rainforest, everywhere I looked there was life in it’s most natural form. Hearing running water, I remember being so excited, sprinting in the direction of the sound to find the coolest little waterfall. I was surprised that it was so small but completely amazing and couldn’t help but wonder at how this beautiful little thing was right here, just for me to enjoy. It blew my mind.

The only drama when travelling by yourself is that whenever there is a moment for a photo, you can’t take it without making yourself look stupid by taking a “selfie”. So, I set up my phone on the flattest rock I could find and took a self-timer shot. I had to have a memory of this little piece of art.

Never Never, NSW.

Never Never, NSW.

Leaving there, I found another 2 waterfalls by the day’s end. A day of complete adventure, finding some of Australia’s most secluded spots. At the bottom of one of the waterfalls I found myself completely breathless, speechless, wordless by what I was experiencing. The only thing to come out of my mouth was this yell of excitement and awe at what I was seeing.

The days flew by, and I was finding more and more peace wherever I went. Heading north for a fair few hours, I crossed the border into the QLD and ended up at a friend’s house on the Gold Coast (the current World Champion of long boarding, may I just add), just in time for Christmas eve.

That night, I lay there in my van, looking up at vibrant blue fairy lights shaped as a peace sign, trying to still my thoughts from sending me crazy. In this moment, I thought, “Why am I rushing to the next spot? Why am I trying to see so many different places, without completely embracing the last, seeing it for ALL it has to offer, instead of just the main attraction?". I’m glad this thought came to me so soon, because from that moment on, the whole trip changed.

I started to just sit still and embrace. I found more peace that I had ever imagined, making every magical place I found so much more meaningful, and utterly mind-blowing.

I spent a week on the Gold Coast, being completely astonished at everything, and took time experiencing things. It was a jam packed week of surfing and sharing amazing moments with amazing people, constantly making new memories with new people, and more memories with the people I already new.

Starting the New Year off with nothing but pure happiness, and still having three weeks left on the road, I left the Gold Coast and headed north.

NOOSA 

Setting up camp on a mate's property late arvo, I decided I'd use the two magical trees beside my van as holding posts for my slack-line, and put my right roping skills to the test. Not being any bloody good at it, I stopped after about an hour of pure persistence, absolutely stuffed, ate a peanut butter sandwich, and hit the sack.

Waking up, I opened my door to the smell of green trees on a damp morning, and only 1 thought came to mind, PANCAKES! Being a little kid at heart, I put some music on and was amused for a while, trying to flip the perfect pancake.

I messaged my friend Louis, whom I had met on past travels, and we decided to go see what Noosa was providing on the waves front, and pulled up to see the smallest little lines coming through. We decided to go get a juice and wait for low tide. The wait was worth it, as we returned to see the sickest little lines coming through and we were out there.

We had what felt like a week straight of non-stop surfing. Noosa got better and better as the days went on, and I spent 5 days with the biggest legend out, just listening to his stories, sharing his wisdom, and creating a friendship like no other. I couldn’t have picked a more talented person to hang out with. I was able to be a part of his photography, listen to his amazing music, share endless laughs, and surf with such a legend long boarder. I was having an absolute ball.

Leaving Lou’s after the best week ever, I headed inland, taking with me a Spanish traveler I had met along the way. We set of for a few hours, getting to know one another and sharing stories of places we had traveled. He told me he hadn’t seen much of Australia since he’d been here, only Noosa. And so, I made it my decision to show him as much as I could in one day.

Out first stop was Budgerim Falls. A little waterfall just a small detour away from our route. We ended up at 3 different waterfalls and finished the day off with a challenging but rewarding sunset climb up Mt Tibrogargan. A mount with no walking track, just rock face. My Spanish companion turned to me and said in his broken English, “This is a day in Australia that I will never forget.” It made me so incredibly happy to be able to open up a new dimension for the world to someone. To be able to experience it for the first time with him kinda made it feel like a first for me, too. Sitting on the top of that mounting, looking out over so much, I just couldn’t be more thankful for the world I live upon.

After a few days travelling around the hinterlands, I found myself returning south. Realising I was on the last leg of my trip, and in complete awe of what I had experienced already, I thought, “Could it get any better?"

I spent the next few days alone on the road. Travelling around, discovering more unknown waterfalls and exploring new places the whole way down the coast. I adventured through the National parks, found time to relax, read books, and even do a bit of fishing.

My trip ended as it had begun. Just me, my van, and an open road.

I was returning home. I was returning to the life I had set out from, only now, it felt different. I wanted adventure, and found it. I wanted true serenity, and now have it.

I am different, and that mystery is not as mysterious to me anymore.

It is a full life.

Madison "Mad" Jeffrey hails from whatever spectacular corner of Australia her van adventures take her. (We estimate she's somewhere near Crescent Head, NSW right now, most likely scoring great waves without us). 
When she's not 'on the road', Mad can be found in Sydney's northern beaches and is always up for hugs, laughs, and any adventure you're game for.

You can follow her adventures on Instagram
@madisonjeffrey.

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Share Your Adventure: Tim

ROAR: You are on a fantastic adventure driving on the Pan American highway. For people that don't know much about it can you tell us what it involves and where it goes? 

TIM: Sure, the Pan American highway is one of the longest roads in the world (about 30,000 miles) and connects almost all countries of the Americas, from Canada to Argentina. It starts in freezing Alaska, goes through hot and humid Central America, over the Andes, until it reaches the again freezing Patagonia. It is only devided my a ~100mile drug mafia infested jungle between Panama and Colombia that is not drivable. In one sentence it's an adventure from start to finish. 
While I'm not always on the Pan Americana itself, but branch out to explore more of the countries along the way, I'll keep coming back to the road again and again, as it is the lifeline that runs through the continent.   

ROAR: So why did you want to do this trip?

TIM: I started overlanding right after college when I drove across California for a month or so. The freedome to go everywhere got me completely hooked to explore the world on 4 wheels. Therefore buying a car and going south on the Pan Americana was the logical next step to my previous travel. In addition I had never been to south america before, but had heard and read a lot of great things about it, especially with regards to surfing! Lastly I always wanted to learn Spanish, so I decided to throw myself right in there and see what I pick up along the way. 

ROAR: What have been some of the best parts of the trip so far?

TIM: That's a difficult one, as there have been many. Top 3 of the top of my head:
- Surfing in Central America. Nothing beats surfing perfect empty reef breaks while only wearing board shorts. 
- Mountain trekking in Colombia. Being alone with the mountain is one of the most humbling experiences there is in my opinion.
- All the friends I've made along the road. Can't thank everyone who helped me enough! Old and new friends have made this journey what it is and have allowed me to get where I am now. Manny thanks for that.

ROAR: Are you doing it solo or with friends?

TIM: I drove most of the trip solo, however never really felt alone as I constantly meet new people along the way (via instagram, by pure chance, or long planned in advance). 
My brother has joined me for some surfing in Costa Rica and Panama, which definitely was an epic time, and I'm super excited when I can finally pick up my girlfriend in Quito at the end of this month, who will join me for the rest of the way down south!

ROAR: What type of work allows you to do such an awesome adventure?

TIM: I work in consulting. As my work is soly project based, I could convince my employer to grant me a 6 month sabbatical. 
However I'm convinced that many people could get out there and do it, if they'd really wanted to. 
Many of my friends in the US switch jobs at least every two years, why not take some time in between?
From my experience it does not take a lot of money to go along the Panamericana. Traveling in Central and South America is quite affordable, due to the low costs of living. I can only encourage everyone to get out there and explore what lies behind the next corner

ROAR: What's next for you when you finish?

TIM: I will go back to Germany and continue my career in consulting. However I'm sure the next overlanding journey lies in the not to distant future - I always wanted to see lions in Africa...

Follow Tim's exciting adventures on instagram @onthepanamericana

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Share Your Adventure: Dylan

The world is changing. Young adults are finding ways to travel and live more freely than ever before. Many are quickly discovering that there are other ways to live life than they had grown up thinking. The traveling, new experiences, new skills and relationships formed become your future,your investments, your retirement. I have countless friends that are living out of their vehicles, not because they are lazy, not because they don't want to work, (most enjoy working on themselves and their own goals) but because they believe in a better and happier life, where meaningless things and possessions hold very little value. Once basic common needs are met, a roof over your head, food in your belly, friends and family and good hobby like surfing, what else do you really need? Follow Dylan's adventures on Instagram @myamericandreamtour and his amazing Tumblr The Simple Life

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