Why is it that people like us – with roofs over our heads and ready-to-drink water flowing from our indoor taps – find returning to the wilderness so appealing?
This was the question I found myself asking over and over again before my recent three-day camping trip to Johanna Beach. Now, let me be clear – I am not the biggest fan of camping, but this is certainly not due to inexperience. I attended one of those annoying high schools that thought the greatest way to build up resilience in a girl was to throw her into the Australian bush for 12 days with no showers, toilets or fresh drinking water. And yes, resilience I did attain – but passion for the great outdoors? That one was sort of lost on me.
Johanna Beach is approximately 230km, or 3 hours and 16 minutes, from my house in Melbourne. On my way to Jay’s house (the convoy meeting point) at a delightful 7am in the morning, I was enlightened with a collection of fun facts from Gabby’s mother Colleen. Did you know Johanna Beach experiences rough waves and heavy winds? Did you also know that it is the breeding ground for Great White Sharks – mama sharks that will hunt to feed her young? No? Neither did I, until I was about 3 hours and 7 minutes away from arriving there.
So the idea of going camping there for my friend Jay’s 21st birthday was not the first thing that came to mind when thinking about a fun birthday party. I couldn’t really understand the appeal – wouldn’t a suite at Crown casino, or a chill-out house party, or even a BBQ at the beach be more satisfying than driving three hours to sleep in a fabric box?
Well, I guess this isn’t really a plot twist, but as it turned out – it was pretty freaking awesome.
I’ve always been an overzealous fan of people – for me, it doesn’t really matter where I am or what I’m doing so long as the humans surrounding me are hilarious, kind and as into it as me. I’ve also been a huge supporter of technology – I love social media and I think the fact that we are always on our phones is awesome. But up at Johanna Beach, none of us had signal unless we hiked up to the highest point on the beach. So instead, there was a lot of conversation. If I think back to that trip, I just see this image in my head of everyone sitting in a circle with their sleeping bags tucked up to their chins, and every is just talking. And as much as I adore social media and blogging and all this online communication we can have because of the glorious invention of the internet, I think talking – as in you and me and I can see your face and your smile and the way you raise your eyebrows – it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
And the best part? When we finally did hike up to the highest point on the beach to check our notifications and emails and messages, we still ended up talking as the ocean breathed in and out and the horizon slowly swallowed the sun. So maybe that’s why the wilderness is so appealing – there’s nothing else to do but talk.