“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” — Lawrence Block
From a quick glance at any of my work it’s probably not difficult to see a pattern forming. Travel and photography are the two things that make my particular world go round and while you don’t necessarily have to have both together for me they compliment each other perfectly. My first proper trip involved me jetting off after a girlfriend and while it gave me my first taste of travel I probably should have listened to the advice of others on that particular one 😉
It was that trip though that showed me what I was missing and sparked something inside me that like so many others has only burned brighter as the years have gone on. I’m a very firm believer in the benefits of travel and if more people visited other countries there’d be far less hate in the world. It’s a very sobering experience to spend time with a family whose only possession besides their cooking utensils is an old photo album with 6 photos inside. It’s incredible to be able to take an entire night hearing about those 6 moments in their lives and smile and laugh like crazy people. Try coming back to your old life and feeling angry when you’re stuck in traffic.
I definitely got the travel bug from that point and have since been off seeing new sites ever since. I realised early on that like many people I’d neglected the country I grew up in so also spent some time exploring Australia and I’m glad I did. It’s easy to book a cheap ticket to Asia and see cultures so different to your own or take the 24 hour flight to Europe. There’s something really amazing to explore the backyard you take for granted and luckily I happen to live in one of the best backyards in the world.
I’m constantly adding to my bucket list and now that list is actually represented by about 30 lists including Evernote lists, notes in the cloud and notes scribbled that old school paper stuff we used to use all the time. I won’t ever do all the things I want to do so I’m becoming more selective on where I do go but I’m definitely going to spend my time trying!
By circumstance I’ve ticked off a couple of my bucket list items and I’ve been lucky enough to have some adventures that I realise now probably aren’t likely to happen again. The most recent trip was to Indonesia where instead of heading to most Australian’s favourite place there (Bali) a group of us photographers and influencers headed to more remote areas to witness the full solar eclipse only visible from a tiny area hours from tourist spots. The moment we all looked up and the moon blocked the sun, the temperature dropped and day slipped into night the hundreds of locals joined in as we all clapped and cheered. It’s a sensation and moment that you dream about and one that I search for every time I travel. It’s rare that you get one so perfect but that’s half the fun right?
The trip that really defined my path was about 5 years ago when I took a month out to visit India and to be honest it wasn’t a country that sat high on my bucket list. It turned out to be largely out of timing and my work that I got the chance to head over and looking back I’m so glad it worked out that way. During the weeks I was there I got to help celebrate Diwali and visit the Pushkar Camel Fair which is an experience you cannot forget. Diwali is one of the most important festivals in Hinduism and I got an incredible chance to join in the celebrations. That in itself was worth the trip but on the third night of the festival I realised my guide and driver had to miss this important time with his family. It’s like me missing Christmas to take a bunch of tourists around my country to watch people celebrating. I didn’t feel great that I was doing that but Sudarshan (my driver) told me this job was his first in months and that it provided for his entire family. I still felt awful so we spent that third night of Diwali together eating, drinking and learning about each other’s families. I’m sure it wasn’t what he’d really want to be doing but for me it was a night I probably won’t top.
India wasn’t quite as busy and crowded as I’d been expecting but it certainly had moments where I felt overwhelmed by the chaos. In direct contrast to that I spent a similar amount of time in New Zealand outside of any school holidays. I went days sometimes without ever even talking to another human being. While India was pandemonium and out of control NZ was serenity personified. I haven’t been to every country in the world but the few I have seen could not compare to the pure beauty of this place. Every time I thought I’d found paradise I drove around a bend and saw another one. It was the most simply stunning scenery I’ve ever witnessed and no photography I see does it justice. There’s a reason movies clamour to film there because it’s just about as perfect a place as I can imagine. I had the opportunity to helicopter in to one of the glaciers and climb my way to the top before bad weather forced us to head down. I watched from a hot air balloon as the city of Queenstown so renowned for it’s adventure attractions showed off it’s beauty. I spent nights on boats in Milford and Doubtful Sounds and woke to the most incredible sunrises you can imagine and not a hint of any man made noises. This is a country that cannot be explained by any words, photos or videos.