In 2008 I achieved my goal of travelling to all 7 continents.
I have always been curious about the great theatre of the world. Growing up my family travelled and lived overseas. Every place we visited fuelled my interest in exploring further. I dreamt of deserts, mountains, glaciers and the peoples and animals shaped by these environments. I had the travel bug in a big way and set myself a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal): all 7 continents before I turn 30. Friends laughed. This was going to be tough.
I chipped away slowly, taking opportunities to travel when they came and by 2006 (aged 28) had travelled to 5 of the continents. Only South America and Antarctica left. I could learn some Spanish and book a flight to South America but how was I going to get to the big ice?
A chance meeting
While working in Sydney I had a chance meeting with Australian mountaineer and polar explorer Greg Mortimer. Greg’s company takes small groups climbing and kayaking in Antarctica. There’s a certain look in the eye you get from someone who has seen the world from the top of Everest and the depths of Antarctica. I was inspired. The piggy bank was going to take a pounding so some serious saving was required.
Meeting the locals
And so, in February 2008 I found myself amongst 16 others paddling in an unusually serene Antarctic bay as inquisitive penguins and a minke whale swam under and around us. It was a special encounter as we eyeballed these creatures who passed by peacefully inspecting us with as much wonder as we had for them.
So I’ve done Antarctica, right? Hardly. The tick list mentality and language of having “done” a city, country, or continent is a pet peeve. Yes, I’ve visited, travelled, and explored parts of all seven continents but that has just made me more aware of how much more there is to see. As my trusty (crusty) old North Face t-shirt says, “Never Stop Exploring”.
When I set my BHAG I didn’t really understand what was involved or truly believe that I would succeed. But telling my friends I was going to do it set me off in the right direction towards these unknowns giving me the momentum to persevere. I’m glad I did. It really is a great theatre out there. And I discovered that our dreams are worth listening to.