Each month we feature one of our most valuable Explorers, the lifeblood of the We Are Explorers community. This month we’ve chosen Lisa Owen; the quintessential Weekend Warrior. Read on to find out what adventuring every weekend and travelling 6 months of every year is like…
What’s your day job?
I work in public relations for government, writing anything from media releases to communication strategies to social media posts.
I’m also a part-time travel blogger, although that’s really just a hobby to give me a little bit more money to fund my globetrotting adventures, keep up my writing skills, and share my solo journey around the world.
Currently I travel for six months of the year, then the rest of the year I join the 9-5 grind and explore the Australian outdoors every weekend.
What got you involved/ inspired in the outdoors in the first place?
Developing my passion for the outdoors was a bit of a slow burn for me. I’ve always been a sun worshipper, so my favourite place has always been the outdoors, whether it be a mountain, the sea, or the rainforest. I grew up on acreage in what used to be a small town an hour’s drive from Brisbane. I was always running around barefoot, climbing trees and exploring the bushland at the back of our street. I remember loving the bushwalks my parents took me on up to Mt Warning and Lamington and Springbrook national parks.
When I got a job to promote the work of my local SES, I was introduced to more of the bushwalking trails around my hometown as we often had to rescue injured or lost bushwalkers.
But what really got me out exploring the outdoors every single weekend was when I lived in Canberra. I was often on call for work and had to stay in the area so I started looking for things to do off the beaten path. I hated being cooped up in a gym so I was looking for ways to get fit outdoors that didn’t just involve doing circuits of Lake Burley Griffin.
Once I started looking, I found lots of hikes nearby and started working my way through them. My friends started to get interested in all the beautiful places I found and some wanted to join me. I also found it was a great way to get fit without feeling like you’re exercising. I then started writing a weekly column for a local website and loved seeing I’d found places that people who had grown up in Canberra had never heard of!
Once I made my way through all the local hikes with an hour’s drive, I started looking for places a 2-3 hour drive out that I would save up to do when I wasn’t on call. I was venturing out to the Blue Mountains, Sydney, Southern Highlands, and Mt Kosciusko. I loved finding hidden gems and beautiful views – and then sharing it with others.
When I moved back to Brisbane, I was still keen to keep up my hiking fitness and explore new places. And now I’m addicted to exploring new outdoor spots and going on an adventure every single weekend. I basically plan my next adventure by Monday afternoon each week!
What continues to get you out the door to explore?
I get bored easily so I always want to see new things – which is why I travel a big chunk of the year. I’ve got a passion for finding adventures and new places to explore. I love a good rock scramble, and more and more I’m getting off the beaten path and doing a lot of bush bashing. Also, I love how good I feel outdoors – as soon as I get out into the fresh air, I’m more relaxed and thrive on that endorphin high from the physical endurance of a hike, but also the challenge and sense of achievement.
The more hiking I do, the more confident I get and the harder hikes I want to try – testing out my rock scrambling and navigational skills. Next up I’d love to give rock climbing a go and I also have treks like Everest Base Camp and Mt Kilimanjaro in my sights in the coming year.
What’s your essential piece of outdoor gear you never adventure without (and why?)
My Berghaus daypack. It goes everywhere with me – it’s been to 18 countries so far as I take it overseas with me as my carry on bag, and then it doubles as my daypack when I’m trekking overseas. I found the perfect one that holds my camera, Camelbak, snacks, first aid kit, drybag, jacket, and of course my emergency beacon.
Where’s your favourite place to microadventure in Australia or NZ?
Definitely the Scenic Rim in South East Queensland. It’s where I grew up and there’s so many amazing mountains and trails to explore, and every one offers brilliant views of the valleys and peaks in the area. Sunrise is particularly spectacular in this part of the world. I’m currently working my way through as many peaks as possible in the Scenic Rim. I recently did Mt Maroon and Mt Barney and I couldn’t believe how good the views were. I’ve travelled the world but some of the best views are closer than you think.
“I’ve travelled the world but some of the best views are closer than you think.”
Do you prefer solo or with friends? Why?
I don’t have a preference – I think both have their benefits. I started out as a solo hiker because I wouldn’t have gone anywhere if I hadn’t struck out on my own first. Although I enjoy the meditative effect of hiking alone, I am a recent convert of hiking with a small group of friends after meeting some of the Queensland crew from We Are Explorers. I’ve loved sharing the outdoors experience with a group of like-minded people, and it’s really inspiring to talk to people that have the same passion as you.
What camera gear do you use?
I use a Nikon D5200 but at the moment it has a Tamron 18-200mm lens on it. It’s been well loved travelling the world with me, so I’m now on the saving train to upgrade to a Nikon D7200.
Have you had any disasters on any of your trips? What happened?
Thankfully nothing major has gone wrong. There’s been the odd non-venomous spider bite and dehydration incident. I’ve got plenty of battle scars on my legs from falls and scrapes and I’ve seen lots of snakes, but thankfully nothing that has gone disastrously. Because I’ve been involved in search and rescue with the SES and also for my job, I feel like I set out on an adventure fairly prepared with enough food, water, clothing and I always carry an emergency beacon.
Why did you get involved in the Explorer Project?
Hiking and getting outdoors has been so transformative for me both mentally and physically. I’ve gained such a love of the outdoors. I’m keen to show others the places I’ve found, and also show that you don’t have to be super fit to hike. You can build up slowly and explore all these beautiful places on the journey.
What are you most digging about the Explorer Project?
It’s great to see everyone’s love for the outdoors. I’m really enjoying seeing other people post photos of where they explored that weekend, share their tips, and the lessons they learnt. You can definitely see how passionate people are about the outdoors through the project. And it’s also created a network of like-minded people – already I’ve made some good hiking buddies simply through this project.
So you have to be stranded in a tent with 2 people for 2 days – who would you choose and why?
Writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer. Being a writer myself I really appreciate and enjoy his writing style. I think he’d have some interesting stories to tell about mountaineering and general outdoor exploring.
Ryan Reynolds. I feel a bit lame choosing a celebrity, but hey what girl doesn’t wish she was Blake Lively. And you would definitely need someone to make you laugh if you were stranded in a tent for two days.
What Australian native animal were you in a past life?
I think I would have to be a kookaburra. Because I’m always awake at first light, I’m literally such an early bird, it’s impossible for me to sleep in! And kookaburras seem so happy-go-lucky, and that’s me to a tee, I just do what makes me happy – and that means exploring the great outdoors every free day I have.