Where it all began
I grew up in Seattle, Washington, a rainy (but beautiful) corner of the world where I spent most of my childhood backpacking to remote alpine lakes, travelling around the USA on family holidays, and just generally developing a love for adventure.
After high school, I moved to Australia (read more about that story here) to study Medical and Health Science in Wollongong, a sunny beach town that couldn’t be more different than my native PNW. During these years, I was exposed to a culture that emphasised, and even prioritised, international travel in a way I’d never experienced before, encouraging me to work extra hours during uni and save every possible cent towards travels of my own.
The early days of BrookeAroundTown
My first big trip was in 2013, where I spent 2 months backpacking through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, and the result was an even greater desire to explore the world and discover new places. It was during this trip that I first started Brooke Around Town as a place to keep a journal of my travels and share photos with my family and friends, and although it appeared in a drastically different form than it does now, I was still proud of having created something and revelled in the opportunity to channel some of my creative energy into a passion project.
Following my second year of uni, I spent 3 months in South America, travelling through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, and then celebrated my graduation the following year with trips to China, New Zealand, and around Australia. Although I’d originally planned to stay only 3 years, Australia had long-since begun to feel like home for me, and so I scrapped plans to return to Seattle and instead moved to Melbourne with my partner, Cal, to work and save for more travel.
Exploring longer and farther
After relaxing in Indonesia and frolicking all over Europe, Iceland, and the USA in 2016, I returned to Australia, accepted a scholarship to undertake my PhD in Wollongong, and moved back to NSW, partner and floofy kitten in tow. I began working towards a doctorate in biomechanics and teaching anatomy labs at the uni, but still made time for the outdoor exploits and far-flung adventures that truly kept me sane and smiling.
When I wasn’t overseas, I poured more time than ever into Brooke Around Town, working towards making a blog that would be more than just a travel journal— I wanted to create something that could actually help people plan trips to the places I’d been and inspire them to visit unique destinations.
In 2017, I embarked on one of my most challenging journeys to date, solo hiking the 180km Tour du Mont Blanc with nothing but a guidebook and a heavy pack. It pushed me to new limits, but it also gave me a renewed sense of confidence in myself, reminding me that I can achieve anything I want to with enough perseverance. After travelling through Spain and Morocco, I returned back to Australia— but not for long, travelling to Hawaii and then South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia before the year was up.
After ticking off Ireland and several big bucket-list hikes around Australia in 2018, I made some big changes to Brooke Around Town, the blog. In an effort to make this a place for real inspiration and invaluable travel advice, I overhauled everything yet again, making improvements to old posts and adding new content in key areas, such as comprehensive guides on moving to Australia and applying for permanent residency, dozens of detailed posts on what to do in Sydney, and extensive itineraries for all my favourite destinations.
What’s next for me
In the final stages of submitting my PhD, I recently moved back to Melbourne with my partner and started gearing up for another big 3-month trip to South America. I’m tackling some pretty intense challenges, including an independent 9 day hike in the remote Peruvian Andes, and I couldn’t be more excited to get back on the road.
I can’t say for sure what’s to come next year or farther into the future for Brooke Around Town, but rest assured it will be filled with adventure and that I’ll be documenting it all here!
10 random facts about me
1. I’m a proud crazy cat lady (but I’m really scared of dogs). My little kitty, Henri, is the love of my life, and I can often be found staring deeply into his eyes and humming Whitney Houston songs.
2. My very favourite food is nachos, and when I was little, I went through a several-year phase where I refused to eat anything but. I’ve since broadened my diet (and I’ll try absolutely anything now, including weird local delicacies), but I still have nachos several times a week.
3. I’m an only child, so I spent a lot of time one-on-one with my parents when I was growing up. We are still incredibly close, even though I live on the other side of the world from them!
4. I have always loved medicine and science, and I am motivated by the thought that I could someday help people live healthier, happier, better lives through my work.
5. I’m an incredibly bad bike-rider and I’m terrified of riding around people or obstacles, so it’s a major accomplishment anytime I muster up the courage to get on a bike overseas. There have been many, many accidents…
6. I have an Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver certification, although I haven’t managed to incorporate diving into many of my recent trips— definitely a goal for the future!
7. I have 7 tattoos. My personal favourite is the bust of Nefertiti on my inner arm and I feel inspired by her strength and determination every time I see it.
8. I am obsessed with fairy floss and will buy it every single time I see it.
9. I’m probably the least athletic person in the world, and it’s just one of the many reasons why I love hiking— it makes me feel strong and capable (and requires very little hand-eye coordination).
10. I’m a voracious reader. No matter where I am or what I’m doing (including hiking or coming home after a night on the town), I always read at least a few pages before bed.