Nate Robert: Tafta-winning extraordinaire, Aussie photographer, travel blogger, hand model. Kind of a dude. Currently on the road, he took a break from exploring the world to answer a few questions for us!
Your blog is relatively new –tell us why you decided to start Yomadic and what you hope to achieve with the site.
Well, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a way of documenting my travels, and improving my documentation skills. Ironically, I’ve never been much of a diary-keeper. But, I’ve been a photographer for a long time. So being a blogger is helping me to develop my writing voice, as well as my photography. Secondly, I really want to inspire people to travel. I’ve already had a lot of personal contact from readers that have chosen to visit destinations based on my articles. This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy, as my mission in life really is to convince people just how amazing travelling is. Are you travelling? Why not?! You should be!
You set off on your travels on the 30th of July. How much planning had you done, and how were you feeling about it?
I was feeling a little stressed! There was a lot to do in the lead up to July 30th. Twelve months is a long time to travel! My planning revolved more around finances and which camera to take, rather than destination specific planning. Now that I’m on the road, life just couldn’t be better. I’ve been waking up under remote snowy mountains; it’s cold, but incredible.
So your itinerary isn’t set in stone, but give us a clue –are there any must-see destinations on your wish list?
I’m currently travelling around the South Island of New Zealand in a borrowed motor-home – I would officially call it a must-see for everyone on earth. It’s all the most scenic bits of every country, without any people. But, it will soon be time to move on. Iran is near the top of the list. One of my passions is street photography – and I’ve never seen Tehran covered. I’m also yet to see South America, so that’s bound to happen in the next 12 months. Actually, I just convinced myself, I’m booking a flight to Tehran tonight. I don’t need a visa, do I?
Your absolute passion and dedication to travel is obvious in your writing. Has this always been the case, or did a specific experience give you the travel bug?
It’s always been the case. The moment I could afford to travel, after high school, I headed solo to Los Angeles – which is a long way from Perth, my home town. I really don’t know what gave me the travel bug – but I was bitten hard from a young age. I’m naturally curious about the world, and love to interact with new people. I’ve tried hard to get rid of this travel bug, but I’m afraid I just can’t! This has made for a long string of jobs that I have quit, so I could travel more. This time around, I’m not going back – I hope to travel forever.
You’re not a big fan of consumerism. Are there any non-essentials you are unwilling to give up on the road?
Consumerism, excessively so, just rubs me the wrong way. To me, it represents everything that is wrong with the human race. However, it is supremely interesting as an outside observer. But, of course there are some things I just couldn’t give up; my camera, which most people would consider “excessive” and my laptop. But in my defence, the laptop is several years old, and it will have to crumble and die before I replace it!
You allude to your lady friend, Phillipa, briefly on Yomadic. What is your travel style as a couple?
My lady friend, haha, it all sounds so sordid! But seriously, Phillipa is a great traveller, and wonderful companion. Our travel style is simple, spontaneous, and uncomplicated. We’re as happy just sitting and feeding ducks as we are climbing glaciers or hitting the bars in a big city. We may bicker over the small things, but we always agree on the important things in life. And, both of us are up for pretty much up for anything. In a nutshell, we just want to explore the world.
You are from Perth, one of the most isolated cities on the planet. What makes you ‘Sandgropers’ so unique and how do you think living there has prepared you for a life on the road?
Yes, it’s isolated. Really, there’s no getting around the tyranny of distance. For Sandgropers, no matter where we travel to – it’s a big journey. As a result, we tend to be extensive travellers. Perhaps it’s the isolation that has prepared me for travel – it tends to make you curious about the world, and really, that’s the first step in being motivated to travel.
Australia’s pretty darn huge. Have you travelled extensively in your home country? Where would you recommend?
It would take a dedicated lifetime to see Australia extensively. Mostly, I’ve explored my own state of Western Australia (which is much bigger than Europe). My number one pick is Ningaloo Reef. I should really keep it quiet, but hey. It’s like the famous Barrier Reef, with no people, and you can swim out to it in about 30 seconds from the most beautiful white sandy beaches you will ever see. No scuba equipment required. Turtles, fish, coral, the whole deal. Being several hundred km’s long, you’ll find a quiet place to explore.
You seem to have a knack for photography, particularly street photography. Who is the most interesting character you’ve ever photographed?
I meet interesting characters all the time out on the streets. The most interesting seem to be the older generation – they’re not afraid to ask me “hey, what are you doing!” They think their photogenic years are behind them, and are wondering why I’m bothering to take a photo of them. One elderly lady in Hong Kong had a big argument with me, and really questioned my motives of taking her photo. She even mentioned lawyers. I honestly explained what I do. By the end of the conversation, she was writing down her address so that I could mail her the photo, smiling, and waving me off, wishing me good luck with my life. I love those sorts of engaging interactions with strangers. It’s one of the main reasons I continue with my street photography hobby.
You have made it pretty clear that Yomadic is not out to gain great stats and Google hits, but readers. Refreshing! Where do you get your inspiration online, and do you have any favourite bloggers?
I take my inspiration from various places. For example, with photography, I check in with my friend Eric Kim’s amazing blog on street photography. As for travel bloggers, I look for honesty and a great story arc. Dave’s “The Longest Way Home” has been a favourite for years now. I think any travel blogger who sets up shop purely for Google stats is heading for failure. My advice is to just write amazing content, and people will come. It helps if you’re travelling. So, get out and travel. Also, don’t be put off in the first year – great blogs take time to build. This isn’t my first blog – I’ve been online in one shape or form for more than a decade. My first successful blog was related to music, and I started it in 1998.
Wow, I’m getting old.
But I know what I’m talking about.
Just get out there, and see the world.
Thank you, oh wise one! Don’t forget to follow Nate’s adventures on Yomadic.com.