Three reasons why I get off the grid in NW Australia for two weeks every year

Every October for the past 24 years (excepting the Covid years) I’ve journeyed over 1000 km north of Perth, Western Australia, for two weeks of camping off the grid. When I’m there, I’m 150km from the closest town. There’s no cellphone coverage. The landscape is sparse, and ancient. And there are world class waves for surfing and windsurfing. It’s an annual ritual that never fails to deliver.

Here’s why I keep going back, and why I think it’s good for everyone to find their equivalent annual ritual.

  1. Turangawaewae

Turangawaewae is a Māori word that roughly translates as ‘a place to stand’ where I feel powerful and connected. Quite simply, the landscape speaks to me. I feel grounded. And when I stand on that ancient land looking up at night, I’m reminded that I’m part of something much much bigger. It’s literally awe-some.

  1. Whanaungatanga

Whanaungatanga is all about creating and building strong, trusting relationships. The people I see there I tend to only see there. It’s a once per year connection. The fact that we’re off the grid (no distractions) and that we’re all there for the same basic reasons bonds us in a way that is hard to find in a busy urban lifestyle. Every year, we come together and pick up where we left off. It’s deep, real and a unique shared experience. 

  1. Ako

Ako means both to teach and to learn. Every day I’m there, I’m in the ocean in one way or another. Windsurfing, surfing, foiling,snorkelling or swimming. The force of the ocean teaches me that I can never master it, but I can be in sync with it. Every day is different, and I need to be fully present if I’m going to have a chance. I’m always learning.

At the same time, being in the natural environment, off the grid, helps me to slow down and connect with my thoughts and insights in deeper ways. That allows me to share my perspectives - teach, if you like - with others, who, like me, are in more of a listening, reflective mode than perhaps they otherwise would be in their busy lives. 

Make no mistake, it is an absolute mission to make it happen every year. The logistics alone take huge amounts of planning. There’s definitely an opportunity cost for my practice, and lost time with loved ones back home.

Yet I keep going back. Why? I’ve come to deeply value the time I have there. The potent blend of turangawaewae, whanaungatanga and ako give me so much in terms of perspective and grounding that lasts well, well beyond the trip. I’m better for it, and I know that I serve my clients, friends and family better because of it. 

How do you get perspective and get grounded? Do you have an annual ritual? If not, what might be possible?

All photos: Digby Scott

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