Each month we feature one of our most valuable Explorers, the lifeblood of the We Are Explorers community. This month we’re featuring Yasmin Maher; an energetic and passionate environmentalist and educator with a deep connection to the outdoors and everything we stand for here at We Are Explorers.
What’s your day job?
I work with Refugee students in mainstream classrooms at my local high school. I work collaboratively with teachers to integrate language learning with content and syllabus outcomes. I’m a qualified ESL, Visual Arts, Design and Photography teacher. I am also in the process of retraining so I can teach science with the aim of transitioning to Outdoor Education. I love my current position as I work with amazing young people. I also have incredible colleagues who possess infinite patience, wicked humour and grace.
What got you involved/ inspired in the outdoors in the first place?
Edward O. Wilson’s theory of Biophilia encapsulates our longing to be outdoors. The concept of biophilia examines “the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.”
I believe that all people inherently long to be outdoors. It’s part of us and we are part of it. I suppose this question could better answered by asking, what takes you away from the outdoors?
Like most people participating in the constant cycle of earning money to eat so we can live to work to make money, I get drawn away from the outdoors by work.
What continues to get you out the door to explore?
Staying inside makes me (and probably all of you reading this) crazy. It’s unnatural. We are all aware of the effects of Nature Disconnect. This study confirms what we all know deep down, that being outdoors is good for us.
Our society- especially for city dwellers- traps us in a never ending illusion of needing more. We are told we need more ‘stuff’ to be happy, we need better jobs, bigger houses, faster cars.
Getting outside, even if it’s just in the garden, alleviates the feeling of being chained to that cycle. I’m lucky enough to live with the bush backing onto our property in an area that is renowned for having some of the best places in NSW to explore. So it’s relatively easy to get outside and have an adventure.
What’s your essential piece of outdoor gear you never adventure without (and why)?
Refillable water bottle and my Leatherman. Pretty self explanatory. I don’t really buy outdoor gear. It’s usually overpriced, gimmicky and not sustainably made.
Where’s your favourite place to microadventure in Australia or NZ?
So far, my favourite place is the Mid North Coast. I grew up in Bellingen but like any small town teen, I couldn’t wait to move to the city because I thought city living was sophisticated, implied a broader world view and was ‘grown up’.
I’ve finally moved home and I am rediscovering all the places I missed. As the place where the Great Dividing Range comes closest to the coast, the amount of diversity in our local environments is astounding. Within a 2hr drive of my place, I can be up on the plains of Ebor and jumping around Cathedral Rock or down in the ocean swimming and snorkelling.
And what’s your favourite activity to sink your teeth into outdoors?
Just being outside is enough. It’s a struggle to get away with my current job so when I can finally get somewhere, it’s enough to just sit ‘n’ chill with the Husbo and watch nature do her thing.
Do you prefer solo or with friends? Why?
I love going with different people for different reasons. When I go exploring with my sister and mum (both epic nature nerds), we spend our time examining the miniscule. We go deep into mushrooms, lichen patterns, beetles and bugs. We go down the rabbit hole of macro photography and can spend ages doing a 1km loop.
With the Husbo it’s a different story. We go on long hikes and often go off the beaten track to see what’s around the next corner. I also get to boss him around and use him as a prop in my photos.
What camera gear do you use?
I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D610 and a Nikon 24-70mm. It’s a monster to carry around and part of me wishes I’d held out and waited for a mirrorless. I occasionally bring a tripod but I’m pretty lazy. I usually end up propping my camera on a rock or log. If I miss the shot, I take it as a sign to just relax and enjoy the moment.
Have you had any disasters on any of your trips? What happened?
So far I haven’t had any disasters when camping or hiking. I like to plan ahead and keep an eye out for changing terrain and conditions. I make sure I am equipped for what I want to do. I also know my limits physically and mentally. As I get older I’m definitely a lot more cautious. I’m pretty paranoid about funnel web spiders and brown snakes for some reason so I just take my time. Most of my disasters have involved horses or snowmobiles so I’ve learnt to tone it down a bit and pay attention to what I’m doing.
Why did you get involved in the Explorer Project?
I’ve been trying to transition to an outdoor career for a while now but I keep getting dragged back into teaching. I originally got involved as a way to alleviate my frustration at not being able to explore as much as I used too. I thought that if I had an excuse to document what I was doing, I would make the time to do it. Unfortunately, I’ve really had to adult this year so I could hit a few grown up goals. It’s been worth it but I am looking forward to reclaiming some adventure time next year.
What are you most digging about the Explorer Project?
The Explorer Project is a fantastic platform to promote the outdoors, meet like minded people and get inspired. I love the openness and willingness of everyone involved to share their experiences and favourite places. I’m really digging the community and the photography however I would like to see more women represented. This is not specific to WAE. It’s across the whole outdoor scene.
There are so many epic women out there but we don’t hear about it. I’ve noticed that blokes are great at putting themselves forward and it’s a skill us women really need to learn. For years I downplayed my photography when speaking to people (men) I perceived as more knowledgeable than me, only to feel pissed off and patronised when I got a ‘well meaning’ lecture on how to use my gear. We need to own what we can do if we want to be represented equally in the media.
So you have to be stranded in a tent with 2 people for 2 days – who would you choose and why?
David Suzuki and David Attenborough or Kate and Sam from Nature Philosophy. All four people have immense wisdom about our wild world and I would just sit and sponge knowledge off of them. I know I cheated by listing four but I couldn’t narrow it down.
What Australian native animal were you in a past life?
Mopoke owl. I’m constantly telling people to cheer up and I can be selfish sometimes 🙂
Check out some of our favourite pieces by Yasmin…
Are you a weekend adventurer and content creator (novice, dabbler or expert)?
If you’re keen to submit microadventure reports and be featured on Australia’s fastest growing, community-led adventure content platform, then check out the Explorer Project and get in touch asap.