Adventure and taking the road less travelled have been part of GemLife Bribie Island resident Chalon Lee’s life since growing up in the southern U.S. state of Georgia, where she developed a love of the great outdoors, learning to hunt, rappel and ride motorbikes.
From briefly considering a career as a stuntwoman to a 1000-kilometre solo trek through remote central African jungle in flip-flops, Chalon’s fearlessness has taken her all over the world for work and play.
During a four-year cultural exchange in the Congo with the Peace Corps, an American government volunteer program, she spent two years living in a mud hut and had the unique experience of bow-hunting with a Pygmy tribe.
“The Pygmies in the area are hunters and gatherers, and since I had a bow, I asked if I could hunt with them. We had to trek for three hours through small trails in the forest but eventually got a monkey. It was such a cool place and I was so lucky to experience it,” she said.
Since moving to GemLife Bribie Island last year, Chalon has turned her love of adventure towards exploring the diverse outdoor offerings in and around Bribie – not only on foot, bike and via four-wheel-drive, but also by air, thanks to her new-found passion for drone videography.
“Bribie Island has lots of opportunities for exploration and the drone has been great for looking at out-of-the-way places,” she said.
Some of her discoveries include an oyster farm at Sandstone Point, a shipwreck in the channel near Banksia Beach and capturing the annual sea mullet migration along the coastline.
“I’m loving videography and now that I’m retired, I have time and less pressure – I’m learning for the pure joy of it.”
Keeping active with a lot of cycling and walking as well as kayaking, swimming, tennis and golf, Chalon also enjoys fishing and exploring the northern end of Bribie Island by four-wheel-drive. The unspoiled beaches, lagoons and the historical remnants of WW2 naval defence fortifications in the north, including Fort Bribie and bunkers, are drawcards for adventurous locals and visitors alike.
Driving on Ocean Beach’s vast stretches of soft sand takes a deft hand, and Chalon, together with an equally adventurous friend Judy, often pass surprised, inexperienced young-guns bogged in the sand.
“It’s such a pretty area and because Bribie Island has two sides, the ocean side and the calm part on the channel side, we have a lot of variety, including interesting wetlands,” she said.
“It’s important to try new things and make an intent of it. I’m not happy unless I’m learning new things and you’re never too old to learn new stuff.”