Stan set himself a challenge to film a Lockdown Adventure every day – what followed was one of the best microadventure efforts we’ve ever seen.
Victorians have had a rough year. Like much of the east coast, our summer dreams of wild swimming and warm nights camped under the stars were dashed by thick smoke and raging fires. Flash forward a few months and we’re enduring one of the toughest public health lockdowns in the world.
And although many of us are grappling with the frustration and disappointment of our waylaid plans, we’re taking some comfort in the power of our community to come together (in spirit only, of course) to find meaning in the mundane.
Enter Stan Meissner.
A keen climber and sea-kayaker, Stan has been busy making the most of his enforced downtime. Trying his hand at videography and pushing the boundaries of his imagination, Stan has been filming a daily Lockdown Adventure in Victoria’s High Country to bring a smile to our little sun-deprived faces. He has a message for us too, and it’s pretty dang powerful: your life is already an adventure.
Jade: 2020 hasn’t exactly panned out the way most of us hoped. What did you originally have planned?
Stan: I originally planned to kayak the Inside Passage along Canada’s West Coast with a few friends, which is about 1600kms from Seattle to Alaska. We were going to take a few months over winter to paddle the route. When we saw that COVID was shutting down international travel we decided on a sea kayaking trip along West Australia’s coastline instead… but that was cancelled as well.
Yeah, it’s definitely been a year of learning to pivot. So what did you do instead?
Stan: Just before the first lockdown I’d returned to Bright, in Victoria’s High Country, after a sea kayaking trip in Tassie. I was working as a fitness coach at Bright Bootcamps and guiding for Bright Adventure Company.
North East Victoria’s a pretty good place to ride out a pandemic and it seems like you’ve found a way to keep busy. You’ve been heading out on a daily Lockdown Adventure, which you’re also filming and editing to share a bit of daily inspo with the community. What inspired you to do this?
Stan: I’ve always been really inspired by adventure storytelling. At the start of 2018 a few friends and I kayaked unsupported across Bass Strait from the Australian mainland to Tassie, we took climbing gear and established a few rock climbing first ascents on some of the remote granite sea cliffs along the way. I learned a lot on that trip and it inspired me to start photographing and documenting adventures in some of the remote places we explore.
Before this lockdown I’d only ever done still photography so it seemed like a good opportunity to learn video. I know lockdown is tough for a lot of people so I was hoping the daily videos would entertain and inspire others to find adventure in their day-to-day. This project has taught me a lot but it’s also given me some purpose and structure during lockdown.
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‘Went for a skate, got a hair cut.’ – By day 34 things were getting a little wacky!
The videos are awesome, they’ve definitely inspired me! Have you had a lot of positive feedback from the community?
Thanks, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed them. I’ve had a lot of good feedback from people in Melbourne Stage 4 Lockdown who said they have been living vicariously through the adventures. Quite a few people have said they’ve been inspired to get outside and look forward to visiting the Victorian High Country.
I’m glad it’s inspired people and helped showcase our region, which relies so heavily on tourism. I know a lot of local businesses are looking forward to having visitors back in town as soon as restrictions ease.
Can you tell me a bit about the process of getting one of these videos online?
Most of the time I’m filming the adventures by myself so it can be pretty time-consuming. To get most of the shots I run ahead, set up the tripod and hit record, run back to where I started (out of frame) and then run past the camera. I’ll do this at a few different locations along the way, essentially covering the same ground three times.
Once I finish filming I head home to edit, which takes anywhere from 3-6 hours. On day 22, I made an adventure video about making an adventure video. It was so hard to film, like Inception, a film within a film.
Sounds hectic! I saw you running errands as part of your daily Lockdown Adventure last week. Do you think it’s possible to find some magic in the day-to-day?
Yeah, I do. I’ve moved around a lot in the last few years and at times I’ve become restless living in the one place. I think part of the reason is that it’s easy to fall into the same pattern or routine and eventually start feeling a little stagnant.
There’s a lot you can learn from new experiences and you don’t have to go too far to find them. Even just going for a walk on a rainy day, or doing a hike at night, totally changes the experience of something you may have done a hundred times. Variety is the spice of life. There’s adventure everywhere!
Sounds like you’re getting a lot out of your adventures, I love that. What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far?
Hmmm… that you can actually have a good time (and an adventure) crawling underneath your house. On the fourth day I went Urban Caving underneath my house, it was basically just an hour of crawling around underneath it.
I think that if I had to fix something under there or had to go under for some sort of practical reason it would have felt like a massive chore. The fact that I voluntarily went under and convinced myself that it would be a good idea turned it into something really fun. It’s pretty cool how much a change in perspective can change your experience.
So apart from the underside of your house, what are some of your favourite spots in the High Country?
If I had to choose one place it would be Mt Buffalo. The whole High Country is beautiful and changes with the seasons. Here are a few spots:
– Mt Buffalo: check out Ladies Bath and Rollasons Falls, The Gorge Walk, The Horn. You can also try a cliff picnic, rock climbing, abseiling and caving with Bright Adventure Company.
– Mt Beauty Gorge walk.
– Hiking The Razorback Trail to Mt Feathertop Summit.
– Hike, paraglide, run, E-bike, mountain bike at Mystic MTB Park.
– Swim, kayak, fish or float the Oven’s River.
– Walk the Mosaic Trail in Myrtleford.
There are also heaps of good places to eat. You could try and beat my record for The Burger Mile.
It’s not all outdoor adventures though. You’re a poet and an artist too – has pursuing your creative passions helped keep your afloat?
Absolutely! I spent most of the first lockdown writing and learning to paint. It gave me a lot of purpose and structure in a time when everything was so uncertain. It was satisfying to look back at the end of each day and see something tangible that I’d done with my time.
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It sounds like you’ve got a pretty good handle on staying motivated and looking after yourself through all of this. There’s no escaping that lockdowns have been really tough on a lot of Victorian’s, though. Have you come up against any of your own struggles and how are you navigating them?
Yeah, it has been [tough]. I think the first lockdown was probably the most challenging for me. Someone I’m close to had been dealing with mental health issues and it was pretty stressful knowing how isolated they felt in a time when they needed the support and closeness of friends and family. The world can feel like a pretty lonely place sometimes and I think lockdown has heightened that for a lot of people.
I’ve tried to make the effort to stay in touch with friends and family, work on projects and learn new skills that I don’t usually have time for. These lockdowns force you to be creative and make the most of your time. I’m definitely looking forward to hugging everyone, properly, after we move through this.
Jade: How good are hugs!? Can’t wait!
And if you’re looking for something fun you can do right now, why not pop your headphones in and have a good old socks-on-the-floorboards dance party to what is surely the track of the year.