Back in September 2014 I registered a company name, bought a wordpress theme, set up a facebook page and instagram profile, and started ‘blogging’. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing to be honest, but I did it anyway.
What started as a very simple platform to share my weekend microadventures around Sydney has since gathered momentum, and it’s evolving into something much more; a thriving community of fellow weekend escape artists is emerging, and I’m pretty damn excited about it.
If you’ve got a few minutes up your sleeve and were at all curious about who I am and why I started We Are Explorers, read on.
I’m from sunny old England and after finishing university in 2006 I spent 4 years in London and Dubai doing a variety of corporate jobs that all left me with this deep and frustrating sense of dissatisfaction. “What the hell are you doing with your life?” began as a faint whisper but over time manifested itself into a bellowing internal voice that rattled my eyeballs and forced me into action.
I threw caution to the wind, quit my job and made the best decision I’ve ever made. At 25 years old my friend Jamie and I loaded up bicycles with all our worldly possessions – including some arse moisturiser – and pointed the front wheels east to Australia.
Pedalling out of London with ear-to-ear grins on our faces, we spent two insane years riding 37,500km around Europe, the Middle East and Asia, filling each and every day with new experiences and encounters, the good, the bad and the downright ugly, all in a bid to satisfy a seemingly unquenchable curiosity for the world.
We slept in tents and with locals (sometimes at the same time), climbed 4,000m mountains for the hell of it, spent time in an Iraqi prison, appeared on Serbian TV shows, crossed deserts in 50 degree summers and rode mountain passes in -25 degree winters. We survived on $5 a day and alongside the Dalai Lama and the Kelimutu Cowboy, were in the running for the happiest, most content humans on earth.
Vagabonds don’t shit in the city
Plonking a metaphorical flag on Sydney’s Bondi Beach in March 2012 was both highly satisfying and deeply concerning. It was a societal slap across the face if ever I’d felt one. What am I going to do now? How can I break this nomadic life and return to ‘normality’? God forbid, would I have to wear a suit again? Vagabonds don’t shit in the city!
Like every adventure junkie, it doesn’t take long for cold turkey to kick in and for the wall-scratching to commence. After a few months of teething and re-adapting to city-life (which included meeting an incredible girl whose finger I put a ring on last year — Jamie married us of course) I got some new friends, took more regular showers to keep said friends, and we shot off on weekend adventures armed with big ideas, small budgets and just 2 days, not 2 years up our sleeves.
Microadventures are local, low cost escapes that pack the spirit of a big adventure into an amazing weekend away. It’s a term coined by Al Humphreys, a fellow Englishman who incidentally inspired me to do the bike trip in the first place (read his books with a high degree of caution folks). Whether it was hiking up mountains, packrafting down rivers or cooking up spit-roasts on uninhabited islands, our microadventures became more and more frequent. I quickly realised that Sydney’s surrounds is dripping with adventurous possibility once you start looking hard enough. Perhaps my adventure fix could be satisfied on multiple weekend trips rather than one big one after all? (Did you know we have a lot more time on our hands than you think, right?
However, I found that planning our trips was immensely frustrating. Information was all over the place and hard to find. The odd blog here and there, some instagram accounts, a few daggy websites…. it was hard to find anything that really spoke to me in a way that got me excited to the point of dashing for the front door with a loaded backpack over my shoulders.
So many young people are on the first plane out of Australia to search for adventure overseas, when in fact they may have neglected what’s right here on our doorsteps. For a country so beautiful and with such possibility this seemed absolutely bonkers.
It’s in the Name
If you’re ever wondered where the name We Are Explorers came from (although I doubt you’ve lost sleep over it) I’m afraid it wasn’t in a moment of divine mid-hike intervention, but rather a flash of plagiarism whilst browsing the radio tracklisting of an in-flight magazine returning from Brazil. I’d been throwing some ideas around in my head for a few weeks, but kept going round in circles of frustration. I wanted something that embraced the allure of escape and adventure but also a sense of community. So Cut Copy if you’re reading this, thank you.
At the beating heart of We Are Explorers lies its community; a place for the millennial adventurer to get psyched for a weekend in the wild. Right from the get-go our content has come only partly from myself, the vast majority coming from amazing contributors around the country who share their weekend exploits. This, in turn, creates a self-perpetuating tornado of arse-kicking explorers who spread the power and excitement of the great outdoors, encouraging more of us to get out into nature be it wild camping for the very first time, swimming under a waterfall or a multi-day split-boarding adventure that requires a pee-bottle to keep you from freezing.
In an age where the need to digitally detox every once in a while is fast-becoming a global necessity, I hope that We Are Explorers provides some fuel to your weekend adventure planning in terms of both inspiration and information. As the notion of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ is becoming more widely recognised alongside an increased awareness towards mental health, there has literally never been a better time to grab a few mates and head for the mountains. I’m yet to meet anyone whose regretted it. Have you?
Interestingly, some of our most popular posts to date have been those that allure to protecting our fragile environment. I love this. Respect for nature is one of our core values, and continuing to create awareness for these remarkable ecosystems through our unique We Are Explorers approach is something that ain’t changing anytime soon #naturefroth.
Be da Boss
On a more personal level, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and have an outlet for creativity. We’re expecting a baby in March so the desire to be in charge of my time so that I can be fully involved from the get-go is really important for me. The fact that I recently quit my full-time job to focus on this full time is about as exciting and terrifying as having a kid, but I know I’ve made the right decision. If I can create something useful that helps people lead lives with an injection of adventure then I know I’m doing something right.
We’re becoming a voice for millennial adventurers and a refreshing alternative to anything else in this part of the world, but we’re only just getting started.
We’re not a pack of ice-pick wielding maniacs with sights set on Himalayan first ascents. Far from it. We’re bringing it local and making adventure accessible regardless of time, money or skill. We’re everyday wanderlusters with a desire to squeeze every last drop out of our precious weekends. We choose to head to work on a Monday morning with an arsenal of stories from the trail, the satisfying ache of muscles and memories of experiences that will last a lifetime.
I like to party and fist-pump as much as the next man, but I’d swap adventure weekends for that hazy hangover head and dented bank account any day of the week. Saturday and Sunday to be precise.
I’m eternally grateful for all your support in helping to create this brand so far, I really couldn’t have done it without your involvement and feedback. As it moves into year three, I’d love to read any comments below on ways you think it can be improved further. Too much of this, too little of that or you should do this?! Any suggestions would be really useful or if you’ve got any questions for me, please fire away below.