Tag Archives: adventure

Overland Expo 2013

Manning the Charley Boorman stand

Manning the Charley Boorman stand

Well after a busy weekend at the Overland Expo, just south of Flagstaff AZ, I’m back in Phoenix and about to head for LA – so just time to pen a quick update on the weekend’s highlights! Manning the Charley Boorman stand with the incorrigible Billy Ward proved to be great fun with never a dull moment. We were promoting Charley’s tours in Africa and Australia and were joined at various times on the stand by some of the American and Canadian participants from previous tours. Their anecdotes and hilarity certainly went a long way towards entertaining potential future trip participants at the stand!

Meet "Moto Hank"

Meet “Moto Hank”, the half a million mile guy!

With so many adventure motorcyclists in one place (about 6,000, I heard!), it was inevitable I would meet people who’d fuel my own wanderlust. One such guy was “Moto Hank”, who’s put nearly half a million miles on his GS – talking to him was like turning the pages of an atlas! Once again, Lisa and Simon Thomas of 2RideTheWorld gave a great presentation about their ongoing travels (they’ve been on the road 10 years now!), including tales of two big accidents they had in Borneo and Bolivia which had everyone admiring their stamina and resilience (not to mention the strength of their marriage!). And an encounter with the lovely Ted Simon absolutely made my weekend – such a gentle-mannered man, so humble and abashed about the fact that he has inspired so many to go out on their own motorcycle adventures: a true adventure legend.

Austin fills in for Charley Boorman on the stand!

Austin fills in for Charley on the stand!

Another highlight was the world premiere of Austin Vince’s new film Mondo Sahara, which proved a very worthy successor to his Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa movies. All the usual DIY motorcycle mayhem ensued, followed by an equally lively Q&A after the screening. Having been involved in the Aussie Adventure Travel Film Festival earlier this year, I was eager to see how the US one shaped up and it didn’t disappoint. In particular, a rare 1950s film by the Iranian Omidvar brothers left a lasting impression – it showed some extraordinary footage of their travels in “darkest Africa”, including some very memorable scenes of child-throwing and tooth-sharpening!

Billy almost bought this Honda

Billy almost bought this Honda

Amidst the Expo’s adventure motorcycling melée, it was very hard to resist the urge to ride – and indeed buy! – some bikes. Billy came close to coughing up cash for a Honda CRF250L that Chris Scott (the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook author) was selling. As for me, I contented myself with ogling various Triumph Bonnevilles and Scramblers kitted out for long-distance riding, as well as going for a ride in a Ural sidecar (first time in a sidecar, great fun!). With Beemers at every turn, I also decided to try a few for size – but don’t worry, I’ve not been converted: I’m still a small-bike girl! 🙂

Just trying it for size...

Just trying it for size…

So it was truly a weekend filled with adventure. Trouble is, it’s made me get my maps out all over again, hatching new plans for even bigger, better journeys. My bank manager’s going to hate me. But hey, as so many people I met at the Expo said, life’s too short not to get out there and explore. And I for one intend to do just that.

Ride To The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Well here I am at one of the Great Wonders of the World – and wow, what a wonder it is! My whole life, I’ve wanted to see Arizona’s Grand Canyon but nothing prepared me for just how beautiful – and how BIG! – it really is.

The ride up from Flagstaff was in itself an experience. I took the long way round – historic Route 66, then up Interstate 89 to Cameron, then westwards on the I-64, along Desert View Road, approaching the canyon from the east. At first the land was volcanic, with the San Francisco Peaks, still capped with snow, visible in the wing mirror for miles. Then the landscape turned to arid reddish-brown desert – it really reminded me of Namibia and immediately called to mind my journeys to the Fish River Canyon, which is second in size only to the Grand Canyon.

Look what I borrowed! :)

Look what I borrowed!

Oh and when I say “ride”, as luck would have it, on arriving in Flagstaff, I got chatting to a lovely guy who, it turned out, had a lovely bronze-coloured Honda Rebel gathering dust in the garage. Hearing about my plans to head for the Canyon, he immediately suggested I take the bike. It was an offer too good to resist and so, alongside all the ubiquitous Harley Davidson riders plying Route 66, here I am on a small-but-perfectly-formed Honda Rebel, tearing up the landscape with the best of ’em! 🙂

The first views of the mighty Canyon from the Desert View lookouts were absolutely breathtaking. I have to admit, a shed a little tear: I could barely believe I was here after so long dreaming about coming one day. The vast expanses of deep red, brown, cream and pale green rock, the intricately-chiselled cliff edges, and the sheer drops down the side of the canyon (it’s a mile deep!) left me breathless with wonder. At certain points I could see the rapids of the Colorado River gushing through the canyon far below, while up above condors circled and swooped, surveying the massive gash in the earth underneath them. I’ve seen many natural wonders in the world, but this has to be one of the most awe-inspiring, truly.

Contemplating the scenery...

Contemplating the Canyon…

I’ve been here a few days now, staying in a lodge (Yavapai) buried deep in sweet-smelling pine forest. I’ve hiked many different trails, breathless in the searing heat (101ºF) and altitude (7,000ft). And anywhere I could ride to enjoy yet another vista, believe me, I’ve ridden there!

I leave tomorrow with a happy heart – and some brilliant photos. And more adventures await! Next I’m off to the Overland Expo just south of Flagstaff (via the scenic route, of course!) to mingle with the great and good of the adventure motorcycle and 4×4 overlanding world. Before then, I’ve got a bit more riding to do… 🙂

Adventures In Arizona

Route 66 at Flagstaff, Arizona

Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ

Well after a few months of good living in Andalucía, I decided it was time to get on the road again. And where better to do a classic road trip than Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon, spectacular desert and mountain landscapes, and bisected by the infamous Route 66?

As I write this, I’ve just arrived in Flagstaff, dubbed the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”, after a spectacular drive up from Phoenix, climbing gradually higher through some amazing rugged mountain and forest scenery to an eventual altitude of 7,000ft. After an afternoon exploring Flagstaff’s historic downtown – which is littered with picturesque 1890s buildings and a notable number of tattoo parlours! – I’ve just checked into a motel that makes Bates Motel look positively homely! It’s right on Route 66 and slap-bang next to the railway line, so all in all it looks like I’m in for a fun night!

Railroad at Flagstaff

Railroad at Flagstaff – just outside my motel room window!

I’m very excited as tomorrow I’ll be heading up to the Grand Canyon National Park to spend a few days exploring the “big hole in the ground”. I’m going to stay actually in the park so I can really soak up the landscape, do some hiking down into the canyon, go dirt-biking, and hopefully try one of the famed mule rides along the Colorado River.

There are Harleys everywhere in Flagstaff - but this is more my style!

There are Harleys everywhere in Flagstaff – but this is more my style!

Then I’ll be heading to the Overland Expo – a huge gathering of motorcycle and 4×4 adventurers, a 3-day event encompassing heaps of adventure travel lectures, workshops, presentations and other activities for overlanders of all shapes and sizes. There’s an impressive list of VIP speakers and guests, including the legendary Ted Simon who I can’t wait to meet. I’m helping run Charley Boorman‘s stand at the Expo, to promote his motorbike tours and TV series, so that should be fun. Plus the Expo incorporates the Southwest USA Adventure Travel Film Festival and, having helped organise the Aussie one earlier this year, I’m really keen to see how the American one shapes up: it will be great to see Lois Pryce and Austin Vince again too, of course!

So lots to look forward to here in the good old US of A. It’s great to be on the road again… 🙂

The Road To Spain

Yes please! I want to ride through these mountains just outside Granada

The mountains near Granada – can’t wait to ride my bike through here!

Well, the clock is ticking now till I hand back the keys to my Melbourne apartment, and in the nick of time I’ve booked some flights: yes, all roads lead to Spain!

Plan A – ride Volty across Oz – was in the end a non-starter, alas. Even doing things cheaply, prices here in Australia seem to be escalating by the day, making long-term travel a bit of a no-no in terms of stretching my dollar to the max. (I was chatting to Austin and Lois at the Adventure Travel Film Festival this weekend and they said their latest trip here is woefully short because everything’s so expensive). Add to that the vast distances (huge tracts of nothingness) between places in Australia and the fact that all the most interesting areas are  hundreds of clicks off-road, and I finally had to admit that my 250cc Suzuki road bike just isn’t cut out for the kind of trip I really want to do.

Good to go - my bike gear, ready to be packed for new adventures!

Good to go – my bike gear, ready to be packed for new adventures!

So, long story short – Plan B! Head to Europe and look at picking up a Suzuki VanVan or similar to go touring through Europe, North Africa and beyond. And, well, that’s all the plan there is. With the money pocketed from selling my possessions and my beloved Volty (sob! I can’t talk about it, it was a wrench!), I’m heading first to Granada in southern Spain. I’ll base myself there at least to start with, and start checking out bikes and potential routes while living as frugally as I possibly can. I was there a couple of times last year and couldn’t believe how cheap it was to live. A good friend has a house in the Moorish part of town – the Albaicín – so I’ll head there and figure things out as I go.

My Spanish is rusty as f*** (I did a degree in Spanish and French and used to be fluent), but hopefully it’ll come back as I mingle with the locals again. Obviously the money’s a worry longer-term but I’ll work that out on the fly – hopefully by doing a bit of freelance TV work in Europe and using my TEFL certificates to get some casual teaching work. Oh and then there’s the writing, of course.

Yup, they even have GSes in Granada!

Yup, they even have GS-es in Granada!

So there it is. I keep calling it the “Non-Plan” because it’s a plan that isn’t really a plan. And I must say, I’m rather liking it so far!

I’m now in a final frenzy of cleaning, packing, selling my last items on Gumtree, and generally winding things up ready to hit Melbourne Airport Tuesday afternoon. Then it’s all change as I head to Spain to start a whole new chapter.

Let’s see how it goes, eh…? 🙂

Aussie Adventure Travel Film Festival 2013

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts were on sale!

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts sold like hot cakes!

Well its been another busy and exciting time at this year’s Adventure Travel Film Festival in Victoria’s beautiful Alpine region. Despite the threat of bush fires, which have been ravaging the land barely 25km down the road, here in Bright our only worries have been keeping hydrated and sun-creamed up in the searing heat!

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Our festival organiser Rupert did us proud this year with a superb line-up of speakers. TIm Cope and Jon Muir returned for a second year to jam-pack the big (sweaty!) marquee with those eager to hear more of their incredible exploits. Tim’s stories of his time living with locals in Mongolia were truly mesmerising, and Jon’s tales of walking solo across the Aussie Outback and wanting to push himself to the limits of endurance had me marvelling all over again at the sheer balls of the guy!

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

2RideTheWorld Brit motorcyclists Lisa and Simon Thomas were probably my favourite speakers this year, giving a really entertaining insight into life on the road as a motorcycling couple. They’re both really down to earth, no pretensions, and their “anyone-can-do-it” story really did endear them to the crowds, I think. It was great poring over their bike, wondering where each little dent and mud-splatter might have happened… Still can’t believe they’ve ridden over 400,000kms through 77 countries. Brilliant stuff.

I also loved hearing Kate Leeming talk about her epic cycle across Africa from West to East through the Congo – a tale of true daring if ever there was one. And Melbourne-born Eric Phillips is proof that you really don’t have to come from a freezing cold country to be a polar explorer extraordinaire – his talk was also fascinating.

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

And the adventure travel films really were top-notch this year again – too many to list, but my personal favourites were the golden oldie 1933 epic solo motorcycle adventure Twice Upon A Caravan and Congo kayaking epic Mazungu (both shown as starlight screenings out in the balmy open air, wonderful).

Austin and Lois at the registration tent

Austin and Lois welcome punters at the registration tent

As ever, the festival was hosted by the affable Lois Pryce and Austin Vince who once again lent their special brand of informality and good humour to stamp this event with its unique trademark. They’ve curated all this year’s films and have a genuine and excitable enthusiasm about each and every one, which is truly infectious, I can tell you.

And that’s the key to the success of the Adventure Travel Film Festival, I think. This year, I was the Aussie festival’s chief “spruiker” (Lois will love me for using that word!), drumming up press and publicity for an event which last year had me so excited as an attendee, as I mingled with like-minded adventurous types, sharing stories of the road and planning new ones over lashings of cold beer. I’ve really enjoyed being involved this time round and I’m already thinking hard about how I can wangle it so I can attend the UK one in August! 🙂

Adventure Travel Film Festival UK, 16-18 August 2013:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/uk-festival/

A Fork In The Road

Hey, hey. Well a week since my last post, it’s been all systems go as I start packing up my Melbourne apartment, ready to move on. Life’s become a whirlwind of op shop runs, Cash Converters dashes, and other cross-city errands to sell, trade or otherwise offload the vast majority of my material possessions. Furniture, car, household goods…all are gradually being “re-located” to new owners. And all I can think is: How the hell did I end up with so much stuff?!

Which way next?

Which way next?

Happily, Volty’s been keeping me sane – regular daily rides down the coast are my “Happy Pill”, as I feel the sea breeze through my helmet and riding jacket, and enjoy the sensation of freedom on the road all over again.

I’m making the most of these rides. I’m still undecided about whether to do a cross-Oz trip on the bike or head to Spain to cook up a whole new two-wheeled adventure exploring Europe and Africa. But right now, it has to be said, Europe’s looking like the more viable – and cost-effective – option. And that being the case… it means I’ll have to sell my beloved Suzuki in a couple of weeks. This is of course gutting – regular readers will know how much I love my TU250X – but having looked into shipping/freighting options, I just don’t think I can afford to take the bike with me. 😦

On the up-side, once I’m in Andalucía I’ll hopefully be able to buy the new bike I’ve already got my eye on – the sturdy, characterful Suzuki Van Van – which hopefully will be the start of lots of new moto adventures! 🙂

At this fork in the road, I’m excited about what’s to come but also rather trepidatious about which road to take. It’ll be another week or so before I finally make up my mind – I’m going to enjoy the Adventure Travel Film Festival next weekend and then see how I feel after mingling with the great and good of the adventure world!

Whichever path I choose, I can’t wait to be out in the world again, exploring new places, meeting new people, and soaking up lots of fresh life experiences. Bring it on! 

New Year, New Adventures…

So here’s the thing. Christmas Day, I’m sitting at home staring down the barrel of yet another year spent thinking about lots of adventures I desperately want to do but can’t afford. Maybe it’s the rather nice Spanish jerez I’m sculling, but from somewhere very deep within something suddenly clicks: Fuck it, life’s too short. If you keep waiting till you have enough money, you’ll be sitting here till Doomsday! Within the week, I’ve handed in notice on my TV job (much to the chagrin of my employer!), on my rented Bayshore apartment…in short, on four years of life in Melbourne. That’s it – I’m off!

So what’s the plan, I hear you cry?! Well…Let’s just say it’s evolving by the day. No, really. First task is to drastically “downsize”. That means clearing out the contents of my flat, putting personal items into storage, selling the car, the furniture, getting rid of the cat… (oh hang on a minute, scrub that last one – I don’t have a cat!).

Plan #1: Head off across Oz on Volty?

Plan #1: Head off across Australia on Volty?

Then, somewhere swirling in the back of my brain – as yet not fully formed – is “The Plan”. Well, it’s two plans, actually. First is to take off with minimal luggage on my beloved Volty – yes, the Suzuki TU250X that has been my absolute joy and salvation since I purchased it a few months ago. I’ve put nearly 5,000kms on it from new so it’s well and truly run in, and I’ve got this idea of a kind of “last gasp Australia”, in which I’ll head across the country for an indeterminate amount of time and actually experience some of this vast continent I’ve been living in for the last few years.

Plan #2: Head across Europe on a Suzuki Van Van?

Plan #2: Explore Europe and beyond on a Suzuki Van Van              Photo ⓒ Suzuki (promotional)

Then again… After such a long time in Oz, I’ve a real hankering to head east for a while, to Europe. I’m craving history, culture, old buildings, speaking foreign languages, joie de vivre! After a couple of trips to Andalucía last year, I’m thinking of going back to hatch a plan that – surprise, surprise – also involves una moto! I’ve been looking at a particular motorbike there – the Suzuki Van Van – and reading about people crossing the Alps, Mongolia and other far-flung places on just such a bike. It looks like a kind of “off-road” version of Volty, with chunkier wheels and a more rugged set-up, and I’m thinking what an adventure it would be to buy one and ride through Europe, North Africa and beyond…

So there it is. I’d love to tell you the plan is more formed than it actually is, but there’s something rather delicious (if bloody scary!) about making it up as I go. Which plan I’ll plump for (or maybe I’ll do both!), I have no idea just now. All I know is, 26th Feb I have to vacate my apartment and hand back the keys once and for all – so I guess I’d better make my mind up by then, eh?! Maybe you guys can help me decide…

PS For anyone who’s wondering, yes I will still be at the Adventure Travel Film Festival 15-17 Feb! I’ve been working hard on the press and PR for it and wouldn’t miss it for the world! Come join us for a weekend of adventure and cold beer! 🙂

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/

A Place To Hatch New Adventures

Mondo Enduro’s Austin Vince regaling the crowds at the 2012 Festival

As many of you know, in recent months I’ve been helping set up the 2013 Australian Adventure Travel Film Festival. I went to the inaugural Festival in Bright, Victoria, earlier this year and had the best time mingling with the great and good of the Aussie and international adventuring world and watching some truly inspiring adventure travel films:

https://jeaniedavison.com/2012/02/26/adventure-travel-film-festival-2012/

Well, I enjoyed it so much that when asked if I’d lend a hand with the next one, I was only too keen! Brit motorbike adventurers Austin Vince and Lois Pryce, curators of the Festival, are coming back to Oz again 15-17 February 2013 – and this time the line-up of films and speakers is going to be even better, oh yes! Just take a look at who’s already confirmed:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/added-attractions/

I can’t think of a better way to spend a long weekend than soaking up some amazing scenery, hanging out with motorbikers and adventurers of all persuasions, watching great adventure travel films, swapping adventure stories and generally getting inspired to dream up new plans. Plus it all centres around the Bright Brewery – which is actually being refurbished and enlarged this year, just for us! – a suitable watering-hole indeed for such a glorious gathering.

Tickets are on sale now and selling like hot cakes already. So don’t delay – when they’re gone, they’re gone! http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/buy-tickets/

Hope to see you there, folks! Come say hello. 🙂

The Call Of The Open Road

My new pride and joy at a coffee stop on our first ride

As some of you already know, I received news at the weekend that UNICEF have had to cancel our India motorcycle adventure. This came out of the blue and for those of us on the team who were already getting excited about the trip, it’s been a huge blow. It was a hard decision for UNICEF, but ultimately they weren’t able to recruit enough team members to make the trip financially viable. Such a shame.

With uncanny timing, the news from UNICEF coincided with the day of delivery of my new Suzuki motorbike – a gorgeous new retro-style TU250X – and being back on two wheels again has compensated somewhat for the India trip being shelved.

A 100-km spin down the coast round Phillip Bay on a beautiful sunny Sunday was enough to get me out of my funk and remind me that the simple pleasures in life are really what count. A couple of hours on the bike and the world opened up to me again. It’s true what they say: motorcycling really is good for the soul. 

“Volty”‘s odometer on delivery – time to put some miles on that clock, eh?!

The Melbourne weather hasn’t exactly been conducive to riding this week – freezing temperatures, hailstones and gales: always favourites with the biker! But that hasn’t stopped me turning my thoughts already to longer trips on the motorbike. With India fading from my mind, new adventures are starting to fill my head, the maps are back out on the table, and my head is racing again with possibilities.

One adventure may have gone away, but rest assured another is already being warmed up. Watch this space… 🙂

Adventures For Good

At the start of my hike – before the weather turned!

Since announcing my new UNICEF adventure with Charley Boorman, lots of people have been asking me how they can combine their own travels with “giving something back”.

Undertaking a big trip like India is a huge commitment in terms of fundraising and planning for the event itself. But you don’t need to embark on large-scale ventures to raise money for a good cause. Even a “mini adventure” can make a difference.

Today, for instance, I’m just back from a day-long 40km hike along the Great Ocean Road. I love walking and on a whim, I decided to set myself a specific challenge with the little time I have this weekend, to raise much-needed funds for my UNICEF pot. The day before, I rallied round friends, colleagues and even my building manager (!), asking them to sponsor my walk with any spare change.

London Bridge, Great Ocean Road

The hike itself turned into a bit of an epic. As I set off at sunrise, the coastal elements decided to throw everything at me – gale-force winds, hail, and a rockfall across the walking track which resulted in a messy scramble up a cliff (it wasn’t pretty – there weren’t any style points for that particular manoeuvre, I can tell you!). But I gritted my teeth and pressed on, spurred by the thought of the $250 I was raising for my cause.

And hey, you don’t have to support a big charity. Why not think about a local charity or cause that raises money for animal welfare, health concerns, or maybe a community project of some sort? Whatever gets you passionate. Then find an adventure, great or small, get excited about it – and then get others excited about it! Not everyone will want to sponsor you, of course, but many will – some people love living vicariously through others’ adventures, so a bit of cash is a small price to pay, as they see it!

I’m already planning my next mini fundraiser. I’m not really the bake sale type so I’m sure it will end up being another outdoorsy sort of challenge. I hope this post has inspired you to start thinking up your own ideas – good luck and here’s to adventures for good!

Thanks!

What Makes An Adventure Traveller?

Jon Muir and Tim Cope (with adoring companion Tigon!) at the Adventure Travel Film Festival

At last weekend’s Adventure Travel Film Festival, I spent a brilliant few days hanging out with fellow adventurous spirits from far and wide. Some were high-profile adventurers like Tim Cope, Jon Muir, Lois Pryce and Austin Vince. But many were unknown explorers, trekkers, mountaineers, motorcyclists, rock-climbers, off-roaders, overlanders, kayakers… ordinary people with an insatiable hunger to see the world or experience the great outdoors in its broadest sense.

It struck me what a diverse group we all were. No “type”, no particular age, height or build. Adventurers, it seems, come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are super-fit athletes for whom physical endeavour and achievement is a huge part of what drives them. For others, it’s the compulsive desire to break away from the  “nine to five” and propel themselves into unknown places and cultures – to learn in some way about the world and the people that inhabit it. For others still, it’s the need to get back to basics, to live “off the grid” and escape the stresses and trappings of modern “civilised” life – to experience “life in the raw.”

In fact, the more time I spent talking to people at the festival, the more reasons I heard as to why certain individuals give up the safety of the sofa, whether for a weekend or a lifetime.

But there was, I think, a uniting theme. In their own unique ways, most of these people had gone out there and DONE IT. Not just talked about an adventure, but actually given it a go. I met one couple in their 50s just back from a week motorcycling in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains – they’d always wanted to do it but weren’t sure they’d be up to the long days of gruelling off-road riding in desert heat. Now they have the photos to prove they did it, and boy do they look good! At the other end of the scale, adventurer Jon Muir talked about his solo trek across Australia – it took him FOUR attempts, but he said failure was all part of the adventure and it was something he just had to do. (This from the guy whose first thought when he arrived at the top of Everest was that he desperately needed a piss and a cigarette!).

Jeanie trekking the Sahara (2010) - one of my all-time dream adventures!

It was an inspiring weekend and I certainly came back with renewed vigour to keep pursuing my own adventures whenever and wherever I can (I’m cooking up another one for Easter, yeeha!).

And I’d say to anyone that thinks they’re too unfit, too old, too cash-strapped, too tied-down, or too scared for adventure – think again! People like you are out there dreaming up and then pursuing their own challenges great and small. You don’t have to break a world record or be the first to do something (although if you do, big respect to you!).  Your adventure is unique to you, so own it – then get out there and do it!

You won’t regret it, I certainly haven’t.

And you can check out a video report on the Festival right here (keep an eye out for yours truly!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqv5qAe4XPE&feature=youtu.be

Adventure Travel Film Festival 2012

Mondo Enduro's Austin Vince regales us with his wit and charm at the opening drinks!

Hey there! I’m writing this from the Adventure Travel Film Festival in beautiful Bright, a small country town in Victoria’s Alpine region about four hours out of Melbourne. For three days in this picture-postcard setting, the air has been filled with the sound of people talking adventure, regularly punctuated by the vroom of yet another motorcycle rolling into town to join the throng.

It’s the first time the festival’s been held in Australia and if this weekend’s anything to go by, I really hope it comes back next year. It’s being hosted by the affable Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro fame and his adventure motorcycling other half, Lois Pryce, and has been a veritable smorgasbord (I never use that word, but it’s absolutely appropriate here!) of adventure films, talks, and general waxing-lyrical about all things adventure.

This weekend, I’ve met some of my adventure heroes: Lois Pryce, whose motorbike travels in Africa inspired me to get my bike licence; Tim Cope, the Aussie adventurer whose travels through Mongolia, Russia, Kazahstan and Siberia have long had me wanting to visit those parts of the world; and Jon Muir, legendary mountaineer and explorer who amongst many feats has walked solo and unsupported across Australia. All gave inspiring and entertaining talks about their adventures – their motivations, the highs and lows, the rewards and the challenges. All had one clear message: you have to grab life NOW, don’t wait for “the right time” or worry you’re not good enough, JUST DO IT!

The Festival organisers sported these very fetching Italian Job-style jumpsuits throughout the event - where can I get one?

I’ve seen an amazing array of films here. My favourites are Riding Solo To The Top of The World, about an Indian guy who rode his Royal Enfield Bullet to the highest motorable road in the world, and Back Of Beyond, a classic film about a crazy truck journey across the remote Aussie Outback. Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro and Jon Muir’s Alone Across Australia have also been brilliant viewing.

Soaking up the vibe in beautiful Bright over the long (and scorching!) weekend, it’s been wonderful to mix with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, amateur and professional, from weekend biker to long-distance expeditioner. You can tell everyone here has been really inspired by the films and the speakers – and for my part, it’s been brilliant spending time with like-minded people who are all adventurous spirits and have the wanderlust riddled through their souls like I do!

As the festival comes to a close and we head to Bright Brewery for one last witbier, I’m absolutely sure many new adventures will be hatched as a result of this inspiring weekend.

Africa: Adventure’s Last Frontier

Jeanie at Dead Vlei, Namibia

I’m very lucky – I’ve travelled all over the world for both my job and for pleasure, filming, photographing and writing about different lands and cultures, fascinated by them all. But nowhere draws me back quite like Africa.

From the mountains of Morocco to the wildernesses of Namibia, for me Africa is the last continent where true adventures are still to be had. And its pull keeps taking me back there – the more I explore it, the more I want to find.

Growing up, I read avidly about the exploits of Captain Cook, Columbus, Darwin and Magellan – great explorers who, even before detailed maps were drawn, were fuelled by a desire to seek out new places and peoples and put themselves in the path of incredible new experiences.

Centuries later, the world is a much smaller place and it’s hard to find parts of the globe where I might even come close to experiencing what those explorers of old felt. But Africa delivers every time – from the eery moonscapes of the Namib Desert and Mozambique’s wild northern coast to the vast, undulating sand dunes of the Sahara, these are the places that inspire and captivate me. Whether bumping along precarious remote canyons by Land Rover or trekking on foot across endless tracts of open African desert, these are the places where my spirit of adventure soars.

It’s me versus the terrain – suddenly I’m the star of my very own Woman Vs Wild! – and I’m in awe of, indeed in love with, these endless landscapes far from civilisation. I never feel more alive than when I’m in Africa.

And perhaps that’s the point. As a city-dweller (a necessary evil of my work, alas), I perpetually long for escape from the trappings and complications of modern life – the technology, the pressures and stresses, the constant stream of information from every angle. Those African landscapes take me back to basics and remind me that, fundamentally, we are all just small human beings on a vast and beautiful planet.

So here I am planning my next escape, my next adventure… Africa awaits!

Where in the world do you go to feel the spirit of adventure? Post a comment just below!