2020 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I was halfway through writing a heavily dissected 2020 Wrapped article, detailing the ups and downs of this tumultuous year one month at a time, when news of the current COVID-19 spike broke, sending the uplifting season finale we were all hoping for into disarray. Alas, who needs another reminder of the heartaches, let’s just read some good fucking stories instead. 

We ended last year with a fresh AF new website and had so much fun this year taking it for a test drive. We’ve never had such an aesthetic site before! It’s like a glossy, print mag without the decimated trees. Whether for the stunning photography, mind-churning reflections, or just darn good adventure tales, in no particular order, these are our staff-picked favourite articles of 2020. 

1. What Happened When I Attempted to Swim Every Day of Summer

Disclaimer: I didn’t nominate my own article to appear in this list, that’d be ludicrous. 

I did, however, attempt to go for a swim every day last summer. It was a unique way to take stock of each day and, during a summer marked by a suffocatingly hazy sky, notice the unmissable changes in the environment. From ash in the water, to smoke in my lungs, swimming each day during Australia’s blackest summer was, on reflection, a representation of the stark contrasts that make Australia her untameable self.

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2. This is Why You Should Always Register Your Adventures

The name of this article is deceiving. It’s really the story of Josh and Kate, a coupla nature-frothers who, in the middle of a bike-packing trip in the Jagungal Wilderness, were confronted with incoming bushfire. No spoilers here, read it yourself. 

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This Is Why You Should Always Register Your Adventures, Alice Forrest, photos by Josh and Kate, Jagungal Wilderness, Snowy Mountains, bike packing, fire, smoke

3. Adventure is a Privilege

Timbo takes to adventure with a fine-tooth comb and unpacks why being able to spend time, money, and energy outdoors is a privilege.

In the months since Tim wrote this article, we’ve all experienced first-hand what it’s like when adventure isn’t an option any more, and have realised that as much as we love it, there are more important things than having the freedom to take off on an adventure at the drop of an Akubra.

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adventure is a privilege, photo by tim ashelford, aidan howes climbing 2 guys, one skyhook in the illawarra, sport climbing, NSW

4. Sea to Summit in Australia – Surfing and Snowboarding in The Same Day

A feat many people dream off, some attempt, a few succeed, but I can’t imagine there are many people who manage to capture it quite like this. 

These photos will smack you square in the gob and make you say ‘Geeez, Australia’s got a bit going for it, aye?’

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5. Stay Home is The Order, But What if You’re a Nomad?

Australia’s brimming with van-lifers. Families, young couples, mates, soloists, and who could forget the grey nomads? For many, the road is home. So when the news came for everyone to go home and stay there, where did all the nomads go? Tim found out. 

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Stay Home Is the Order, but what if You’re a Nomad?, photo by Ales Pokora, @framechasers, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, van life

6. The Rewild Project: Trekking The Length of New Zealand on Horseback

In the middle of a worldwide pandemic, Jess, Bijmin and their three horses emerged from the wilds of New Zealand’s South Island to find the country on the verge of lockdown. 

For the last six months they’d been trekking the length of New Zealand on horseback, straight up the guts, over mountain ranges, and across turbulent waters. 

I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Jess and Bijmin about their journey and the unexpected intermission of a global pandemic. Their story is an epic and the photos show landscapes of New Zealand few people get to witness. 

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7. 7 Things I Learned Living Without Technology For a Year

365 days on Mittagundi, a pioneer-style farm in Victoria’s High Country, with not only no computers, phones, and internet, but no electricity. Zilch. 

Pippa Salmon moved here the year after high school, an unbelievably massive change for someone stepping out of the safeguard of school life and into the wild, wide world. But her learnings continued.

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Because why not hike around with an extra 5kg funky ski outfit in your pack, 7 Things I Learned Living Without Technology for a Year, photo by Pippa Salmon, victorian high country

8. Behind The Scenes at We Are Explorers

Timbo took some time to draw back the digital curtain and show the world how all the cogs turn at We Are Explorers. It’s a smaller operation than most people assume and we’re a bloody close-knit crew, despite the physical miles between us.

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We Won Consumer Publication of the Year!, photo by Jono Tan, WAE Team

9. Why a Multi-Day Hike was the Best Post-Lockdown Thing I Did

Our favourite buzzy Bee took a five day hike along the Thorsborne Trail on Hinchinbrook Island after lockdown to let her hair down and spend some time relaxing for real. She’s been recommending a multi-day hike to everyone since. This is why. Plus cute film photos to up the wholesome factor.

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Why a Multi Day Hike Was The Best Post-lockdown Thing I Did, Bee Stephens, Hinchinbrook Island, Thorsborne Trail, happy, yay, woman, hike, island, mountain

10. Hiking The Bibbulmun Track: A Thousand Emotions in 1000km

Caroline Grandjean Thomson set out to hike the 1002km Bibbulmun Track along Western Australia’s south-east corner. 54 days later, she reached the end, but not without a lot of inner and outer turmoil along the way. Let her wind you along her trodden path.

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11. My First Overnight Hike With My Son

We make the rules, ok? So we’re gonna have 11, cause we couldn’t decide.

Despite being the big boss man, Henry wears his heart on his sleeve. In fact, he’ll often unpin it from its position there and shove it in your face, while trying not to drip blood on the carpet. This story is no different. Henry shares with us the intimate father son moments he shared with Jet on their first overnight hike, just two blokes and the wild. 

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My First Overnight Hike With My Son, Henry Brydon, Black Wolf, tent, kid, camping, sleeping bag, smile, happy

 

Feature photo by Guy Williment