Name: Max Thomas & Tegan Monttinen (unknownmilestone.com)
City and State you live: Northern NSW
Favourite Quote: “I would rather own a little and see the world, than own the world and see a little of it.” – Unknown
If you could only re-live five minutes of the trip, which five minutes would it be?
Looking back on all our photos and memories we had so so many amazing experiences in certain places and with new found friends but I think re-living our experience travelling to Cape York would have to be it! After spending 5months travelling solo we met up with Max’s three brothers, their partners plus dogs.
Having 3 Landrover Defenders and a Nissan Patrol between us we had some of the most amazing times 4wding and camping along the OTT, taking every challenge in our stride! Hitting the official ‘tip” of Australia tho was such an amazing moment. Being able to camp along the beach, crack open a coldy whilst catching up on 5 months worth of gossip around the campfire was everything we could ask for.
Knowing we had done some pretty gnarly 4wding with some of our nearest and dearest and experienced some absolutely jaw dropping places along the way to get to this moment, it was such a great feeling.
What has been your most favorite destination and why?
That is actually such a tough, tough question! From Steep Point, The Pinnacles, Marble Bar, Point Brown, Albany and Mission Beach we actually have so many favourites. But I guess our favourite destination would actually have to be Karijini National Park!
We aren’t normally ones to follow the crowds but this massive piece of paradise in the middle of nowhere was absolutely breathtaking. Nothing could wipe the smiles off our faces! The unspoilt natural beauty of Karijini is absolutely breathtaking, no words can actually describe this place!
At times it felt like we were on a journey to the centre of the Earth whilst adventuring through the most incredible gorges, creeks and chasms we have ever seen! It is one of those places that if it isn’t already on your bucketlist, it should be!
What has been the scariest moment of your travels?
The scariest moment of our travels was actually within our first month of travelling. Originally we planned to do a big clockwise lap but after spontaneously choosing to chase the seasons and spend as much time in the only state we hadn’t previously visited, we decided to high-tail it from Northern NSW to Western Australian.
Along the way we were camped along the beautiful Nullarbor besides some breathtaking caves. It was extremely windy to the point we decided to set up our hiking tent on the ground instead of sleeping in our usual rooftop tent.
At about 3:30 in the morning a pack of dingos came to visit the caves and were less than 100m away from our tent howling and calling to each other under a full moon. With only a flimsy piece of fly screen between us we have never felt so vulnerable! Although looking back it now it was actually quite magical, something we will remember for a lifetime.
What have you found (sights or activities) a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps that made you go wow?
We actually love going against the grain of most other travellers and discovering places off the beaten track! We have quite a few places that are completely off the beaten track, a couple we are even keeping under wraps but one of our favourites is the less commonly known Mount Augustus, Uluru’s much much bigger brother!
You are absolutely in the middle of central Western Australia and are actually encouraged to hike up to the summit of the Worlds largest rocks! It was absolutely phenomenal. What made it even better was having the place all to ourselves!
Poultons Pool along the Gibb River Road was another hidden wonder! After travelling down a dodgy overgrown track for about 5km it opened up to a beautiful river camp that was surrounded by beautiful big boabs and plentiful private waterfalls. Despite passing 100’s of cars along the GRR, surprisingly there wasn’t another soul in sight and we could camp in complete tranquility.
What has been the funniest/strangest/most insightful bit of advice you’ve been given on your travels?
I think for us one of the funniest and strangest pieces of advice would have to be “You’re too young to become travelling Gypsies.” We had only just met this group of 50 something year olds that continued to tell us that we need to make sure we return home, buy a house, settle down, have children and have well paying careers. Safe to say after doing everything in our power to leave that life behind we didn’t really take their advice on board.
Where would you revisit?
Without even have to think about it the first place we would revisit would definitely be The Kimberley region. Despite it being quite well known, if we could relive every single day on the GRR again and within The Kimberley region, we would be there in a heartbeat.
We had 14 wicked days that let us cover 1400 kms and experiences 5 gorges, 9 waterfalls and way too many river crossings to count! Words simply cannot describe how beautiful, diverse and breathtaking The Kimberleys truly are. It would have to be one of the most jaw dropping places we have ever seen!
Taking a 500 km detour off the Gibb River Road along Kalumburu Road that resulted in 8 hours of driving and a snapped brake line from the worst corrugations of our lives. The 8.9km hike and experiencing the remote beauty of Mitchell Falls and its surrounding brothers and sisters was absolutely epic!
Whether it’s hiking through gorges, camping along river banks, washing off the red Kimberley dirt under a new waterfall every single day, meeting amazing people, catching saltwater Barrumundi, taking on gnarly water crossings or spotting big crocs; the Gibb literally surprised us around every single corner. The contrast from dust & dirt to rainforest & waterfalls in this part of Aus was absolutely magical!
Where do you dream of visiting (anywhere in the world)?
To be honest we actually have so many travel goals and travel dreams that we want to experience and achieve before we settle down. We want to buy a van and travel Europe, overland Africa in our Land Rover Defender and backpack around Asia. But apart from finishing the second half of our Australian Overlanding adventure the country we dream of visiting the most is India for Max’s 30th Birthday. With just over a year to go we are actually in the process of putting some plans together so we can overland around India on Motorbikes together.
What has surprised you about yourself?
For so long we lived like most people; with far too many possessions, the worries of money and living within the constraints of a permanent job. I think the thing that surprises us the most is that not only do we not live like this anymore but that we actually bloody did it.
Somehow we managed to work our butt offs; save every last cent; saying no, more than yes to many special occasions and prioritise our goal of travelling every since day. To think we actually dropped everything, quit our permanent, well paying jobs, have no fixed address and are now living our dream makes us so proud.
For so long we questioned our dreams and goals just so we could fit in or be “accepted”. Sometimes it feels like your life should be “together more” but all we can say is screw the stigma of society and its norms regarding what is considered “successful.” In a world that wants more money, more possessions and more time we have found great happiness in minimising our lives. The feeling of content knowing everything we need is in our Landy is one of the most satisfying feelings that can be only felt once you have achieved it.
What’s been your weirdest moment while travelling?
The weirdest moment on our trip was when people not only recognised our vehicle but also recognised our faces from our social media pages. That was quite a spin out for us that’s for sure!
What has been the most useful item you’ve brought?
By far the most useful item we brought on our trip was our trusty Trangia stove. To be honest we weren’t actually going to take this little baby but decided to pack it with our hiking gear for any overnight hikes. And we are so thankful that we did! About 3 weeks into our trip our gas regulator broke randomly one night in South Australia. We thought it would be a simple fix and would be able to get a new one the following day in the next ‘big town’. 4 months later and the only regulator to work in our twin burner gas stove arrived in Australia. So for well over half our trip we mastered cooking with our Trangia stove that runs off Methylated Spirits and can hold approximately a bowl size amount of food. We were also cooking on the campfire once in an area where fire restrictions were over. It’s pretty incredible what you can actually live without when you put your mind to it.
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