We’re sharing a series of summer musings to keep you inspired on those long summer afternoons where the only decision to be made is whether to doze off or take another dip in the ocean.
Two people who know ocean dips (and waterfalls, waterholes and rockpools) all too well are Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon of Places We Swim.
We thought this time of year, punctuated by a feeling of freedom and adventure, was opportune to revisit one of the most inspiring stories of all from our Escapism Zine.
Since their contribution to our zine, Caroline and Dillon have launched their first publication, Places We Swim, Exploring Australia's Best Beaches, Pools, Waterfalls.
A curation of breathtaking photography, stories of community, local knowledge and exploration of the Australian landscape, there’s no better book to inspirit a nature-filled 2019.
Here we have reposted the backstory to their adventure…
Places We Swim
Written and photographed by Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik
In March 2017 we quit our jobs, moved out of our house, and decided to spend the next 12 months exploring our own country. Like so many people we have largely taken Australia for granted and focussed our travels on cheaper, more exotic destinations, or European summers. It seemed indulgent to just travel for a year, so we set a goal to create something at the end. We are documenting Australia’s best places to swim, not because we are serious swimmers, but because we have always found ourselves drawn to water. It’s a feature that cuts through age, class, religion and ethnicity. In this way, swimming is a natural access point to understanding the Australian experience.
For us, taking time off wasn’t a rejection of society or city living. We loved our jobs, our home, the regularity and security of our routines, our friends and family. But we had a feeling that if we didn’t take time off now, we would keep making excuses forever. We recognised that our lives, careers, and relationship should survive a long holiday. In fact, they might even benefit from it. It’s not a radical idea, nor is it a permanent one. Living on the road indefinitely is romantically naive, not to mention economically unsustainable. The point is to take some time, of any length, to explore and to be inspired. It’s not a new concept, but it’s one that so many people only ever wonder about.
Before we left, a friend asked, “how much does your job cost you?” It seemed like a contradiction at the time. However, the idea steadily grew and unfurled as we drove across the country. How much of our income goes to paying rent and eating at the same places? How many opportunities had we forgone because we had to rush back from our annual leave? How much time and effort had we spent bouncing from event to event in our city lives? None of it seems too relevant driving around the Outback in a rusty Landcrusier.
People like to romanticise this kind of lifestyle. We see it in the #vanlife movement. Carefree living. Setting your own schedule, sleeping under the stars, etc. There is a lot to be said for the adventure, but nobody bothers to document the uncomfortable truths. The curated world leaves no room for unpleasant realities. There are days so hot that even talking is too much of an effort. There are endless sun baked kilometres of unchanging shrubs. There are the hangry episodes spent bickering over which noodle shape to cook. Finally, the too frequent breakdowns that leave you stranded for days.
Most of the time, however, there is the everyday excitement that you will experience something new. The reality of not knowing where you’ll end up each night and being okay with it. We have time and space to get lost in thought, or the freedom to not think at all. There is time to be in love. We have devoured books and podcasts. And, of course, we’ve found some great swimming holes.
Looking at the year so far, we are reluctant to call it an ‘escape’, but can certainly see how it looks that way. We would rather think about it as another development in our careers. A detour. A sabbatical to gather information and experiences that we will benefit from for years to come. When we finish our book we will likely land in many of our old routines. We will welcome a home and steady pay check once again. Like any good holiday, we’re looking forward to returning to our real lives with fresh eyes, excitement, and some rude tan lines.