Nature Girl stories


 'It is the worst of times but it is the best of times because we still have a chance'
- Sylvia Earle

Tell us a little about yourself. Where you grew up and what inspires you?

I moved to Newcastle when I was 8, having grown up on a property in singleton. I've been going to the beach for as long as I can remember. I really started to be drawn to the ocean when my year 12 geography teacher started introducing the issues of over population and climate change and the impacts that they have on the ocean. Things like plastic pollution, overfishing and the stress that coral reefs are currently under put a massive burden on my soul when I realised that my individual actions had contributed to these mounting issues, so I started to research ways to reduce my impacts on the oceans. I live everyday actively making conscience  choices in my shopping, in what I eat, how far I drive, and I opt for reusable options. Organisations that I find really inspiring are take 3 for the sea, Blue the film, 50 reefs, Australian Marine conservation society, Great Barrier Reef Legacy and Sea Shepherd. These organisations set the perfect example of how to live a sustainable life and show everyone simple and easy ways of how to be an ocean activist. 

Is the ocean somewhere that you spend a lot of your time? 

I spend almost everyday at the beach, especially in whale season. It brings me so much joy to watch these massive cetaceans breaching and playing around off the shore. I have a beautiful blue mctavish mal that I love to ride on smaller days (I don't like big waves) and on days when there's no surf I take my fins and snorkel and explore around the rocks. I am about to start my marine science and geography degree next year so I'm getting a PADI scuba dive qualification soon as well, which will just mean more beach days!!!! 

What does spending time by the sea mean to you?

The ocean is my happy place. It calms me to be surrounded by such a diverse world.  Every time I am there my passion to protect it grows.

Do you implement sustainable practices into your day-to day life? We want to know how?!

So it's super easy for anyone to live sustainable lives, firstly you just need to slow your pace down and give yourself time to reflect on the impacts your decisions may be having on the planet. I take my reusable insulated 360 degrees water bottle with me everywhere I go (it is completely stainless steel with a bamboo lid, plastic free!!) which stops me from making a thoughtless choice of buying a single plastic bottle of water. I take my reusable coffee cup with, I have a Sea Shepherd keep cup but @potteryfortheplanet make some beautiful reusable cups! I used to just order a takeaway coffee without the lid, thinking that I could recycle my cup but I recently found out that they a lined with a thin layer of plastic. Over a year ago I made a personal choice to go vegetarian, mostly because it is a super easy and healthy way to reduce your carbon footprint but also to stop eating fish. I had two reasons for this- 1 being that fish are starting to become polluted with micro plastics and I don't want that in my body, and 2 because of illegal fishing and the by-catch involved. If you love fish and don't want to stop eating it there are lots of ways to be sustainable, you just need to ask questions like- where was this caught, in what quantity and through what method? Also I take reusable bags with me whenever I go to the shops! Another way I make sustainable choices is buying second hand clothes! Op shops always have a wonderful surprise in them and vintage stores never fail to have something stylish. If I am going to by new clothes however I avoid buying from mass produced brands and opt for smaller, local companies to reduce carbon miles. It's also fun to look at what fabrics are being used in your clothes and what percentage of it is recycled. I just finished my trip driving around Australia in my Toyota hiace, so I'm making my trip as carbon neutral as possible by paying 'one tree planted' to plant the necessary amount of trees for me. 

What’s one thing you can’t live without?
My snorkel, mask and fins. Any chance I get I love to observe the underwater world, it's such a magical place to me. 

What’s a phrase that means something to you?

The first is from the creator of Take 3 for the sea which is the simple message of 'We need to reduce what we use, recycle what we can and follow the lead of countries who are banning plastic bottles and bags'

And the second quote is by the incredible Sylvia Earle, 'It is the worst of times but it is the best of times because we still have a chance'. 

I think that these two phrases go hand in hand. We have made the oceans sick, and when the oceans are sick, we are sick, therefore it is our responsibility to fix this travesty that was have collectively started and protect our planet that gives us life.

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Tell us a little about your background
I'm from a little village in the North West of England which has a coast...but you only every see the sea twice a day as the tide is huge over the mud flats. Instead my passion for exploring the sea started a bit more tropically in Malaysia. From a young age, every other year we would try visit my mothers family in Malaysia, and when we did we would visit the East Coast islands. How could you not fall in love with the sea there? That initial spark that ignited in those warm waters has driven me to pursue scuba diving and has let me to complete my degree in marine biology at the University of Plymouth. 

What's your favourite marine animal and area of study?
My favourite animal (let me tell you this is not easy Alex!)...It's between a Mantis shrimp or a Manta Ray. Manta Rays because they are the most elegant thing in the sea. Huge, graceful and highly intelligent. Mantis Shrimp because they are so bad ass. They put into perspective how little we actually see the world. With at least 12 colour receptors on their retina to our puny 3, imagine how psychedelic the world is in their eyes!

You are currently in Malaysia and on the move. What have you been up to this past month?
I've come to Malaysia to visit the family. I couldn’t be on this side of the planet and not swing by! It’s been a well needed rest as just in the past month I’ve been diving with bull sharks in Fiji, watching scientists tag sharks to monitor the effects of shark feeding as well as trying to decipher the nursery grounds of Fiji’s sharks. I’ve also completed a diving course on twin tanks, GUE fundamentals, as even though I thought I was a good diver, I knew I could push myself to become even better. And then lastly I went on a photography trip to the Mecca of Macro, Lembeh with the fantastic underwater photography William Tan. Not only did we do the usual critter hunt in the day to scope out blue-ringed octopus, mantis shrimps and hairy frog fish… but we also headed into the middle of the strait for black water diving at night, luring in creatures of the night and deep, basically larvae and plankton. The coolest, most alien-like creatures I’ve seen. 

What kind of positive change would you like to see towards our oceans? Is there an area you are particularly worried about?
There are so many things hitting the oceans currently, a lot of these impacts the oceans can buffer against if given time. But something the oceans have never had to face before is plastic pollution. I know a lot of people are working to solve this issue, but especially being in Asia at the moment, I can see a lot of people still don’t know, still don’t care. I’ve seen first hand plastic bags being pulled out of dead turtles that have washed up. If the whole world doesn’t act together, we are going to lose a lot of our beautiful marine life. 

How long have you been diving for? and what is one of you favourite dive spots to date?
I’ve been diving since I was 12. I lucked out big time as my dad loved scuba diving so I naturally had my diving buddy. I was blessed with the opportunity to visit the red sea earlier during my scholarship year, and we dove quite relentlessly within the Ras Mohammed National Park in the North. It was brimming with life and colour. We timed it for fish spawning, so were able to see huge schools of bohar snapper, barracuda, bat fish…and my favourite, schools of puffer fish!!!! It was probably one of the few places I’ve been to that showed me what seas all around the world should look like.  

A phrase that means something to you..
Every Action has a Reaction. – I learnt this one in school and initially used to think it applied to the way we treated others around us. I still believe that, but now also apply it to the way we treat our world in our day to day. Especially when some of us live so far removed from nature and the oceans, we can hardly see how one little thing can have a repercussion. But reactions are inevitable, we’re all connected to each other and our environment.




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"Buy less, choose well, make it last."
- Vivienne Westwood

Photography by Julian Calo
Location // Guincho Beach, Portugal

Tell us who you are, where you’re from and what gets you out of bed in the morning.

I am Margot, a French girl from the Franco-Swiss region where french writer & philosopher, Voltaire spent the last years of his life. Together with my partner in life and at work Julian, we recently moved to sunny Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. I sleep with the blinds open so that I wake up as the sun rises, usually to the thought of a slow early morning, drinking mate, (the traditional Argentinian drink, featured in pictures) with Julian, and the joyful opportunity to share the mission of The Pastel Project.

With Conscious living on the rise there is now an abundance of Eco bloggers teaching people and showing them how they can live a more eco lifestyle. We love that you live this kind of lifestyle. Describe your style of living and how you implement sustainable living into your day to day lifestyle.

A conscious lifestyle is about understanding the choices you’re about to make and being deliberate in all your decisions. This involves both sustainability and ethical perspectives.
So, implementing a sustainable living into a day to day life is thinking and choosing for the long-term.  Fashion wise, I buy fewer but better quality. I mainly choose brands that create products with a purpose that is either good for workers, communities, the environment, or if possible all of those.  Beauty wise, I use fewer products and put on greener make-up and cosmetics. In terms of food, I choose a plant-based diet that is good both for my health and our planet. I try to always buy in bulk. I seek to reduce the waste that I may produce by refusing anything disposable. I bring my reusable tools with me everywhere I go, and I select products with less packaging or none. Altogether, these actions help me to reduce my carbon footprint for a better circular economy. 

“Less is more”-  It seems very simple doesn't it! Describe the Less is more concept in your own words.

I think it’s about Seduction. What seduces is often not actually there. When I speak of seduction, I don’t necessarily mean it with sexual connotations, but more like any kind of appeal. There has to be space for imagination. I often think that’s why art galleries are usually completely white, and it is certainly why minimalism has become so present in the last 50 years, not only in the arts, in all fields, especially in design (home design). Simple things transmit a feeling of peace and calm, and that comes with taking things slower and consciously enjoying the important things in life more. The more obvious thought is that it is about quality, not quantity, in all aspects of life. When it comes to materials, it’s about taking care and appreciating what we already have rather than jumping into the rat race of having more and better. The subject also makes me think of color saturation. It’s hard to look at a photo that is too saturated. It’s too much. Most people don’t like it when something is too much, and a lot of people only realize it after getting carried away with things thinking the more, the bigger, the faster, the better. Have you ever gotten that feeling of something being too much and therefore being overwhelming? What I basically mean by all this is that not only the planet would appreciate more a little less of everything, but also our souls. The concept is about cleaning our physical and mental space, and there is a thin line between knowing what we truly need and what we just want, and today’s advertising strategies do not help. In the end it’s a question of mindset and finding the right balance for ourselves.

Where do you see The Pastel Project headed in the future?

There is always room for improvement and we want to continue inspiring as many people as possible to live a more sustainable life. For that reason, we are working on the idea of sharing men's fashion and self-care. 

What’s your number one go to Eco product? (It can be anything!)
The first go-to eco product that comes in my mind right now is the 100% compostable flax straw waste based iPhone case from Pela.

Being naked is the #1 best sustainable option. Eco and fair clothing is the #2 best sustainable option.

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 "No one has every become poor by giving"
-  Anne Frank

Describe yourself in a sentence.
An activist and traveller.

Tell us about the place that you photographed youself wearing the Scribbly Gum Crop set.
The photos were taken at Pink Lake in Gatineau Park. It's a beautiful place with lots of forest trails and lakes in Quebec, Canada. Unfortunately it's not bright pink like the Australian one buts it's still a great spot to go for a dip!


If you had to choose between a Racoon or a Squirrel, which would you rather be?

Definitely a Racoon. They're fierce which is admirable so you know that one one is going to mess with them. haha. They are also very fluffy and cute at times too, especially the babies.

What steps do you take in your daily life to help our environment? Do you recycle?I recently moved to Vancouver for university which has fortunately opened my eyes to how easy it is to be environmentally friendly. The city is so progressive and accommodating to the Earth. Because of this it's easier to make a lifestyle out of helping the planet on a day to day basis. I do this by composting, recycling, using public transport or my bike to travel, and of course I bring my own bags everywhere when shopping!





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 "It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams."
Gabriel García Márque

Tell us about your background and where you are from?!

My name is Iva and I live on a sailboat, at the moment cruising Southeast Asian waters. I was born in Mendoza, Argentina but moved away from my home country when I was five and grew up in Asia - mostly in Malaysia. I have a degree in Advertising and another in Events Management and while I worked for some time in those industries, a funny twist of fate saw me leaving the corporate life to sail. My fiancé Philippe and I have been sailing together since 2012 and our change of lifestyle has been wrought with challenges but has also been the most fulfilling adventure.

Making this change brought new meaning to our lives and we were inspired to share our experience with others, in order to motivate those who are dissatisfied with their current lifestyle to make a change of their own. We founded a production company and started sailing the region and filming.

Shapes in the Sand is excited to be a partner of your TV show, Dreamcatchers. You are in the middle of filming Season Two,Tell us a little about the show and what stage you are up to.

I am so pleased to have Shapes in the Sand as a partner for Dreamcatchers! Dreamcatchers is a concept that has been almost three years in the making. We are very passionate about our series and very grateful for the support from Shapes in the Sand. This series documents our sail to exotic destinations as we search for people who have decided to change their life in pursuit of their dream. Each episode introduces a new location, gives insight into our everyday life onboard Dali and displays portraits of people who have taken the leap, our “dreamcatchers”. We interview characters from completely different cultures, sex, age and social status in order to show that anyone can change their life.

In these close encounters with characters from all walks of life, we will strive to understand what led them to make the change in lifestyle and how they finally did it. All our videos are produced in the sincere and fervent hope that they will serve to encourage people to free themselves from dissatisfaction and start living the life they dream.* 

 What do you love most about living on your yacht?

What I love most about living on our yacht is the freedom. It is hard for me to put into words what it feels like to have this boundless sense of true freedom. The freedom to look at a map and point to an island and say, “let’s go there”... and then the freedom to go, pretty much whenever you like (elements permitting) and almost wherever you please (there are still restricted areas). The freedom to plan your days, weeks and months yourself and not have them be a carved from external obligations, this is what I love the most.

Image source via philandiva

Living on the ocean, have you seen the destruction plastic pollution in particular has on 
marine life?

Plastic pollution is a devastating reality and we see so much of it in the areas we navigate. We have sailed to very remote islands, without people for miles around but the beaches are almost always littered with washed up plastic. We sail to islands where all the children have access to education but environmental education is not a part of their curriculum. This lack of information translates into a lack of awareness and the result is continued pollution. In my opinion first world countries - who have already been through the same process - have a responsibility to help the developing world, and should do everything they can to raise awareness and accelerate environmental education.

I will never forget one anchorage where we invited the village children to visit the boat, offered them some snacks and were not quick enough to stop them from throwing the wrappers and cans overboard… When I tried to tell them in my broken Bahasa that it wasn’t good to throw garbage in the ocean, they just looked back at me perplexed and replied, ‘Why not? You can throw it and then the water takes it away.’

What ways do you implement sustainable practices into your daily life?

Living on a sailboat is a great exercise in self-sustainability! We use solar panels for our electricity, we catch rainwater to fill our fresh water tank reserves and to shower with. On a personal level, leaving the city behind to live on a sailboat has taught me that I need much less “stuff” than I thought to be happy.

* @philandiva - for more about our story and Dreamcatchers







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'The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives.'
- Indian Proverb

Every so often you will come across someone who shares an inspiring story with you, and it blows you off your feet. Brinkley's story is one of those.. reminding us that there there is still hope for the future of our environment. 

Tell us a little about yourself.

I started off surfing when I was 4 years old, spending so much time at the beach is what has driven me to where I am today, adventure and curiosity has fuelled the fire a lot. Before I went to university I volunteered as a kid with a few different animal welfare organisations, and gained some experience with marine animals there. From there on out its all kept on growing, I've been making and taking opportunities since I have had my degree, and its leading me to exciting and interesting places all over.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a rural area on acreage with my family. I guess you would call it country but It was still coastal. We travelled to surf a lot when I was younger, and spent every holiday, long weekend at our beach shack down Yorke Peninsula.

What gets you out motivated and out of bed in the morning? (apart from Bunji & Ohana) 

What gets me motivated to get out of bed every morning is yes, obviously Ohana and Bunji, haha but more than anything else my passion to continue working with animals, and helping the environment. Ill jump out of bed really quickly if there is no wind and the surf is good, haha. But at the moment I'm working on a number of different things including a number of projects for Balu Blue Foundation Inc. Our newly founded environmental organisation, which I am extremely excited and passionate about, all environmental of course, and look forward to sharing it with you guys soon!

I understand you are a Marine Biologist , Is there a particular area of Marine Biology that fascinates you the most or that you are more passionate about?

That’s a really hard question. Studying Marine Biology itself is extremely broad, and you can take it to wherever you please in life. I left University with a burning desire to see some marine animals underwater. This has led me to amazing opportunities and research areas as a volunteer. Growing up in South Australia has always led me to be fascinated by Great White Sharks. Working with the Whale Sharks of Ningaloo last year opened up a new obsession with that species, but in saying that my love for marine mammals (specifically toothed whales ) might always come out on top. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

Beautiful Bunji, how did you come to her rescue and what has your journey with her been like so far?

Bunji is the survivor of an accident we unfortunately had at nighttime with a kangaroo and our 4WD. This is something that growing up in rural Australia you sadly will most likely have to deal with at sometime in your life. Even with all the caution in the world, wildlife do run on the road, and at nighttime its often impossible to see them coming.

The mother sadly passed away from the accident and Bunji had fallen out of her pouch. This was pretty traumatic and I want to share our story, as many people hit kangaroos and wombats every single day and never stop to check on the animal, or it’s pouch. Kangaroo joeys are also often orphaned by hunting of them in these areas, which saddens me greatly.  Livestock farmers which have already cleared native scrubland that was once native habitat for animals such as emus, kangaroos and wombats, will shoot the native animals which come on to their property under the “ pest ” control method. Sadly there are also people who consider hunting Kangaroos a leisurely activity, whole pods are often shot down, and joeys are left to die. This is a common way these animals come into the hands of carers also.

When we found Bunji she was pink, known as “pinky”, which means she had no fur and her eyes were only just opening. I immediately put her straight on my bare skin under the three jackets I was wearing. She slept on my stomach in bed with us for the first few weeks to help her feel as if she was in the pouch and give her the best chance of survival. The most important thing with rescuing animals this young is warmth, followed by hydration. Kangaroos cannot be given cows milk as a substitute, they will pass away if you give it to them. They must be given warm water, or a Kangaroo milk substitute called Wombaroo, or similar.

Bunji was lucky to be two weeks old when we got her, we were told by wildlife vets to not get attached or expect her to survive because they die easily of many causes in this vulnerable state. I made it my absolute mission to make sure she survived. Both Ty and I are so proud of Bunji, she is now a healthy as can be. A 5 month old little fluffy Euro, with the strongest personality ever!

Being a wildlife carer is such a big task and takes a very special person to do such a thing. It has it’s challenges, what have a couple which you have experienced so far?

The first few weeks were by far the hardest, Bunji was so vulnerable, had no fur, no eyesight as far as we knew, and she couldn’t get the teet in her mouth on her own to feed at all. Joeys are so delicate at this age, the delicate handling of feeding her, toilet training her and keeping her warm and clean was the biggest challenge.

This included getting up during the night every 2-3 hours to feed her. Because she could only take in small amounts of the formula, it would sometime take her up to an hour to get through even 20ml. Sleep deprivation is a real thing! She now gets through 100ml in about 5 minutes and almost squeezes my fingers off she grips that hard when she drinks. We are so proud of her and how far she has come.

Another one of the biggest challenges has been explaining the bond we have formed with her, especially to people who consider Kangaroos to be “pests”. When you raise an animal from fetus size, it needs delicate handling, lots of love, warmth and comfort. Bunji was a complete in pouch joey before we got her and so we may be all she knows. It sure seems that way. She has certainly developed a confident and sassy personality in her 5 months. I will be interested to see how she progresses from here

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Photography by Richard Carson
at Pebbly Beach, NSW

‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’ – Mahatma Gandhi

It's not everyday one will have the chance to be in a postcard perfect situation, sharing a view of the beach with some of Australia's most unique wildlife, including our iconic Kangaroo. Some of us are lucky enough to experience this, including our Feb nature girl who makes the journey to this pocket of paradise regularly. 

Describe yourself in a sentence….
I am an absolute water baby and sun lover.

What is your spirit animal and why?
I’d say my spirit animal would have to be a dusky dolphin. I swam with a huge pod of them just off Kaikoura, New Zealand last year and it was such a magical experience. Dolphins are my favourite marine animal and to share a swim with them in their home was incredible. The way they danced around under water in such a care free way really resonated with me.

Do you have a special spot which you love to go to?  What do you love so much about it?!
There’s this spot on the South Coast of NSW that would have to be my favourite place in the world and it’s called Pebbly Beach. My family has escaped to it ever since I can remember and it’s the one place where I have always felt free. The beach is surrounded by the Murramarang National Park, so I would always be off exploring all of it's secrets. I love it there because the hustle and bustle of a crowd is replaced with kangaroos, king parrots, koalas and dolphins – the best kind of company.

Pebbly Beach, Murramarang National Park, NSW
Belmore Falls, Morton National Park NSW
Pebbly Beach, Murranmarang National Park, NSW
Emma wears the Blossom Dancer Tri Bralette & Cheeky Cut Lace up Pant.

What does the environment mean to you? Are you conscious about recycling and plastic use? 
The environment means a lot to me and I have always been conscious about how big of a footprint I will leave. I’ve lived by the beach my whole life so my biggest concern would probably be marine pollution. It’s sad knowing that so many marine animals die because of ocean debris so my friends and I often spend an afternoon picking up rubbish on the beach. It’s a really positive push for change as someone will join in once they see you doing it!

How do you incorporate an environmentally friendly approach into your daily life?
I try to always recycle by using reusable water bottles, coffee mugs and shopping bags to minimise my plastic use and wastage. In the end we will all leave footprints on the earth but we can control how deep the mark is.    

A local resident.


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"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love and then we return home"- Australian Aboriginal Proverb

Meet our September Nature Girl: 
Growing up in Alice Springs, Grace has spent the last 6 years travelling Australia and the world. She's passionate about filmmaking and want's to use her filmmaking skills to help people. Grace's biggest concerns at the moment are the treatment of Australia's Indigenous people, freeing the Refugees and the future of this land and planet. 

We couldn't have pictured anyone more authentic than grace for a collaboration captured in the heart of the Northern NSW Bushlands, by talented photographer Melody Jasmine also known as @ontheroadwithmelody. A pretty wandering Gumnut brings our Spirit of the Bush collection to life with her natural beauty and authentic, nature loving soul. We can't help but reminisce on childhood memories of May Gibbs Snuggle Pot & Cuddle Pie. After all this iconic children's storybook was one of the main inspirations for the collection.

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