Adventure & Exploration

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Jordan is a land of mind-blowing scenery and iconic historical sites. This spring for the first time, a group of intrepid paramotor pilots were invited by the Aqaba Tourism Directorate to explore these landscapes and ancient ruins from the air. Thanks to cooperation from the Royal Aero Sports Club of Jordan, these minimal flying machines were able to fly closer than any other manned aircraft before to the vertiginous topography and unique history of this desert Kingdom. With potentially dangerous conditions and challenging landscapes, the flights required careful planning and patience but when it all came together, the pilots were rewarded with the experience of a lifetime.

After sleeping under the stars, the team woke before first light to prepare their equipment and get airbourne before the intense desert heat made the air too lively for safe flights. The adventure took them first to the incredible rock formations of Wadi Rum, which stood in for Mars in the film The Martian starring Matt Damon, as well as being the setting for Lawrence of Arabia. Here the pilots negotiated towering rock outcrops and ravines before sampling the legendary Bedouin hospitality. Further north, the team had the privilege of flying the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Petra, once a thriving city in the desert with elaborate temples and an amphitheatre all hewn from bedrock. After passing over the mountains at 5000ft, they descended to the Dead Sea where they rounded off the adventure skimming over the salty waters at sunset 1000ft below sea level.

About the photographer

Fergus Kennedy is a marine biologist, photographer, and film-maker, and an experienced multi-rotor pilot and camera operator. Through his company, Skylark Aerial Imaging, he provides aerial video, still photography, and 3D modelling services to clients including the BBC, ITV, ABC Television, Canon Europe, Toyota, Nissan, Love Productions (Fergus is responsible for the intro sequence for the Great British Bake Off), WWF, and the Royal Navy. His first book Drone Photography Masterclass was published by Ammonite Press in 2017 and he is a judge for the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition. This autumn he serves as consultant editor on the new book Masters of Drone Photography which will bring together an amazing collection of drone photographers from around the world and share their secrets on how they achieve such wonderous photos.

Skylark Aerial Imaging www.skylarkaerialimaging.com
Drone Photography Masterclass www.thegmcgroup.com
Ammonite Press www.ammonitepress.com
Outdoor Photographer of the Year www.opoty.co.uk

From the lofty heights of a sea plane one is privy to a different view—where natures colours bleed out in rich and varied hues, like roots of a tree.

The image above and those below are part of a dynamic exhibit by Tony Hewitt and Denis Glennon AO, entitled: Girt by Sea, launched today by Canon Australia.

The unique showcase comprises a stunning collection of 100 large-format aerial images of our coastline captured and reproduced in rich detail and displayed on a scale as bold as the voyage to capture them. Australian Foreign Minister Hon Julie Bishop MP will officially open the exhibition tomorrow at Paddington Town Hall, with the doors opening free of charge to the public from Saturday 16 June until Wednesday 27 June, 10am–6pm daily.

“Girt by Sea the latest in a series of major collaborations for Canon locally and we’re extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve together with some of the most creative minds in Australia,” says Canon Australia’s Director of Consumer Imaging, Jason McLean. “It’s great that Tony and Denis approached Canon with Tony’s vision because the scope and purpose of this audacious project was immediately appealing. We’re proud of our products, but ultimately we’re known for what people like Tony and Denis do with them – and I think we all agree that they’ve done something very special indeed.”

Tony Hewitt comments on the collaboration: “As Helen Keller famously said, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’. It had always been my dream to create a project on the scale of what we’re unveiling today and I am sincerely grateful to Canon Australia for their confidence in us and their support and sponsorship of the adventure.”

Fuelled by the spirit of curiosity, the gregarious duo of explorers took to the skies on an adventure to fulfil a childhood dream.

The Dream: Since his school days singing Advance Australia Fair in assembly, Tony Hewitt was fascinated by the curious expression ‘girt by sea’. Years later as an acclaimed photographer, ‘girt by sea’ became the metaphor for an epic Australian adventure: to circumnavigate Australia’s coastline by air in one 31-day trip, capture it in stunning detail and bring new meaning to those three words. Tony shared his dream with close friend and accomplished photographer Denis Glennon AO, and the pair decided to make the dream a reality.

“I knew that only a privileged few had explored Australia’s breathtaking coastline to any significant degree from the air. So, I got to wondering what an adventure it would be to experience all of it in one go; to capture and reveal its magical, ever-changing beauty,” says Tony Hewitt. “Girt by Sea started as an ambitious dream and now it’s a lived experience. More than that, the collection means that we can now hold the understanding of those three words in our hands.”

The journey of discovery: Commencing and finishing at Jandakot Airport, Western Australia, the voyage took an anticlockwise flight path allowing both photographers to shoot simultaneously through front and rear portside windows of the Cessna 210 light aircraft, which generally tracked just off the coast.

“This was never a documentary trip; it was a voyage of discovery akin to the explorers of old,” says Denis Glennon. “There’s lots of planning and preparation with a trip of this scale but ultimately it’s instinct and curiosity that led to us taking the images in our collection. We had an expectation of what we might see courtesy of Google Earth, but what we actually saw when we got there blew us out of our seats every time.”

The challenges: Following extensive research of historical weather patterns, especially for the more remote southern and northern regions, April was selected as the optimal time of the year to complete and aerial circumnavigation of the coastline in one go. The decision proved a good one and the pre-planned schedule was adhered to, despite challenging weather on several days.

“We had to complete the trip in 31 days so planning had to account for the journey and photography time and we had to provide the pilots with the way points ahead of each leg. We could delay take-off or get out early but we had to stick to time,” says Tony Hewitt. “Planning can get you so far but we had to constantly account for variables such as tides, weather conditions and just the unexpected marvels that we would find when we were faced with a location for the first time.”

The Collection: “The collection expresses what Girt by Sea means to us – it’s the emotional response to what we saw a point in time captured in beautiful, large-format images,” says Denis Glennon. “It’s the result of our daily decision to focus on what we actually find, not on what we expect to find – that’s the spirit of exploration!”

“I hope people share the same emotional response of ‘Wow – look at that!’ that we did when we encountered these places,” says Tony Hewitt. “It doesn’t really matter where it is. What is so striking is the texture, colour, and shape of our coastline. We have in our minds a hard line dividing land from sea, but it’s actually a much more fluid transition.

Images are available for purchase framed and unframed online and at the venue.

Experience ‘Girt by Sea’…

Location: Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford Street Paddington, NSW 2021
Exhibition dates: Saturday 16 June – Wednesday 27 June 10am-6pm
Entry: Free of Charge

Creating an experience inspired by your mom, is a beautiful way to honour her spirit. This could be as simple as recreating a favourite moment you shared (like making a batch of blueberry pancakes) or crafting a box of essentials based on all the things which reflect her spirit…adventurous, stylish, creative!

Here are some ideas from one spirit who lives for adventure…

Australian mom and cancer survivor, Heather Hawkins loves a physical quest. For her, it symbolises the joy of second chances, courage, and survival.

I love Mother’s Day for so many reasons, every year it pops up in my calendar as a wonderful reminder for us to celebrate motherhood, giving us a chance to get together with family, and another opportunity to thank all those Mums who have had such a profound influence on our lives.

And even though the day brings with it a mix of emotions—my mum passed away 10 years ago and the tears still aren’t very far from the surface—my smile doesn’t fade because her memory lives on and I’m incredibly thankful for her love, her inspiration, and her sense of adventure. Everyday I’ll keep doing my very best to ‘share her qualities forward’ with my own children.

If I was to plan the ultimate Mother’s Day it would definitely involve a dash of adventure. In the past I would have said: a sleep-in, croissants and a cup of tea in bed. Today, I love the idea of getting out and sharing experiences with my family!

In 2016 I was fortunate enough to have a Mother’s Day with a difference—I was in Nepal with my adult children, and we were halfway through a five month trek along the Great Himalaya Trail, we were living out of backpacks, sleeping in tiny yellow tents, and trying to escape the heat and humidity of the oncoming monsoon by heading up into the snow covered mountains.

This year I’ll be at home, closer to the comforts of modern life and cafes, but keeping up a family tradition of running in the Mother’s Day Classic fun run to help raise funds for breast cancer research. We’ll follow this up with a hearty brunch and phone calls to family members who are away.

Mother’s Day also reminds me of how precious life is. Surviving Ovarian Cancer 11 years ago made me acutely aware of this, and I’m keener than ever to be the best mum I can be, to be fitter, more positive and encouraging, and taking time to invest in nurturing our adventurous spirits.

There are several things I’ve learned these past few years to help achieve this…

Keep a diary. Get in touch with what’s going on inside, because putting emotions into words is powerful and cathartic, and writing down dreams and goals is your first step forward into making them a reality.

Get yourself fit. It will flow over into every other part of your life. You’ll find you’ll have a whole lot more energy, motivation, and increased emotional and physical resilience to take on the every day.

Remember to lead by example. Your children are watching and learning from you. Be the best role model you can be.

Follow other people’s journeys and expeditions.* Be inspired, and see what is possible. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone and take on something new.

Plan an active adventure with your family. Big or small, maybe it will last an hour or perhaps weeks: trek, run, cycle, swim, climb. It’s about teaching our children to spend a whole lot more time in the real world as opposed to the virtual world, to get them out in nature, to experience what it’s like to reach their physical limits, to get tired, be amazed, and be happy.

Get busy making these memories… and then planning for the next one!

Give your mum a special hug, tell your family that you love them, and on the day, head out and have a really awesome adventure together.

* Heather’s autobiography ‘Adventurous Spirit’ is available from Murdoch Books, with 10% of all sales in May donated to Ovarian Cancer Australia-a great Mother’s Day initiative. Follow Heather’s Adventures @ adventurousspirit.com.au

Create a box with a few things to lift mom’s spirit, such as…

A box of ingredients with a handmade recipe card. Pancakes, muffins, maybe even the family curry… add a note or photo that captures the special memory and experience of cooking with mom.

Pamper hamper of beauty essentials. Busy moms will appreciate being able to recreate the spa experience at home… the Braun Silk-épil 9 SkinSpa is like the swiss army of spa tools, from self-massage to hair removal with a bevy of benefits including: no risk of burns from hot wax or lasers, no chemicals or harsh ingredients, no disposables (shaver heads, wax strips and pots) which cost mom and the environment. It is a pluck above the rest with MicroGrip tweezer technology that removes hair as small as a grain of sand. Speaking of sand, the Sonic Exfoliation Technology exfoliates skin with 3,000 micro-vibrations per minute, leading to 6 x** more effective exfoliation than a manual scrub. One tool, five spa treatments which work wet or dry to leave mom feeling thoroughly pampered, invigorated and renewed.

Fitness is my fix, energise me kit. There is something empowering about movement which all moms deserve to experience. Exercise creates energy and fortifies the spirit, it is a gift that communicates self-care and celebrates freedom. SKINS support movement of every kind, from downward dogs to dirt runs, bouldering to ballet. Engineered to give a natural advantage in sports, no drugs just smart design—SKINS have evolved their compression wear to express a vibrant DNAmic collection which captures the spirit of sport and an active lifestyle. K-Proprium Tights are their latest game-changer, combining the world’s best Dynamic Gradient Compression with strategically placed Proprioceptive Power Bands (PPB’s) to fight fatigue, reduce the risk of injury and improve performance by enhancing proprioception. Allowing adventurous moms like Heather to ‘Go the Distance’ no matter the marathon.

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Human culture has always reflected a strong observation of ritual, today the definition has broadened from spiritual and community expressions to encompass practices of success and performance. In this behind the scenes series ‘RITUALS” by HANAH, a lifestyle supplement brand, we shadow world-renowned climber, mountaineer, skier, filmmaker and photographer, Jimmy Chin as he goes about his morning ‘ritual’.

HANAH maintains ancient medical traditions and adapts them into products for modern living. The company is committed to locating and harvesting the highest quality natural ingredients and manufacturing them in a way that preserves their maximum health benefits to deliver noticeable results.

Its first product, HANAH ONE, is an Ayurvedic superfood taken daily to help strengthen the immune system as well as improves focus and mental clarity. Based on 5,000 years of Ayurvedic tradition, ONE contains 30 wild-harvested herbs and botanicals in a base of honey, ghee, and sesame oil. HANAH ONE is an artisanal product that is free of gluten, caffeine, lactose, and GMOs, and is handcrafted in India to create and preserve local traditions, jobs, and the community.

Jimmy Chin leads breakthrough explorations around the globe, working with the best adventurers, climbers, snowboarders and skiers on their most challenging expeditions. As a filmmaker, his documentary “Meru” chronicled the first ascent of Shark’s Fin in the Garwhal Himalayas—winning the prestigious Audience Award at Sundance. He has climbed Everest twice and was one of the first Americans, alongside Kit and Rob Deslauriers, to ski from its summit. Whether on the road or at home, Jimmy incorporates HANAH into his daily routine.

Explore HANNA Life @ hanahlife.com

The wild is a bridge to many disciplines, its untamed and unpredictable nature requires an adaptive mind and skill set to survive. Bestselling author and former SAS agent, Chris Ryan, explores the adaption of SAS Jungle Techniques to an Urban Environment in his new book SAFE (Cornett, 2017). Bear Grylls keenly displays how wilderness survival is a versatile asset with his books and popular Tv series. Obstacle races and other extreme sports also echo this equation, as we come to realise the virtues of survival make us fitter, stronger, and more resourceful in other fields.

Award-winning international stunt performer Ky Furneaux has appeared in over 50 films and TV productions. She is also an experienced outdoor guide, specialising in extreme survival and outdoor activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, sailing and mountaineering. In this guest piece, Ky reveals how nature-based skills give her the edge on set.

When I decided that I wanted a change of career at 26 years old I thought I had a ton of transferrable skills to take with me into my new career of choice. Having been an outdoor guide for six years I was a rock climbing and abseiling instructor, a kayaking and sailing instructor and had some mountaineering and snow experience. Surely those things were needed all the time in the stunt industry? They were active pursuits and the stunt industry was full of action. Little did I know at the time that it was the mental aspects of all the outdoor and survival activities I did that would stand me in the best stead for this new career choice.

In order to work in the stunt industry, I quickly realized I needed to retrain in order to be the most employable person I could be. Much like the outdoors, the more skills I had in my “bag of tricks” the more employable I would be. I was trying to crack the industry in Vancouver, Canada, and I did some research and saw that all the women my height there were gymnasts and you don’t get anywhere trying to be the same as your competition so I trained hard every day to become a fighter. I learnt kickboxing, tae kwon do and weapons ranging from swords to sticks and long staffs and eventually began to work as a stunt performer.

The biggest shock for me as I trained was the realization that stunts actually can hurt. I think I was under the whole misconception that most people have that there is some little magic trick stunt performers use so that hitting concrete from 15 feet up doesn’t hurt but let me tell you, hitting concrete is still hitting concrete. It bruises and breaks just like in “real life”. Yes there are techniques that we use to “break” our fall so that the impact doesn’t break us every time and there are pads that sometimes we can put on if our wardrobe allows but most days I would walk away with a minimum of bruises and rarely, but sometimes, breaks. This is where being an outdoor guide kicked in for me.

While guiding a group of people, they were my priority. This may be the only time that some of these people stepped out of the city and I was responsible for making it something they would remember for all the right reasons. This meant that no matter what was going on for me, I had to ignore it and make sure my job was done well. If I was cold or blistered or hurt, these things were not a priority while I was doing my job, I could deal with it later. And so I learnt that, as humans, we have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize our pain and discomfort and just deal with what is important. It’s a survival technique back from the cavemen times when people were fighting wild animals and may have to run for miles with a broken leg to get away from a sabre toothed tiger. The fight or flight adrenalin kicks in and floods our body with natural endorphins to get through the emergency. Many times with stunt days I wouldn’t even realize I was hurt until I was in the bath that night checking out the cuts and bruises from the day. My pain wasn’t important. What was important was that I had been employed for a job and I would finish that job professionally and deal with my own worries later.

In the outdoors discomfort also has to be ignored to get where you are going. So being outside in the rain, covered in mud, being thrown into freezing water for countless takes, wearing uncomfortable costumes and prosthetics, all these things were as easily ignored as pack blisters and leeches underneath my gators when I had to get to a designated trail hut for the night.

I also knew from years of horse riding that if you get bucked off your horse, you had to get back on and finish the ride or else the horse would realize that all it had to do to go home was to buck off the rider. It was this stubborn mentality that helped me get back up again and repeat a stunt as many times as necessary until the director was happy that they had the shot they required.

Both the outdoors and the stunt industry have been great to show me that the human body has such great potential that goes un-realized. I have rarely found a moment where I have reached my limits and can’t go any further. My mind has placed limitations on me that are way below what my body can actually achieve. We have such huge physical potential that is unexplored and I believe that everyone underestimates themselves and what they can achieve. Stunt work has proven to me time and time again I can do more than I believe and that my mind usually throws in the towel before my body does. The outdoors offers amazing opportunities to challenge yourself and prove to yourself that you are far more capable than you truly imagine. Try walking that extra kilometer or two and see how much you truly can do. I bet that it’s way more than you think.

Due to the physicality of both career choices, most of the lessons I have learnt along the way definitely relate to the mind/body connection but these can translate into every aspect of my life. Quite often the limits imposed on me are of my own creating. No one knows the full potential of what I can do except for me so don’t let other people put their limitations on you. I need to focus on the things that are important and don’t let the other niggling things distract me from where I want to go. But most importantly, I can do way more than I believe. And I have.

Ky runs team building events and leadership programs aimed at goal setting and triumphing over adversity. Connect with her via: kyfurneaux.com or @kyfurneaux