Disenchantment can be a driver for change

Young people can create change (pc: School Strike

I was led to believe by following your passion and getting a good education, success at changing the world would just happen. I remember picking up a handful of pamphlets at a university open day, which ignited an imagination of becoming a park ranger and saving endangered species from extinction. An environmental science degree was the pathway to protect the environment.

However, a few years after graduation, my position as a coastal professional positioned within the machine of coastal management led me to become consistently conflicted with the system. I would often express my frustrations regarding the lack of action for climate change or the approval of development in vulnerable coastal zones. Given the political climate at the time, I couldn’t even say climate change! This was of much disappointment given this was only a few years after the height of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and the explosion of climate change discourse throughout my undergraduate degree.

Over the years I acquired a nickname as being a “disruptor”. However, what I had really become was an inconvenience. I was “that” or “one of those” coastal professionals asking questions and demanding accountability of the machine. I was an emerging product of this particular machine — was is an intentional past construction here.

This frustration was in fact disenchantment. What I saw with a critical self-reflexivity was what I could not deny. There are implications of maintaining the status quo and being a disenchanted cog in the machine, however, I was yet to know what they were. What I did know, was that I had become conflicted with this idea that the nature of my participation in coastal management was more than my job description, and it deserved a critical interrogation into the implications of toeing the line for the sake of status, career or financial gain.

Whether it has been out of stubbornness, a lack of fear or an inherent quality to strive for equality, I have become to realise that disenchantment can be a driver for change. It is in those (these) moments of disenchantment where we should question our own participation and reflect on our values, ethics and morals. I know that there can be another way, other ways of managing Australia’s coastal zone. This question has consumed my life since leaving the machine and starting a PhD about this disenchantment of the coastal zone.

If I could share some advice to my younger self (I am 32 years old), I would advise to understand and value the power of questioning, and with a critical self-reflexivity of pre-conditioned realities, we can also shift ideals to see another or other ways. This may not be written in the language for a younger self to understand, however, young people are incredibly intelligent and they will work out what I mean. The way the machine compromises the health, sustainability and ecology of the coastal zone needs bright, passionate young minds to continually question. ‘If we maintain the status quo, we will not realise the change we need for the environment and humanity’, words by Associate Professor Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, who continually reminds me as I navigate my own PhD.  And I agree with her.

This Friday presents a chance to challenge the machine, whatever side of politics you are from or whatever your age category. I will be joining the School’s Climate Strike to demonstrate my support for young minds to question and demand real action for climate change. 

Touring: Gold Coast to Cooktown


In a few days, Tom (my partner) and I will be riding north from the Gold Coast to Port Douglas and then onto Cooktown, and return in a few weeks. A round trip close to 4500km. A life adventure that will be over before we know it… along with those aches and pains. Many of our friends and family are not into touring, so I thought I would put together a “wee blog” about our preparations, gear and itinerary etc.

Why? Part family, part adventure, part conservation. Tom’s parents are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary at Port Douglas, and one of us said… why not ride there. We got hooked into adventure touring after riding the Indian Himalayas with Himalayan Rider last year. And so we are riding to Port Douglas, and then onto Cooktown (we are pretty keen to ride the famous Bloomfield track), and then turn around and head south. On this trip we will be completing at least a few of the top rides in Australia, including what is on our door being the Gold Coast Hinterland. We also intend to raise $4,500 to represent the number of kms we will travel for important reforestation projects in partnership with Rainforest Australia Trust and One Me, One planet. You can donate via oneme.raisely.com/tomnaomi

Our itinerary Gold Coast to Port Douglas: I could upload a very detailed spreadsheet (we both share another passion and that is spreadsheets!). For you, here is a rough idea:

  • Day 1: Gold Coast to Wallumbilla (just past Roma) / 544km, 7hrs
  • Day 2: Roma to Carnarvon Gorge NP / 284km, 2.5hrs
  • Day 3: Carnarvon Gorge to Belyando Crossing Roadhouse (or if we are making good time we might stay at a Cattle Station) / 530km, 6.5hrs
  • Day 4: Belyando Crossing Roadhouse to Undara Volcanic NP  / 581km, 6.5hrs
  • Day 5: Undara Volcanic NP to Port Douglas / 314km, 4hrs
  • Total = 2,253km (yew!)

Our itinerary Port Douglas to Gold Coast: This is still in the works, but essentially we are traveling down the east coast road. Imagine lots of beach camping and enjoying mid-day ocean swims. We will update you.

Preparations: Over the last few months we have been ramping up our weekend adventures and day trips to test our gear, set up and stamina. If anything, it is your mental capacity on the bike that will get you to your destination. Staying alert, in control and not having too much fun. All jokes aside, it is also team work, and you need a good team member to spot you, look out for you, and keep you pumped up. We give each other “precious time”, meaning that the other person supports whoever is feeling “precious” (we do this anyway regardless of being on or off the bikes). We also have a very detailed plan and know when our breaks are coming up, how much further, how long that might take, and have lots of yummy snacks and hydration stops, which also means lots of toilet stops (a good excuse to get off the bike). And we are both pretty fit human beings, love the outdoors and have a passion for health and wellbeing. Yet, as our motorcycle trainer used to say, “relax your shoulders, grip your tank with your legs, have soft hands and look up (always!)”, and if you follow this, your body will thank you. I personally think that it is about core strength, so lots of yoga, planks and stretching has been part of the preparation to do list.

For this trip (and most trips), I have done the meal preparations. For this trip, we have lots of protein balls, real fruit roll ups, snack bars, fruit and a good trail mix for snacks; intend to make sandwiches / wraps for lunches; and have nourishing light meals for dinners. You don’t want to be too full and feeling sluggish, so light meals are the best for touring. We also recently purchased a Biolite, so our set up will be pretty hi-tec (it comes with a coffee plunger and USB charger!), and we also have a toaster grill to enjoy a continental breakfast! For liquids, we both have hydration packs (mine is yellow-hi-vis, which is great for visibility), and will take electrolytes and magnesium additives to add to our water bottles for that mid-afternoon pick-me-up. On the health and safety side, we have muscle creams, suncream, a good SPF lip balm, wind protectors for our necks, a full first aid kit and snake bite kit (we are in Australia), orange and mint essential oil sprays (yes, I am serious and have since convinced Tom), and I am taking a yoga mat as I intend on doing morning and evening stretching… We are super prepared, but do have that feeling of have we forgotten something?

Set up: The best thing next to the Biolite cooker that we purchased is a bluetooth intercom set up – OMG, if you are into riding with a crew this is a game changer. We got the Cardo Bluetooth set up, long range and battery life (apparently). We try not to be out of each other’s vision for too long, but being able to chat and mainly talk about the road is a bonus on long trips. I have Andy Strap panniers, while Tom has Neilsen Rigg (both are good quality and got good reviews, because they are good), although they are not hard case and lockable, they are practical for what we are doing. I have to admit, I do like my set up better, it is easy to put on and off, while Tom’s set up is more tricky. We also have a duffle bag each for our clothes that we strap on behind us (back seat). I have a bright blue Sea & Summit bag, which is also great for visibility, has good straps for bikes, usable for other adventures in life, and is pretty. And Tom has a lockable top box, which is pretty much empty most of the time (good spot for helmets when we stop and check out country stores, and his Arukbra while we are on the bikes). We are also taking a 3L jerry can each for extra fuel just in case. You can get some pretty hi-tec ones for motorcycles, but our budget was starting to blow out, so we just went for some simple ones you can also use for cars / boats etc. The thing with adventure sports is that you need a shed for all your gear, so when I get gear I try and think, what else could I use this for. We also have a small two man tent that is long enough for Tom, two tri-pod seats, sleeping gear… and a hint of luxury with a small pillow each (I made two small pillows and they fix into a small all-weather bag that trap it onto our other bags). We ditched the picnic blanket on this trip, and I also bought a pocket size one… so that might be one thing we regret (we could pick up one on the way anyway). We also have an extra 4L water bladder that you can fold up (so we have ample water (10L between us). Not sure how many litres of storage we have, but we are tracking good knowing that we are about to leave with half-filled panniers.

Gear: Motorcycle gear…

Me: I splurged last year and got new gear after my old gear that I had for 10 yrs was either too small or falling apart (though, I still have my Dri-rider leather gloves with kelvar inserts). For this trip, I will be wearing a Bell helmet with a transition lens visor (best idea ever, so you really have a visor for all weather and conditions) – I totally recommend a transition lens! For the upper part, I have a BMW women’s jacket for all weather and conditions (fully rain proof, great for summer and winter as well, and the insert liner is actually fashionable on its own, so you don’t need to take another ‘dress jacket’), and seriously it is ridiculously comfortable. This was my surprise purchase last year and fortunately got a decent discount when I bought my bike, because they retail for $1000. But as the guy in the shop said, “you will have it for life”, (let’s see). For pants, we both wear Draggin jeans – the World’s safest motorcycle street-style jeans. I wasn’t a fan of them in the beginning, because of the stitched-in-patches (the engineered-innovation that protects you in a fall) made them quite uncomfortable and itchy. But as I wore them and washed them they have loosen up, and super comfortable now. I also got them taken up as they were too long, which can be a bit of a hazard on bikes – years ago I crashed my 250cc with it landing on top of me in a garden bed when my flares got caught on the foot peg (so be careful old souls!). Boots, I have a solid pair of leather suede boots from Winsdor and Smith (see the pic above), and if we get hit by too much rain I can always change into my Salomon gortex hiking boots. We are not going off the beaten track too much, so I think we won’t need adventure touring motorcycle boots. I also wear a soft cotton scarf that I have had for years, and use my old North Face Gortex pants to cover up my bottom half in the rain, and another pair of all weather Dri-rider leather gloves (good for winter, rail or hail) that I have had for many years.

Tom: pretty much the same as above, but wears a Rev It Touring jacket, and street-style motorcycle boots, and his old snowboard neck protector for wind and sun protection, and hi-vis Dri-rider wet-weather gear. He is pretty keen on my BMW jacket… that might be his next purchase.

For those thinking about getting into motorcycling and/or touring, your gear is almost as (or is more) important as a good bike. I would say I have spent almost $2000 or near on my gear in the last year (ouch, I need to finish that Phd and get a real job!). Our set up above would have also set us back about $3000-$4000, which includes brackets, panniers etc. Then add extra for the comfort hi-tec gadgets – Biolite, solar power charger for phones etc… adventure sports are expensive, but once you have the gear the idea is to use it and abuse it and it will last.

Tools: We have a standard motorcycle toolkit, tyre repair kit, general maintenance gear like tube lube… and guardian angels and Tom has RACQ roadside assistance membership  just in case! Both of our bikes recently had major services, so they are good as new and will be able to do the distance + more before they are due for a service again (a cost that I didn’t budget but still tracking OK). I also got a new chain recently, and brakes, so my bike is super prepared. I do like to get regular services (more than necessary) and we have a great mechanic called Tony at Gold Coast Motorcycles. He has been my bike mechanic for many years, so definitely a great guy and does the extra stuff we might not of thought of and explains what we need and why.

Our bikes… finally getting to what it is all about. I ride a CB500x, while Tom has a Transalp XL650V. Both Hondas, so no competition… we also have similar tyres, 80/20 for off-road / gravel / smooth road etc. Depending on what you like, Australia has endless bitumen roads, unlike the trip we did in India. In saying this, I did love those hectic days of off-road riding in India on a Classic Royal Enfield! Although in saying this, this is my first time riding with off-roadish tyres and it take a few rides to get use to the tread, and I am glad I went for a tyre that can handle dirt tracks. Because almost every trip we have been on thus far has included some surprise dirt tracks, and my normal road tyres were pretty sketchy on those trails, while Tom would leave me in the dust. Basically, both of our bikes are made for this adventure, and our tyres are ready to do the distance (have done about 100km on them now, so we have many more kms yet to do on them).

Ok, this blog has kind of turned into an adventure motorcycle touring review and we haven’t even left yet! We (mainly me) will be spamming on Instagram @naomiedwards, so feel free to check it out.

Wish us luck! And remember to donate via oneme.raisely.com/tomnaomi

Much love, Tom + Naomi xoxo

Oh, Miss Megan

Sunset hike to Drawing Rocks, South Coast NSW

Oh, Miss Megan. My incredible best friend, co-worker, co-founder, co-legend and co- so many other things, deserves the first blog of the year. Wow, I forgot I had a blog.

Megan Rowlatt is a legend. If you know her, you know what I am talking about. Everyday I am grateful to have her in my life for all the above and much more. And I thought perhaps by sharing a tangent about our work-life relationship perhaps, it might inspire you to think about a relationship with a co-worker. We spend most of our waking hours at work, working somewhere on something with somebody and developing a meaningful, respectful relationship makes ‘work’ that bit more enjoyable.

So here I go…

I first heard about Megan and her incredible community engagement work with Landcare sometime around 2014. She was (is) this phenomenon for Landcare. I started following her inspiring Instagram feed, and became one of her many followers – borderline stalker which I have since confessed! Then I got hold of her email signature and had her number. A few months later I worked up the courage to call her and share an idea that I had, and said that I thought she was the person to come on board to help make it happen. After all she was a phenomenon! She responded, sorry, who are you? Only kidding, she was like, hell yeah, there is another young person out there that thinks similar to me.

It has been three years since  we co-founded Intrepid Landcare. So, what has been our secret to creating a real, authentic professional relationship yet we live in different states and have other lives? How do we make what we do happen? Yet have so much fun?

  • No bullshit – to be frank first up, we do not bullshit. We do not have time for games.
  • Always a contribution to each other – what has to be said is said. Raw, honest feedback is given and taken as a contribution. We comment on what worked and even better if about each other’s craft, and this is taken on board to improve next time. We can only do better and strive for our best.
  • In communication – about everything. Facebook chat is where we do most of our communication and we do phone pow-wows when and if we can. We check in when it is appropriate with each other, as we also have lives outside Intrepid Landcare. I am usually walking my dog, Megan is usually driving. We also get into communication with each other asap when something urgent comes up and we back each other every time.
  • Work with integrity at its core – honouring our own word creates trust, with each other and ourselves. We trust that we will follow through with what we said and when we said it, and we will be in communication if we think a deadline might be missed.
  • Timekeepers – time is a commodity, we are both (I am probably more) meticulous on time management. We can see each other’s calendar to know what is going on for the other person. If anything, Megan can see  how I project manage… life. Our time is valued.
  • Actually interested in each other – between sharing ideas, sending each other designs and documents to look over, I also send probably too many photos of my dog. Megan knows what is happening in my life, she is part of my life. This keeps whatever is happening in perspective and we are able to provide advice on so much more other than work.
  • Honour space – we also honour space for other stuff, especially thinking time. We are not in each other’s pockets, rather,  honour space. Space to restore, recharge, rethink… reset. Setting up an organisation isn’t exactly a stroll. It can be long nights, weekends, sunsets and sunrises… and can be  a demand on the mind and soul. We both have  our own self-care approaches, and we honour space to ensure each other are ok. This also means our minds are rested, hearts are energised and we are excited to keep the adventure alive.

There is probably so much more to unpack about our relationship. But this is what I have got to share on a Tuesday night. Much love and respect to Megan xo