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
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.