“Put on your boots and go!” replied H.W. Tilman, mountaineer, sailor and explorer, when once asked, “Sir, how do I get on an expedition?” This tough old bastard, after serving in the Great War, opted out of the frivolous conformity of a normal lifestyle and quietly accomplished a great deal of exploration in small, lightweight and independently planned expeditions. This is definitely something along the lines of the minimalist ingenuity I’ve inherited from Mum. Tilman’s books are rich in detail and contain occasional understated humour, often something about being cold, hungry, or otherwise extremely disappointed – which resonates with those (like my Dad, who I remember would roar wholeheartedly whilst reading sitting on the steps) who have done some exploring of their own.
Share My Joys is the name of an autobiographical book by Frank Alack, one of the second generation of professional mountain guides in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. It’s a great read and an apt title for someone who has dedicated their working life to introducing others to their love of the outdoors. Photography not only allows to relive my experiences in the hills but also share it with others.
My Dad introduced me to the mountains and I’ve since then had a desire to explore. In 2007 I did some quick research on the internet about paragliders. The most exciting thing to me was the weight and the pure simplicity – nothing but a self inflating wing of around 5kg and a harness – which had me immediately thinking of the possibilities around my favourite place, the mountains around New Zealand’s southern lakes. Every summer since then I have returned and there is much to keep my excitement alive.
I have now spent most of my life in Australia. After school, I spent four years studying engineering. Aerospace Avionics seemed interesting at the time but the flight aspect was coincidental, I only really began to slowly gain a respect for birds and other airborne objects once I began to experience first hand the dynamics and intricacies of flight.
After I completed university in 2003 I began work with a small but fast growing company that, believe it or not, maintains lighthouses around Australia. As it turns out this involves applying a surprising amount of my degree, including programming, electronics and design, radar, communication, navigation, project management, documentation and systems engineering. I joined to get a broad range of skills including hands on involvement and in fact I enjoy the challenge, creativity, and stimulation of field work far more than office work. Generally when I get an intolerable dose of cabin fever, I’m prompted to unabashedly ask for unpaid leave.
Now, after working for 7 years, this is precisely what I’ve done – with one small difference – I haven’t set a return date! I hope to continue to be involved in projects from time to time but during the quieter times in between, I have better things to do!
With Australia in a long and wet La Nina cycle, my recent acquisition of a dutch passport, a sky high Aussie dollar, and the gradual process of dissolving my earthly responsibilities tying me to Brisbane and work – I’ve finally run out of excuses, and I’ve booked a ticket to Europe, starting with a few weeks in the Pyrenees before heading to the Alps. Like most of my adventures since taking to the air, I think I’m set for another trip of a lifetime.
David Dagault put it quite nicely I think:
“What I love, above all in flying, is the discovery”
Nick Neynens, 19 May 2011
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