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Get to Know NOLS Australia

NOLS Australasia Director Mark Jordan gives some insight into the world NOLS Australia students explore.

Brad_christensen_20121013_3556If you had one sentence to describe your staff, you would say:

Like the staff at every NOLS location: driven, enthusiastic, and skilled. 

How long have you been NOLS Australasia Director?

Two years 

What is your background with NOLS? Or how did it all begin for you?

I did a Waddington Range Expedition course in 1992 with NOLS Pacific Northwest, and a Rocky Mountain Instructors Course in 1993. 

What is your favorite aspect of running courses in your part of the world?

Australia has some of the most varied and unique ecosystems in the world. The cultural interactions are fantastic as well. 

What unique or particularly appealing aspect of Australia do you think potential students should know about?

The Kimberley region, where NOLS Australia operates courses, contains some of the world’s most remote wilderness. The area covers over 423,000 square kilometers (larger than the state of California) and has a population of less than 40,000 people. The areas where NOLS groups travel are true backcountry. 

What would you say most surprises students when they arrive or during their course in that part of the world?

In Australia we have only two seasons: wet and dry. This is a unique change for persons coming from more northern latitude climates.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I firmly believe a NOLS course, at any location, will be a watershed event in a person’s life. Australia is a great place to experience NOLS as well as a fascinating part of the world to explore.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Apr 1, 2014 in the following categories: Australia

Australia Spring semester students take off for an outback adventure

Spring semester students ready to work
Spring semester students ready for an adventure

Last week saw our NOLS Australia base transformed into a hub of activity, with the first course of the season preparing to embark on a journey into the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The 15 students on this course travelled from all over the United States, to congregate in the tiny town of Broome. For some students the tropical climate came as a stark contrast to the freezing temperatures of their hometowns in the US. The heat, however, did nothing to dampen their spirits as they got stuck into two full days of rations and equipment preparation.  

Getting sorted with rations
Getting sorted with rations

Day 1 began with an early pick up in town, a brief tour of the base then straight into bagging 75 days worth of rations. With the support of in-town staff and their awesome Instructor team (Jim, Dale and Kurt), students were able to complete the bagging process before lunch. After lunch, the ration process continued with sorting and weighing of the entire 2000 pounds of dry food! The highlight of the afternoon included a visit to the Broome crocodile park – where students learnt the important differences between freshwater and saltwater crocodiles.

One of the friendly locals...crikey!
One of the friendly locals...crikey!

Day 2 saw students delving into their packs and planning their equipment needs for both the canoeing and hiking sections. Total weights for the entire load of gear and food was finalised before lunch – excellent work! A high level of efficiency and organization from Instructors and the group enabled them to kick back and relax in the pool for the afternoon, whilst setting themselves up for a successful expedition with a class on creating a positive learning environment.

Pool party - students cool off from the afternoon heat
Pool party - students cool off from the afternoon heat

Day 3 - An early breakfast and a celebration of Nick's Birthday was followed by one final check around the base, then time to leave...

Happy 21st Birthday Nick!
Happy 21st Birthday Nick!

The entire group, all the food and the equipment was loaded into several fixed wing aircraft and headed north for a spectacular 2-hour scenic flight up to Drysdale River Station, where the real adventure begins!

Flight crew Michelle, George, Harry, Sim and Joseph with pilot Simon
Flight crew Michelle, George, Harry, Sim and Joseph with pilot Simon
Ready to fly - Frankie, Adeline, Nick and Travis with pilot Nicko
Ready to fly - Frankie, Adeline, Nick and Travis with pilot Nicko
Pilot Chris with his crew - Andy, Caroline, Moira, Jim and Kurt
Pilot Chris with his crew - Andy, Caroline, Moira, Jim and Kurt
Heading north - Kaitlyn, Jake and Elliot
Heading north - Kaitlyn, Jake and Elliot

The group will spend the next 40 days following the path of the Drysdale River as it flows through thickets of tropical rainforest, pours over spectacular waterfalls and meanders along the open savannah. Students will learn technical canoeing skills along with the leadership skills to live comfortably in the Kimberley wilderness.

Upon completion of the canoeing section, students will take to the rugged mountains of the Drysdale region by foot. The start of a new adventure…

A brief outline of their schedule is provided below: 

Canoeing section – Drysdale River

9 March – 17 April

Students will be resupplied by helicopter on April 17th

NO access to any outside communication devices is available during that time.

Hiking section, Drysdale River National Park

17 April – 12 May

 Students will most likely be in Broome for the night of May 12th

 Pay phone access may be available. 

Coastal/Cultural section

13- 19 May

Students will be in Broome, for the final night of the semester on May 19th

Pay phone access may be available. 

On May 20th students will graduate, celebrate and then get dropped at their accommodation for the evening.

For those wishing to send mail, students will only be able to receive it on the following dates - May 12th and May 19th - address details provided below;

(Student Name) 
AAU 3/7/14
NOLS Australia 
PO Box 3472 
Broome 6725 WA


Please be mindful that we are a long way off the beaten path, therefore, if you would like something to arrive before these dates, be sure to allow at least 2 weeks for delivery! 

Remember to check this Blog site for updates and photos around those contact dates. You are also welcome to share this link with your friends and family!

Cheers from the NOLS Australia crew

Permalink | Posted by Cassandra Colman on Mar 12, 2014 in the following categories: Alumni, Australia

Imagine your 2014 summer

Summer is here!

Well, at least the 2014 summer NOLS course catalog is here, and that's even better, because you still have time to plan the perfect summer with NOLS.


We have boxes and boxes and boxes of the summer catalog here at NOLS Headquarters, so request one here. If you'd prefer a paperless version, we've got you covered, too. Download the iPad version of the 2014 summer catalog here.

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Jan 16, 2014 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Curriculum, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus, Yukon

The 12 Days of NOLS

We’ve found the perfect way to get you into the holiday spirit and fight the cold snap with a hearty laugh. Watch NOLS Creative’s newest (and possibly goofiest) release, “The 12 Days of NOLS,” a NOLS variation on the classic tune, to get a taste of the NOLS experience or reminisce about your course! Written with extensive input from the peanut gallery, shot and edited in less than 12 hours, and brought to you with only mild shame, we now ask you to watch the video and sing along.

On the first day of my course Paul Petzoldt gave to me ...


Windpants with a reinforced knee

Two trekking poles

Three Peaks Ranch


Five pounds of cheese

Six dudes belaying

Seven miles a' shwackin’

Eight malt balls missing

Nine quickdraws clipping

Ten backpacks bulging

Eleven toasty hot drinks

Twelve students mapping

 Happy Holidays from NOLS

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Dec 10, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Alumni, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, India, Instructor News, Leadership, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, On The Net, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Yukon

NOLS' Newest Book is a Perfect Holiday Gift: Canoeing

Canoeing_300Effortlessly gliding through the crystal clear, smooth water, the canoes’ bow pierces the flat surface and sends ripples outward toward the shores. A single-bladed paddle silently dips into the water, propelling the watercraft further onward.

The simple, yet magnificent practicality of a canoe has been around for years. From the earliest cedar-ribbed and birch bark skinned hulls to the wood-and-canvas construction, and on to the modern-day myriad of ABS plastics, foam, and vinyl that are pressed together and known as Royalex. The materials, as well as the people using canoes, have changed drastically over time.

Nowadays canoes can be found splitting through Arctic waters bumping edges with mini icebergs, crossing the vast Pacific Ocean with help of sails and are still found on small lakes and ponds throughout the world. They are vessels for recreation, transportation, and scientific studies, among other things.

The new NOLS book, Canoeing, written by Alexander Martin and published by Stackpole Books, goes in-depth to explore and enhance the overall understanding of every aspect of canoeing—from planning an expedition and describing in detail the parts of a canoe to water science and river maneuvers and travel. Martin, a NOLS instructor since 2008, has a great understanding of a variety of canoe expeditions and was able to use past experiences and knowledge to create this all-encompassing canoeing book.

Nols_owned_image24_xxlRunning a section of whitewater on a river in the Yukon (Photo credit: Pascal Beauvais)

The book is the perfect gift for anyone with a passion for canoeing who would like to learn more regarding expedition canoeing, water travel and techniques, wilderness navigation, as well as advanced skills and other aspects that make up the world of canoeing. This book will serve as a great resource with colorful graphics and pictures to help demonstrate and teach skills and concepts. As everyone settles in for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, Canoeing will be a great companion. While the snow falls and the winds howl, read up on everything canoe related and gain more insight and excitement with each page. Then when winter finally loses its grip on the land and the waterways flow freely, unimpeded by ice, you can set off your own canoe expedition.

For those who wish to gain even more canoe experience and skills, a great avenue is a NOLS course. There are multiple courses with a canoeing component that will allow you to build a foundation and further your canoeing knowledge and experience. NOLS has taught canoe travel for the last four decades. Significant canoe components can be found at multiple NOLS operating locations including the Yukon, the Brazilian Amazon, Australia, American Southwest and Alaska. Any of these courses or locations would be greatly beneficial to anyone wishing to enhance their outdoor skills, leadership development, environmental studies and risk management techniques. 

Permalink | Posted by Mike Casella on Dec 2, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Amazon, Australia, Books, Curriculum, In The News, New Zealand, Northeast, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Yukon

Drumroll, please ...

It has arrived. Thirty thousand copies of the shiny new course catalog have been unloaded and piled up at NOLS Headquarters, and another 30,000 will be shipped to potential students soon.

We thought we’d introduce you.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 2.09.47 PM

Like last year, the NOLS course catalog has a clean, square shape and inspiring personal accounts to make the NOLS experience relatable.

With this catalog, though, we have dedicated more pages to courses and NOLS locations, specifically for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s dedicated almost entirely to the winter and spring course offerings at NOLS because we are going to publish three seasonal catalogs a year from now on. This will allow us to tailor the information in each catalog to each season to give you more helpful information about our course offerings.

You can look forward to a summer course catalog in January and a fall course catalog in April. All three catalogs will be available iPad apps shortly after their publication.

If you haven’t already requested a catalog, do so here or keep an eye out for the app, to be released soon! 

Permalink | Posted by Casey Adams on Aug 28, 2013 in the following categories: Alaska, Australia, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Northeast, Pacific Northwest, Patagonia, Professional Training, Rocky Mountain, Scandinavia, Southwest, Teton Valley, Wilderness Medicine Institute, Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus

Another Aussie graduating student group!



This afternoon, we sent out into the world, our final student graduates for the season.

After 45 days exploring the Kimberley by foot, and the Dampier by sea-kayak, we were happy to have them back. All 10 students made it though the challenges of the expedition well, though certainly a lot dirty-er and hairy-er than when we last saw them.

Stories were shared about waterfalls, rock art, singing around camp fires, major hiking diversions to avoid wild cattle encounters, and the high-light of the whole course...the last 5 days independent of instructors on student expedition!

A fantastically diverse group that had not just US Americans, but also Australians and Thai students. This was also encouraged by their instructor teams, who originate from the UK, Australia, Brazil and Switzerland.

After a mammoth cleaning, repairing and organising task list, we were excited to participate in their graduation and drop them off to begin the rest of their lives as leaders of their journey.

Thanks to them all for such hard work and positive attitudes right through to the end!

- The NOLS Australia Team.




Permalink | Posted by Cassandra Colman on Aug 16, 2013 in the following categories: Australia

Graduation for One of the Australia Backpacking and Sea Kayaking Courses!

Congratulations to all the students graduating from one of our hike/sea kayak combo courses!  The group returned from two weeks of sea kayaking in the Dampier Archipelago with all smiles and tanned cheeks.  

Stories flowed throughout the day with highlights including: whales passing by close to their camp on the beach, dolphins jumping, turtles everywhere and heaps of time spent exploring several islands.  There was never a dull moment with this group as they were excited to pack their days full with learning, observing, and properly absorbing a genuine sense of this wild and exotic place.  Aboriginal historical sites were visited and surf beaches tested their newly learned sea kayak skills.


NOLS Australian Combo Course
Group getting the task list low-down

The last day here at base was no different as the group quickly jumped into task mode with cleaning, repairing and putting away gear.  Everyone worked hard to ensure things were in better condition than how they received it, setting up the next group of students very well.  Thanks so much to everyone for all of your hard work!  



NOLS Sea Kayak
Tidying up the sea kayaks

Once the list was completed, the group circled up for their graduation ceremony and then enjoyed an epic BBQ with burgers, salads, and Pavlova for dessert!  Best of luck to everyone for their next adventure!



NOLS Australia
Linda on the "barbie"



NOLS students
Happy NOLS grads!



NOLS Australia
Wow! Indian Ocean Magic!


Permalink | Posted by Sally McAdam on Aug 3, 2013 in the following categories: Australia

ABC 6/26 Graduation

Congratulations to all our super star Students from the stand-a-lone Australian Backpacking course! 

Yesterday our students rolled into Base after spending a couple of days with a local aboriginal community, concluding their hiking course in the Northern King Leapold Ranges. All the students were "A grade" when it came time for cleaning, repairing, counting and putting expedition gear away! We can't thank them enough for their top class expedition behaviour, finishing their course in style.

It was awesome to hear their expedition highlights; from wildlife encounters, making a good pizza to finding an amazing pool to soak their tired feet! All smiles and found memories!

Here are a few shots from their end of expedition clean and mend day.....

Sewing station
mending the duffles

Mending expedition gear
Backpack repair

Cleaning expedition gear
Hanging out under the washing line!

Permalink | Posted by Sally McAdam on Jul 30, 2013 in the following categories: Australia, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Leadership

Whales, turtles,rays - Aussie sea kayakers see all in one day!

One of our Australian Combo courses returned to Broome last night after spending a few weeks sea kayaking in the Dampier Archipelago.  Arriving road weary and tired, they were quickly rejuvenated by an amazing home cooked meal by our Rations/Kitchen Manager, Linda.  A hot plate of chicken cacciatore, warm bread, and a fresh salad brought smiles and warm fuzzies to everyone’s spirit.  Stories began to flow around the dinner table and the group laughed and reflected on all their good times while on the water.  Highlights included tales of the amazing weather they experienced with sea glass conditions and sunny days.  The water clarity was outstanding and allowed for multiple ocean life sightings of whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks, manta rays and heaps of fish.  

Once dinner was wrapped up, it was all action again as the students needed to transition from their sea kayaking gear to there backpacking gear.  Their new instructors Marcelo and Karin had everything organized and prepped to aid this transition as efficiently as possible.  Sunscreen topped up, new lip balms, fresh batteries and the group was ready to say goodbye to their beach life and hello to their new best friend - the backpack.

In-town switch from sea kayaking to hiking
Sorting gear needed for hiking

After a short but good nights rest, the group was up early and on the move again.  After a quick breakfast here at base, the bus was reloaded with backpacks and the group was off on the road to begin their hiking section in the Kimberleys.  Hopefully they will continue to enjoy beautiful weather, one another's company, and more of the Australian outback complete with wallabies, dingos, and kangaroos!


Happy bunch ready to walk into the Kimberleys
Happy bunch excited to head north to the Kimberleys






Permalink | Posted by Sally McAdam on Jul 20, 2013 in the following categories: Australia

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