Life ad­vice Ex­plorer Justin Jones on the fam­ily ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

The ex­plorer and mo­ti­va­tional speaker thought his life as an ad­ven­turer was over when he mar­ried and had a child. In­stead, he and his fam­ily are now on one of the big­gest Aus­tralian out­back ex­pe­di­tions of all time

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents -

Ispend my evenings sit­ting around a camp­fire with my wife Lau­ren, en­joy­ing qual­ity nappy-burn­ing time to­gether. Mor­gan, our 18-month-old daugh­ter, is wear­ing the only 100 per cent biodegrad­able, com­postable nap­pies on the mar­ket. We dry them out dur­ing the day, take great sat­is­fac­tion in watch­ing them burn each even­ing, then bury the ashes. I find my­self think­ing, “Jonesy, how did you be­come this bloke?”

When I was 18, a mate and I pad­dled the full length of the Mur­ray River. I then went on to do var­i­ous moun­taineer­ing ex­pe­di­tions. I pad­dled a sea kayak from Aus­tralia to New Zea­land and trekked through swamps in North Amer­ica. I was ad­dicted to feel­ing like I was on a quest.

Then I met Lau­ren, mar­ried and had a daugh­ter. I had al­ways wanted to cross Aus­tralia on foot but had put that dream aside – I couldn’t just walk off and leave my wife and kid for three months! Then Lau­ren sug­gested we all go. I re­alised I’d fallen into the par­ent trap of think­ing my life of ad­ven­ture was over.

This out­back ex­pe­di­tion will see us cover al­most 2000 kilo­me­tres in 90 days, from cen­tral Aus­tralia to Port Au­gusta. Any­one who has ever left the house with a small child knows even a trip to the shops re­quires loads of prepa­ra­tion. The plan­ning for this trip was so in­volved I started to ques­tion whether we’d ever get to set out – yet here we are.

On this trek we have a rou­tine. We wake up at 4am and play with Cap­tain Mor­gan (she runs the show). By 8am we’ve packed up camp and Lau­ren pushes Mor­gan in the cart up ahead, while I am just the mule that drags all our stuff. At lunch we stop, eat and rest, then we set off again while The Cap­tain naps. We walk on un­til around 4pm.

We’ve no­ticed Mor­gan has re­ally slowed down to look at things. Her whole vo­cab­u­lary has changed, too – she will point and say “stars” , “moon” or “stick”. It’s fas­ci­nat­ing watch­ing the way she now con­nects to na­ture. Al­though she will be too young to re­mem­ber this first fam­ily ad­ven­ture, we think it will be­come a defin­ing part of who she is.

It’s be­com­ing a defin­ing part of who we are as a fam­ily, too. Even when we are get­ting ham­mered with flies, I look at my wife push­ing my daugh­ter in a cart up ahead and I think, “This is the kind of life we want to live.” The Jone­ses are due to com­plete their cross­ing at the end of this month; the­jonesys.com.

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