I resonate with some people because of the pictures they take: @shannonndean on Instagram is one of them. I don’t know how we connected there, but I throughly enjoy the pictures Shannon shares of her family of four as they adventure around Australia.
I asked Shannon if she would share a little on what they are doing as a family with me here. There’s so much joy in the photographs, you can see it, and if you’re interested in family adventure, the outdoors, and everyday joy, I recommend you and follow her on Facebook and take a look at the website, Beacon Seekin’.
Guest Post by Shannon from Beacon Seekin’
ADVENTURE the EVERYDAY
This evening we are sitting by a cliffs edge in Western Australia, counting down to the crash of king waves as they roll towards spectacular boulders. The cold ocean wind whips against our faces while we all “Woah!” as the sea erupts in a fireworks of white, salty spray.
155 days in a tent, 25000km since home, 399 toilet stops (rarely in a tiled bathroom with a flushing toilet), eyes wider than a Royal Doulton saucer and a smile from ear to ear on four windswept faces. This is not how I pictured parenthood to be. This isn’t how parenting started for us. We have a comfortable house in suburbia, with a picket fence and a flourishing veggie garden. We have a little boy and girl who love Peppa Pig, playgroup and pizza. We are a stay-at-home mum, working dad, weekend-warrior family. We were renovating, cleaning and working but we craved adventure, freedom and something… different.
So we decided to go travelling, adventure seeking, freedom hunting. Two months later we were on the road. We aren’t the only family travelling around Australia. Many have done it before and many are doing it right now. But we are all doing it a little differently. We rented out our home (easier than we expected) and travel in a not-new, unmodified four-wheel drive wagon. We now live in a dome tent that we can easily set up together (with no arguments) and sleep on suprisingly comfy air mattresses (although we are up to bed number four, as the children like to use them for jumping pillows). We don’t have a fridge or an esky: we are vegetarians and fresh fruit and vegetables makes up most of what we eat (roadside fruit and vegetable stalls and weekend markets have been amazing for this). We don’t have a tv, we don’t have a generator or solar power. We use car chargers while we drive for our phones and light. We don’t have a kettle (a miracle of convenience that we long took for granted). But we do have a whole lot of fun!
On the phone to my Mum the other day she asked me, as gently as she could, “So honey, this tent thing your living in now… does it have a floor?” Yes Mum, it has a floor. It’s actually quite comfortable, we’ve simplified our entire lives and stripped everything back to the essentials and it feels great – a very cathartic experience. Coffee made on our gas stove tastes better after spending the day at a new beach. Getting up with the sun and having breakfast at a lookout or in a forest is the best start to the day that I could have ever imagined.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go so well. One day we drove onto Cable Beach in Broome, as we had seen others do before us, to have lunch and soon we were enjoying our picnic next to the glistening, tropical water of the Indian Ocean. We didn’t realize that, as with a lot of the coast in northern Australia, Broome has huge tides and the water was rising more quickly than we could pack up our food, buckets and diggers. The waves came up to the back of our car (with everything we own inside it), lapping against the tires and the track out of the beach was cut off. Luckily for us, just as we had resigned to the fact we would be on the next flight back to Sydney, adventure over and our beloved car soon in possession of a family of Kimberly crocodiles, the high tide mark was below our back doors. After half an hour of bubbling around under our car, the waters receded, the locals returned to the beach and we could drive back to camp. Unintentionally, our two little kids had just had a very hands-on lesson in tides. That night as we watched the moon rise over red coastal cliffs, I could almost see my son imagining it pulling the ocean waters in and out. We are delighted at the learning opportunities that nature gives both us and our children. Breaking from routine can bring about wonderful lessons and the best memories are often in the eventfully unplanned. And so, even the road to freedom comes with potholes.
Years ago, our song (do you remember pre-parent romance too?) used to be The Special Two. But life has remixed the soundtrack to our love, and has produced a new song: The Special Poo. Our offspring choose only the most spectacular, only the most mind-blowingly special locations in Australia to have their toilet emergency. Every time, without fail. The more beautiful the place – the more catastrophic the incident. On the edge of an extinct volcano in Outback Queensland? Yep. On top of Katherine Gorge? Absolutely. On a remote island watching baby seagulls hatch? You can bet your souvenier money that The Special Poo is going to push your creativity, judgement and civilization to the Sharing a journey with young children is just a part of the unique, beautiful journey that is parenting. Adventure teaches, sometimes forces you, to prepare for anything. We have The Lemon Plan. It comes into effect when things turn… sour. Having a plan is invaluable when you have to make the often tough decisions on the road when your child gets a fever in the desert, a spider bite several kilometres into a bushwalk or a road is unexpectedly cut off from torrential rain. We have learnt that adventure is unwritten. Often you have to make it up as you go.
We are seeing incredible things like jumping crocodiles, coral reefs, red deserts, rock formations, ancient rainforests, vast coastlines and beautiful communities: but what we have discovered is even more important to us. We have found that adventure is not across the country or the other side of the world; its not in a glossy tourism brochure or your Facebook friends heavily edited holiday photo album. Adventure is in the everyday. Breakfast should be eaten outside of the kitchen and in nature, not only when you are camping, but once a week – at least. How often do we head straight home from work or school, instead of going first to the beach or river, to breathe in the wild air. How many nights a week do we watch the news instead of going outside and watching the sunset with our family? We seek adventure in something that contrasts with our everyday. Something that contrasts with our office, loungeroom or the supermarket. In order to experience adventure each day we need to rethink the idea of the everyday and recognise the diversity and opportunities that can be found within it. Our family has a few months of our road trip left. We know that we are in control of the wheel because life and each day in it, is a choose-your-own-adventure story. This applies to you whether you are a galavanting gypsy, a homebody in comfy pants or The Queen. We are passionate about having adventure in our lives and are excited about discovering new ways in which to make it. We had fun tonight watching the waves together and we head back to camp. We don’t have any plans for tomorrow but, to paraphrase David Bowie, we promise it won’t be boring.
Who are we?
A family of 4 who are adventuring their way through parenthood, life and Australia.