I’ve always been the type to sit down and write goals at the start of a new year. Although since I started writing these “year in reviews” on this blog, I’ve also really enjoyed the process of looking back too. Taking a backward glance at 2022 in review, I think I’ve done more and seen more than I initially thought that I had.
While my Heysen Trail adventure dominates my memories of 2022, there were so many special moments this year that I rediscovered by going back through the camera roll on my phone. From living a slower, more intentional life on the road and spending most of the year by the coast, it’s been the little moments that have made this year a great one.
I think I was a little disappointed when so many national parks were closed across NSW and Queensland earlier this year, I felt as though I wasn’t going to have as much of a fun-filled year as I did in 2021. But it may have been a blessing. I’ve found peace in slowing down, enjoying the little things, and just enjoying life for what it is; whatever it is in a given moment. I hope next year is much the same, but with more adventures and pushing beyond my comfort zone again.
Here’s 2022 in review, including all the adventures I had this year and what I see 2023 looking like for me and this blog.
Overview: 2022 in Review
I was a little tentative heading into this year. While I’m never short of ideas, I really didn’t know where the year was going to take me. The one big adventure I was set on completing was a thru-hike of the Heysen Trail in South Australia. And yet, while I knew that would take up about two months of my year, the rest was completely up in the air as I entered 2022.
If you read my 2021 in review, you’ll know that 12 months ago I was halfway through renovating my Fiat Ducato van, planning some trips up to the High Country and rebranding this entire blog. These were some big changes going on in my life, and it took me the first few months of this year to really get the ball rolling after that.
It’s hard not to compare 2022 to 2021, but they’re really completely definitely years. In 2021, COVID was still impacting our lives with lockdowns, I had no plans other than living out of the Toyota Hiace van for as long as possible and I ended up spending the whole year driving all the way to Darwin and back. I LOVED 2021!
In comparison, this year was a lot slower, more intentional and consisted of a few distinct adventures. The first half of the year was when I finally left in my new van and enjoyed living the slow life in New South Wales. The floods and bad weather rendered most of my plans impossible, so it meant I just slowly made my way along the coast instead.
Of course, the second half of the year, was characterised by the Heysen Trail. This life-changing adventure is undoubtedly the highlight of the year. But since then, it’s been back to the slow life on the road, dodging more bad weather, finding quiet places on the coast to write and trying to figure out what 2023 might have in store.
Let’s take a closer look at some of my adventures from this year!
JANUARY-MARCH: Van Renovations and Vic High Country Trips
As has been the case for the last few years, I spend summer in my home state of Victoria. My dad and I were getting through all the renovations I wanted to get done on my new van, a Fiat Ducato. We added: a Bluetooth stereo, reversing camera, second skylight, new fridge, fixed outdoor shower, new flooring, LED interior lights, solar controller and inverter, new curtains, 12v oven, spice racks, and drop down bench.
I also tend to spend most of summer up in the Victorian High Country. It started with a family camping trip to Howitt Plains and Bryce’s Gorge in January.
Then, in February, I finally took my Fiat Ducato on our first road trip together to Mount Beauty and Bright in the middle of the High Country. I hiked up Victoria’s highest peak, Mount Bogong, and revisited the second highest peak, Mount Feathertop. I also revisited Mount Buffalo National Park to complete the overnight hike at Mount McLeod.
I then went up to Falls Creek for the first time and completed a three day hike to Mount Jaithmathang and Cope Hut. I finished off the summer with a paid job for Webjet, showcasing my home region of the Yarra Ranges.
By April, I was ready to hit the road and leave Victoria behind for warmer weather!
APRIL-JUNE: NSW South Coast and National Parks
I drove straight up to New South Wales with intentions of exploring all the incredible national parks in the state. But with the horrendous weather and flooding, most of the parks were closed, including the Blue Mountains and Budawangs.
While at first a little frustrated, I ended up enjoying the slow life on the South Coast instead. Looking back, it really was a good-for-the-soul type of time. I watched the sunset almost every night, walked on the beach every day, listened to the sound of waves crashing every night in bed, spent lots of time reading, writing and taking photos of surfers – I was living the coastal life at its very best. It had me wondering maybe I belonged on the coast more than I’d ever thought?
I still found a few national parks open, although I had to head inland and further north for those. I got to explore Namadgi National Park, Warrumbungle National Park, Bald Rock National Park, Girraween National Park, Springbrook National Park and Hat Head National Park.
Before I knew it though, it was July and I needed to head back home to prepare for the Heysen Trail.
JULY: Heysen Trail Preparation
Once I’d made it home, I had just a couple of weeks to pack, dehydrate some food, buy some new gear, and drive across to South Australia to begin my biggest adventure of the year. I’d done little planning for the trail, that I estimated would take me two months to complete. Other than purchasing the paper maps and working out a rough itinerary, I was very short on information.
Still, I upgraded some of my major pieces of gear, like my tent and backpack, and spent way too much money on food as I packed for living up to 60 days on trail. I had decided to do food drops along the way instead of relying on towns, so I packed my nine boxes with stuff spread across the lounge room floor at home.
By the end of July, I left again in my van, with my parents following close behind as we headed to South Australia. I stored my van in Aldinga, and my parents drove me to the northern trailhead of the Heysen Trail at Parachilna in the Flinders Ranges, while we dropped my nine food boxes along the way.
AUGUST-SEPTEMBER: Thru-Hike of the Heysen Trail
On the 1st of August, I took my first steps on the 1200-km long Heysen Trail. As our country’s longest walking trail, I knew it was going to be a wild ride, and it was everything I expected and more as I walked all the way to Cape Jervis in 55 days. A real life milestone, an experience that I’ll never forget, a life-changing adventure, it was one of my biggest challenges and I finished feeling both exhausted and inspired to do more and be more.
I pushed myself to delirium, cried in my tent, limped into camps, screamed at the wind, went to bed hungry, stretched my sore shoulders, bandaged my battered feet, tried to soothe my blistered hands, slipped down muddy trails and nervously crossed fast flowing creeks.
But, I also made lifelong friends, sang out loud as I walked, found a physical strength I didn’t know I had, wiped my own tears away, encouraged others to never give up, laughed at my own misfortunes, joked with my trail buddies, ate too much peanut butter and chocolate, never considered giving up, and put one foot in front of the other until I’d covered nearly 1200-km and climbed the equivalent of more than three Everests all the way to the coast.
OCTOBER-DECEMBER: Coastal Trips and Time at Home
It took me a few weeks after finishing the Heysen Trail to slip back into “normal life”. I was back in my van, and back on the coast, but I spent a lot of time sitting on my bed trying to find purpose in every day. I was lucky enough to get all my clients back on board, so I continued to work, write blogs, take photos and spend time outdoors.
While it was never going to match the highs and lows of life on trail, I found a sense of peace living slowly back on the coast again. I hopped between beach carparks, watching the sunrise and the waves crashing. It was exactly what I needed after the intensity of completing the Heysen Trail slowly faded away.
After taking my Fiat down the Great Ocean Road for the first time (I’d driven the Hiace down the GOR four times in 2021!), I made it back home again. I spent November and December back in the Yarra Valley, with a couple of short trips up the coast and into the forest around Victoria, trying to piece together what I wanted for my life in 2023.
This Blog in 2022
It’s crazy to think that it was only a year ago that I was spending hours rebranding my entire blog from Going Somewhere to Beyond Wild Places (read why in my 2021 in review). So, within just a year of this “new look”, it’s exceeded most of my expectations and goals I’d set out at the start of 2022.
My blog traffic has risen steadily since I hit publish a year ago, and it’s more than doubled the traffic that it was getting under the name, Going Somewhere. I’m also making a regular subsidiary income from this blog, mostly through affiliate partnerships.
I’m planning on getting more and more hiking and travel resources out there next year, to try and get more of you out on the trails more often! I’ll continue to focus mostly on Australia, but aim to get some other international travel content published as the world has well and truly opened up again now.
My bi-weekly Wild Newsletter was up and down this year, due to taking so much time off on the Heysen Trail, but that will be more consistent in 2023. So sign up!
My Most Popular Blog Posts of the Year
- A Complete Guide to the Silo Art Trail in North West Victoria
- A Complete Guide to Wilsons Prom National Park
- The Ultimate Eastern Turkey Itinerary
- A Guide to Hiking the Cathedral Range State Park
- The Ultimate Travel Guide to the Grampians National Park
Looking Ahead to 2023
A 2022 in review post would not be the same without looking forward to 2023. I’m still mentally trying to piece together the next 12 months and work out exactly what I want to achieve next year.
At this stage, it’s looking like the first half of the year will continue to be very much like the first half of this year. Full-time van life will continue (probably as of next week) and I’ll be up in the High Country for the rest of summer.
The second half of next year though, may shape up to be more similar to my pre-COVID life (i.e. international travel and living out of a backpack – read my reflection on five years of solo travelling from 2019) – which is both exciting and unsettling. I’m torn between going back to the life I loved before the pandemic and continuing the life I’ve created for myself since then. Maybe I can have both – and I think 2023 will be the year I try and do that.
I’ve been lucky enough to maintain a solid handful of copywriting clients in 2022 from Hotels.com to PeakVisor, with random editorial pieces thrown into the mix, mostly for We Are Explorers. This has been a nice steady income, but I’m hoping for more editorial opportunities in 2023 – I want to get back to writing real stories.
As for my trail legs, I haven’t walked more than 12km in a day since finishing the Heysen Trail. But, I have a few multi-day adventures planned in the next couple of months. You can be sure that I’ll find a way to spend as much time outside as I did this year, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you out there x