Words by @timbomss and photos by @ellgrayphoto
As surfers, our love for adventure is part of who we are. We’re a tribe of explorers embracing the wild. So the opportunity to travel to the middle of Australia and explore some of the most dramatic country in the world was hard to resist.
Whilst there was no chance of big slabs or perfect surf, this was a most legit opportunity to discover more about this country and its first people.
This was set to be a crazy couple of days of rad landscapes, the most amazing night sky ever, climbing mountains, going bush and playing footy with some Aboriginal kids!
The reason for the trip was an invitation from Walk-A-While Foundation to visit a remote community and talk to some of the locals about their dreams and hopes to share their culture, their land and their stories through photography and film.
Elliot and I had no idea what we’d encounter, who we’d meet and what would happen should our twenty year old land-cruiser break down in the middle of nowhere, and we had no sat phone. In fact no coverage at all for two days. Adventure and opportunity however override fear and I don’t think either of us has ever regretted stepping out and exploring!
So, much like a surf trip where you have to go with the flow and be prepared for the unexpected, we headed off on a cold Melbourne on morning flying to Alice Springs and were soon in our borrowed land-cruiser 250 km west of town driving on the red dirt.
Once on the road we were soon looking for water holes and opportunity to explore and potentially get completely lost! Our first stop didn’t disappoint!
Elliot did brave the cold and shallow water! This jump is from around 10m up the cliff face.
Evening came as we approached Haasts Bluff mountain and we went in search of a spot to see sunset.
Elliot spotted a hill off the dirt road and we drove across lands rarely walked or visited. Much like finding a remote surf break with no one else there, this was so special.
Complete silence, no phone coverage, just the wild beauty of creation! Being here reminded us of the need to disconnect to find ourselves again and the important things in life. To leave our phones behind or switch them off for a few hours even!
The totally clear sky we saw at sunset meant that we were pumped to get out and see the stars. What followed was more than epic!
The night sky blew our minds. More than enough food for our souls … we were overloaded by the intensity.
We stayed out late, much as you’d stay in the surf until last light when the waves are pumping.
For anyone with a love for creation this was more than amazing. We simply had not expected this, we’d not expected the sky to be so lit up compared to even country near towns and cities but this was extreme!
Next morning the local people had told us to climb Round Hill Mountain. A place they considered very special to their spirituality and history.
We packed the drone, prepared for the cold weather and headed out early just as you would for a wave at sunrise and this is what we found…
It was dark as we climbed so it wasn’t until we put the drone up that we were clear about where we were. We’re the tiny spec at the top!
Elliot scrambled down the vertical cliff face of the east side of the mountain and got this shot. Rocks were loose and the drop vertical!
The intensity of the sun in this clear early morning sky was amazing.
We didn’t want this trip though to be just about us getting pictures of the land, we really wanted to connect with local people. Much like visiting any new country to find new waves and not meeting with local people and giving something back, we felt the same about coming here.
We ventured west from our morning climb to the community of Ikuntji. Aboriginal communities pretty much all love Aussie Rules Football, so we found a footy and headed to the oval. An oval with not a blade of grass in sight! After a few kicks some local kids came over to meet us.
These kids were amazing. To many people they’d appear to have so little, but in fact they have so much and taught us to remember what’s important in life. Their love for fun, family, adventure, life and creation was inspiring. A real encouragement to always live simply and see the beauty in the things we take for granted. They were all super interested in our cameras and the drone and took some shots themselves.
After footy we found some food and prepared to venture out for sunset. We stopped by the side of the road to look for somewhere good.
We moved the Landcruiser (more than) a few times and Elliot climbed a tree and got bitten by ants to get this shot.
After being blown away by the beauty of the sunset, we fixed some food and decided to see what the night sky would do again. We weren’t disappointed.
We found a fire spot a few Km away, at a spot that the local community meet at, and lit a fire. Whilst no local people were around we felt so stoked to be able to visit this land.
After all this and such a full day of footy, photography, adventure and climbing we had to get some sleep. We planned an early start the next morning to enjoy the sunrise before heading home.
I’ve posted a few more memories below. But the main thing about trips like this is the adventure and what you learn about yourself, what you learn from people you meet, from stepping out of your comfort zone, from meeting people from different cultures, from swimming in freezing water, from rock jumping, from climbing, from those you travel with and this amazing land we are stoked to live in.
As for the local communities interest in digital media, there is a real hunger to share the way they see the world, to connect more, to build friendships and understanding. The possibilities in these days are endless.
Lets get out there remembering we can all help one another discover more wherever we are in this amazing world.
Shop our Embrace The Wild collection here!
Shop our Embrace The Wild collection here!