By Richelle Olsen, She Science Ambassador & The Ultra Life operator
On a Friday night in mid January, 4 young ladies stand on platform 9 at Flinders St station, in Melbourne, astride bikes, with packs on backs, and massive grins plastered across their faces. There may have also been some honking coming from a bright pink airhorn, attached to a bike named Taylor Swift….
Let me introduce the “#Microadventure”. A term made famous by UK Adventurer Alistair Humphries, it’s an ‘expedition’ close to home, easy, cheap and can last less than 24 hours. You can leave work at 5pm with a couple of friends, catch a train, and within an hour of any major city you can be in the countryside. Go sleep on a hill or on a beach, make a campfire, take in some fresh air, take a bottle of wine and study the Milky Way. All you really need is a rucksack, a sleeping bag with a cheap waterproof survival (or bivvy) bag or tent, some warm clothes and a sleeping mat
So 2 weeks ago I put the call out to a few of my friends:
Idea: Friday 16th Jan . Take bikes. Any bike. Catch the 5.11pm train from Flinders St to Stony Point. Take the last ferry from Stony Point to French Island (next to Phillip Island). Bush camp on the island. Share some yummy food. Drink wine (if you could fit it in your pack!) Sleep under the stars. Eat more food. Do some beachcombing first thing the next morning. Explore the island. Read a book.
Everyone would need their own camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat), that fits in a backpack. (Max riding with the backpack is 5km between the ferry and the campsite). Bogong Equipment rents lightweight gear if you need some too. But I’s sure everyone knows someone they can borrow something off!
Cost would be $26 for the ferry, $13 per night for the campsite (shared between everyone), and the cost of a Zone 1 Myki.
And here we were, beside ourselves with excitement. A mix of new friends and old. All with the same goal, to escape the city for 24hrs. It started with a metro train to Frankston, a V/Line train from Frankston to Stony Point, then an inter-island ferry to Tankerton Jetty on French Island. 3.5hrs after leaving the city, we were cycling along a dusty country road, not a car in sight, watching the sun lowering in the sky, pinching ourselves that we were actually here! Cue more pink air horn honking!!
5kms down the track we found our campsite, Fairhaven. With nothing more than a drop loo (and some lovely spearmint infused hand sanitiser!), and a watertank (please boil before drinking), it was a perfect spot to pull up a patch of ground in the protection of the tea-tree, rest the bike against the nearest tree trunk (no bike locks needed here!), and put the tents up. And it was all done just in time to walk the 10 metres to the most wonderful, deserted, white beach, to sit on the sand with a glass of wine, a sausage roll dipped in homemade relish and a slice of Feather Loaf…..facing west to watch as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon…..
The girls were full of praise – pinching themselves (and hugging each other!) that we were there in such a perfect spot, asking me how many times I’d been there, how did I know this spot. The funniest thing is I didn’t…I had never been there before. This microadventure was purely the result of making friends with Mr Google! And if they were chuffed, I was ecstatic that it had exceeded my wary expectations, and that I hadn’t dragged my mates along to some hole of a location! What a relief!
After a night interrupted only by the sound of waves, and a chorus of cicadas, Saturday morning treated us to a rainbow over the ocean as the sun fought the clouds… Breakfast was homemade blueberry muffins and leftovers from dinner….nothing beats leftovers! Fuelled and ready, we set off on our bikes in search of koalas, the French Island koalas known to be the healthiest in all of Australia. Back on the bikes (but leaving the packs back at camp), the dirt road became a dirt track, became a tree and prickle bush obstacle course, became the question “is this even a track?”. Setting ourselves a turnaround time limit, 2 minutes before we gave up the search, Jacinta is heard squealing with delight…not just a koala, but a koala with a baby on her back – jackpot! I swear that koala was looking down at us thinking “Who are these bush bashing freaks who have disturbed my peace!” High with excitement, with plenty of pink air horn honking, it was time to head back to pack up camp to head back to catch our 1.20pm ferry. But not before Dale’s very close encounter with a snake (more squeals), a road crossing echidna and a second breakfast at a general store in the absolute middle of nowhere!
And before we knew it, we were on the trek home. The ferry and 2 trains….sad the adventure was ending, but plenty of talk of future microadventures. It will most certainly be the first of many, many more!!
So now’s the time to create your own #microadventure Step outside your comfort zone, lose your excuses, and create your own adventure! All you need is a little imagination, and a load of enthusiasm. I guarantee you will not regret it! Do get in touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org or via The Ultra Life facebook page if you need any advice on your own #microadventure!!!
Richelle is a She Science Ambassador with an enthusiasm for life that rivals any other. You’ll find this adventure junkie out on the trails most weekends whether that be running, hiking or mountain biking. Richelle is a great role model for stepping outside of your comfort zone and continues to inspire us as she does so. Richelle and her partner, operate ‘The Ultra Life’ that run adventure riddled escapes both locally & internationally. Follow Richelle and her adventure fueled life via @theultralifevents.