Dustin and Rhian are two dads who are stoked on surfing, sustainability and doing a lot with bugger all. They undertook an epic mission: a lap of Tasmania hunting down the best surf spots, with no cash, car or phones to rely on, all in the name of consuming less and living more. The film has made it to the Santa Barbara Film Festival, but more on that later. What did the trip teach these two scallywags?
Adventure is in our blood. As children and teenagers we took it for granted. As we grew into adults it became something we had to strive for as work, family and responsibility in varying guises took more and more of life’s most precious commodity… time.
The Laps Is Born
The idea for The Laps was born when a great surfing buddy Jy Johannessen and myself would chase the wind and waves around the island state of Tasmania. We didn’t have many responsibilities back then and our freedom put us in some amazing situations. One day we’d be lost in the bush seeking out a mysterious cove we’d heard of on the bush telegram, the next we’d be hitching a ride on a commercial fishing vessel in search of waves that even our eager young legs couldn’t carry us and our supplies to.
The nature of the weather patterns that hit Tasmania meant that we’d often end up circumnavigating the state. The characters we‘d meet on these journeys were inspirational to say the least; true salt of the earth characters who lived far from any form of modern society and had a deeper connection with the natural world around them than could be found within the confines of urban living.
Jy and I both enjoyed making surf films and we’d document our journeys with very 90s to 2000s style surf shorts, complete with punk soundtracks and slapstick comedy.
We vowed to make a more detailed documentary-style flick showcasing the wild beauty of Tasmania and the characters that inhabited her far-flung corners. But then the aforementioned responsibility crept in and all of our plans were put on the backburner.
10 Years Down The Track
Fast forward 10 years and I’ve moved to Lennox Head. With two kids and a wife in tow we buy a couple of acres next to a weird kind of surfy/jock/hippy/gardener hybrid called Rhian. The fella is hilarious and we strike up a great friendship. As luck would have it, we share our property with Ange Davis, a young lass with some media nous and enough drive to build Trump’s wall single-handedly in a day; but ya know she wouldn’t.
Jy my friend from 10 years ago has just broken up with his girlfriend and comes to spend some time in our garage. Over a few ice-breaking beers our common passions for adventure, film and the environment come to the fore and the old dream of The Laps doco rears its head.
The chemistry was right and we began to realise that it was happening. The Laps was real.
We’re Gonna Make A Film!
With environmentalism and adventure as our two driving factors, we set some limitations on ourselves. These would help us gain a deeper connection with the places and people we’d encounter on the journey.
Hence the rules:
- No cash
- No car
- No phone
With suicide and mindless resource consumption being major issues that affect us every day, Rhian and I took up the challenge of completing a lap of Tasmania governed by the above rules. The notion that we must work and consume to become worthwhile citizens appears to be leading both us as a species and the planet down a destructive path. Small changes to routine can help shake this up, but Rhian and I wanted to take this further and see what effect a complete turn around of life’s supposed ideals would have upon us.
Ange was to guide the film crew and Jy to make a cameo behind the lens. We were set!
And the trip turned out to be everything we dreamed and more.
We had fears going in of our bodies falling apart, or of somehow falling off the face of the earth or missing out on life due to no access to phones, computers and everything else we’re used to in the modern age. Being aging house dads wasn’t great preparation for a journey like this. I had a major injury 9 days out from launch time which, along with no physical conditioning, did nothing to quell the amassing fears in my mind.
The other great unknown? If we don’t interact with social media or reply to text messages or emails will our friends still talk to us? Will we become completely irrelevant? Will we miss out on too much important stuff to ever be able to catch up?
The opposite was true, after only 2 weeks we felt super in tune with our surroundings. Why? We had time. Time to sit and observe whenever we stopped. And the relationships we developed with the people we met were really, really strong. There’s something about the vulnerability of having nothing that brings out the best in both parties; that and the lack of technological distractions is an incredible thing.
The world in which we exist has begun to move at a pace which isn’t in tune with nature at all. In fact, we’re hell-bent on moulding and shaping nature to a form that enables us extract maximum convenience, wealth and ease from her. Seriously, put everything you own down, leave everything behind and simply walk out into nature for just 24 hours. You’ll very quickly realise how much we depend on our modern conveniences to survive, and just how out of touch we’ve become with the real world, because if nature isn’t the real world, then what is?
To survive with nothing but the bags on our backs was an epic thing to do and made us wonder… what if we could all take a little time out from using and abusing so much stuff? Maybe our addiction to excessive consumption would decrease a little if we all spent more time off the grid? After all, we’re only here for the most fleeting of moments. It’d be nice to think that we could have a positive influence on this amazing mothership we all inhabit and share.
The Laps Tasmania was produced by Switchboard Media Group. It’s been officially selected for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Cradle Mountain Film Festival. You can catch it streaming on Garage Movies
Planning your own lap?