Laura Waters: From Boardrooms to Boundless Adventures- Our 2024 Adventure Grant Recipient

Ten years ago, Laura Waters’ life was a whirlwind of offices and boardrooms, with adventures squeezed into weekends. Today, she’s a celebrated travel writer, author, adventurer AND our Gutsy Girls Victorian film tour host who’s about to embark on her most ambitious journey yet: paddling the entire length of Australia’s Murray River.

Laura is the worthy recipient of the Gutsy Girls 2024 Adventure Grant and we want to share her incredible story with you!

Laura Waters 2024 Gutsy Girls Adventure Grant Recipient
Laura Waters 2024 Gutsy Girls Adventure Grant Recipient

Laura’s deep dive into full-time adventuring began with the spontaneous decision to hike 3,000km down the length of New Zealand. What started as a challenge shared with a friend quickly became a solo five-month odyssey that would redefine her life’s trajectory. This gruelling trek taught her courage and self-belief, fundamentally altering her perspective on life priorities and the environment.

Upon returning from New Zealand, Laura made the bold choice to leave her corporate career behind and pursue her childhood dream of becoming a travel writer. Her gamble paid off spectacularly. Today, she freelances for major newspapers and magazines and has authored two books: the award-winning hiking memoir “Bewildered” and the guidebook “Ultimate Walks & Hikes Australia.”

Laura Waters hiking the Te Araroa Trail in NZ
Laura Waters hiking the Te Araroa Trail in NZ

Q. When we asked her about her favourite travel destinations and adventures, this is what she said;

“It’s hard to pick a favourite destination since I’m fortunate to travel quite a bit (Solomon Islands for its clear waters and epic diving, Slovenia for its incredible karst mountains and pale blue rivers, Fiji for its friendly people and natural beauty) but I have to say, New Zealand holds a special place in my heart. Hiking its stunning mountains, forests and beaches was such a profound and life-changing experience that I’ll be eternally grateful for. Needless to say, hiking NZ’s Te Araroa Trail takes top place as my favourite adventure to date. I’ve never been happier than I was with just one bag of belongings, one outfit, no makeup, no mirrors and the sole task to just walk. Solo hiking the Larapinta Trail in the The outback was really special too. It’s so quiet out there and the scenery is incredibly varied. You can feel the age of the land.”

Laura paddling the Noosa River
Laura paddling the Noosa River

Paddling the Murray

Now, Laura is preparing for her next grand adventure: paddling the Murray River, Australia’s longest waterway and the world’s third-longest navigable river at 2,300+km long, stretching from NSW, across VIC to SA. This journey represents more than just a physical challenge for Laura; it’s a spiritual pilgrimage to connect with the river’s power, history, and the myriad lives it sustains.

“I’ve always felt drawn to the Murray,” Laura explains. “I feel a spiritual energy there; I feel its flow, its power and history. So many rely on it – animals, plants, humans – and I want to understand its stories and challenges.”

Paddling the Murray River
Paddling the Murray River

Laura’s preparation for this monumental paddle includes weight training and shorter river expeditions. However, she emphasises that mental fortitude is her greatest asset. “Having a strong mind is the biggest asset in a long challenge,” she says. “I know there’ll be tough times but they will pass.”

Throughout her journey, Laura plans to balance the physical demands of paddling with careful attention to her body’s needs. She’ll carry her gear and supplies in dry bags stowed in her kayak’s hatches, resupplying in towns along the way but aiming to spend most of her time in nature.


Q. Who has inspired you in your life and therefore led you to be doing what you are doing today?

“Tales of adventure have always featured heavily in my book collection. I’ve loved reading about the explorations of people like Australian Geographic adventurer Chris Bray, polar explorer Eric Philips, long-distance walker Sarah Marquis, and all-round legends Cas & Jonesy. Their stories let me experience vicariously the joys and challenges involved in their immense achievements. For a long time I felt like there had to be more to life than what I was doing; courageous people such as these showed me there were alternative paths to take.”

Laura paddling the Whanganui River NZ

Above all, Laura hopes her journey will inspire other women to embrace solo adventures and push beyond self-imposed limitations. “Many women are nervous about taking on solo challenges,” she notes, “but I want to show them that wild things can be achievable if you just have a go.”

Q. We are so stoked to be supporting you throughout this amazing adventure, what does it mean to you personally to have the whole Gutsy Girls Adventure Film Tour community behind you?

“I feel so very honoured to have been chosen for this support. I rub shoulders with the Gutsy Girls community every year at film festivals, and to be able to share this adventure with them is a privilege. As a freelance writer, the financial challenge of not being able to work for 2-3 months has put me off doing this trip for a few years now but this year I decided to just bite the bullet and hope for the best. It looks like the best is happening!”

With each stroke of her paddle, Laura will not only be navigating Australia’s mighty Murray but also blazing a trail for aspiring adventurers everywhere.

You can follow Laura’s incredible adventure by following her on social media.

Instagram here @laurwaters_writer

Facebook here Laura Waters – Soul Trekkers

You can also support Laura by purchasing a piece of jewellery at our screenings- $5 from every sale goes to supporting Laura’s endeavour and helping her reach her goal!

Don’t forget to secure your tickets for Gutsy Girls 2024 before it’s sold out!

Get your tickets HERE 

Laura Waters at Gippsland Lakes
Laura Waters at Gippsland Lakes

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