In the depths of winter and the peak of Covid-19, I had no idea when I would next be on a plane. After catching 60-70 flights a year in 2018/2019, the transient nature of my life had taken a seat. The seat I found myself was in Adelaide, which is fortunately a very comfortable place to sit back. However, in any seated position, I usually end up starting to wriggle. At the movies I’ll put my feet up on the seats in front, then I’ll sit cross-legged, and then I’ll have one leg up and one leg down. At the same time, I’ll be slowly tearing my movie ticket into a maze-like shape to see how long I stretch the piece of paper out without breaking. My mind and body are active engines, I’ve trained them to be that way. I want to see and experience as much as I can because I know that new stimuli is something I thrive on.
After a big week of training and racing, I was nursing a sore foot from a spike in intensity. The soreness in my foot was concerning and it was consuming a lot of my mental space. One tip I’ve learned with soreness and injury is to take your mind off it. This is clearly easier said than done, especially when it’s uncomfortable to bear weight properly through it on a slow walk.
Leaving dinner with friends, I found myself driving with the windows down along the empty main roads of Adelaide. I had a slow playlist going and my mind wandered. In daydreams, memories of previous travels are usually the first thing to enter my mind, moments that bring a smile to my face, and then my friends, I always wonder what they’re up to.
The world has felt smaller this year without being able to travel. Even with our phones and ever-connected social-media platforms, it’s hard to keep track of what everyone is doing. Fortunately, South Australia has a reciprocal connection with Queensland and Northern Territory. The three of these states have both managed the Covid-19 situation well but also have leaders that are open to interstate/cross-border travel.
A pair of my friends, Jampal and Elliot, who I met across my travels had recently moved to the Gold Coast. In phone-calls throughout the year, they expressed their excitement for the lifestyle on the Gold Coast. In true Josh fashion, I gave them a call and decided to take them up on an offer to come to visit them. If I’ve stayed with you before you’ll know the nature of these phone calls. And if I haven’t, well, if you make me an offer, make sure you mean what you say. At some stage, I’m sure I’ll visit you. Outside of international jobs, my travel usually revolves around visiting people that I’ve met along the journey.
Within 12 hours of the phone call to Jampal and Elliot, I found myself packing my bags and on the way to the airport. In a year that’s felt like a game of snakes-and-ladders on steroids, I’ve managed to catch up with Jampal in WA, SA and now QLD which is something I’m very grateful for. Amongst many things, Jampal is in an incredible aerial photographer. His passion, creative process, and zest for photography have inspired me immensely.
I was incredibly excited to be back on a plane, I truly do enjoy the feeling of being in a state of disconnect whilst a big metal tube with engines and wings transport from one part of the world to another. Throughout the year, I truly thought I would cry with excitement the next time I was able to get on a plane. I didn’t shed any tears but I did have a big smile as I embarked on this domestic adventure. Jampal greeted me with open arms and a warm welcome as I exited the arrival gates of Gold Coast airport. COVID-19 screening was a peculiar experience. Traveling to other states almost feels similar to traveling to other countries right now.
SUNRISE TO SUNSET ON THE GOLD COAST
There was no time to waste as we launched into a sunrise mission on the first morning. It was Sunday morning in Currumbin, the tide was low, the ocean was glassy and the waves were peeling smoothly. A local bubble enthusiast was making giant bubbles which managed to float on for hundred and hundreds of metres. Clouds illuminated in with bellies of fire as the started to rise. I knew I was in for a great week.
Throughout the week, we went for many sunrises and shot the happenings of Currumbin beach. This year, I think I’ve really improved at documenting the world around me. In the mountains or jungle, it’s often easy to take a great photo. This isn’t out of skill but because mother nature is incredibly beautiful. A focus of mine this year has been to turn ordinary and ‘every day’ scenes into a thought-provoking image. Story-telling is an art form that I will forever strive to be better at and photography is the vehicle that I choose to push these stories. Storytelling has been a reoccuring theme amongst conversations of mine this year and to my delight, Jampal and I found ourselves engaging with a stranger on the curbside about this very topic.
It was a moody and overcast morning, we both had an oat-latte in hand and were crossing the road to walk to the beach. A man in front of us also had a coffee in his hand but was carrying a noticeably expensive camera too. It caught the eye of Jampal and I, so we struck up a conversation with him. We wanted to know what he shot with the camera he was using and why he chose that camera. We meandered through an array of topics and talked about many of the ‘greats’ in the history of photography. Modern-day photography was paired against more traditional and manual methods, social media was juxtaposed against technical professionalism and the man told us about the “Golden Era’ of surf photography. The conversation was exciting, it had the deepest cogs of my brain turning. I was taking mental notes every minute as the man dropped names and ideas. Above it all, at the crux of all this conversation was the art of story-telling. Those who can tell a great story, have the ability to leave an impact on lives, institutions, ideas, and industries.
Aside from photography, I played a lot of tennis. I haven’t hit ‘solidly’ in years. I played tennis for 15 years as a junior till the end of my teenage years. Whilst traveling, I have barely picked up a racquet. Hitting forehand after forehand with tenacity and power was refreshing as it was nostalgic. Elliot and I played a set every day. When the tennis came to an end, we’d have a midday break to check emails, do work, and edit photos before heading out again to the beach to throw the frisbee. I nearly forgot to mention, we also swam a lot. I think this is going to be a big summer! A summer that feels well earned after the winter.
One of my highlights was from Greenmount beach. Whilst marinating in the sunshine and chatting away the morning, a whale 150m offshore started to repeatedly slap it’s tail against the top of the ocean surface. We saw it happen once, and then it went on again in the same manner for around 5 minutes. It was definitely my one percenter for the day. If you look carefully, you can see it in the picture below.
This week seemed to have a bit of everything. Above all, I’m grateful to be surrounded by friends that give me the space to thrive and be me. Friends that are happy to be on the journey alongside me, even as we all pursue our individual endeavors. I’m grateful for good health and the ability to move, it’s something I don’t take for granted and I hope you never do either. Look after your mind, fuel your body well, and be kind to your body.
If you made it this far,
I hope you have a great week.
Here are some other photos from the week that make me smile.