5 reasons why you should adventure in your backgarden

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Most of you reading this would be quite inclined to discovering new things, but it is probably fair to say that a lot of us are probably guilty of one thing: forgetting to look in our own backyards. Because those things will always be there, because we get caught up in our daily lives, because we prioritise things that are less accessible, we often don’t end up making the most of what is readily available to us. We also tend to take them for granted and forget how exciting they actually are because we see things everyday.

This became quite apparent to me the day a  rainbow showed up over the Sydney Opera House. I was on the ferry, going home after a long day at work, and only a handful of the 500 passengers actually took the time to look out the window. However, when I showed the picture around and posted it on social media, it received a lot of “wows”. The irony is that most of these people could have seen it for themselves...if only they had taken the time to look up!

Now, let’s not forget that even without the rainbow, it was the Sydney Opera House, and people travel thousands of kilometres from all around the world to see it. Yet many of us, Sydneysiders, forget it’s here because we see it everyday. You might not have the Sydney Opera House on your doorstep, but I am sure your town too has its highlights and you probably forget they are there.

1 - There is a lot more to do than what you expect

The more you explore, the more you will find to explore. I discovered that state forests and national parks offer a wealth of options, far beyond the few high profile attractions that the main tourist pamphlets and websites focus on. Climbing one mountain really does lead to wanting to climb the next one, and when you are out and about you will find new places to explore without even really looking. Local tourist information centres are a great place to start. The staff will be able to point you in the right direction depending on your centres of interest: show you the walks, tell you about the little shops that only the local know of, or tell you about that quirky museum that is nowhere to be found in the high profile guidebooks.

Soon, you will find that despite restricting your adventure playground to a small area, the opportunities are endless! It is just limited by how much you want to know the place. And what’s even better: because it is close to home, you can go back easily to discover more.

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2 - It makes you feel a lot more at home

Going around your hometown will help you reconnect with your childhood, and bring up memories. Not only will you feel more connected, but by learning more about the great things your hometown (or country) has to offer, you will realise how rich the history of the place actually is and inevitably develop a sense of pride. Every place has its secrets, and I can guarantee that you will find one you can relate to, one that will stick to your mind for one reason or another. You might learn about an extraordinary person who lived there, or learn about how a certain building was built, or that it was used in a totally different way a few years ago…It will make you wonder why what you found out is not common knowledge and you will want to share this with other locals or visitors you may have. One thing is for sure though, you will never see your hometown in the same light again.

3 - It is easy

Going for a backyard adventure is as easy as it gets...No big packing involved (especially if you go for a day), no language barrier, no passport, visa or foreign currency to worry about, and only little travelling. I don’t classify anything that involves flying as a backyard adventure (except for scenic flights) and would suggest you limit travel time to three hours maximum for a weekend adventure, or to two hours as an absolute maximum for a day trip. Sticking to those timeframes means you will have plenty of time to enjoy what your destination has to offer. It also means that you can easily reschedule, so the weather does not matter as much. Really wanted to do this half day walk tomorrow but the forecast turns out to be pretty average? Just do it next time you have a free day! And if you don’t own a vehicle, try car pooling with you friends: you will probably find that most people will be grateful that you come up with local, yet out of the ordinary things to do.

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4 - It can be as cheap or as expensive as you want

Because the travel costs are limited when backyard adventuring, you will have more left in the bank to spend when you get to your destination. This means you can spend a bit more on accommodation: pay for a campsite with hot showers, or chose a hotel that is a bit more luxurious than usual if camping is not your thing. Spending less on travel also means that you will have more money to spend on activities and incidentals. You might go for the overpriced ice cream at the cafe with a view, go out try out this restaurant which the locals rave about, pay for a guided tour, or get yourself a ticket for a high profile attraction which all guide books mention, all without feeling too much financial pressure or guilt. On the other hand, if you are on a really strict budget and you can’t afford to splurge, you will find that your microadventures still offer a lot to be happy about. Paying attention and enjoying the little things like the mist on the lake or that bed of wildflowers will become second nature.

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5 - You will develop new interests

If you have made the commitment to discover (or re-discover) a place, you are undoubtedly curious. Exploring your own backyard will take this curiosity to the next level, and you will find a whole new world of centres of interest, even if they are short lived. You might find yourself fascinated by beekeeping when talking to the farmers who sell their honey at the local markets, enjoy learning about the history of cricket for an hour or two while you visit that museum even though you have no interest in the game in your everyday life (cricket lovers, please don’t be offended). You might enjoy learning about the tools and techniques used back in the day to make cheese and butter, or find out how the routes of our well known bushwalks were mapped out before any technology was available. You might not have a long term interest in any of those things, but you will have learnt a little bit about a lot of things, and you might even decide to make one of those a new hobby!

So, when you go back to your bucket list, make sure you add a visit to something local (the highlight of your hometown or of your country for example), and make plans to go there on your next available day off work!

Written by our ambassador Caroline Laux.