Exploring the world | Shannon Bawden
Meet Shannon, a passionate explorer from the South Coast of New South Wales in Australia. She loves discovering new parts of the world through hiking and lives a fast paced and energetic life! Below she has shared with us her love for travelling and her stunning photographs from her trips to Iceland and Norway.
Tell us more about you!
To describe me in a nutshell - I am 27 years old, I consider myself to be a storyteller, fast living, adventurous and a creative. I like to write, hike, surf, get creative and live in the moment. I never keep my feet on the ground for too long and get my natural highs from exploring new places and stepping outside my comfort zone on adventures. I like to push the boundaries and explore those hard-to-get to places.
Where are you based?
I am based in Australia. Small-town living on the NSW South-east Coast. It’s an epic place to base when I’m not travelling. The mountains and ocean are close, familiar faces are near-by and there is no shortage of an adventure. Oh and good coffee! Don’t forget the coffee.
How did your passion for travel started?
I have my parents to thank for kick-starting my passion for travel. They had a love of being on the road whilst I was growing up and I found myself tagging along on so many of their adventures from as early as 3! Camping trips, hanging on my dads back while he would ride his surf-ski and even horseback riding was in the mix– my parents gave most things a shot. Once I turned 18 I developed my own travel styles and began hiking, falling in love with new cultures and discovering those summit highs after those big, heart-in-your-mouth climbs – my favourite kind of adventure! I became really passionate about moving forward and fast. My days on the road are long and exhausting, exactly how I like it. I love ending a day in the mountains with sore feet, sunburnt shoulders, dirty boots and that ‘made-it’ sense of accomplishment.
Tell us more about your travel blog!
Road to Rainbows started as a way to share my adventures with my girl Ria and the places we have discovered in our own backyard, across Australia and the globe. We were writing, sharing photos and picked up some pretty massive collaborations along the way. It was super overwhelming for us. We had travel and adventure industry brands and labels which we have always looked up to and been inspired by, start to like the stuff we were creating. When they were reaching out to tell us that they wanted to work with Road to Rainbows we were unbelievably stoked to say the least.
How many countries have you visited?
You have been some fantastic locations around the world, but we are particularly interested in where you have been in the Nordic countries! Tell us more.
Nordic countries have a special place in my heart. I have visited Iceland and Norway in the past year. They are in my top places which I have ever travelled. Easy to say I will be coming back very soon to explore more. Whilst in Iceland, I did a summer road trip from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in the West down to Vik in the South. One of the wildest roadies I’ve been on. The landscapes in this country are something else. It’s raw, it’s wild and it’s beautiful. For a place that attracts 2 million visitors per year, you can still somehow find yourself in complete solitude here. It’s the kind of place where a 20 minute drive ends up taking you 2 hours. The scenery just keeps on giving. I found myself pulling over by the minute. Black sand beaches, walking on glaciers, roadside waterfalls, rocky mountains, street art and the most epic damn pastries on the planet. That sums up Iceland pretty well I think. Not to mention the locals that inhabit this place are friendly, kind and always up for an adventure. Meeting the people that are lucky to call Iceland home was one of the best things about my trip here. Everything just feels fresh and pristine here, that mountain air I can’t forget! My recent visit to Norway included a few days in Oslo followed by the best two weeks of my life in the remote Lofoten Islands. The tiny plane that took me there kick-started what I knew was going to be one memorable trip. I remember looking out the window and seeing the peaks and white sandy beaches below. I had always dreamed of visiting Lofoten and my dream was coming true! I spent my time hopping between Rorbus, the traditional Norwegian houses in the fishing village of Reine. I woke up every morning overlooking the Fjord and peaks above me. The first evening we arrived, I remember driving up to our little house, dumping my bag inside and saying to Ria, ‘lets hit Reinebringen, NOW’. Reinebringen is one of the peaks that sits above the village. I didn’t waste any time, it was 6pm and we had just been on a series of planes and a big drive, but I knew I had to jump right in. When we were at the summit I remember thinking this is the most epic view I’ve ever experienced on a hike. We were lucky to experience the phenomemen of the midnight sun during this trip too. We took a kayak out in the middle of fjord right on 12am and watched the colours change around us. We were the only ones there and it was hands-down one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life. Can you tell I love this place? The place is just filled with like-minded, adventurous, happy and high-energy beings. That makes it extra special. I’ve lost count of the amount of rad people I crossed paths with mid-hike in Lofoten. The coffee and hip bars around the towns were a pretty special treat too. I’ll never forget my time there, I know it won’t be my last.
What have been your most memorable experiences during your travels in Norway and Iceland?
I love exploring that little bit extra and finding a place all to myself. I had two experiences in Iceland and Norway that prove this about me and just why that is. In Iceland we were at one of the most popular waterfalls on the island and for a good reason, its by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen. We were scouting a place to eat our lunch and I was thinking we would have to settle for a spot amongst the other travellers. I spotted an overgrown goat trail and decided to follow it. We walked and walked, high above the waterfall and ended up on an overhang looking down to a bright green gorge with waterfalls pounding below. Not a soul around, just us, some homemade sandwiches and an epic view. I had a similar experience in Norway whilst in the Lofoten Islands. We were at the top of Reinebringen (the epic hike I mentioned above) and I spotted a glacial lake in the distance below. I thought to myself; wouldn’t that be a sweet place to explore? So once we were back in our Rorbu, I got onto a satellite map, pinned where the lake should be and planned an adventure for the morning. We drove to what looked like would be the base of a small mountain cradling the lake. We walked and climbed until we reached the top and there it was. We had the lake in front of us all to ourselves. Morning coffee tasted better that day.
Where is next?
Right now, I have just landed back in Australia and am planning on hanging in here the spring/summer season. Once the seasons wrap up, I am hoping to come back over to Iceland and spend a month exploring deeper on the road. I’d love to do the entire circle of the Island and discover new places. And I am in a hurry to get back as I am really missing those pastries!