Adventure & Exploration

Courage lies outside our comfort zone.

Age is not a factor of Adventure, Fear is—but not a limiting one!

The human need to explore runs deep, it rises from a driving instinct to know what is possible, what we are made of, what undiscovered potential lies beyond our fears.

Exploration not only expands our understanding of the world but of ourselves.

Since 1905 The Explorers Club has served as a meeting point for adventurous spirits—from it’s origins in New York city the multidisciplinary society now includes international chapters, most recently hosting an event in Melbourne.

‘An Evening of Adventure’ representing the first of an ongoing series of Australia & New Zealand Chapter of the Explorers Club (ANZEC) meetings, especially for Victorian Members. The guest speakers included two pioneering circumnavigators, Jessica Watson and Michael Smith.

BE Journal caught-up with Jessica and asked her about how adventure and exploration helped her circumnavigate fear and achieve bold new heights.

What excites you most about the topics and initiatives the Explorers Club support?

There’s something special and a little tricky to explain about bringing together a group of like-minded explorers. Of course, all the explorers club members are really interesting people, so the club is a sort of treasure trove of great stories and fascinating people. It’s the supportive and inspiring environment that I love most.

How has exploration influenced your awareness for nature?

I don’t think I’ve ever met an explorer that doesn’t have a great appreciation for nature and conservation. It’s impossible not to appreciate and want to protect our environment. It probably comes as no surprise that the ocean will always have a special meaning for me. I spent some time last year travelling with a group of young ocean conservationists from around the world, and while the challenges are huge, it is heartening to see that is at least a growing focus on our oceans and an appreciation of their importance.

With hindsight what one thing would you take on your next adventure?

I was really happy with just about all of the technical equipment onboard my boat and my supplies of important things like chocolate lasted well! Looking back, I suppose I would have taken more camera equipment, while I thought I had plenty I learnt that on a voyage like that you can never have enough. I wish I’d captured more of the day to day life of the voyage.

Top characteristics of a great explorer?

Over the years, I’ve constantly been surprised to realize that explorers are not the adrenalin junky risk takers that many people think they are. So many of the explorers I know are carefully considered, planning obsessed types. One of my mentor’s Don McIntyre introduced me to the term ‘responsible risk taking’, and I think it’s an idea that does a great job of explaining the approach that most explorers take.

What’s your next great adventure?

These day’s I’ve taken on a few challenges that see me spending a lot of time behind my desk. I’m finishing an MBA this year and working on a book for young adults that will be published early next year. Other challenges like my role as a youth representative for the UN’s World Food Programme and as a partner in marine review website have also been keeping me busy. It’s been important for me to put myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself in new ways.

I still love sailing as much as ever and enjoy sharing it with friends. Plan’s for my next voyage around the world, stopping at all the amazing places along the way this time, are also becoming clearer.

After 210 days at sea navigating some of the world’s most challenging oceans and surviving seven knockdowns, Jessica Watson sailed back into Sydney Harbour in May 2010. Age 16, she became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world. Watson sailed her vessel, Ella’s Pink Lady, across more than 20,000 nautical miles of ocean, including around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, surviving knockdowns, 10m high waves and winds of up to 70 knots.

She went from one adventure to the next, skippering the youngest crew ever to compete in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race in December 2011. They finished second in their category.

Watson was named the Australian Geographic Young Adventurer of the Year 2010, Young Australian of the Year 2011, and in 2012, she received an OAM (Order of Australia Medal).

Follow Jessica’s Adventures @

Discover what the Explorer’s Club is all about @

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Michael Smith is the first and only person to circumnavigate the world solo in an Amphibious class aeroplane. In his tiny amphibious flying boat, the Southern Sun, he retraced historical Qantas, Imperial and Pan Am airmail routes, in search of the glory days of 1930’s aviation. During his journey, at a leisurely 80 knots, Michael discovered the delights and perils of true adventure. Over 213 days flying from cities to forests; over deserts and rivers; mountains and volcanoes; he observed coral reefs, vast stretches of ocean, ice flows and glaciers… and giant rats. Michael’s journey captured the geographic splendour of the world and along the way he learnt a little about human kind and himself.

Michael Smith was awarded the Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2016, Seaplane Pilots Association Award (Australia) Inaugural, Ross Vining Exceptional Achievement Award and the Royal Aero Club (UK) Silver Medal for exceptional aviation achievement.

The documentary ‘Voyage of the Southern Sun’ celebrates the highs and lows of an extraordinary adventure, with an array of spectacular imagery from around the world.

Screening at cinemas worldwide –

Visit for more details.

The world’s most prestigious mountain film festival is coming back to Australia: the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour presents over two-and-a-half hours of the most enthralling mountain adventure films that will have you on the edge of your seat.

This year we will recreate a world first with an adventurous trio of paddlers, take a long hike in the desert with Ace and his human companion, attempt heinous chossy, run out new climbing routes in Venezuela and take an impossible ride on a mountain bike with skill master Danny MacAskill. We’ll go on a personal journey back to the infamous Totem Pole, in Tasmania, with an unrelenting climber, join a band of crazy French musicians over a cavernous gorge, ski remote and untouched slopes in Iran and take to the sky with a crew of inexperienced but tenacious paragliders as they attempt to bring their dreams to life.

Get ready to experience incredible highs and agonising lows through the lenses of some of the most accomplished climbers, paddlers, skiers, snowboarders, mountaineers, mountain bikers, explorers and adventure filmmakers alive today. You’ll be planning your next adventure before the credits roll!

Presented by World Expeditions, The Banff Mountain Film Festival Australia Tour will show at various locations from April – June 2017.

As measured as their structured workouts, recovery for a professional athlete is of equal priority—a vital component of elite performance. This metric is often overlooked by frequent flyers who cycle through timezones and undertake extended travel—despite the benefits to their health and functional longevity. One strategy for prioritising recovery, is to schedule a recovery retreat after an expedition or performance season.

Senior Retreat Leader at Aro Hā, Ben Dessard is a certified Yoga Teacher with a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology and Metabolism. In this article Ben explains the benefits of an adventure retreat in recovering from endurance sports and expedition.

The energy cost that comes from endurance sports or extended travel such as natural expeditions is tremendous. Beyond the resources needed to fuel these performances, the key in staying on top of the game is the quality of your recovery. Sustained systemic inflammation, micronutrient and mineral depletion, submaximal replenishment of energy storage and poor mental states are some of the variables that could impair your speed and quality of recovery, ultimately impeding your upcoming performances.

Understanding what goes on within the body and using strategies that support the recovery process following an endurance event are essential not only for short term goals, but also for long term health.

A perfect solution to this complex challenge is to join a wellness adventure.

How Aro Hā Makes An Adventure of Recovery…

Nature As a Guide

Allow the body to focus on recovery by minimizing external stressors. Breathing pure fresh air and drinking clean glacial water in a zero-pollution environment are the foundations to quick recovery. In addition, daily hikes in the forest, surrounded by mountains, are the perfect low impact / low intensity exercises that will keep fresh blood moving through your system, flushing out toxins and nourishing your muscles directly. In addition, a cutting-edge spa for contrast hydrotherapy with a world-class view is the cherry on the cake when it comes to non-exercise vascular jogging.

Micronutrient Flooding

Follow a nutrition plan that focuses on minimizing digestive stress while increasing micronutrient density and bioavailability. Your body spares energy to deal with muscle recovery while being provided the building blocks to a strong and healthy musculoskeletal system. You will not only fully restore the calories that will fuel your next event, but also reduce inflammation and boost the immune system by gorging on nature’s healing foods.

Parasympathetic Bliss

No matter how much good food you eat or cold immersion therapy you do, physiological recovery can only take place when your autonomic nervous system is in the right mode. Yoga, mindfulness, breathing techniques and deep relaxation will take your recovery experience to the next level. This is way too often overlooked by athletes, trainers, and exercise physiologists. Aro Ha provides this fundamental piece of the puzzle to create a truly holistic recovery program.

Aro Hā is a next-level wellness experience, offering life shifting, body morphing, spirit lifting retreats. Multi-award winning, Aro Hā fuses advanced eco accommodation, permaculture based self-sufficiency, and world-class results-oriented programming—condensing optimal living practices into signature wellness adventures.

Located in New Zealand’s ethereal Southern Alps, Aro Hā is designed for the rejuvenation of the human spirit. Ideal for solo travellers, couples, or friends, our physically stimulating programs sculpt the body & mind with sub alpine hiking, vinyasa yoga, and dynamic movement. Programs include nutrient dense vegetarian cuisine, healing bodywork, and daily mindfulness practice. Your diligent attention to wellness will be rewarded with a youthful embodiment of exceptional health.

If a shift is needed, you’ve found the right elixir!

Her deepness Sylvia Earl is a matriarch for marine conservation, Elizabeth Blackburn is a catalyst for cellular health and longevity, Pollyanna Pickering (and daughter Anna-Louise) are patrons for art and wildlife…these are but some of the inspiring examples where women have invigorated our perspective of gender equality and potential.

In celebration of International Women’s Day this week, our guest piece is by the multi-gen women adventure duo, Heather and Rebekah Hawkins (with son Callum). Through their shared passion for climbing, we discover a bond and bravery common of great women—acknowledging the spirit of leading ladies who have shaped our world and continue to impact innovation as explorers, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists and every other facet of formative endeavour.

Join us on a trek to the Himalayas in this journal perspective by Heather from her trek of the GHT from March 1st 2016 – July 28th 2016 – 1,700km in 152 days.

It’s Day 38 of the Great Himalaya trail and the glow of my watch says 4am. Here we are, camped out on a glacier, close to the imposing, icy pass Sherpani Col. High above our little yellow tents the stars keep trekking methodically across the clear, inky sky.

Normally I’d be asleep at this time, but no, I’m up, fully dressed, with my gear bag all packed. There’s one last thing to do before I head out. I reach down with cold, fumbling fingers and secure the Velcro on the front of my gaiters. Then with gloves on, I crawl out of the tent.

My head torch catches all the clouds from my breath. This mountain air is cold, really, really cold! As I hoist my heavy backpack up onto one shoulder I stop for a moment to take it all in. All around the mountains stand ghosted in the moonlight – they’re towering, mesmerising, intimidating – and for the very first time, on our journey across Nepal, we’ll be stepping out from beneath their shadow. Today we’ll be climbing up to the point of highest altitude along the GHT – all 6,189 metres of it – we’re heading up and over Sherpani Col.

My son Callum, my daughter Rebekah, and her boyfriend Matt appear from their tents with head torches flashing like thunderstorms on the snow. We soon huddle together and hold hot tin mugs filled with hot black tea and chat about the epic challenge ahead. Our heads and hearts are full of anticipation, and just like every other day on the trek, we draw strength from each other – with practical advice, encouraging words, humour and big, bulky bear hugs through all those thermal layers. Today I can guarantee the hugs are a whole lot tighter!

Right now, we’re part way along our 1,700 km journey across the Himalayas, not just as four individuals, but as family. We’ve clocked ourselves off for a full five months, left behind the creature comforts of home, logged out from social media and set off in our leather boots.

It’s been nothing short of sensational, and has without a doubt, strengthened the bonds of our relationships, increased our love and appreciation of each other and topped up those somewhat depleted stores of personal courage and resilience.

Together we’ve faced fatigue, battled breathlessness at altitude, forded icy streams, abseiled over boulders and stepped over crevasses. Whenever we’ve reached our limits, we’ve been there for each other. No one’s been left behind. No one’s felt broken, hurt or overwhelmed. We’ve talked things through, held out a guiding hand or two up on the fixed lines, nursed each other along when we’ve been sick and chipped in to carry each other’s backpack. It’s been a positive, enlightening and a life changing journey.

Just as the first rays of sun appear over the eastern peaks, we set off from camp, to follow our Sherpas closely across the ice field. We’re in amongst knee deep snow and crevasses. Two hours later we make it to the base of Sherpani Col. It’s a truly daunting pass with all its pale jagged rock, snow and blue ice to negotiate. But there’s no turning back. We clip onto the fixed lines one by one and start to climb. Up and up… I stop to pull the buff away from my face to breathe. Up and up… Our crampons keep us anchored on the mountainside. Up and up… it’s tough going, our legs are shaking but at last we all reach the top.

The views from here are absolutely amazing and the elation inside is uncontrollable. We’ve done it! In every direction the peaks of the Himalayas stretch out forever. Everything’s so white and blue. For a few brief minutes we stand in awe… in silence, and as a family…

It’s then that I realise it’s moments like these, moments that contain both challenge and triumph, that we should allow to soak deep into our soul – allow to shape us, give us new perspective and help us to truly appreciate life and each other.

Then as we climb back down the mountain and ease our way back into daily life, we’ll let these moments keep shaping us, and keep us wondering what on earth our next little adventure will be…

Are you considering treking part or all of the seven stages of the GHT in 2017?

Join Heather and help make a difference by fundraising for cancer research projects through Can Too. Combining classic Everest Base Camp and Gokyo Lakes treks with a stunning crossing of the non-technical Cho La pass provides an unsurpassed circuit trek of the Everest region. The challenge includes climbs of the popular Gokyo Ri and Kala Pattar along the way, which provide magnificent photo opportunities of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, and views as far as Kanchenjunga in the east and the Tibetan 8000m peak Cho Oyu to the north.

View Lhotse, Nuptse, Pumori, Cholatse, the beautiful pyramid of Ama Dablam, as well as countless other Himalayan peaks. Each night you will be accommodated in private eco campsites as well as handpicked eco lodges. Another dimension to this adventure is the famous Sherpa culture providing a truly unforgettable experience.

Book your spot on the “Heather Hawkins Everest Can Too Challenge” or 1300 792 501