The bliss of Liberty

Written by Russ Benning

I find myself sitting at a table and chairs in one of my favourite places on earth—Noosa National Park.

A cool seabreeze passes over me and brings with it the smells of both ocean and rainforest.

The setting sun, paints the tops of the waves like a golden fan reaching toward me as if wanting to connect from it’s cozy position just above the multi-tiered mountains that make up the horizon line.

The sounds of the crashing waves, various birds, and the excited chatter of gathering spectators fill my ears.

It occurs to me that this really is the perfect place to write this months feature article.

The setting is not completely dissimilar to the one where I had an interesting and inspiring conversation recently. It was along the esplanade in Hervey Bay, also overlooking the water and also just before sunset.

It took place inside and out of a converted ex-tradie van.

That van belongs to my intrepid friend Liberty Bliss Hartog. And yes, we laughed about the fact that even her name is perfect for this months issue—travellers with a hint of freedom and happiness.

We sat and chatted beachside after the grand tour of the heavily converted van. She shared that herself and an elderly friend of hers did all the ‘renovations’ themselves.

“We just kind of winged it and made it up as we went along,” she shared as we moved around the van part by part, almost like ‘room by room’. The attention to detail was impressive, even down to the toilet and kitchen sink (the camper van equivalent at least)!

“You really are set up to go without anything in this right?” I asked.

“Yep! It will be fully self contained. I’m putting the solar panels on the roof next.”

What were her reasons for choosing this for her next chapter in life?

“It’s a lot cheaper than buying a house; there’s no mortgage to go with it. And so much more freedom.”

I loved that she’s essentially choosing ‘anywhere in Australia’ to be home, but what she said next actually caught me by surprise.

“Being able to park it up at the airport and be anywhere in the world and not have to pay a mortgage. You have that flexibility. It’s not just in Australia.”

Although I get it, I’d never considered it in such basic terms. This is a woman who takes her freedom seriously! I wanted to know if this is how she planned to spend the rest of her life and again, her answer was refreshing.

“I don’t think like that.”

That is to say, it’s one step at a time and only the next step needs to be clear enough to action.

We discussed the state of the world and technology as it is right now versus when I was her age and what was possible at the time. I asked if she thought that it was easier to do what she’s doing now that previously in history and she answered simply;

“100 percent.”

She went on to explain that she gets a lot of her own inspiration from other independent travellers, especially from the social media space. It occurs to me that this is a person who’s grown up with technology and in particular, the internet as a constant. It’s normal to her.

She spoke into how much easier it is these days to leverage technology to create the life of your dreams. She shared how she doesn’t really use social media for entertainment adding, “I create more than I consume. I always have my camera with me and I prefer to create and share than scroll.”

She shared how much she loves writing, photography and travel and how much she wants to create meaningful impact in the world.

Indirectly speaking to part of my journey and what I’ve gravitated towards in the last couple of decades. I can’t help but wonder what my twenties would have been like if I had access to the technology available now. We spoke into this and debated back and forth the pros and cons and then onto the ‘purity’ of travel now versus then.

As we chatted I learned a lot about someone I’ve actually known for many years now, but in a completely different way. I noticed myself also being quite inspired at times despite the fact Liberty is almost 20 years my junior.

Her carefree attitude and palpable enthusiasm reminded me of myself at her age. However, I could sense there was something deeper than it just being a phase. The more we conversed the more I could tell that she’s not just excited about doing a few trips here and there—she really embodies the traveller spirit at her core.

“I think I learned a lot from my mum. She’s got her head screwed on and she’s very down to earth. She went travelling at 16. She became a flight attendant and travelled the world. I got her travel bug.
“She wants me to go. She pushes me to take every opportunity as they come up.”

As we continued to discuss inspirations she said;

“Role models are everything. The people you associate with are very important.”

I think what I found most fascinating was her assuredness. There was no doubt she is on the right path. I wanted to know more about this and was intrigued by what came next.

“I think I lived an awesome previous life. Like you said about being an old soul—I know what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Currently working as a deckhand and hostess for local whale watching company, Hervey Bay Whale Watch, Liberty has plans to continue her life of adventure, travel, ocean and people but the exact steps are almost like an equal and opposite force of the certainty in her lifestyle.

“I’m gonna finish this whale season then hit the road and just go.”

I ask her where exactly she’s going next and I love her reply;

“Good question… I haven’t gotten that far yet!

“No plan, that’s the plan.”

I smile at the stark contrast of the two sentiments. She has no idea what actual actions come next but she’s completely sure she’s on the right path. It takes an enormous amount of faith to have that degree of confidence in the process.

It’s worth mentioning that this faith is practiced and cultivated, not some sort of accident. Like most people on this type of journey, her practice includes, journalling, meditation, breath-work, creating, being in nature just to name a few.

At this point, some might think that Liberty lives a dream life, completely void of fear in any capacity.

Not the case.

Actually she experiences fear like anyone would; it’s just the way she handles it that is different.
“My biggest fears is what I go and do.”

She goes on to expand upon this and suggests the importance of moving towards discomfort and challenge.

“Constantly challenge yourself. Find what you’re afraid of and what you really want.”

I joked that she’s like a little, blonde, David Goggins (if you don’t know who that is and are interested in personal development I’d suggest he’s worth a google)!

“It’s ok to be scared, but it’s not ok to NOT follow your dreams.”

“Fear is the number one thing holding anyone back. Don’t overthink it. Typically when people overthink things they just stop. Be open to opportunities.”

Another moment of inspiration. A healthy and timely reminder, to be honest. A reminder to return to living a life of passion and purpose.

Liberty Bliss, by name and by nature, stands for all that is good, free and pure in the world and I’m proud to call her my friend.

I’m friends with a true traveller.

I’m friends with freedom.

Follow Liberty’s journey: Instagram @libertybliss_