Name: Lauren Wallman
City and State you live: Perth, Western Australia
Favourite Quote: I have 2! “Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show” and I also love “Some women love diamonds, others love a tent, cold beer & a campfire”.
My favourite things in the world are to explore, travel, camp, get out in nature, spend time with my friends & family and have fun. I am a mature yet immature (is that even possible?!) 32 year old FIFO worker and love to live my life to the absolute fullest, life is too short to be boring! I am a true believer in the simple things in life are what make you the happiest. Every r&r I try and get out and go camping or travelling. Earlier in the year I got back from 12 months travelling around Australia in a Troopy which was absolutely amazing, best year of my life so far.
If you could only re-live five minutes of the trip, which five minutes would it be?
It would have to be the first 5 minutes of our trip around Australia. I was with my ex at the time (Hutchy, one of the most genuine people you will ever meet, even though we are no longer together we will always have a special bond of experiencing travelling Aus together) and the feeling of actually hitting the road knowing we had enough money to last 12 months was indescribable. It had been a dream of mine since I was 17 to travel around Australia in a Troopy and it was finally happening 13 years later and after about a year of planning and saving. It is the most freeing feeling ever.
What has been your most favourite destination and why?
This is such a tough question! I have a few favourites. Karijini National Park in WA is amazing, I think I love it so much because you really don’t expect it when you see it. For hundreds of km’s leading up to it, it is really quite barren and flat, and then sort of out of nowhere you have these incredible ranges (the Hamersley Ranges) and gorges that cut hundreds of metres into the landscape. It is so far from anything and that makes it even more special. We did a canyoning tour and got to float down gorges not accessible to the public on an old truck tyre tube. It was so peaceful and mind-blowing. Such an amazing experience. I also absolutely loved the Gibb River Rd, we spent 18 days exploring it and there are just so many beautiful waterfalls and things to see, and the stars out there are amazing. The Gibb was the main reason I wanted to travel around Australia, it had been number one on my bucket list for over a decade!
What has been the scariest moment of your travels?
Well…. We were camping at an unnamed spot off the Great Central Road, really in the absolute middle of nowhere (with no one but us around for at least 50 km’s in all directions) in our little Kmart pop up tent without the cover over it (because it was so hot). We had just fallen asleep when we heard a dingo howling really close to our tent. This was kinda cool at first but then we heard 2 more dingos howling on other sides of us, like we were surrounded by howling dingos. I know they would never attack but it was a pitch black moonless night and really quite scary, so we ended up sleeping in the car! The next day I did heaps of reading up on dingos and learnt that this is just them saying hi to each other, not planning an attack! haha
What have you found (sights or activities) a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps that made you go wow?
Ohh so many things have made me go ‘wow’, and they are generally away from the crowds. I will share 2 of my favourite wow places with you:
Hamersley Gorge, Karijini NP: Most people that travel to Karijini mostly visit Dales, Weano and Hancock Gorges, which are all pretty close to each other. If you get a chance to travel off the beaten track a bit you have to check out Hamersley Gorge, which is about a 100 km drive north from the Karijini Visitors Centre. The geology and little waterfalls are so beautiful. There is a free camp across the road, no facilities but so remote and serene. I would definitely recommend climbing partly up the nearby mountain range to watch the colours of the sunset over the Pilbara. Just make sure you wear long pants and shoes because there is so much spinifex to navigate through!
Blackdown Tablelands, QLD: This spot is about a 2 hour drive west of Rockhampton, we had never heard of it and only went there because someone recommended it. WOW. I think we were very lucky with the weather because it was warm enough to swim in the beautiful waterfalls and rock pools but not too hot that it was uncomfortable camping. Our site at the Munall Campground had its own little track to the creek where we had our ‘showers’ (no soup of course!). This place has everything, beautiful walks, 4wd tracks, amazing lookouts and waterfalls.
What has been the funniest/strangest/most insightful bit of advice you’ve been given on your travels?
The most insightful bit of advice I have been given is to talk to fellow travellers and locals as much as possible. It is easy to stay in your bubble and keep to yourself when travelling, but some of my favorite places and some of the best memories I have made have been when I have met other people on the road. You can learn so much from other people’s experiences, the best places to go, best coffee in town, places to visit you have never even heard of. Also who knows, you might even make lifelong friends along the way
Where would you revisit?
I would love to go back to Tasmania and spend at least another 4 weeks there. When I was there in February it was only for 2 weeks and this is definitely not enough time, we didn’t even have time to do the west coast! Tasmania blew me away. Every moment of driving was beautiful. So many cool animals too. I think Tassie gets missed a lot of the time when people are travelling around Australia, probably because it is quite expensive to get there. I think we paid about $600 return for 2 of us and a Troopy. Seems like a lot but I am telling you, it is 100% worth it. It is like being in another country. I definitely plan on doing another lap (or 2 or 3) around Australia in my lifetime, 12 months only covered about 5% of the country.
Where do you dream of visiting (anywhere in the world)?
I dream of visiting so many places in the world! But if I had to narrow it down it would be the national parks of North America, Canada and South America. I have done quite a lot of travelling in my 32 years but there is still so much to see in this world. If only I won lotto (sigh….). I do have a 5 week trip to America booked next year for a wedding in New York and the first few weeks are on a (mostly camping) tour from San Francisco to New Orleans via Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National parks. I am so excited to see these amazing places!
What has surprised you about yourself?
I learnt so much about myself from long term travelling and basically living in a tent on a very tight budget for a year. I think the biggest thing I have learnt about myself is that I really don’t need much to be truly happy. I know everyone says you don’t need material things to live life to the fullest but actually experiencing it and realising the truth in it is life changing. My favorite times and fondest memories are when I am out in the middle of nowhere sitting by a fire with a cold beer (or wine) with good company or a good book. Also some of the walks I did, especially really early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping, were so surreal, sometimes I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be able to see such beauty, and it is free!
Since I have been back from the trip around Aus and back in the real world, I try and go on as many little trips as possible, a lot of the time I am on my own and I actually really enjoy my own company. It is not always easy to find a travelling buddy when I work a 2/2 roster, so solo camping is my only option. Years ago I would never have imagined I would go on all these adventures solo, but now I can’t live without it. Don’t get me wrong though, I also love company!
What’s been your weirdest moment while travelling?
Not sure if weird is the right word, more like bloody awesome. Haha. When we were camping at Windjana Gorge on the Gibb River Road we were sitting by the campfire when we saw a comet travel across the entire sky right in front of us. It had a long fiery tail and was so amazing to watch, definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Star gazing is something I love to do, there is an awesome app called ‘Sky Guide’ I think it only cost a few dollars and so worth it. You can learn all about the stars and constellations. Another thing that really puts life into perspective, it’s easy to forget about your worries when you realise how big the universe is.
What has been the most useful item you’ve brought?
I like to keep things really simple when I go camping. It may seem trivial but one of the things I use the most is my headlight. Definitely not stylish but so practical and useful! It means you can keep your hands free to do things like cook, clean up, navigate the bush if you need to go to the toilet at night and even read in bed. I have just recently been given a hat with a built in light, so awesome, I am pretty sure you can buy them really cheap from Bunnings or Aldi. Another thing I would recommend to anyone doing a big trip and has things like a fridge in their car, is solar panels, which are essential if you want to make the most of free camping.
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