TAKE A HIKE: TERRA ROAM LIKES TO WALK
It wasn’t until about halfway into her 17 000km trek that someone pointed out to Terra that she would be the first woman to walk around Australia unsupported. Flattered, but unfazed, she kept going her own way. And sure enough, after 4 years on the road, Terra became the first woman and sixth person ever to walk around Australia solo.
When she was just a teenager, Terra read Robyn Davidson’s book Tracks, and unbeknownst to her at the time, this would be the catalyst that would shape the rest of her life. Inspired by Robyn’s ingenuity and strength, Terra decided that she too, would be an adventurer. She didn’t want to just experience an adventure here and there, she wanted her life to be one. A little seed had been planted in her young mind that would quietly grow throughout her life. It was there when she ran and played barefoot through the bush as a child, it was there while explored deep in the valleys and high peaks of the Snowy Mountains alone with just her skis, a place which she calls her “spiritual home”, it was there when she worked as a snowshoeing guide for the outdoor retailer Mont. And it was definitely there when she was finally ready to take on her life’s biggest challenge. She was ready to walk across Australia, with just her feet and Robin on her mind.
It was finally in 2011 that the seed began to bloom, and Terra felt ready to undertake her biggest challenge yet, with the support from the Australian Geographic Society. For two years, she pored over maps, collected information, connected with whoever could help her along her way. Her plans polarized people and she received her fair share of opinions, some solicited, most not. But for every raised eyebrow and muttered concern, she was met with the glowing support of many. Inspired by her own struggle with mental health and her own attempts to end her life, she chose to use her project to raise awareness for suicide on behalf of Lifeline. If she could help even one person to overcome their struggle, her mission would be accomplished.
With this in mind, Terra walked. For 4 years, and 17 000km, Terra put one foot in front of the other. She began her journey with a ‘warm-up’ lap of Tasmania before heading to the southernmost tip of Australia, making her way up the West coast, across the North of Australia and down the East coast. Of course, not everything went to plan; “I knew my plans would change along the way, and I was okay with that. I met other travellers along the road that recommended places, I was advised to avoid others. It was what I expected, and I was ready to be flexible,” she says. “I was amazed by the sheer beauty of Australia, and the diversity of its land, but also learned to respect its unpredictability. I experienced cyclones, flash floods, extreme heat waves. It really taught me to respect the environment and become finely attuned to my instincts.”
The weather wasn’t the only danger that Terra encountered along the way. Unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, she also had to navigate the negative sides of the human species. “I came across a number of unsavoury characters on my journey. On National Highway 1, someone tried to hit me with a truck. But I also met so many people who offered their unconditional support, and their kindness and generosity was mind-blowing, especially at a time where I struggled to trust and form connections with people.”
Driven by the desire for freedom and in search of connection with nature, Terra is most at ease in the wilderness. “Nature is the best teacher I’ve ever had. It keeps me humble, never lets me get lazy and keeps me on my toes at all times. But most of all, it is extremely therapeutic.”
Also an avid activist for female representation, Terra explains that there are in fact, many women in the field of adventure. “There are actually more women out there taking on huge projects and adventures than men at the moment. The difference is that they aren’t being talked about”, she explains. “They often feel less deserving of the attention, or guilty about promoting themselves. But the only way to fight injustice is to stop it from happening to others.” Her message to women is to go after what they want fearlessly, and she hopes to forge a path for those wishing to pursue a life of adventure.
Terra has plans to cycle around Australia for her next big adventure. After she writes a book about her walk around Australia. We wonder what young girls will read Terra’s book and be inspired to live an adventurous life of their own…
top image of Terra courtesy of Mats Andrén of the-walk.se