The Guys Behind The Adventure Handbook Prove That You Should Travel In Australia More
Australia is a very pretty and interesting place. You should go see it.
I’m a person who takes a kind of gleeful, wallowing satisfaction in spending a lazy Sunday walking the dog and reading a book, and maybe making a really niche sandwich; the kind of person who sighs in a deeply satisfied way after cleaning a stove. But sometimes, at odd moments, I’ll suddenly wish I was just somewhere else, somewhere with mountains or caves and that sparkly sense of not being home.
My most recent attack of the travel blues came after stumbling across the folks at The Adventure Handbook, a travel and adventure collective-cum-creative agency who spend their time hooning around Australia and documenting their experiences on social media such as their Instagram account, which is a mixture of glorious photos of mountains and snapshots of deflated tyres.
Made up of photographers Ryan Kenny and Luke Byrne, The Adventure Handbook also features Ben Tan on creative and Oliver Mol as a kind of freelance writing maverick; collectively, though, they describe themselves as “a bunch of neurotic kids going places” who are “trying to figure things out”. They’re launching their website in the next month or so, and plan on releasing their first hard-copy handbook by the end of the year. I’m always confused when people get together and organise something amazing, so I asked why they decided to create an “adventure collective”.
“We were sitting in this garage having beers and talking about travel; about when things had gone bad or when we’d felt scared or shitty. We realised that a lot of the people we’d associated with ‘travel’ or ‘adventure travel’ or had read about in travel magazines seemed really overtly ‘cool’ or ‘masculine’: boring, basically. They seemed to have everything together, and we weren’t interested in that. Because we’re a bunch of photographers and graphic designers and writers, we realised we could make something new. Something that was more honest and uncertain,” Tan says.
In May, The Adventure Handbook went to Tasmania, driving over the entire island from the Southwest National Park to Ben Lomond in the north-east. Over the last month they’ve been on a tour called ‘Woop Woop’, driving right up the guts of central Australia. With a combined social media following of nearly 52,000 people, it’s clear that this intrepid band of wacky twenty-somethings have reached deep into the collective consciousness of their generation, and lit it up with inspiration and maybe a small amount of jealousy. But the good kind of jealousy, that inspires you to go out and do stuff yourself.
A definite factor in this is how inclusive The Adventure Handbook is – not only do you get to see their progress in their photos, but they share how they’re feeling in small vignettes that accompany their pictures; tiny stories that reveal their hesitation or tiredness, but more importantly, their joy and enthusiasm. For some reason there was something joyous about the moment when a nail busted their tyre in Snowtown, despite the fact that it seemed more like the beginning of yet another Australiana serial killer horror movie.
What also struck me was the unfamiliar sensation of looking at my own country through an unfamiliar lens. I had the same sensation of wanting to experience what they were seeing, as if I was looking at something almost unattainable, like the Himalayas or the Grand Canyon. Instead, this is virtually in my backyard, and I have to wonder why I’ve never thought to travel in my own country.
Tourism Research Australia figures indicate that the number of Australians travelling overseas has increased significantly in recent years, in particular holiday travel, while domestic travel has declined. There are a lot of clear reasons why overseas travel has become easier – the rising Australian dollar and decreased cost of flightsspring to mind — but it doesn’t explain why internal tourism isn’t more popular, especially with younger people who don’t have as much cash to throw around.
I’m not sure if The Adventure Handbook is aiming to actively buck this trend, but their mix of social media savvy and earnest storytelling can’t hurt.
“We’re excited about The Adventure Handbook because we’re basically just a group of mates collaborating and having fun,” Tan says. “But we’re more than that; we’re seeing parts of our country and the world that we haven’t seen before. And we’re meeting new people, and we’re learning, and that seems really important to us; to be learning as we go.”
So what’s next in store? According to Tan, the group have big plans, even aside from the trips to the US and South America they’ll be doing over 2015. “Hopefully a proper good workspace of some kind, and maybe a dog. Yeah. A dog would be pretty cool. I’m thinking he could be called Steve.”
Patrick Lenton is a writer of theatre and fiction. He blogs at The Spontaneity Review and tweets inanity from@patricklenton.