Caro Ryan is the ‘unexpected outdoors chick’ – from a non-outdoorsy family, it took her until she was 21 to discover the world beyond the city.
Now, she manages successful website ‘Lotsafreshair’ and is dedicated to outdoor adventure, sharing knowledge, stories and ideas to inspire others to get outside and start exploring.
She shares her story with the Macpac Blog.
My family are not outdoorsy types at all and we never went camping as kids. So for me, the connection with the outdoors started on a three-day corporate training course when I was 21. It was deep in the Budawangs National Park, near Nowra, NSW and I never realised that such amazing places existed, let alone I could be a part of them. There was something about the feeling of being completely remote and self-sufficient that made me feel incredibly small and humbled. After a few subsequent unsuccessful attempts at figuring out the bush for myself, I joined the Sydney Bush Walkers Club in 2000 and it changed my life.
My working life is pretty hectic. I’m a producer/director and run a production company in Sydney that specializes in shooting in locations and in circumstances that have tricky logistics. This means I spend quite a bit of time working overseas (or even over-sea), with helicopters or dealing with multiple stakeholders. It’s the perfect marriage for an outdoors chick. The number of times I’ve lugged gear and equipment up a mountain/volcano/across an open ocean in a tinnie/been stranded on a desert island and needed to call on my bushwalking/outdoor experience, has been massive. Oh and I love when I can open my pack and reveal a whole stash of gear that makes a location more comfortable for models, actors and the crew.
I started Lotsafreshair, to put together all the practical information that I’ve learnt over the years from spending time in the outdoors. So many people can give excuses and barriers that stop them from taking the first step off the concrete into the bush, I felt that if I could address each one of those barriers… then there would be no excuse! Bushwalking and the Outdoors changed my life, so I genuinely want to use Lotsafreshair to offer support, inspiration, encouragement and advice to help others do the same. Originally, there was very little information like it on the internet and certainly not told from a supportive, female or Australian voice. I feel by just sharing what I know, in a low-key style (without hard-core, survivalist style, machismo) people will see that spending time in the outdoors, being active and having moments of adventure, isn’t hard at all and will want to jump in and try it themselves.
Despite my busy lifestyle, I always find time for the outdoors. There are so many reasons why I feel I need to be in the wilderness. I say need, because for me, I feel that time outdoors benefits me in every aspect of my life and without it – I am a poorer person. Physically, it is a great workout and way of keeping healthy – mentally and emotionally it calms my mind and removes the clutter and noise from my daily life and revealing the simplicity and peace that is often lost in the busy-ness and spiritually, it is a place where (in that peace and calm) I can be in wonder and overcome with a sense of gratitude and humility. Not only that, but from a business point of view, I think that experiences in the bush make me a better manager and producer – all that stuff like assessing and managing risks, resource management, leadership, contingency planning, people management, strategy etc is stuff people spend big bucks on to learn at an MBA!
Whenever there is a spare moment, I’m planning my next adventure – whether that’s bushwalking, camping or exploring somewhere that I’ve never been before. My favourite types of adventure are off-track, exploratory bushwalks that push into areas where I can’t find much information about. The type where I spend hours poring over the topo maps, spread over the floor, trying to mentally picture if that skinny little ridge, does actually ‘go’, or questioning whether the 15m climbing tape will be a long enough handline! I love that sense of unknown and discovery – pushing through scrub and heavy bush doesn’t bother me – especially when you’re rewarded with a view or a cracking campsite that very few people ever see, and get to share it with good friends. Oh and I love rock scrambling too!
One of the most important things about being in the outdoors, is having the right gear. I’ve always been a great user of Macpac, and was really stoked to become an ambassador in. I love my 55L Pursuit backpack and have even made it work for 7 day trips. I’ve had it for years and it’s stood up to the toughest Aussie scrub that I’ve thrown at it. I think there’s something about a pack that because it’s a part of your body for so long and shares in your adventures, it becomes quite personal. No one knows what you’ve been through and what you’ve seen more than your pack.
My pack = my friend.
For all Caro’s updates, videos and how-to guides visit Lotsafreshair here, or keep an eye on the Macpac blog for more of her contributions.