kids

'We walked across the outback for three months with a toddler in tow'.

Lauren, Justin and their one year old daughter Morgan, affectionately known as The Jonesys, are a modern-day family trying to settle down different and build a life of adventure. They want to challenge the traditional conventions of what it means to ‘settle down’ and prove that embracing adventure and play through adulthood can prove transformational.

People say parenthood is the greatest adventure of all and yet amidst the sleep deprivation, baby routines and figuring out new parenthood, Justin and Lauren felt a bit lost. They found themselves missing their independence and mourning their freedom and wondering if it was possible to somehow merge an adventurous life with family life.

They could see how quickly the days, months and years could slip by. That dreams could too easily be put on hold until later, until the ‘right’ time, indefinitely. They felt like if they didn’t do something to change their direction, they would be consumed by the busy, following other people’s paths, tuned out by technology, missing the moment, always waiting for later.

Holly Wainwright talks to The Jonesys about their gruelling Outback trek on I Don’t Know How She Does It. Post continues: 

They yearned to find their own authentic path. They yearned for answers. They yearned to make a positive impact on the world. They yearned to wander, to stay curious and for adventure, not just in the gated confines of an urban playground or park.

They decided to go on a pilgrimage, a parenthood pilgrimage, walking through the centre of Australia, the heart of the Outback. And so it began, a seemingly impossible goal of walking 1,800km, unaccompanied (aka no support vehicle), on an expedition from the centre of Australia to the coast roughly the distance of walking from Brisbane to Melbourne, with their one year old daughter in tow.

People told them they were crazy, irresponsible and at times they believed them. They didn’t have the slightest clue if their goal was even possible or how they were going to do it. They just knew they needed to try and that, in itself, was the real adventure.

On a mission to evolve, to reinvent and somehow merge the old versions of themselves with the new ones (baby spew and all), they began their trek in the remote Indigenous community of Docker River/Kaltukatjara in the Northern Territory, before walking via Yulara, Kulgera and Aputula, then onto Oodnadatta, William Creek, Marree, Beltana, Parachilna and finally Port Augusta, in South Australia.

Their walk took them through the heart of the Outback, past the ancient red rock domes of Kata Tjuta, the sandstone monolith Uluru, the great salt lakes Lake Eyre and Lake Torrens and the beautiful Flinders mountain ranges.

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Over 102 days they battled extreme temperatures which ranged from -2C to 42C, suffered sleep deprivation (thank you teething!), suffocating flies, dehydration, blisters, sore ankles, dodged snakes, dingoes, emus, wild brumbies and camels, changed over 800 compostable nappies out on the trail and created memories that both challenged and bonded their family together forever.

Over the duration of their expedition, they not only saw their one year old daughter survive but thrive. Morgan, who was barely walking at the start of the expedition was now running across red dirt sand hills, finding sticks for fire, running fast like an emu, climbing trees and exploring her surroundings like a seasoned pro.

They watched their daughter transform from a risk they had to mitigate to a fully functioning member of the team. By the end of the expedition Morgan, who was born and raised in an apartment in the city, had also spent nearly a quarter of her life sleeping in a tent.

Lauren and Justin remembered what it was like to view the world through childlike wonder. They realised that settling down didn’t have to be the end of anything and was actually a new start. They proved to themselves that adventure doesn’t have to stop as we get older and move through various life stages. Through the expedition they found the courage to settle down different and build a life they didn’t need a vacation from.

One of their favourite quotes from Mary Oliver is, ‘tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’. Fuelled by FOMO, a desire to find an authentic path and curiosity, they are constantly asking themselves this question, constantly challenging normal and remind us to ask ourselves the same thing too.

Are you inspired by The Jonesys’ outlook on life? Tell us in a comment below.

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