As a child, Kathryn Walton found her greatest happiness in exploring the bush, but it was while working a counsellor for the past 14 years that she noticed something similar when her clients spent time in nature.
“Over the years, particularly with women, I’ve seen a profound difference in people’s mental health when they’re active and get outdoors,” she said. “So I really wanted to make that difference in people’s lives.” Last year, Walton applied for and received a grant to launch The Adventure Therapy Project, a program designed to educate and empower women to safely and confidently explore the outdoors on their own or with friends. “There are lots of barriers that seem to get in the way of women being really active in the outdoors,” Walton said. “A lot of them are in our minds about fears and the stories we tell ourselves about what we cannot do.” Some of those fears include personal safety, lack of bushcraft, or what to do if they get injured miles from civilisation.
Through the free courses offered by The Adventure Therapy Project, Walton addresses these fears head on with clear instruction, guided experiences, and the comfort and community of other women eager to unleash their inner adventurer. “These fears can often mirror our mindset,” Walton said, “So when we find ways to overcome these physical obstacles, then we find a way past the obstacles in our mind as well. Being in the bush gives me clarity. It wakes up that part of your brain that works around innovation and inspiration, and that’s where I’ve come up with my most
innovative and successful ideas.” As a certified mountain bike instructor and bush walk guide, Walton loves watching women of all ages move from fearful and intimidated to confident, savvy and safe as they navigate the gorgeous Australian bush via foot, bicycle and canoe. “I’d like to introduce women and girls to going off road and feel that they have the skills they need to lead to greater self confidence,” she said. Working closely with Bel du Bois of Darling Downs Wellness Therapies, Emma Walton of Emma Walton Guiding, and The Rewilding Project, Walton offers numerous adventure experiences for women in mountain biking, nature walks, bush walks, trail yoga, bouldering, canoeing, bird watching and camping. The activities are designed not only for able bodied women, but also for seniors, girls and those with disabilities. “We want to show a different way of being in nature and relating to nature, and we want to connect people together,” Walton said.
“Socialising is a really important aspect and we’ve seen some really beautiful connections made.” Some people have wondered if bush adventures during a drought are too confronting, but Walton thinks it is vital. “It’s still important because we have a connection with the land,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to be mindful, to really look at the little things that we so often miss. Being connected to the outdoors helps me to connect better to myself and to other people.”
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