I’m Josh West… from the adventure blog Trekking West. See what I did there? Yeah, you’re clever like that.
My favourite feedback usually goes something like, “we saw that you’re a regular guy who did it, so we thought, well, we could do it too”. And they’re so very right! I’m just an ordinary dude who’d never camped solo before marching out on his first long-distance trail (okay, some might say ‘reckless dude’).
Otherwise, my well-worn story is similar to other long-haul adventurers you’ll find traipsing the globe.
1. Boy gets job. 2. Boy discovers travel. 3. Boy leaves job. 4. Boy travels.
One year out of the rat race.
At the beginning of 2017, I left on-site employment to explore a digital nomad lifestyle and expand my horizons. I set myself the task to house-sit in every Australian state within the year. This ambition led me on an indirect route from Melbourne, to Brisbane, to Perth, to Adelaide, back to Melbourne, to Hobart and finally to Sydney; okay, so it wasn’t exactly straight, but I did it! From these first 365 days, I spent 221 house-sitting. This hot lap opened the possibilities of a permanent digital nomad lifestyle.
When I wasn’t cuddling cats or walking dogs, I road-tripped coastlines, visited sunlit islands, hiked formidable mountains, camped in sprawling National Parks and sucked the nectar from Australia’s stunning landscapes.
Hiking the Heysen Trail
Over this first year, I fell in love with adventure and the benefits of letting my feet wander. I wanted to share these newfound insights and raise money for mental health. So, in 2018, I returned home to South Australia to hike the country’s longest marked trail, the 1,200-kilometre Heysen Trail. This was my first taste of long-distance hiking, recording daily journals and fundraising. The entire experience was transformative; I was hooked.
Camino de Santiago pilgrimage
Without realising, part way through the Heysen trail, my next adventure was anointed from on high. A chance meeting while washing my smalls at a suburban laundromat planted the seed of walking the sacred Camino pilgrimage. Some nine months later, in June 2019, I landed in Saint-Jean-pied-de-Port on the France-Spain border, ready to begin my first international long-distance trail.
Paddling the Murray River
Fresh from another transformative trail, I arrived back in Australia in 2020, scheming my next adventure. Unfortunately, COVID-19 slammed on the brakes, and the world’s plans changed. In 2022, after two years of setbacks, I needed to go big. In the same vein as my Heysen Trail hike, I set off on an epic 2,360-kilometre kayak trip along the world’s third-longest navigable waterway, the Murray River, with minimal paddling experience.