Australia

Oasis Escape – Come Travel with Me

September 23, 2021

Join me on the Oasis Escape with AweventurerBOOK NOW

Where – Karijini National Park

When – Nov 9-12th 2021

What’s included – Accomodation at Karijini Eco Retreat (100% First Nations owned), meals, 4WD tours to all these epic remote spots, and memories that will last a lifetime

What you’ll need – Flight/car hire to get there, good walking shoes, wet river/reef shoes, sunscreen, hat, and any personal essentials – this is a wild and remote location – there are no shops close by

I welcome you all to join me on an unforgettable, transformative journey to one of the most wild and beautiful places on this earth. Imagine rock pools, waterfalls, ancient gorges, starry night skies, sunrises and sunsets that will bring you tears of joy, set amongst a landscape that is 250 billion years old!

I’ve spent these past 18 months both emotionally and mentally challenged by the world events, as many of us have, while simultaneously counting every single blessing in my life. It’s brought me closer to what is most important in my life, seeking new travel experiences that reflect my values. This is one of them. This group trip is a great way to experience Karijini. 4WD access to the park is essential to see these stunning locations. Traveling in a group to these remote locations is also ideal. We’ll have experts on hand for those to experience the magic of Karijini in a safe way.

I’ve been immensely grateful that we’ve been able to explore our own backyard here in WA and discover more of the unknown, off the beaten path places. Karijini is one of those special places. It has a rare kind of magic that you will feel the moment you arrive. It’s ancient, full of stories, beauty, wonder, and awe. The views and experiences will take your breath away. It’s a place I am so excited to share and experience alongside you. 

This trip will also donate to a not-for-profit I’ve been supporting for a long time now – Children’s Ground. They work with First Nation’s children, families, and communities providing opportunities, wellbeing, culturally safe spaces for education, and knowledge direct from First Nation Elders.

I envision this trip to be more than just another travel experience of seeing the sights, snapping a pic, and ticking off the bucket list…. I see it as an experience that will embody everything I love most about travel…. meeting new friends, connecting with nature, learning about culture, challenging ourselves as we embrace uncertainty, developing resilience in these ever changing times, tapping into that childlike wonder and joy that comes with placing yourself in front of immense and exquisite natural beauty…. and finally seeing your own beauty reflected back to you.

I can’t wait to meet you all and have one awesome adventure!

With love, Helen x

Shift of the tide

August 20, 2021

PhotographyHelen Janneson Bense

Locations – Coconut Well | Coconutz BnB | Gantheaume Point | Cable Beach | Bali Hai Resort – Broome, Western Australia

Outfits

House of Harlow 1960 Danna Kimono | LPA Gretchen Crochet top | Tularosa Berklee Skirt

Tigerlily Lunara Lenora Midi Dress | Tigerlily Lunara Mirella Maxi Dress | Spell Folksong Sundress | Spell Folksong Robe

Accessories

Ananda Soul Dare to Shine Angel Mala | One Day at a Time Necklace | Daydreamer necklace | Truth of my Soul Ring | One Day at a Time Ring | One Day at a Time Hoop Earrings

Maxi House Thea hat

This ancient, wild land calls to me, it draws me in like the changing tides. My heart sings with joy as it heals my woes, soothes my soul, and connects me to nature, bringing me home deeper into my heart.

Is there a place for you that feels like this?

I recently took a solo trip to Broome, a sunshine filled, wild land in the north west of Australia. I didn’t realise it until I was there, but I needed this trip for my mental health. It was on my first day it hit me out of nowhere. After a slow morning soaking in the sun, I was enjoying an outdoor bath, and I found myself in a flood of tears. The overwhelm I was feeling, yet somehow holding onto so tightly, had all the space and safety for release. It was a little bit of everything really. The pain and trauma in the world felt heavy in my heart. The intensity of motherhood and the juggle of running a business and feeling constantly behind the eight ball. The mother’s guilt of feeling like you just can’t do it all. The exhaustion of living this busy life where we strive to accomplish so much, yet damage our mental health, and our planet in the process. The trauma that lives in my cells, that can be triggered by unknown stimuli, sometimes a look, a tone, a smell, a song, a feeling. It was here in this bath I started to deeply breathe through every little bit of grief. I allowed it in, to wash over me, and to diminish in it’s own time. Like the tides of the north west, it came in fast and strong, and without my resistance, it shifted just as quickly.

I felt such a wonderful release after this cry. It was just what I needed. And joy quickly moved into it’s place. I spent the day hiking to the Coconut Well rock pools. Imagine a place where you can have your very own rock pool. Well this is it! While I do recommend a 4WD for this adventure in the hot sun, it’s possible to walk. You’ll need appropriate footwear as the limestone is super sharp. And ensure you check the tides before going. If you have a 9+metre high tide the lagoon at the beginning of the walk will be full. It’s a beautiful spot to float and swim. It’s rare over the dry season (May – Oct) to see crocodiles here, but there is a very small possibility. You want to head to the rock pools as the tide is receding. They’ll be exposed and full of beautiful turquoise water. On the day I visited there was no-one else around. I couldn’t believe I had the entire beach to myself. It was incredible! And during a time when Broome was beyond capacity too.

I chose an eco tent at Coconutz BNB for my first stay of this trip. It’s walking distance to the Coconut Well lagoon, so it made an ideal spot to stay. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this place. The whole glamping situation is so well set up. Everything was easy and comfortable. There’s a kitchen, a bathroom, a dining space, and its really simple to prepare your own food here. I felt so close to nature as I listened to the bird song and watched the sunset over the ocean from my hammock. Lisa is the most generous and helpful host, and I would gladly visit this place again. You’ll have access to the main pool too, which is beyond luxurious.

My next stop was to Bali Hai resort and spa. This was my second stay here and it won’t be my last. It’s one of my favourite places to stay in Cable beach. I love the tropical Bali vibes, the smell of incense, the lush gardens, the villa design, the glistening pool, and the beautiful spa. It has a wonderful restaurant with delicious vegan food (the curry is the best!)

From here I adventured to Gantheaume point, less than a 10 minute drive away. I visited multiple times to hunt for rock pools as there were big tides happening while I was in town. The first day I missed it by just 30 minutes and it was emptying. On my second visit I broke my toe right as I was turning the corner to see it! Talk about timing! It was so full and it was beautiful. I didn’t know my toe was broken and chose to ignore it for awhile and enjoy the pool and views. It didn’t take long before I realised it was turning black and blue and swelling. I spent the rest of my trip poolside, foot elevated, on ice. It was probably just what I needed too. I get a bit crazy when adventuring solo, always pushing my limits. I feel like a little kid searching for treasure. The joy completely overtook the pain.

So while I navigate these changing tides of my life, I’m picking up a lot of great tools along the way. A little solo time is essential. So is exposing myself to sporadic bursts of sunshine during winter. Breathing through everything helps me regulate my nervous system. Barefoot nature walks always ground me, as long as the terrain is flat! haha! I’m a huge fan of cold showers/baths and singing/chanting/humming to activate my vagus nerve and calm my nervous system. I’m creating safe space for loving compassion to allow myself to feel and release. And while I do this and become the best version of myself, I’m sending a whole lot of love, healing and prayers out to all those in need right now. While I experienced some hiccups on this trip, and face my own personal challenges, I am so grateful for all I have, for my privilege in this life, and that I have a safe and loving home.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Follow the Sun

August 6, 2021

PhotographyBobby Bense | Helen Janneson Bense | All drone imagery captured with permission and license from DCBA

Locations – Coral bay | Exmouth | Abrolhos Islands | Carnarvon | Kalbarri | Pink Lake | Geraldton – Western Australia

Where to stayCoral bay Bayside villas | Yardie Creek homestead chalets | Carnarvon Beach retreat | Wittecara Beach house

What to doSnorkel Coral bay | Ningaloo Discovery Whale Shark tour | Kalbarri/Abrolhos Island Scenic flight | Coral Bay Kayak Snorkel Trails | Kayak/SUP or Cruise Yardie Creek Gorge | Glass Bottom Eco Turtle tour | Carnarvon Food Trail | Kalbarri Skywalk | Kalbarri Natural Bridge

Each winter we follow the sun north to the warmer waters, to journey with the migrating humpback whales, to snorkel with turtles, to spend our days salty and sun kissed from sunrise to sunset.

We started our migration to beautiful Coral bay, where you can snorkel the fringing reef right from the beach. It’s the kind of place where you soon forget what day it is. We enjoyed the slow pace of beachside life with the company of our good friends who holidayed with us. This year we stayed in the Bayside villas which were comfortable and convenient being so close to the reef. The outdoor deck was the perfect spot to enjoy sunset views over the reef each day.

There are so many awesome spots to snorkel in Coral bay. One of my favourites is the Lavender patch, a vivid, healthy, 50m long patch of lilac coral, located very close to the beach. From Bill’s bay just head south past Purdy point towards the 5 knot sign in the water. Drift snorkel north from here around 20+m or so out into the reef and you won’t miss it. It’s such a large area of coral and incredibly vibrant. If you have any trouble finding it, take a tour out in one of the glass bottom boats and they will take you there to view it. We did both, and nothing beats being able to dive down and see it close up. Another really amazing spot to see is Ayre’s rock, a 400 year old porites bombie. It’s approx 300m from shore so you’ll need to kayak and tie off on one of the kayak moorings. From the mooring it’s close by, about 60m in a westerly direction. Ensure you don’t touch or kick the coral as it’s very close to the surface of the water.

Our next stop was a 2.5 hour trek to Exmouth. We stayed at Yardie Creek Homestead park in one of their chalets. While it was very basic, it had absolutely everything we needed. It was a very comfortable stay and provided the best vantage point for us to quickly get where we wanted to visit. We spent most of our time outdoors exploring Cape range national park. Turquoise bay is by far my favourite snorkelling spot along Ningaloo reef. Each snorkel we saw multiple turtles, unicorn fish, sharks, vibrant corals, and some unusual fish we weren’t even able to identify. It was absolutely teeming with life. We explored the Yardie Creek gorge, an amazing spot for kayaking and paddle boarding. Look closely into the ancient red limestone cliff faces and you’ll see the cutest faces of the rare and tiny black footed wallabies and huge osprey nests. We were lucky enough to see both during our visit. Unfortunately I was unlucky losing my phone along the hiking trail. While it caused some stress, I quickly grieved the loss, and ensured I enjoyed the rest of my trip phone free, which was a very liberating feeling.

The next day of our adventure was by far the best and we ticked off a bucket list item that I had long dreamt about. We set off sail aboard Windcheetah, a 60 ft catamaran, with Ningaloo Discovery in search of the majestic whale sharks. We couldn’t have wished for better weather conditions, with low wind, sunshine and calm, glassy waters. It made spotting humpback whales super easy. While it took us awhile to find our whale sharks, we spotted multiple humpback whales along the way, swimming so close to our sailing boat. We saw turtles, sharks and even a sea snake! Finally we reached our destination just outside the reef on the other side of Turquoise bay. Swimming with whale sharks was definitely worth the wait. It brought me to happy tears as I swam alongside these graceful beings. Our children said it was the best tour they have ever experienced. And I would have to agree. Due to conditions being so perfect, we also lucked out with a back of reef snorkel. From the moment I entered the water I spotted my first turtle, and then onto the next and the next. It was so amazing to be snorkeling outside the reef, secretly praying a whale or manta ray would swim by us.

Our time in Exmouth was so wild and joyful and definitely a place I want to spend more time at on our next migration north. We slowly began our journey home with a refuel and refresh pit stop for supplies in Carnarvon. A must stop along the food trail is Morel’s. It’s one of our road trip family traditions to stop for dried mango and mango ice cream (vegan too!). We stayed right on the water at Carnarvon Beach Retreat in the captains quarters. A beautiful spot to take your kayak or sup straight out onto the water from your outdoor deck. Be aware during low tide you may get stuck so stay between the boat markers. There’s a local turtle named Tommy, and stingrays to be seen here. It’s such a peaceful, calm spot to enjoy sunset and sunrise views from your balcony.

Onwards we traveled to one of my favourite spots, Kalbarri. I love the ancient red cliffs, the abundant wildlife, the wild ocean, and above all how close we are to the migrating whales. From Natural bridge on the coastal cliff drive you will definitely be able to spot whales here between July and October. If you hang around until sunset you’ll see the local red kangaroos, the Bigurda, confidently jumping along the sheer face of the cliffs. Some beautiful spots to explore are the Kalbarri skywalk, Nature’s window, Blue holes, and kayak along Murchison river. I find that every time I visit I’m so drawn to whale watching. It’s mesmerising. We stayed at Wittecara Beach house, right on the beach and edge of the national park. We could see whales breaching from our kitchen table! This house was by far the best spot we’ve stayed in Kalbarri and I would highly recommend a stay.

To end our magical road trip with an absolute bang, we took a scenic flight from Kalbarri to the Abrolhos islands with Kalbarri Scenic flights. We soaked in the views of whales breaching and tail slapping along the way, the 400 million year old coastal cliffs, the pink lake, and the incredible turquoise vista of the Houtman Abrolhos islands, made up of 122 islands spanning 100 km of ocean. It’s one of WA’s most unique, biodiverse, marine areas, an ocean hope spot, and home to Australian sea lions, bottlenose dolphins, Tammar wallabies, green sea turtles, dwarf bearded dragons, ospreys and 90 different species of seabirds. We were lucky enough to spot some wallabies with their joeys during our visit.

Abrolhos is famously known for the Batavia shipwreck in 1629, one of the earliest known landings of Europeans, which led to months of horrific mutiny and murder. Your your guide will no doubt have a wild historic story to share. You can dive to view what is left of the shipwreck and view the fort, which was built by the soldiers during the mutiny. The reconstructed remains of Batavia can be viewed at the Shipwrecks museum in Fremantle.

As our road trip holiday came to a close, we had one more stop, the mesmerising Pink Lake in Port Gregory. We explored multiple locations along the pink lake from north to south and right by the ocean to enjoy all the varying colours. The colours ranged from pink, red, lilac to purple with patches of orange/yellow. The colour of the lake is created by the presence of carotenoid-producing algae, Dunaliella salina, a source of beta-carotene and vitamin A. Depending on the light, angle and cloud coverage it will appear differently every time you visit.

It’s the moments that take your breath away that truly linger, that become a part of a new you, and bring us closer to nature, closer to our hearts, closer to our true self. I live for these moments of pure joy and there is no price tag that can be placed on the freedom and transformation that comes with experiencing nature at it’s finest. I’m so grateful for such an enriching journey, laughing with my family and friends, facing challenges together, building resilience and confidence within ourselves, sharing memories that will never be forgotten. While I’m already dreaming of next year’s trek, I’m integrating all this magic we experienced and grateful for what nature has given to us.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Winter Retreat

June 19, 2021

Photography – Helen Janneson Bense

LocationSamphire Resort, Rottnest Island, Western AustraliaSTAY PLAY + SAVE available for 1 more day to book until June 20th 2021

Outfit Details

Dress – House of Harlow 1960 X Sophia Richie Yasmina Maxi Dress

Top – Lovers + Friends Astrid Off Shoulder Top

Hat – Mawi House Thea hat

Jewelry – Wanderlust + Co Hummingbird Necklace | Sunseeker necklace | Sunlit necklace

Who knew winter at Wadjemup/Rottnest Island could feel like this! So many of the bays are sheltered from the wind, and with clear blue skies, beaming sunshine, a healthy, warmth circulating from hours of fun riding my bike, I couldn’t believe it was actually winter. Rottnest truly is our own little Maldives. It has the clearest turquoise water, immaculate snorkelling opportunities, no cars, with vast trails to explore. It even has it’s very own unique wildlife, the quokka. They are the cutest and friendliest marsupials you’ll ever see. Every time I visit I discover something new. If you’re like me and not a fan of crowds, then winter is definitely the time to visit and explore. You can have an entire beach to yourself! I’ve completely fallen in love with a Rottnest winter retreat.

This staycay spot is only a 30 minute ferry ride from Fremantle. It’s such an easy and smooth transition that you’ll still feel well rested once you arrive. I stayed at the new Samphire Resort for my mid week staycation. It was the perfect respite for this busy mum. The rooms are spacious, luxuriously appointed, with all comforts considered. The service was impeccable and not something I’ve come to expect here in Australia. They’ve really hit an international standard that made the experience all the more enjoyable. And the food! Wow the food! Lontara served up some absolutely delicious, beautifully presented, plant based cuisine. I love the authentic south east Asian flavours and they nailed it on every single dish. The resort ambience is so relaxing, laze by the pool in their cabanas, by the beach club for sunset with a cocktail by the fire, and watch the sunrise from your balcony overlooking the ocean.

My days were filled with adventure. I rode to some of my favourite spots and discovered some new favourites along the way. I definitely recommend a ride out to the Basin, followed by Fays bay, Little Parakeet and Parakeet bays and if you still have some energy Little Armstrong bay. If you’re a strong rider and super fit, you can go even further around the whole island, depending on how much you want to ride vs laze upon the beach soaking up the sun. If riding is not your thing, or fitness is an issue, then grab an e-bike or jump on the hop on/hop off bus. You can see the whole island and not break a sweat. I also recommend heading towards Parker point and Salmon bay. There are some amazing views and snorkelling to be experienced here. On my last morning I enjoyed a short ride to Henrietta rocks, which is about a 30 minute walk from Samphire. It’s a stunning turquoise beach with a shipwreck. On a calm day you can snorkel here and explore the coastline.

All in all a fabulous staycation and one I’ll make sure to plan each year for a winter break. I’m filled with even more gratitude for my home and I still can’t believe I live in this dreamy part of Australia. I hope this inspires you to get out into nature and explore the beauty of your own backyard.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Great Southern

April 22, 2021

PhotographyBobby Bense/Helen Janneson Bense

EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Albany, Western Australia

Where to stay – Private Eco friendly Cottage | Lodge | Homestead

Where to visitFrenchman Bay | Goode Beach | The Gap & Natural Bridge | Bald Head walk | Little Beach | Albany town

Everything about this trip was unexpected. It took us to breathtaking, wild places we never imagined.

We went to Albany with very low expectations, having only briefly visited once before on a somewhat dreary day. When I started looking for holiday spots everything was pretty much booked out. I didn’t realise at the time that I was actually booking us into the most incredible stay ever!

We arrived to this stunning bush property, 650 acres of land and coastline to explore before us, an actual private retreat. There was a private beach, private lagoon, private lake! It was pure paradise with so much space, wildlife and wilderness to explore.

There are 3 accommodation options starting with a budget friendly, eco friendly cottage overlooking the lake and the ocean. It boasts spectacular sunset views, daily kangaroo visits, and if you look up you might even spot a sea eagle. It accommodates 4 people and has everything you need for a sustainable, comfortable, self contained stay.

This lodge is pure luxury. It has space to accommodate multiple families, 10 people in total, and has 360 degree panoramic lake and ocean views. It’s the ideal place to stay with family friends. And that bath view is spectacular!

The last option is Maitraya Homestead, built on the cliffside overlooking the ocean and your very own private beach directly in front. It can accomodate up to 16 people and is ideal for weddings, reunions, birthdays, retreats and special occasions. The homestead is full of character and history, complete with it’s own atrium and indoor swimming pool. The fabulous Lady Gaga also stayed here and they have a music room in honour of her.

Our days were very full exploring the grounds of Maitraya, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking daily on the lake, swimming in the private lagoon, and wandering the majestic coast line. A trip to Albany wouldn’t be complete without witnessing the natural marvel that is The Gap. An absolutely astonishing spot where you can experience the true power of nature. The 25m granite rock, once connected to Antartica, formed around 1300-1600 million years ago. The viewing deck is not for the faint hearted. It definitely made me squeamish at times.

What I loved most about our location was the vicinity to Little Beach, in Two Peoples Bay Reserve. You’ll need to pay a small fee to enter, but it’s worth it. Pack for the whole day, you won’t want to leave. It’s tempting to spend your day at the main beach, but beyond the beach, is an even more amazing beach that is a little more private, a little less wavy, perfect for swimming and rock jumping. Around another bend was a whole lot of rock pools with a big turquoise lagoon. We were completely surprised by this beauty, and that it wasn’t overcrowded. It’s always worth taking those extra steps to see what’s around the next corner.

I highly recommend a visit to the Great Southern. We only saw a handful of spots in this region, but we explored and enjoyed them thoroughly, knowing we will revisit and discover something new next time.

With love and gratitude, Helen xx

Copyright text and images Helen Janneson Bense 2021

When the stars aligned

April 14, 2021

It’s only now that I can look back and realise that the day I met my beloved Bobby, we were cosmically destined for one another. We lived oceans apart, yet everything aligned time and time again to bring us together.

Our first meeting was in a café in San Jose, California. I was saying goodbye to some old friends and Bobby was our waiter. A mutual friend introduced us and mentioned that Bobby had just booked open-ended travel to Australia and that we should  connect when I return. 

I agreed, and in the true spirit of those pre mobile phone days, I handed my email address on a tiny ripped piece of paper to this mysterious and ridiculously handsome guy.  

A week later, at a bar in San Jose, as I celebrated the end of my 6 month USA road  trip, our paths crossed serendipitously once again. And lucky they did, as he lost that tiny piece of paper with my email on it. I once again wrote it down on another equally small piece of paper. He vowed he would not lose this one and still to this day it holds a special place in his wallet.  

About a month after I returned home I received an email from Bobby updating me on his travels. I passed on my new home number and said when/if you make it to Melbourne, let me know and I’ll show you around. 

One day out of the blue, Bobby called on my home phone. He let me know he’d made it to Victoria and that he was hanging out at a little café called Leroy’s in the town of St. Kilda. He wondered if I was anywhere close to this place and if we could meet up. Little did he know that this was where I was living and that he was at my new local coffee spot! Both of us were amazed as I mentioned that I was only a 5-minute walk away. It also happened to be my only day off work for that week. And it also happened to be Valentines Day, yet neither of us realised this until much later.   

As we stared at each other over coffee, I couldn’t help notice the intense reaction I was having to him. I had never felt so affected by another person before. It was like strings of energy were pulling us closer together and sparks were flying everywhere. The moment I mentioned going for a walk, he agreed almost too quickly. 

Years later we talked about how overwhelming that moment was for us both. I was overheating; my heart racing and I could barely hear what he was saying. I felt like I was both floating, yet tethered to him in some way.  That connection is what has grown into the deepest love I’ve ever known. 

This was the beginning of our relationship. We faced many challenges over the years with long distance, different time zones, visas, families, and navigating a path for ourselves, knowing we wanted to find a way to be together. Every day as we talked on the phone, we embraced the uncertainty and focused on the connection and love we had, knowing a way would become clear when the time was right. And it did. 

Even when things were so uncertain, we held on to the hope in the certainty of our love. 

Bobby was able to finish his studies thanks to an international program here in Western Australia. He moved countries so we could give our love a chance. I moved  from Victoria having never stepped foot in WA. 

We have clearly both fallen more in love with one another over the years, married, had 2 beautiful children and are so grateful that we ended up in this incredible part of Australia, that is now our home.  

I love capturing photos of our relationship together. Every chance we have had to travel and explore, we ensure we have our Fujifilm instax mini LiPlay along to capture all these precious moments. For older memories, we print our photos with the instax mini Link right from my phone. It’s always such a gift for us to print our memories and reflect upon creating this magical life of love together. 

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