G’day! I’m AJ – Founder, Chief Protagonist, Adventure Consultant, Location Scout & Proud Tasmanian
I’m the fellow who you’ll find on mountain trails, not running them, but certainly enjoying the view. I am also the guy often underneath my mountain bike (bear with me, I’m still learning!). I’m the uncle who’ll build Lego with my nephews in the morning, before a walk on the mountain (with a bag of snakes as a bribe). I am just like you.
Most of my adult life has been in offices tapping away on keyboards, data entering numbers, sitting in hundreds of dreary could-have-been-an-email meetings, working late, working early, …hardly working, and all too often without a window to the outside world. Sound familiar?
Escape Valve is all thanks to Twitter, sort of. I was searching for inspiration to combat my dreary desk job but the only blogs I found about Tasmania were for tourists or corporate groups. Nothing really hit the spot. So I headed over to Instagram where I found a platform flooded with pictures of wondrous places in Tassie. What was missing for me was the depth and connection I was looking for, or any solutions to help carve out the lifestyle I dreamt of.
I have been lucky enough to travel across the world and while travelling has taught me numerous things, the one I like the most, is to appreciate what is on your doorstep, because that is just as special.
Years ago I had thought of running a hostel but pfft, who has the spare capital for that! After a few years and a variety of admin roles, I got my dream job as a tour guide… the only thing was… I was s*#t at it.
I could talk about the place until the cows came home, offer quality insight for the tour groups, but sadly people management wasn’t my core strength. I was pretty devastated.
So back to the office with four years slogging it out in the dreariness of public service…
Then I had the shock that jolted my vision of what life is about.
From Busted Heart to Adventurer!
A few months of ridiculous and unexplainable fatigue after a bout of bronchitis, finally led to the diagnosis that my pulmonary valve had collapsed and open heart surgery was inevitable. What the f*#k?! Mid-thirties and bang! No drastic warning signs. Just the need for 5 hours sleep after walking 10 minutes to work. I was pretty shocked!
Recovery was slow at first. Extremely slow. Two days in intensive care. Walking was very difficult. I could not lift a carton of milk – zero strength. Rehabilitation was onerous but I made steady improvement. I was fortunate to receive a lot of support from family and friends which made the recovery process easier to bear.
While recovery was restrictive (you can’t do this, you can’t do that) it gave me the time to put things into perspective. Self realisations – like what-the-f*#k-am-I-doing-with-my-life type thoughts. I assessed my real interests. My life goals. What makes me happy. All that looking inside-you stuff!
Then I took a walk on a mountain.
It’s amazing what happens when you go outside – my ongoing story