Dads. Where would we be without them? In the lead-up to Father’s Day, we introduce you to a few very different Aussie Dads, each with a passion for the outdoors.
This week we chat to Doron Francis, our Co-founder and Director, about camping with his own Father when he was young and being a new Dad to 8 month old Anais.
Welcome to Fatherhood! What’s your earliest memory of exploring the outdoors?
My early years were spent growing up in Napier, New Zealand. My dad is a keen fishing-man and when not out at sea, we would visit places like Lake Waikaremoana on camping trips. Looking back they were mostly ill-prepared adventures that involved making makeshift tents with tarps, catching trout for dinner and building giant campfires.
Located in the Te Urewera National Park in NZ’s North Island, Lake Waikaremoana is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s still relatively off the tourist radar as it’s fairly difficult to get to – it’s down a 90km gravel road – which thankfully keeps a lot of the motorhomes out. For the curious adventurer a trip to Waikaremoana is well rewarded with an absolutely stunning four day hike around the lake with great huts and campsites to stay at. Pristine forested mountains ring the lake and it’s often misty in the morning and evening. The local people are called Tuhoe or Nga Tamariki o te Kohu – literally “the children of the mist” – there is something so unique about the vibe of this place that it keeps me coming back. I am always recommending it to friends visiting NZ and it’s a bit of a secret spot.
Looking back they were mostly
ill-prepared adventures that involved making makeshift tents with tarps, catching trout for dinner and building giant campfires.
People often say that you rediscover the small wonders of the world when you become a parent – a walk around the garden with your child becomes a new adventure of smelling flowers and inspecting leaves. Do you think that you see nature in a new light now that you’re a dad?
Yes this is so true. Hanging out with a baby is totally in the moment and what tends to appear mundane through our older eyes, is a source of fascination for them. Anais is a good reminder to stop what you’re doing and take in the awesomeness of it all.
Anything you wished you’d known before becoming a dad? And your top tip for others about to take the plunge into fatherhood?
I came to be a father a little later than most of my friends and therefore had a fair idea of what to expect (so I thought!). However, like many great things in life, being a parent is something you can never truly know until you actually do it. Be prepared for an immense adventure into love, discovery and messiness.
How do you juggle your role as Dad to Anais with the many responsibilities of running Homecamp?
I run Homecamp with my partner Stephanie and up until Anais was born we were also both working full time, so it’s meant a lot of working late at night and weekends to get Homecamp off the ground. Since Anais, we have both settled into more of a groove with balancing our home and work life, so that we can both spend time on our business as well as being hands on parents to Anais. Being a dad has been an all round amazing experience in so many ways and luckily working on Homecamp has given us flexibility with parenting, something we share evenly and both treasure.
What are some adventures you’re looking forward to going on together as a family?
Both Steph and I have been extremely lucky in that we have travelled to some incredible places, however neither of us has been to Africa (with the exception of Egypt). When Anais is old enough we would love to do a trip to Kenya to visit friends, then head overland to Ethiopia, explore the Omo valley, Simien Mountains and the rock hewn churches in the north.
Closer to home, in the next year we are planning an overland trip to the Flinders Ranges and also Tasmania (finally!).
Any plans for your first Father’s Day?
Actually we will be in Northern NSW with family and friends so I dare say we will be at the beach or exploring the hinterlands.
Be prepared for an immense adventure into love, discovery and messiness.Doron Francis – new Dad