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Basecamper Stories

An Interview with Miss Adventure

Caroline Pemberton isn’t your average 30 year old. In 2007 she was crowned Miss Australia, spurred to enter the competition given a keen interest in humanitarian issues. This later led to her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, and she is currently an ambassador for the Sir David Martin Foundation, the Novus Foundation, and sits on the board for the Kokoda Trust. She is also a Women’s Adventure Summit Ambassador for Travel Play Live magazine, which centres around women’s adventure and lifestyle.

Fuelled by a determined mind and an adventurous spirit, Caroline undertook eight humanitarian and tourist visits to East Timor, a once dangerous and war-torn country that is now safe to visit, and wanted to bring about a change in attitude of Australian travellers towards this beautiful area of the world. She was appointed the face of Tourism in Timor Leste in 2011, which involved a public relations role and her production company producing ten destination marketing films for the Timorese Government. Caroline is now a TV presenter and producer, a career that has allowed her to combine her passion for all things adventure with a willingness to encourage others to get out there and explore.

Caroline trains at Joe’s Basecamp in the lead up to all of her big adventures, the most recent being a ski mountaineering expedition to Mt. Elbrus in Russia. We caught up with her just before she left about her views on training for adventure, her biggest achievements and what makes her happy.

Photo credit: Tim Thatcher

What attracted you to join Joe’s Basecamp initially?

Joe’s is the gym I never knew I was looking for. It didn’t take me long to realise I wanted to be part of, and stay, in this community forever.

What are you currently training for?

I’m currently training for a ski mountaineering expedition to Mt. Elbrus in Russia. Elbrus is one of the Seven Summits and the highest mountain in Europe, but it is also a good first step into the mountains and high altitude climbing for a novice like me. I basically hate walking uphill so the only way I was going to climb up, was if I had the joy of skiing back down!

What would you say is your biggest achievement inside Joe’s Basecamp?

I’m stronger than I think I am. I didn’t think I could back squat the empty bar, let alone keep adding weight!

When I first started, I realized how much potential I had for improvement. If I’m dead honest, I was nervous that I wasn’t “strong” enough to fit into the community that Joe’s is so famous for, that I might fail and be embarrassed and humiliated by my inability to do push-ups! I was totally mistaken. Plucking up the courage to come and push myself time and time again was the best decision. I’ve definitely become stronger, and in a shorter period of time than I expected too.

I realised it was only my insecurity that was holding me back. Everyone has always made me feel totally included and are accepting of where I’m at in terms of my strength and cardio. There’s no weird undercurrent of strength shaming or competition like at other gyms. I can stand next to the strongest guy or girl in the gym, attempt to do my shonky push-ups or warm up next to the super hard core adventurers and they cheer me on as much as I cheer them on. You realize that we’re all human and you’re only in a competition with yourself and everyone else is in your corner. At Joe’s, no one is left behind.

I’d say my biggest achievement, however, has been my mental growth around my fitness and strength. I now feel capable of challenging myself, failing, trying again and succeeding. I think the willingness to fail and know I’ll still fit in has been critical.

What would you say is your biggest achievement outside Joe’s Basecamp?

I’ve always been into adventure and I’ve had some epic ones that I’m proud of, like swimming in the Antarctic, living for six weeks at Mt. Everest Basecamp, becoming a certified cave diver, doing some of the most famous treks in the world etc. but my biggest achievement is making a career out of my passion and living a life I love. It took a long time, being flat broke and doing a lot of ‘freebie’ jobs, but I now get to travel and adventure for a living as a TV presenter and producer. It’s pretty cool and I’m really proud that I kept pushing to make that dream possible and semi-financially viable!

How has Joe’s Basecamp helped you to achieve these goals?

For me, I think it’s more about how Joe’s is helping me to make my future dreams possible. I feel like I could now legitimately choose any expedition or any adventure and be able to train up to it. The serious ones are no longer out of reach.

Before, I felt like a bit of a fraud somehow. I have a reputation in the media for being super adventurous, and in many ways I am, but I have always felt a little insecure about whether I was actually strong or fit enough to tackle some bigger feats. Now I feel like I could legitimately achieve any expedition I put my mind to because I have the training infrastructure in place and I’ve already shown myself I am capable of getting much stronger than I think!

In what way have you changed since you first joined Joe’s Basecamp?

I feel stronger. It’s so fulfilling. I also look forward to training hard and I’m even beginning to look forward to climbing uphill!

If you give one message to the former you who first joined Joe’s Basecamp, what would it be?

Don’t be terrified, or embarrassed about your starting point. It’s not about strong you are; relative to others that is irrelevant; it’s about how much potential you have to improve.

Also, trust in all of the Joe’s Basecamp trainers. I became very attached to Joe after my first few sessions and would look on the calendar to see when he was training and only go to his classes, and I think that was because I trusted him to get me through any challenge, but now, after a little longer at the gym, I realize the whole team are incredible and supportive and can get the best out of you.

Do you have a mantra that you live by? If so, what is it?

It’s more a quote:

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both” – LP Jacks

For me, my life isn’t categorized into work or play, it’s one in the same. I’m comfortable living unconventionally and having people continually tell me to ‘get a real job’.

What is your key to happiness?

It sounds so corny, but hear me out… It’s gratitude.

I’ve always been a highly ambitious person. Like a carrot dangling in front of the donkey, I could never get where I wanted to go because as soon as I got there I’d have my mind set on the next rung of the ladder. That endless chase quickly becomes depressive no matter what you achieve.

I’d also be anxious about where I was at, because I never quite stacked up to where I thought I should be – I coined it ‘achievement anxiety’. Long story short, (and it’s still a work in progress) my mum who is a psychotherapist just turned to me and said, ‘the cure is gratitude’ so whenever I get frustrated or edgy about my life, I try to remind myself to stop, take a second and find that gratitude – it works every time. That way I look at the distance I’ve come, feel stoked about the things I have achieved, the things I know and the skills I have mastered, and that recharges me to go after the things I want, rather than just collapse in a downward negativity spiral and feel mentally exhausted.

I also realized that happiness is something we all try to ‘achieve’ but it’s not an end point. For me, it’s best found by collecting all the little moments throughout every day. You definitely have to actively turn your ‘awareness’ on to catch them and remember to cache them. Personally my happiness is found in the rush of cold water on the first duck dive of a surf, a kiss on the forehead, the deliciousness of a meal I just made, a really good smell, a random smile or getting a surprise package in the mail. When you take a second to rejoice in those tiny things, they accumulate and you feel stoked everyday.

Photo credit: Tim Thatcher

To learn more about Caroline and her incredible adventures head to her website or her Instagram.

Elly Gearing

Elly is Joe's Basecamp's member "go-to". With a background in zoology and the study of animal behaviour, Elly has spent many months in remote areas of the world following wild animals - all in the name of science!

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