Saphira Schroers only started hiking 4 years ago, but she’s already done some of the longest treks in Aus. An adventure lover who’s serious about safety and inclusion in the outdoors, she’s constantly drawn to the wild to focus on what’s authentic and important, and have a bloody brilliant time while she’s at it. Read on to find out what makes Saphira Explorer of the Month material.
What’s your day job?
I’m two months out from submitting my Honours thesis for a Bachelor of Advanced Science at uni. Soon 4.5 years of study will come to an end!
What got you involved in the outdoors in the first place?
I suppose I thought outdoorsy stuff was cool for a while, but I wasn’t physically fit and didn’t have friends who did it. I signed up to a program with Outward Bound, and adventured with 13 other people through the Scenic Rim when I was 18. It was hard, I walked slow–but it was such an inclusive environment that I was able to break into what sometimes feels like an intimidating lifestyle. Life hasn’t been the same since!
What continues to get you out the door to explore?
I feel like I reconnect with what’s really important in life when I’m out somewhere remote. I have such highs and lows, and such authentic, unique experiences with people. The memories are so good that I can’t help but want to make more.
What’s an essential piece of outdoor gear you never adventure without (and why?)
First aid kit and a lifestraw. I have a pet peeve for people who take a “she’ll be right attitude” in the outdoors. I always filter my water, and I always carry wound-care products and an emergency thermal blanket.
Where’s your favourite place to microadventure in Australia or NZ?
I love the Scenic Rim for its grand mountains, proximity to Brissie, and the drive-in, which passes gorgeous farmlands. It was the first place I adventured!
What’s your funniest adventure story to date?
I’m not sure how funny it was, but when I went to grab a climbing hold in Brooyar National Park and a swarm of wasps came out, that was pretty memorable…
And what’s your favourite activity to sink your teeth into outdoors?
Hiking is my original love (3-4 years), followed by my new flame, climbing (1.5 years). My most recent rendezvous has been with Rogaining (competitive orienteering), and I think I’ve fallen hard!
What camera gear do you use?
I’m a writer more than a photographer. Depending on my weight restrictions for a trip, I just use available phones or my Canon 550D. I just have stock lenses. It might be nice to expand into more serious photography equipment some day, but right now I can’t afford it!
Have you had any disasters on any of your trips? What happened?
I accidentally told my grandma I was doing a solo hike, she called my mother. Despite having told my mum about my ETA and lack of reception on the hike (Great Ocean Walk), mum kept texting me to confirm I was okay.
I hadn’t topped up my credit so I just got a series of increasingly concerned texts with no way to call or text back. By the last day, my ETA day, I woke up at about 4am and speed walked to the closest town and begged someone for 50c so I could call my mum on a Telstra pay phone.
Luckily, in large part because of the respect for the dangers of the outdoors my mum instilled in me, I haven’t had any close-calls physically. I try not to push myself blindly, without considering my skillset, experience, and readiness. The mountains aren’t going anywhere!
Why did you get involved in the Explorer Project?
I’m not even sure where I heard about it first, but I thought it would be cool as to write about my outdoor adventures! It’s a great way for me to chronicle my own adventures and share my love for some wild places!
What are you most digging about the Explorer Project?
I just love the repository of awesome adventures around Australia! It’s super great inspiration to find out about lesser-known spots. I’m contributing to a community that breaks down boundaries for people to get outdoors, whilst prioritising safety and respect for nature.
What advice do you have for others living (or looking to live) an outdoor lifestyle?
If what you’re reading or seeing intimidates you, rather than making you feel that it’s accessible, get yourself some new content! The outdoors belongs to everyone. Fundamentally, it’s about reconnecting with yourself, finding what matters to you, and being in the moment. As writers, we still have a tendency to cover harder adventures whereas most people are beginners! We have to ask ourselves, am I showing off? Or trying to genuinely share this with other people?
I think the online adventure space is increasingly representing women, though perhaps not at higher levels. However, people of colour and people with disability in the outdoor community are yet to be adequately represented on mainstream platforms.
If you love the outdoors and are from one of these demographics, I would especially encourage you to start sharing your voice. Which trails are wheelchair-accessible? Which trails smell or sound the most beautiful, rather than look the most beautiful? How do you experience the outdoors as a low-income person? As a woman, trans, or queer person, have you ever felt unsafe outdoors? As an Aboriginal person, how do you experience the outdoors? Which trail has the most beautiful view for the least physical effort? These topics need to be covered, too.
Where are you off to next?
This weekend I have a wilderness first aid course which I’m really looking forward to. I might be headed to Brooyar National Park for some climbing in April, and am keen to check out Sundown National Park soon. I have a one way ticket to Berlin booked for July, so I’m trying to get as much of the Aussie outdoors as I can!
Feature Image by Miranda Fittock
Check Out Some Of Saphira’s Adventures!