NOLS 101

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Kate Fuller


Adventure Traveller

  1. Age: 21
  2. Nationality: USA
  3. Where was your adventure?: Australia
  4. How many days was it?: 82
  5. What type of adventure?: Trekking
  6. Give us a general overview of your adventure:
    I was 1 out of 9 students on my NOLS semester in Australia group. Then, there is the amazing Bardi family that invites each NOLS group to stay on Sunday island with them to enhance our knowledge on their culture and history.
    Trekking With New Friends
    Trekking With New Friends

    National Outdoor Leadership School Semester in Kimberley, Australia is the most amazing way to learn how to survive on the essential bare minimums. Yes, it is a school, but I don’t know anyone who would mind going to this school all the time. 3 months of learning about nature, LNT, all sorts of survival techniques, along with tons of other things, while being outside everyday in places that not even a picture can give justice to. There is the canoeing and backpacking you do in untouched places of the outback. This is all finished off with a week spent living with the Bardi aboriginal tribe, which was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I can’t even begin to name everything that I did or experienced on this trip. But, I can say that most of the best times of my life so far were during my NOLS trip, as little as some of them are. Just to name a few, making amazing lifelong friendships with 10 very different and unique people; my 76 hour fasting solo; being in areas of the Australian outback knowing that no more than a handful of other people have ever seen it; learning how to truly appreciate nature; trying to find Orion’s Belt in the sky upside down from what I’m used to; nightly tea time under the stars; nature nuggets; learning wilderness first aid; the breathtaking scenery; being genuinely happy; and then there’s everything that I was able to learn about myself on the trip, which has only made me that much stronger of a person and has made my life that much better.

    I arrived in Broome, australia beginning of march. the group started to ration out food around March 14, and officially started our trip on March 17. The last week of may we made our way back to Broome, where many of us left to continue more adventures of our own

    WHERE: The base camp of NOLS in Australia is in Broome along the NW coast of the country. From Broome, we flew into a remote area on the Drysdale river. After canoeing up the Drysdale river, and then hiking back down the Carson river/Carson escarpment (67 days), we ended our adventure on Sunday island. Sunday island is off the coast of NW Australia and is where the Bardi Aborigines were forced to move to a little over a hundred years ago by the Australian government. A little over 20 years ago they were able to move back to the inland, where they are currently living. The memories of their past are still present on the island today with all the abandoned cars, houses remnants that were left behind. After spending a week with these amazing people, its back to Broome.

    WHY: well, when I was younger, I went camping all the time and as a teenager I had done a couple 2-4 week outdoor trips in the rockies, so traveling and the outdoors has been in me for awhile. My best friend and I couldn’t stand being at college, so we both took a year off after our freshman year, did our own thing in the fall, and then got enrolled to NOLS in the spring to add more crazy adventures in our life. Before my experience, I had only heard good things about NOLS, and now I can confirm everything ever said for myself.

  7. Was it difficult?: yes
    Why or why not?
    Everyday you are pushed to your limits with NOLS, whether it be physically or mentally. No one can predict what the weather, on the Drysdale River, or the Drysdale National Park for that part, will throw your way. You need to be prepared for anything that can happen at anytime. I like being ready to portage canoes, and gear over 100 yards of uneven terrain, or being able to figure out where you are, if you get lost based on your knowledge of maps, compasses and the land around you. Also, no matter what type of shape you are in before you go on a NOLS course, it will physically challenge you because you don’t do everyday activities in the outback. Running 5 miles and lifting weights daily is not the same as hiking up and down escarpments with 80+ lb. backpacks on. However, I’m not saying that it is difficult all the time. There is definitely some down time or days that are easy, but you will get pushed to your limits in all aspects on a NOLS trip.
  8. Would you recommend this adventure trip to someone else? Why or Why Not?
    If I had to pick one thing that I think everyone should be able to experience in their lifetime, it would be what you get to experience on a NOLS trip. It’s just that amazing of an experience in so many aspects.
  9. What do you wish you would have done differently?
    The only thing I wish I would have done differently is definitely pack differently. They did give us a class on packing our packs, but of course I didn’t listen that well and over packed still. Or, maybe to do it over again and not with my best friend. true, it only strengthened our friendship, but it would have been interesting to go on it alone.
  10. What kind of advice can you give to other travellers going on this adventure?
    First, I would say only do a NOLS trip, or any other intense outdoor school, if you really want to. I know this sounds obvious, but if you’re at all hesitant to go, don’t go. It will majorly affect, or even ruin, not only your experience but the rest of your group, too, which isn’t fair to them or yourself.

    Also, definitely contact an alumni. This past year I was a “mentor” for a Australia student, and it was not only so amazing to share my stories with her, but I could give her better advice on what to bring, how to prep, than what the admissions packet information tells you.

  11. What type of gear did you bring?
    I brought the essentials: backpack, sleeping pad and sleeping bag, compass, maps, bowl mug and spoon, mozzie dome, hiking boots, gators, canoe/camp shoe, ex-officio collard shirt, big rimmed hat (the australian sun is harsh!), sunglasses, shirt, 1 pair running shorts, 1 pair pants, poly pro shirt or lightweight fleece, headlamp, 2 pairs wool socks and liners, 2 nalgenes, journal, bandanas.

    Also, don’t forget about the extras. They won’t weigh you down too much: camera and LOTS of film, extra shirt, camelback, underwear, sandals, crazy creek, books, sarong, baseball hat, wool hat

  12. Where is your next big adventure? Why?
    I’m off to italy, and all over Europe, next year to study abroad for a semester plus some. I guess that isn’t that big of an adventure, but I’m also planning something for after I graduate, either the NOLS course in Patagonia for 150 days, or just traveling around the world. I can’t decide yet, but I’ve got some time.
  13. Did you travel before or after your adventure? if so, where?
    After my stay in Broome, I went to Sydney for a few days with my friends. Then my friend and I hopped on over to the South island of New Zealand and made our way up to Auckland in the North island, naturally with many amazing adventures in between.
  14. On your adventure, what person did you most identify with?
    Crocodile Hunter

BootsnAll’s adventure section is highlighting different people’s adventures around the world, and we need your help. Have you ever done a great rafting trip? Climbed a huge (or small) peak? Or done an amazing adventure that you wouldn’t mind sharing with others? It could even be something random like finding a cool remote village, snow shoeing, riding a motorcycle through a country – anything that has a little taste of adventure.

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