Probably not the most heartfelt headline you’ve ever read, but let me explain. It would seem that not everyone likes the fibre of our fabric.
So as you’ve gathered by now, We Are Explorers is an adventure travel business that’s inherently filled with positive vibes. We’re a thriving community that promotes the natural wonders of the outdoors and its seemingly endless gamut of recreational possibilities.
Whilst 99% of the feedback we receive reflects this positivity, there’s the occasional negative remark that rattles through the digisphere and sucker punches me in the gut. The nature of these remarks? The ‘secret spots’ we mention, and to “stop calling them out, d**k head” as one individual kindly pointed out to me.
I wanted to use this opportunity to respond to these naysayers. Here’s our position on the notion of ‘secret spots’ and why we’re happy to call them out:
#1 More information about the outdoors is a GOOD thing
There is no denying that living an adventurous lifestyle is ‘on trend’, most notably among millennials. The rise of the experience economy and social media have been the fuels for this – we want to be measured by the things we do with our lives not the inane objects we clutter it with. It’s an almighty societal shift that we’re going through and it’s presented a wonderful opportunity for the outdoor industry. It does however come with side effects: an increasing risk of overuse at the most popular / instagrammable destinations is one of them. (Cue rants over the Figure 8 Pools, the Pillars in Mt Martha etc…)
Neither the thirst for experience or need for a selfie are going anywhere, so what can we do about it? How can we leverage the two to create the most positive outcomes for individuals and the environment?
We believe the best way to fight Figure 8 Pools-esque calamities is to make information about alternatives as accessible as possible. A lack of information for all but the most popular swimming hole, trail or climb is incredibly dangerous. There’s a bountiful supply of locations to explore and through the content we share on We Are Explorers we help to solve this issue, not accelerate it. We’ve even been working closely with NSW National Parks to ease this pressure and disperse visitation across the region. High fives for us.
#2 Public Land is for the Public
We don’t write about private land and certainly don’t encourage trespassing. (If you want a private land experience that’s fully legit, check out our friends over at YouCamp – they’re the airbnb of camping and they’re game-changers. If you haven’t already, check them out.)
What that means, of course, is that we’re almost exclusively talking about public land—and public land, by its very definition, is for the public. You might be able to pretend it’s your very own private spot, but I’m afraid that doesn’t make it private.
#3 Participation = Conservation
We’ve all seen disturbing images of waste-laden, graffiti riddled campsites right? Some of them make the back streets of a Mumbai slum look like the Ritz Carlton in comparison. Environmentally-inept humanoids who treat our pockets of paradise like dumping grounds literally make my eyes twitch and my blood boil. I’d love to kick that empty tuna tin so far up their arses they’d weep brine.
Whilst there are sadly some lost causes, we believe a lot of this comes down to education and understanding; instilling a level of public stewardship is essential in raising awareness and protecting our environment. How do we do this? By getting people immersed in the outdoors in fun and responsible ways.
There are some emerging not-for-profits making some impressive headway in engaging young people with the outdoors in ways that educates and enables. Take 3, for example encourage everyone to take three pieces of rubbish away with them when they leave the beach and Leave No Trace work with communities to help restore overused areas. The best example is Intrepid Landcare; they connect young people with local environmental initiatives in their local area to mix adventure, conservation and campfire shindigs (we’re actually partnering with them this year so watch this space!)
Encouraging more young people to step outside to feel that deep connection with nature can therefore only be a good thing; the experience itself creates a soul-deep understanding of its beauty and fragility, ingraining an awareness of the need for its preservation (and why it’s probably a d**k head move to dump a lilo at the foot of waterfall).
Even stopping to pick up a choccie-bar wrapper along the trail helps. Having a personal investment in a wilderness area is a great way to give back. The more people who contribute to conservation efforts and feel real ownership in the land, the better.
If we want to conserve public lands, we need more people to be passionate about the outdoors. It puts greater pressure on local, state and federal governments to make changes that benefit environmental courses, and has a real positive impact on local regional economies.
#4 We’re Getting More People Outdoors
Our aim at We Are Explorers is to inspire wanderlust and get people to discover what’s in their backyards. We want readers to follow through with research and planning (either on this website or elsewhere) and then get outside. We’re trying to create a refreshing buzz for the outdoors whilst making the plethora of activities accessible for all.
What’s more, we’re also facing a serious health crisis in Australia. We think inspiring people to get outdoors can have a real effect on this. It’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell us that time spent in the outdoors is beneficial to both physical and mental well-being.
#5 Solitude comes to those who work for it
If you like waking to the hopping thud of a roo or the laser skirmish of a distant lyrebird, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to work for it. Generally speaking popular spots are popular because they’re easy to get to, so if you want it to yourself you’ve got to explore a little farther.
Skip the popular route up that mountain in the distance (the one with a steady stream of city escapists) and pick one of the alternate routes. It’s honestly not very difficult to find outdoor experiences away from the crowds, but you may have to actually work for it. You may have to go in the off-season, and you might have to pick the third-most-popular destination instead of the one you saw on instagram. Sorry.
To summarise then, we will continue to showcase all the lesser known nooks and crannies of the outdoors thanks to our ever expanding network of explorers lurking around Australia and New Zealand. We want to inspire people to get outdoors and we think sharing information about where to go makes the outdoors more accessible for everyone.
And as far as we’re concerned, if you just get people outside having a good time, Mother Nature takes over. They’re hooked for life.