Adventure doesn’t have to be one huge goal that you train towards and perfect. It can be a series of small adventures strewn together, that culminate in something really special. Join Jonathan as he embarks on his own mini adventure.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Dharug people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

I’ve got two young children, so I’m in the market for activities that are both epic and quick. This is why I recently adventured from the Blue Mountains down to the flatlands in a somewhat harebrained way.

Starting from Woodford I mountain biked down the Oaks Trail, peeling off a few kilometres before the end toward Mount Portal.



There, I packed down my bike, strapped it to my back, and abseiled off the cliff. 40 minutes of bush-bashing later I was at the Nepean River, where I inflated my packraft, strapped everything to it, and paddled downriver before a final quick bike ride to Emu Plains for a beer and schnitzel.

This is an objectively silly way to get between two suburbs that are on the same train line. But I enjoyed the silliness, and it got me thinking about the benefits of taking a slightly absurdist approach to adventure.

Of course, the main reason to be silly is because it’s fun. But if you need convincing, here are four more reasons to consider a contrived adventure.


An Ode to Contrived Adventures, Jonathan McGuire, inflatable boat, next to river

It’s Non-competitive

People everywhere are doing record-breaking hikes, crushing high-graded climbs, and surfing huge waves. It can sometimes feel like we should be trying to do things harder, better, faster, and stronger than the person before us.

Adding a contrived element to an adventure takes us out of this competitive mindset. Sure, I had to walk a couple of the hills I could normally ride, but what do you expect when my bike and gear weighed 24kg?


You’ll Realise Your Gear’s Full Potential

If you’re like me, you spend too much time looking for the perfect tent or planning adventures that depend on a big purchase. But a contrived adventure is a great way to see how capable your gear truly is.


An Ode to Contrived Adventures, Jonathan McGuire


My $120 secondhand packraft, while not the swankiest of boats, did just fine for this adventure. It’s much more capable than I thought it was, and I’ll wring as much fun as I can out of it before I even consider upgrading.


You’ll Learn New Skills

For this adventure I had to brush up on my rusty abseiling skills, figure out how to portage a bike through a scrambly and brambly boulder field without losing my derailleur, and learn how to safely carry all that gear on a packraft.



And despite the abseil being a bit awkward and painful, and a passing family in a boat insisting that I was going to sink, I made it through to my schnitzel slightly ahead of schedule.


An Ode to Contrived Adventures, Jonathan McGuire

It’ll Inspire Other Adventures

A contrived adventure will likely take you to places you otherwise might have missed out on. For example, while scrambling down to the river I saw someone bolting a sport climb in Glenbrook Gorge.



Now I’m inspired to dust off my neglected climbing gear and check out a crag I haven’t visited before. I wouldn’t have learned about this crag unless my silly little adventure took me through there.

Contrived Adventure Inspiration

If you’re feeling inspired, here are some tips as to how to contrive an adventure of your own.

  • Mix up an activity that you’re already familiar with. Go singlespeed on your bike, walk a familiar trail in the opposite direction, or go for a trail run at night
  • While you’re at it, keep your eyes open for that side trail you always overlook or for multisport opportunities. My adventure was inspired by seeing the Mt Portal cliffs while kayaking
  • Combine two activities that don’t have an obvious overlap. How about combining canoeing and slacklining? Geocaching and marathoning? Skateboarding and chess?
  • Poke through your gear for a bit of kit that’s underutilised, then find somewhere local you can use it
  • Take on an existing route or activity in an inconvenient way or with inappropriate gear. Think of the adventures of Beau Miles or the Mongol Rally for inspiration. In a pinch, an inflatable velociraptor suit will make any normal activity substantially more absurd

Get out there and do something a bit ridiculous – you won’t regret it. And if you do, at least it’ll make for a good story.