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PODCAST - The Scenic Route

Podcast Scenic RouteWelcome to the I Still Call Australia Home podcast - your fortnightly dose of inspiration and joy sparked by the wild splendour of Australia. To see an overview of all podcasts, click here; otherwise sit back, relax, and enjoy the episode below.ūü•į¬†


ISCAH Podcast Episode 5 - Victoria Rose McGrane of The Scenic Route Shares her travels around Australia on a bus called Daisy


 podcast victoria mcgrane the scenic route

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Today we're seeing Australia through the eyes of Victoria McGrane, Founder and illustrator behind The Scenic Route.

Learn how Victoria's passion for travelling Australia inspires her artwork, and her interesting experience living in a church bus called Daisy when COVID hit. 

If you've ever wanted to travel around Australia on a bus; or want to be inspired to start your own business; or perhaps you just love Victoria's amazing artwork and want to learn more about her story, hop on and enjoy this episode. 

Check out the episode by clicking your favourite podcast player below, or click on the play button below to listen straight away via your computer or phone.

Alternatively, we've transcribed the shownotes for you below. Scroll down to read the full interview.

 

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Shownotes 

Felicia:

Hi Victoria. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you for joining us today.

 

Victoria:

Hi Felicia. Thank you so much for having me.

 

Felicia: Oh, it's wonderful to have you. I'm excited to have you here…  whereabouts are you today?

 

Victoria:

I am currently in Narrabeen in Sydney.

We're just on a little bit of a break I'm normally to be found on the road, but yeah, having a little bit of a van life here.

Felicia:

Awesome. Well, a warm welcome.

So for those listeners who don't know you, can you introduce yourself and The Scenic Route and just tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?

 

Victoria:

Sure. So I am Victoria and I am the creative director, and illustrator /  artist behind the scene at The Scenic Route.

I basically run the whole show…  and my partner Darren has recently joined me in business, which is amazing.

My main product, I guess is my illustrations.

So my background is as a textile designer.

I really love creating, like really intricate hand illustrated designs and patterns. So I was thinking about this recently and I think I really would like to describe myself as a visual storyteller. So what I'm really trying to do through my work is to capture the beauty of Australian nature.

I do a lot of traveling, so, you know, I love to capture like all the things I see on my travels… and hopefully by capturing that beauty, I’ll inspire other people to want to treasure and protect and native beauty.

Felicia:

Oh, beautiful. That's lovely. Definitely. I'm with you on that one. I think just seeing our natives around us is very good to have empathy and foster a caring for them that otherwise is missing.

Victoria:

Yeah.  oh, one thing I forgot to add. So the name, The Scenic Route, like I mentioned, I love to travel a lot, but it's kind of based on my personal philosophy, which is to like choose the path less, traveled the path of beauty and to just take it slow and enjoy the scenery along the way.

So a lot of the things I draw, other like small details and little things that I see.  and I guess the other thing that's really important to me is to live my life as sustainably as possible and to reflect that in my lifestyle, but also in my business.

 

Felicia:

That's lovely. Thank you for sharing that. How long have you been, has The Scenic Route been around?  

Victoria:

I've been around for just under four years. Yeah. Yeah. I originally,  started sort of by accident.

Like I started it as a bit of a side project when I was working full time. ¬†and just, ¬†I had an, I was living in Coffs Harbor at the time and I had a nice shed in my backyard, ¬†a sort of lady cave where I could just go and be really creative. And I started doing some screen prints onto paper of some of my illustrations and ¬†yeah, and then it was coming up to Christmas and my partner was like, ‚Äúoh, you know, you should, ¬†should put these on cards. That'd be a really nice idea‚ÄĚ. So I put some on some greeting cards and took some around like some local little art galleries in shops near me. And they went really well and it just kind of started from there.

Felicia:

Fantastic. And what sort of products do you sell now?

 

Victoria:

So greeting cards and prints...  but something that I've really moved into doing is fabrics and,  you know, again, that sort of happened quite naturally.  

I've always loved turning my artwork into patterns.  So I do some licensing of my prints. So I've actually licensed some designs to spotlight. I work with another company called narrator Hanson  who's released some of my fabrics and then I also have some,  you know, that I sell through my own website. So that's turned into a really big,  part of my business.  and then,  I'm also, I sort of took bit of a break from doing other products for a while, especially during the pandemic because it became a little bit tricky for me.

Partly from the pandemic, but also just getting used to being on the road. And, you know, I've sort of had to do some workarounds on how to make it happen, but this year I am going to be doing,  a bigger stationary range. So I've got,  notebooks coming, I've got coloring books and I also every year do a calendar, which is really popular and I use the calendar to raise funds.  So the last two years I've raised funds for Rainforest Rescue,  where I donate $5 from every calendar,  to them and both years they've sold out. So I think I'm going to increase my production on that this year.

Yeah. Also doing tea towels as well, which have been rich a really exciting, so lots of stuff that's going on.  

Felicia:

What were your, what were those first designs you put on your greeting cards and screen prints?  

Victoria:

So I think the first designs where,  I did like a cockatoo design, which I think you bought one of the very first prints and I did,  like they're all just native birds and they were things that were around me. And like I used to sit at my desk,  and look out at the noisy miners, which I know a lot of people hate on the banks outside by windows. So I did those, some rainbow lorikeets, a lot of things were like just, you know,  pretty simple designs, but things that I loved.

And I think for years I had it in my head that, oh, it has to be something really conceptual or really special or not that they're not special, but I don't know. I think I do actually have a background,  from art college. So I studied painting and back when I studied art, it was all about, you know, let's explore rupture and Damien Hurst was the big thing, all like, so conceptual seeing like, oh,  you know, I want to do like a nice painting of, you know, flowers and they would just laugh at me. So I ended up dropping out of art college.

I went to TAFE and studied textiles. And I think on the first day the lecturer said that doesn't have to be a reason behind it. It can just look nice. And these are the design principles. And I was like, yeah.

I think it's such a relief to just be doing the things that I love and that I like and letting go. And that's part of getting a bit older, I guess, but you can just let go of that sort of pressure of like, you know, oh, it needs to be this or it needs to be that. And yeah, I just literally like, you know, I've always had this going back to childhood loved, like, you know, May Gibbs is a huge inspiration, ¬†‚ÄėWhere the forest meets the Sea‚Äô, like ‚ÄėPossum Magic‚Äô by Mem Fox, and Emilia, like all those books.

And I could just sit and read them over and over and over for hours.

 

And it still influences my style today where it's, you know, it is what it is like, it's just, I think it's really special still, but it doesn't have to be, you know, this very conceptual high art.

 

Felicia:

Well, I think what's beautiful about what you do is you're very authentically representing Australian nature. So it's a very accurate depiction of the animals, but you’ve managed to put your own whimsical twist on it. So it's very magical the way you depict it, which is really a unique, yeah, it's beautiful.

 

Victoria:

Thank you. And I think,  yeah, like I definitely have, you know, at the time when I started the senior crew, I had a great job. Like I was so lucky and I was working as a,  in-house textile designer for a really good company, but it was very commercial and trend based and it was almost like a physical relief to just be able to do something, you know, cause it would be like, oh, okay, we're going to do a Paisley scarf print or a Japanese floral, do you know, it would be the same trends over and you know, you’d get the pallete, you'd get everything.

And it was just like, honestly, like I just had this creative drive to do something that I could, you know, that really meant something to me. So I know it just seems silly, but it, it was like a physical relief being able to do it doesn't seem silly at all. I can only imagine having to be in this tiny little box that people are telling you creatively what to do. Yeah.

You feel bad complaining. Cause you're like, oh, you know, I've like, I've worked my way up to this point in the industry. And I am the lucky in there aren't that many jobs and yeah. And then I'm like, oh, I don't want to do this. Thanks. But no, thanks. Thank you.

 

Felicia:

Well, it's fantastic. You actually made the move because I think a lot of people would have stayed in that job and not made it happen. That's really great. Yeah. Was there any,  anything early on that sort of, I guess it was a big deal to leave that job and what was the turning point then? Cause it was it, you said you're doing it as a hobby. What was the day or the moment where you said that's no, I'm definitely going to do this on my own.

 

Victoria:

So I think the big one was, ¬†the first ‚ÄėFinders Keepers‚Äô market I did because that was the, they gave me a debut store and I was very, like, I think I'd had my business for about six months, drove up to Brisbane, packed the car [with all my products] and I thought, oh, what have I done?

You know, I had all this stock and I thought, oh, that see like this is crazy. And  my boyfriend came up with me, packed everything into the car and then we sold out of pretty much everything and it was incredible. Like it was so emotional and, you know, just meeting all these people and having everything on like, well, it's not a big scale, but you know, I dunno it was a big turning point for me.

And that was the weekend that I realised, Nope, I can do this as a business because there is a market for what I'm doing and people love it and getting to talk face-to-face to people about it really, really motivated me to go full time.

Felicia:

Oh, fantastic. Well, we’re lucky that you went to that Brisbane finders keepers..

 

Victoria:

Finders Keepers is really, is such a great launching pad, I think for so many makers and artists and designers, like yeah, I hope, yeah.

I know it's been really tough for them with COVID and you know, they had to cancel so many markets last year and like I just hope yeah. It can continue on the app every day.

 

Felicia:

So what's interesting about your story.  I think is that you mentioned it before that you were basically the doer of everything that's done at The Scenic Route. You've got Darren on board as well. Can you,  how do you juggle it all? Like how do you be creative and have the business side of it? Can we talk a bit about that?

 

Victoria:

Yeah, sure. I mean, I, the honest answer is I just do my best and I did have a little bit of a burnout about, I think that was maybe a couple of years ago. I think I've blocked it where I was just trying to do way too much and  you know, trying to like do wholesale and like really do that and have my online store and like have, you know, a lot of products, you know, which I've scaled back now and really putting a lot of pressure on myself to try and do everything perfectly and like, you know, going to,  a trade show and looking at these bigger businesses and sort of thinking like, oh, I need to be like them.

And it was just way too much. So I actually took a little bit of a step back and decided, right, I'm going to really focus in on the things that are working well. And also just take like, just be kinder to myself. I also learned like I did,  I did some business coaching,  which was really good and I learned a lot,  doing that about outsourcing and you know, getting help with things. So I do,  at the moment, like I mainly outsource my bookkeeping and my accounting.  and then I still actually do a lot of stuff myself.  the other big thing that I'm outsourcing is all of my warehouse packing, posting to a 3 PL that was the best decision I've ever made because I was trying to, you know, design and if something was really popular, then you're spending like a whole week packing and you can't get anything else done.

So that was such a great thing to outsource that. ¬†but yeah, and honestly, like it is really hard and sometimes I just have to like let go of things and, you know, and I think one of the big things as well, that I've had to let go of this, ¬†social media and, you know, I don't know if it was the right decision, but I‚Äôve really taken a little bit of a step back from worrying so much about posting on social media. Cause it's huge amount of pressure gets sort of caught on this hamster wheel where like I was like, but my engagement's really good and you know, I have to post ‚Äėat this time‚Äô and that whole thing and you start to become really fixated on it and now I'm just like, oh, I'm just going to post when it suits me what suits me and do my best.

But I can't let it take up so much time because so yeah, I mean that's a lot, but also, like I mentioned before my partner,  so while we were on the road,  last year he started helping me with the business and he officially started helping me in January this year and now he has taken onboard so many things and just this week he turned around to me cause things are really starting to, you know, this time of year as, you know, kick off a bit, whereas we have to get the range finished and, and he was like, okay, I'm impressed. I can't believe you did all of this on your own because I'm finding it a lot. And you know, he's doing that. He's basically doing the wholesale he's uploading products to the website, doing some admin and managing the inbox and, oh, it's like heaven to be focused on the design. And so, you know, focus on the design and the marketing, which I'm good at.

Felicia:

I'm so pleased to hear that Victoria because I don't know. I know that just, you know, I'm just running an e-commerce, this is someone even creating products at the moment and that's enough, so much to do.

Victoria:

And like I'm so impressed by how much you do, like honestly, so yeah, I know you understand takes one to know one, I think.

…but no, I definitely got that design element.

Felicia:

So how do you carve out time to do your designs with everything else going on?  I have to be really strict now. I put my phone on airplane mode.  I honestly, I pop on a show on a streaming service, something really trashy preferably, and I just try and block everything else out. I have to, you know, I call it my deep work time, but that's honestly the only way I can really get stuck into it.

If I'm being distracted by, you know, Instagram or my phone or people calling me, it's, it's tough. And I guess the other thing I had to do was I did get into a thing where I was doing a lot of, commissions and which is that happens naturally. If you're on social media and other people see what you're doing and really like it, you know, people want to collaborate or get you to do commissions, which is amazing.

And it's an honor and I'm absolutely. But at the same time, my work is really detailed.

Felicia:

Yes. I was going to say that's a lot of time of your time.

Victoria:

I, you know, I really just only have so much to give, like I truly do. And so I've had to sort of, oh, it's so heartbreaking sometimes. Cause I've been offered some incredible opportunities and I've learned to have to say, I'm sorry, I can't do that. And there's a few people that I do work with that I really treasure. I can't, I just can't do it. So I am, I want to get more into just licensing my designs as is. Yeah. But in terms of doing special commissions for people, maybe one day in the future, but right now it's just not something that I can do.  which makes me sad because I love doing.

Felicia:

¬†It's not a ‚Äėno‚Äô forever. It's a ‚Äėno‚Äô for now.

Victoria:

Yeah. Got to kind of focus on The Scenic Route for a bit. And really I've just got all these ideas in my head and sometimes I get so frustrated cause I'm like, how can this take you so long? You know, like I just spent nine hours doing this 10, 20-centimeter work.

Felicia:

Well, it's very detailed and it's not just the drawing. Is that, it's the thought behind the palette, the composition, the subjects, the yeah. Depiction it's physically doing it.

Absolutely doesn't surprise me at all.  and, but how do you actually, when you say, so when you're in that deep work time, you are completely switched off, but do you try and schedule a day a week? Or you know, how do you, what do you decide?

Victoria:

Well, okay. So in an ideal world, like I have this weekly planner that I'm looking at now it's above my desk where, you know, have different days scheduled for different things. And that's, what's meant to happen all the time. And you know, Darren and I meant to have a Monday morning meeting and Monday, you know, weekly planning session, Mondays, my production logistics day. And ideally Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I just dedicated to creative time.

And then Fridays, like my marketing kind of day where I do my blog, like work on my social media, work on my website. Unfortunately that's just not how it works. And what tends to happen is I get to a point where I'm like, if I don't finish designing the range, I'm not going to have a range. So I'm just going to have to like, basically turn all of my devices off and like lock myself in a room and design until this because, so you do all the artworks and you're like, brilliant, I've done the range. And then you're like, oh, then you've got to put it all in InDesign and like do the layouts for the cards and you know, like write a little story for everything. So there's that whole bit that which takes almost as long, you know, the whole thing the other day, I'm doing these new notebooks and I'm like, is it ‚Äėnote to self‚Äô or ‚Äėnotes to self‚Äô? Nope. I honestly sat there and contemplated it for like two hours. And then I did go on Instagram and just put a poll and I'm like, can you guys decide? Yeah.

Doing my head in sometimes a good way to go, isn't it? Yeah. So I do, I allow myself to jp on Instagram if I'm just procrastinating and I just need people to help me make a decision and that's a really good way to do it

Well, it's good to have deadlines sometimes because it forces you to get things done, but it's also important to have boundaries. And I do need to have time off on the weekends. I need time off in the evenings. I don't want to get back into this situation where I'm just working all day and night because that's not why I wanted to do this. You know, it's, I do want to have like a happy life as well as times you can start to really resent your business if you're doing it.

So it's about finding like Darren and I were chatting the other day and it's about finding that balance. And he was like, I don't want us to impose any artificial deadlines, somethings, you know, with wholesale, for example, there's certain cutoff dates that, well, you can ignore it if you want, but if you don't get stuff done by this date, you're not going to get any orders. There are some things where it's like, you know, you just have to do that. But there's other things where it's like, well, it would have been ideal to have this by this date, but it's just not going to be ready. So what's a realistic date, you know, because as like the whole sampling process, you've got to get those samples perfect. So that's the thing that can hold everything back because you, you know, you want to just press go, but if you're not happy with it, you can't force it.

Felicia:

 I think that's good. It sounds like you've had a real,  deep thinking about those deadlines that are important and those ones that are okay to let go, which is great for everyone's mental health.

Victoria:

I think, ¬†I once heard Liz Gilbert (‚ÄúEat, Pray, Love‚ÄĚ Liz Gilbert) on a podcast... ‚ÄúOh, I've realized my full-time job is looking after my mental health. And then being a writer is like, you know, my secondary job‚ÄĚ. And I was like, yes, that is, I think it's really true. And I think it's true, everyone. You got to look after that stuff. So yeah. Yeah.

Felicia:

Well that sounds great. So can we talk a little bit about your travels? Cause that's very exciting. We've sort of touched a little bit how you've been traveling around Australia, but can we really,  understand, you know, what made you decide to, that's a big decision to get rid of all your, you know, where living and a van and that's your home. Can you tell us a little bit about how that all started and how it works?

Victoria:

Look, we always dreamed of traveling, but we sort of anticipated, it would be when we were a lot older.  We bought our dream house in 2015. It was everything that we'd ever wanted, this incredible property on an acre of land. It was just like so beautiful. And then we were like, great. And so this is where we're going to live. And,  we did it for a few years and we didn't like it. And it was really surprising to both myself and my partner that, you know, we didn't want that for us. Yeah.

Felicia: What was it like?

Victoria: I think it was just the fact that, well, we, we bought a house that needed a lot of work and attention and old, you know,  school that converted school house of Federation sort of style house.

And so we spent a lot of time just doing maintenance. We had an acre of land to maintain, which just took a huge amount of work and it just sucked up so much of our time. We constantly felt guilty if we weren't working on the house.  but it also, like we just wanted to be traveling and seeing things and experiencing Australia there and,  have a bit more adventure in our lives. So,  my partner was offered a contract in a very remote town in Australia,  up in like the Gulf of Carpentaria.  and that was a really great opportunity for him. And, you know, that was a bit of a catalyst.  but we managed to, we put our house in the market, sold it, packed up all of our staff,  you know, took loads of stuff to the charity shop. We drove up in a four wheel drive to this town in the middle of nowhere, like seven hours from the nearest supermarket.

Yes, it was almost the first step. We were just like, we just need to shake things up. We need to do something different. It was really hard, but it was also really good because I learned how to run my business completely remotely. And that's what I set up all my 3PL and, and all of that. And then from there, it was a bit of, you know, we knew that we wanted to travel. We did a bit of traveling.  

We went to the Northern Territory and Kakadu, and we had four wheel drive set up. And, ¬†I saw, uh, you know, the contract was coming to an end. I saw a bus on Gumtree one day ‚Äď a Toyota coaster bus, and I said to Darren, we should buy this. And we did. ¬†and we weren't, ¬†we still had three months of the contract to go. So, ¬†we bought it sight unseen. Got it inspected. It was left in a storage unit in Airlie Beach and we left ¬†the town we're living in Bucktown, ¬†you know, with a few possessions and drove down to Airlie Beach and picked up our bus on New Year's Eve in 2019.

Yeah. Fun times and yeah. Yeah, it was, it was interesting. So we had a plan to do a full loop of Australia.  You know, we didn't have like very definite itinerary marked out, but we,  you know, we sort of thought, yeah, we'll do a full loop. And then,  you know, the first couple of months was definitely a learning curve and,  yeah, it was a little bit difficult. We had to do a bit of work on the bus, so, you know, and then COVID happened and yeah, we were locked out when COVID hit last year.

That was March last year. So what we've actually picked the bus up in Airlie beach, and then we'd gone south down to the Sunshine Coast...  as far as then we'd done a bit of traveling… and we were in,  we're actually in Gympie when  COVID hit,  because we'd finally managed to get an awning put on the bus. So we were waiting for that to happen.

And we were like, ‚Äėoh my gosh, you know, we're going to be locked down‚Äô. It was, ¬†we just needed the awning on, because we realised like when we had picked up the bus, it didn't have an awning. And that actually wasn't very pleasant because it meant like in the day, like you didn't have anywhere shady to sit. So anyway, ¬†yeah, lockdown happened and we didn't really know where we would go or what we would do. ¬†Because initially they just closed down every campsite, caravan park, free camp, rest area without much warning. And the Rangers would just going around telling people to go home, but there's like approximately 70,000 people who live on the road full time, who've rented out their place who've, you know, full-time travel is, and you know, it's not just backpack is and stuff like this is grey nomads and there's people that are living, you know, in their caravans and vans and buses out of necessity.

So,  so yeah, that was interesting.  but there was quite a few Facebook groups that emerged and,  we managed to find a position in a caravan park in Airlie beach that was closed due to lockdown, but was looking for somebody who could do a couple of hours work a day in exchange, you know, staying there. So we applied for that.  

We got accepted by the lovely,  owner of the caravan park and drove,  from Gympie back to Airlie Beach because we couldn't even, we slept behind a petrol station because, you know, you weren't allowed to stay anywhere in Rockhampton. She was like, oh, it's fine. Just go park in the, you know, truck area at that. And then we spent lockdown in Airlie Beach.  So yeah, that was, it was actually just south of Airlie Beach, Conway Beach near the national park… and,  and it was, it was dog friendly and we have our dog Gypsy with us who travels with us. So that was another consideration. Cause there was a lot of places that,  that you couldn't have a dog.

 

Felicia:

So yeah, that's incredible. I think that's an untold story of COVID. I mean, I certainly wasn't aware, I'm sure a lot of our listeners out there weren't aware that they were shutting down those parks and things.

Victoria:

Oh, they shut everything down. And then eventually I think so many people, you know, and because everybody had their own concerns, but there was a lot of lobbying done by people to get arrangements made because obviously so many people. So in the end you could go and sign an affidavit, at the police station stating that you were full-time traveler that, you know, I can't remember exactly how it was worded, but basically that you didn't have a home to go to and then you were allowed.

So, and they did go around and check,  we had the police come around and check where we were staying, for example. And yeah, it was,  yeah. And I think as well, it's like something people don't really want to complain about complain about, cause it's like OBU, you know, you were locked down in paradise, but there was, you know, there was some issues and yeah…

Felicia:

It's never just a black and white story. Oh, wow. Thank you for sharing that, I'm glad you got, you got somewhere to stay now the Airlie beach.

Victoria:

¬†Yeah. We were very lucky and like, we're just so grateful. It was just amazing. Like on these Facebook groups, people were just like, ‚ÄúI've got a property, I've got, you know, how many acres, you know, if you're, self-contained just park up for free and wait it out‚ÄĚ, you know, or so many people were just offering places to people in need and it was just actually really amazing to see the generosity and kindness of people. Yeah. It was, it was great.

Felicia:

That's lovely.

And so once you were there, can you help us understand what it was like?  So you're literally working as a digital nomad is you said that's a good word.  

How did you physically manage your space for doing the business? You know, you've got your home life and you've got the van, but it's only the one space presumably. How does that work?

Victoria:

Oh, look, it's tricky. And  I think sometimes, you know,  like when we're in, it was a bit different because I did have internet access…  and I just had to be structured as if I was working from home. There was obviously the thing and I think everyone suffered this a bit where during COVID everything was so uncertain. So did my creativity did suffer and I had some periods where I just was like, I can't work. I don't know what I'm doing, what's happening. And there was an issue with creative block, but, you know, I did my best and I just did, did what I could do.

And yeah.  and like on days, like I have a little desk in inside my van, you know, that I work from. And then there was like picnic tables. I could go work there and you know, that all shelters, cause it was a caravan park. So now I just go and sit somewhere and do my work and yeah, having wifi was great when we're actually traveling. It's a lot trickier because you know, you, it's hard to manage a schedule and,  it's really hard [when you’re on the road] to  guarantee access to the internet because our boss is on solar panels. If it was cloudy for a few days, like we wouldn't have enough power,  pre COVID.  I did spend a bit of time, like going into libraries or shopping malls, especially in far north Queensland that had a couple of work. I was working a cafe or a library where I could, you know, get some wifi, get, you know, plug my laptop in and, and do all of that.

Then some days it's just ideally can, you've got all the power you need, you've got a wifi connection and you're parked up next to this incredible beach. And, you know, I think is, is a big part of it is just accepting that it is difficult and you're not always going to be able to work as you would from home. And I think people, you know, there'd be times where I knew that I was going somewhere really remote.  and I wouldn't have any internet or anything. And I would just set up an email responder, like vacation responded, just saying for the next eight days, I'm probably not going to have internet. So,  I will respond to my return. Yeah. It's kind of hard. Like there would be times where I'd get stressed and you know, and I think the other thing that was tricky was, samples because not having a permanent address to send samples to, and yeah.

Work arounds for that. And that's why I just sort of put a lot of product stuff on pause, you know, because yeah, it's all about timing. So I'm trying to use this time now in Sydney, before we head off on our next trip to sample as many designs as possible. So even,  before I go, even if I don't release things until I'm already on the road, I've approved the samples and I know it's going to look like, yeah, that's good.

Felicia:

Well, that makes sense. So when you did finally get out of lockdown, when was that and where did you go?

Victoria:

I think they changed the rules in May [2020]. I think like the 25th of May where you could go more than like 50 kilometers and we hot footed it straight up to Port Douglas. So one of my best friends,  in the whole world, Amanda, that lives up there, she was actually was locked down in Tasmania at the time.

We were both going to be having our 40th birthdays together. And the plan was always to be in port Douglas in July to celebrate our 40th birthday together. ¬†We‚Äôd been to port Douglas a few times previously. So, ¬†I did know a few of her friends and, ¬†I, I did that thing where I was like, ‚Äúhello, I'm Amanda‚Äôs friend‚Ķ. She's not here yet, but can we hang out?‚ÄĚ And I was like, really like bought into the circle of friends there. And yeah, we ended up because everything was so uncertain with border closures and things. ¬†We just wanted to stay in Queensland because I mean, purely selfish reasons, but we didn't want to go into a COVID hotspot and then be locked down again. ¬†You know, port Douglas was pretty untouched by the whole thing and it's so beautiful up there.

We spent a lot of time up in the Daintree. We went up to Cooktown and went to some really like wild remote places up there. And yeah, we basically spent,  until September because we just didn't have certainty. And then when the border opened between Queensland and New South Wales, we decided right. We're going to leave and continue our trip. But being up there was just amazing. And yeah, I feel like a Port Douglas local now.

Felicia:

Oh, that's nice. And do you have any highlights to share from up there obviously was maybe a good in line with your philosophy of slowing down and really seeing a place? I guess you must feel like you've seen that place.

Victoria:

It's all a highlight. I mean, spending time in the Daintree, it's just stunning and because I have,  so I've done work with Rainforest Rescue, who are this incredible not-for-profit,  who buy up parcels,  buy back parcels of the Daintree that had previously been developed and they've re Forrest them. I hope I'm explaining that well.  but yeah, so they they're really amazing.  but yeah, so being in the Daintree was great. And then I also made friends like so many people that live up there, you know, work,  in relation to the Great Barrier Reef, sorry that wasn't very articulate, but they work either as divers or like on the boats that go out or Marine biologists. And I just met so many amazing people that just educated me so much on what's happening with the Great Barrier Reef and the conservation projects that are happening and just, they were so passionate about protecting the Great Barrier Reef and yeah.

And,  being able to go out on the reef and experience it,  which I, you know, was lucky enough to do previously as well. And yeah, so that was very good.

Felicia:

So for those listeners, I'm sure,  some of them have been, but not all of them. I certainly haven't embarrassingly been!  What’s it like? With the Daintree, can you sort of describe what the natural environment is like?

Victoria:

It's  so …. the Daintree is like, I'm always feeling emotional, just talking about it. It's … people live there. So there are parts which, you know, you know, are very inhabited, but people sort of live very much in nature. Like it's still quite wild. And then there's parts that are completely wild. It's …[emotional] it's magnificent.  I don't even know how to describe it. It's just exactly what you would picture from just like the most beautiful ancient rainforest… the plants are just incredible and the beaches are, I mean, unfortunately you can't swim in a lot of them because of crocodiles and sharks, but some places you can swim and it's just paradise. It's, it's amazing.  And you know, it's, it's quiet.  I mean, especially when we were up there, there's not much happening and there's just lots of, lots of places to explore. There's some very sacred,  places as well that, you know, you can go to and, you know, some people are more respectful than others of those places, but yeah, just incredibly special. And there's a feeling about it that is just hard to describe. And then the Great Barrier Reef…  the first time we went out,  was actually a few years ago and my mum came up,  and my partner's mum also came up and they're both afraid of swimming and don't like to get their hair wet.

So,  the first time we went out on the great barrier reef,  my partner's mum was over from Scotland and my mum also came up from Sydney and they were like, oh, like, we'll come out on the boat.

But you know, they were both a bit nervous about swimming and they didn't want to get their hair wet. And then the day before we meant to go out on the boat  we came back to the hotel we're staying at. And they were both in the pool with their pool noodles and their goggles and practicing. So they decided to come and it was truly amazing. Like, I can't even describe it. I'm so glad that they did it.  We all went out, we just went snorkeling late. None of us are divers and it was everything, you know, you hear about, like, we went to, we went on one of the much smaller boats and you know, like again, I'm getting emotional just thinking about it. But,  we got back to the boat and my mum and Darren's mum were both in tears, like crying.

And then we started crying. We were all bawling. And like, what is, what were these people? They were like, thank you so much. I can't believe we got to see that. Like, you know, I can die happy now, basically it's so incredible. And it truly is like, it's, you know, anyone who can go out on the barrier reef and see how incredible it is and then not want to protect it. I don't know. I don't know. What's wrong with those people back to that, you know, there's things happening where, you know, they're talking about dumping, sludge into the barrier reef just makes me so, so angry. So anyway, I think those are the, you know, two things that really blew my mind. And I'm so passionate about. ‚Äė

Felicia:

And what was so mind blowing? Was it just the amount, the colours or the different variety of animals like sea life or all of it?

Victoria:

The coral, the colors, the fish, like we saw it total,  like everything and it was just, and it would just keep going and you'd think, oh, that there can't be anything more amazing than this. And then you keep going and you'd see something else. And it was like, how, and, you know, you just didn't want to get out. And I was like, I could just stay down here all day. Like I just, it was fascinating. And like, just seeing like all the creatures interacting with each other and hiding in the different things and yeah, I've just never seen, and it was the colors, it was just magical. So, yeah, I, yeah, I, I dunno. You have to see it. You have to go see it.

Felicia:

Right. You're inspiring me to push it up at the top of my bucket list.  So you were in port Douglas, you saw the Great Barrier Reef and then the Daintree and having a lovely time.

And then as you said, sort of Queensland, New south Wales borders opened. And so then, where was it that you went next?  

Victoria:

We made our way kind of slowly down the coast meandering.  we knew we wanted to be in Sydney for Christmas. So, we knew like that was our only kind of timeline… and yeah, so we just,  we revisited cause we used to live in Coffs Harbor. So we went and spent a bit of time in Coffs Harbor and, you know, spend time with lovely friends that we had there.  the only place we didn't go, unfortunately, was the gold coast to come visit me. You know what, there's not one single dog place. You can really camp in the whole gold coast.

There's maybe one, but it's like a really big caravan park and we're not big fans of big caravan parks. That sounds neat. It's just somebody we wanted to say. And it was just nowhere. So even though we were kindly allowed to stay in a lovely caravan park during,  lockdown,  for us, cause we don't have kids because we've got a dog and because we're looking after our money so we can travel as long as possible. We tend to stay in a caravan park unless there's no other option. And also like, you know, if we want to stop and do our laundry, cause they want laundromats, but yeah, the gold coast, there was barely even any, any caravan park access except the dogs. So we did,  we were like in the hinterland as a gold coast,  just visited lots of places.  We stopped in Byron for a while and Lennox.  We had a lovely friend there who let us park our bus out the front of their place. And yeah, but we, we just kind of meandered our way down. We were planning to go for the last stretch, inland, like via Tamworth and Armadale, except there was a huge heatwave. And by that point we were like, oh, we don't wanna, we don't want to be in 47 degree temperatures. So we took a week off the trip and we were like, when I went to mum's house!

We got straight to Sydney say, uh, to the Northern beaches,  and went straight into lock down.

Felicia:

I was going to ask, did you, what happened? There was a lot of lockdowns in Sydney over Christmas. Did you hit those?

Victoria

Yes - And it was so frustrating because luckily though my mum and my brother, like my youngest brother, we were all in the same zone. Cause they put the Northern beaches into two zones. Yes. We were in the same zone, but my older brother and my nephew were stuck, they were in a different zones. So we didn't get to have Christmas together, unfortunately, but we had Christmas on the 26th of Jan instead.

Felicia:

Good idea. Yeah. Yeah. But at least you were in Sydney. That's good.

Yeah. That you said you've had a little break, so you're just having a break now. You can kind of go off again.

Victoria:

Yeah. But we've had, I mean, some personal reasons, ¬†and ¬†you know, all of that stuff, but ¬†yeah. And like I said, I'm really just trying to get as much creative work done. That's tricky to get done on the road and to build up a little catalog back catalogue of work. And then I've also been doing a little renovation of the bus. So I keep calling it a bus and a van - it is actually technically a bus. It's a Toyota coaster ‚Äď and it used to be a Church bus.

We've still the little church log book and her name [the bus] is Daisy. So after spending a year living in the bus, we,  just had some like thoughts on ways to make it more comfortable and to use the space better. So we are currently doing a renovation, nothing major because neither of us are skilled in woodworking in any way. So we're doing stuff within our own limitations, you know, doing some things to make, you know, a lot of storage things and stuff to make it more comfortable and, and to use the space really well.

Felicia:

Oh, that sounds good. Sounds like you must be experts at that.

Victoria:

I can't wait to get back and back on traveling and try to work next. So we're going to finish our loop. COVID locked downs permitting. So we were planning,  to kind of go along the south coast of New South  Wales and basically go around the coast,  along the Great Ocean Road,  South Australia, all the way to Western Australia and then probably all the way up to the Kimberley and then on the way back take the inland route… and through that way. So yeah, we're planning to finish the full loop. We probably won't go back to the Northern territory.  Like the north of the Northern Territory or Far North Queensland, just cause we've spent a lot of time in that area and we have spent very little time south, so we're just super excited to explore that part of a beautiful country. And it's so funny because you know, sometimes like I'll have ideas for designs and I'm like, oh, I'd really like to do like,  I don't know a numbat that or this or that. I haven't been being there yet. So I can't. Yeah.

Felicia:

I think some numbats are coming into their own now though, people seem to know a bit more about them and you know, they a very unknown animal as are the spotted quolls and things.

Victoria:

I'm hoping to meet a lot of more of those animals in person and then include them in my art. Like wombats!

I love that. I absolutely they're the best. Yeah.

My partner's from Scotland and the first camping trip we ever did in Australia when we came here 10 years ago now,  we encountered a rather large wombat at night. Right. And he was terrified. I was like, it's just a wombat. And he's like, it's very big one that though, like it did sound like it could have been a grizzly bear.

Felicia:

Yes. When our native animals are looking for a partner, should we say they often can have very loud noises, very loud ..

Victoria: and very grunty.

Felicia:

Oh, that's funny. So we have talked for a while, but we haven't actually talked specifically about your artwork.  

You've got such beautiful native Australian designs depicting all sorts of flora and fauna.

Can you help us understand a bit about your creative process? Like maybe when you're in Port Douglas, you know, and in the Daintree inspired by all these things around you, how does that all come together to be the beautiful pictures that we see?

Victoria:

So I, wherever I am, wherever I go, I always have it over my DSLR camera or my phone with me.

And I take pictures everywhere. I do like to as well, sometimes take little clippings so I can draw things from life, but I'm also very conscious that, you know, you gotta be a bit aware when doing that and careful,  you know, I don't want to start pulling apart native plants,  but definitely photos and I just soak it all in.

Speaker 1:

And I also just, sometimes I'll write lists of, you know, an idea will come into my head like, oh, you don't want to do like a tropical print or, you know, like in Australia on a kind of eucalyptus inspired print, I don't know. I'm not explaining it well, but into my head and almost write like a list of different animals and plants that should be in and try and get them to, to flow. So I actually have a Daintree print for example. And then, you know, there was,  you know, the Boyds for a straggling and  like tree frogs and Azula king fishers and wherever I can, I will,  you know, draw from my own photos. And then sometimes if I really, you know, need to like, I'll,  I'll look on Pinterest or I'll look on,  Instagram or something to like, you know, find pictures to draw from,  and be inspired by.

Speaker 1:

But yeah, like I just want to kind of capture, you know, an native animals through my drawings.  but then I'll sort of put them all together into a print.  and then with the color palettes, I kind of, my color palette is constantly evolving. I went through this weird phase where I did a print that was quite neutral and it went really well. And then I was like, oh, neutrals is a trend. Maybe I need to do neutrals. But my natural vibe is probably more colorful and bold with color. And I've actually just the new range I'm about to release. I've gone back to just like, Ugh, color, crazy color. So yeah, I kind of have like my standard sort of palette that I use, but then, you know, I just try and,  yeah, I don't know, I guess pretty hard to, uh, depict things in far north Queensland and not have a decent amount of color really.

Speaker 1:

I mean, especially to the new prince, I'm doing all inspired by the great barrier reef and I'm like, well, there's gotta be every color, all the colors, all of the colors because that's his site down there. So yeah, totally. And, and I think as well, like it's always a mistake to be like, oh, it's a trend. So I should try and do this every time I do it, I regret it. So,  but yeah, so I just,  you know, I don't, I'm not caught up on making everything completely true to life. I could give myself a bit of creative license, but,  yeah, just try and capture, you know, the beauty and the colors and not overthink it, but with the color palettes, it's all about trying to just balance it and think about what the end product's going to be. So, so yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And I look at your work and I would guess it's like a watercolor and pen. What are your, what medis do you use to create your pieces? So I do everything.  their initial drawings are all,  pen.  so use,  pigment liners or different ways to create those.  I love using watercolor. I love using guash.  but I have started, especially since being on the road, you doing a lot more of my coloring now in Photoshop.  that's yeah.  it's one of those, like I struggled with it a bit, but it is to do with space and practicality.  and also unfortunately for textile design, especially I've had a few situations where my, when you scan things in to put them onto a fabric, which is kind of my main thing. Now, the colors just don't translate and they end up looking a bit dirty and you end up spending so much time color correcting it in Photoshop.

Speaker 1:

You're like, I should've just done this in Photoshop. Yes. I think,  I, I was thinking the other day, I'd like to get back into doing some more originals where,  they can be in watercolor.  but for my textile designs, they do kind of, it's just a lot easier for me to create the colors in Photoshop, but I always draw things by hand because I just find drawing stuff like doing the actual drawings on a computer for me, for my work. It just never looks quite the same. Like it can never capture that kind of sensuous line and the characters in the faces the way I want to, if I try it. Yes.

Felicia: And there's a certain weight in the weight and lightness of how you'll be optimizing when you draw that it's difficult to do on a computer

Victoria:

That's it. So it's a tricky one and yeah, I think,  yeah, and, and I, yeah, I think it's about finding the balance, but sometimes when you're working, cause even now, even though we're not in the bus, I'm in a tiny, tiny apartment and I, you know, kind of don't have a huge amount of space.

So back when I had my huge shed that was, you know, bigger than this whole apartment, I, you know, could really get stuck in and do screen printing and do water colors and have canvases and paint and really go for it. And now I've just learned to be a lot more basic. And when I'm in the bus, like I have my little box and I have done some painting and it's when we're going to be stopped somewhere for, you know, a few days and the weather's right. And, you know, got a space to set it up. But yeah.

Felicia:

Do you miss having all that space? Do you miss that?

Victoria:

I do. But also like you kind of, it swings and roundabouts because of like, well, I get to have the freedom of living in the road and, you know, there's advantages and disadvantages to both something that like, one of the reasons we're doing this is I'm not going to be on living in a bus for the rest of my life to see this whole country. And we've got some ideas about where we want to end up, but my dream is to end up having a base again and taking all the things I've learned, you know, about where I actually want to be. But,  and then I'll set up a studio again. So that'll be my reward, you know? Yeah. One day I'll be able to like, you know, there's certain ideas they have and I'm like, oh, I can't really do that. You know? So hopefully, yeah. At some point I'll be able to be a bit more, I don't know.

Felicia:

Yes. That makes sense.  That was going to be my next question. Do you think you, do you see yourself traveling for the indefinite future or do you see yourself finishing Australia? So,  you definitely think that Australian loop is the end point you think possibly for your travels?

Victoria:

I think like what I'd love to do is, ¬†so find somewhere, ¬†that's, ¬†you know, that we love and a place that is, ¬†very hot in summer takes time to travel through the hottest months, stands up. And whether it's very cold in winter, take some time every year still to travel up north. Like I still want to keep our bus, like it's just, you know, such a personal thing. And I'd love to find somewhere where I can still have, have the opportunity, you know, to have a base, but spend some time traveling when the weather, you know, necessitates it, my partner, doesn't like, ¬†he surprisingly for someone born and raised in Aberdeen, he doesn't like the cold ‚Äď he‚Äôs pretty laid back and he he's happy to go wherever, but his only request is to not be cold.

Felicia:

Given we’re in Australia, that shouldn't be a too hard brief to meet really!

Victoria:

Yes as long as we can keep him, keep his little Tootsies warm his, yeah.

Felicia: Well, that's good. In a sense like Daisy is a permanent member of the family now.

VictoriaL

She is, I don't think we'll ever let her go.

Felicia:

So,  thank you for sharing all of that.  

Did you want to talk about your latest range a bit more?

Victoria:

So next week,  on the 8th of June, 2021,  it's World Oceans day and I will be releasing the new range,  and announcing the new really amazing,  new partnership that I have.  

So I'm not going to reveal who it is...  but World Oceans day should give it a clue. And,  yeah, so I'll still be partnering with rainforest rescue,  but I'll be partnering with two different not-for-profits this year to raise money for really great conservation causes.

I'll be sending all the info out on my mailing list and I'll be sending a free,  free gift out to people who subscribe,  which is going to be really beautiful. So, yeah, please, please do, if you, if you're interested in finding out who I'm partnering with and getting that free gift, sorry. Shameless self promotion. Okay.

Felicia:

We'll put all the links in the podcast. Is that just to your website? Yeah. If you just go on my website, a little things should pop up saying how to subscribe and,  yeah, but my new collection is all,  the first drop is all about barrier reef.  I couldn't help, but be inspired and not just the barrier reef, but Australia's ocean in general and also like maybe some slightly more magical elements that I've taken some creative license with, but yeah, it's all about the oceans.

www.thescenicroutestyle.com

Right. And so just for our listeners, that website is the scenic route style.com. Yeah.

Victoria:

www.thescenicroutestyle.com

. Yeah. Perfect.

Felicia:

Yep. And we'll put that link in the show notes as well. Thank you. That's great.  

So that's, what's next for you basically? Is those new ranges? Is there anything else coming up you wanted to let listeners know about that they'd be interested in?

Victoria:

Oh,  gosh, I think I've, I've got a couple of really cool collaborations, so there's something, yeah. I can, I can drop some of those and I'm doing some candles again this year as a collaboration. And so I'm working with an incredible embroidery artist to release some of my work as embroidery kits. And I've got a few other like cool, cool projects like that where,  yeah, I'm really excited to work on them.  And I’m doing a colouring book, which people are asking me to do for years. Yeah. Yeah. So that's going to be coming up and then,  yeah, like tea towels, fabrics,  and I'll be doing, I've started working on the sort of second drop,  like a smaller range later in the year.  

So yes, that'll drop before, before Christmas, so fantastic.

Felicia:

And you've got calendars coming out. When will they be out?

Victoria:

I think they're going to be 1st of August.  

The last two years they have sold out. So,  I'm going to be ordering a few, few extra this year, so people don't get disappointed. It's just finding that balance because you don't want to be stuck with them in January and then it's tricky, isn't it? And because, so everything,  in terms of my stationary, everything's printed in Australia, everything's a 100% recycled.

I use a really eco-friendly printer and the last thing I want to do is overproduce. So really try and encourage, you know, so it's hard to get that balance. Right.  yeah. So I think I'm going to be a bit more generous with the quantities this year.  and the last,  so I think last year I raised,  I sold 500 calendars, so I raised like $2,500 for Rainforest rescue. So hopefully I can do even better than that this year.

Felicia:

Well, I'm sure our listeners would love to help you do that and support a worthy cause as well as have your beautiful artwork on the walls all year around.

Victoria:

Yeah. Thanks Felicia.

Felicia:

So where else can our listeners find out more about you? We've got your website, your on Insta insert and …

Victoria:

Yes, I'm on Facebook and Instagram, both at thescenicroutestyle.

I have started to Tik Tok, but I don't quite get it - like I am on there. So I've just posted a few little things on there, but I'm like, Hmm, I don't know these trends.

So, but definitely Instagram is the main place.

Felicia:

Fantastic. Well, thank you.  could I do a quick fire round with you to sort of get to know you a bit better on a personal note?

Victoria:

Yes.

Felicia: I ask all my guests these questions….

What’s your favorite Australian animal and why?

Victoria:

Oh, that's so tough. I love them all. I think I am going to go with the wombat though. I just think they're fascinating. They are, like I said, social and they're just really incredible creatures. And I think I know this has since been disputed, but you know, I remember like reading that whole story with the bushfires. How are the animals were sheltering in their burrows? I don't know. I just think, yeah, they're really fascinating and beautiful creatures and they've got a lot of personality and…. And also the square poo thing is very interesting to me.

Felicia: I don’t know about that?
Victoria:

¬†Yeah. There's a whole scientific reason behind it. So if you, if you Google a ‚Äėwombat square poo‚Äô, you're going to go down the whole internet labyrinth.

Felicia:

Oh, there you go. Another thing to look at. Okay.

So Vegemite ‚Äď yes or now?!

Victoria:

So Vegemite - absolutely not. No way I cannot cope with it and I never have been able to. And, ¬†even when I lived over in London, you know, I just feel like people would be like, oh yeah, you do. It is a Vegemite getting Vegemite care packages. And I was like, get it away from me. So it's just one of those things. I, I can't, I've tried so many times, but I just can't convert. I'm not sure ‚Äď sorry Australia - my dirty secret has been revealed.Felicia:

So what was the first Australian concert you went to?

Victoria:

Oh, the first Australian concert I went to, it wasn't an Australian artist, but it was,  I went to see Lenny Kravitz at the entertainment center when I was 13 years old on the Let Love Rule Tour with my friend. It was on at the Sydney entertainment centre. It was like so amazing.  

And Lenny was, he was like in, at his absolute prime. I'm going to say he, we were down in the mosh pit. He walked into the audience. He was just like, yeah, it was so cool. And like both of our parents would just, we had to fight right up until the day before to be allowed to go sort of go ‚Äď we were just like begging and begging basically. And, ¬†I think, cause my friend's parents said yes first. And then I was like, well, ¬†her dad's going to drop us off and pick us up and he'll wait out the front. And my mom was like, oh, it's very dangerous to go into the city. Like it was, she would have had nightmares. We, I think just the power of 13 year old girls just, they can just wear people down and I was very sulky at the dinner table for so long that my mom just got sick of it. Yeah. Yeah.

Felicia:

That's funny…  and what's your favorite Australian biscuit?

Victoria:

Definitely the Kingston. I love the Kingston. It just, yeah, the perfect biscuit for me and then not too big. They're delicious.

Felicia:

Okay.  What’s your next bucket list place to visit (sort of you're doing your whole life is a bucket list places?!).

Victoria:

I think it's like, I've been reading about the Limestone Coast in South Australia. I just I'm dying to get there...  The Mornington peninsula looks so amazing. Like all there's so many places I haven't been yet and I just can't wait to go. And then all of Western Australia, I mean all of Western Australia, can I say the whole state.

Felicia:

I think with your love of art, I've been lucky enough to see some of Western Australia and just the native beauty, the beauty of the native plants and everything is just, it will blow you away.

Victoria:

I can't wait.

Felicia:

I can't wait to see what you are inspired to produce. It actually would be incredible.

Victoria:

Yeah. Not long to go now too. We, till we head off.

Felicia:

So you must be getting very itchy, very, very itchy feet.

Oh, that's lovely to have you on the podcast today, Victoria. Thank you so much. I've loved learning more about you and your journeys

Victoria:

Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. When you asked me, I was like, well, I'd just be great to have a really good catch-up so definitely thank you so much.

Show Links: 

The Scenic Route Website: https://www.thescenicroutestyle.com/

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The Scenic Route on Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/earthgreetings/

Charities - more on The Scenic Route's charity she supports:-

Rainforest Rescue

Reef Restoration Foundation

Explore Far North Queensland - see experiences here: