When I stumbled across Liss' instagram @lifeintheslowlane_, I could tell she got it. She got that vibe that we are always banging on about, and I knew that she just HAD to be my first Soul Slider feature. The slow life, the simple wants, the life riding. I couldn't wait to share Liss' effervescent vibe and soulful adventures with you.
She is a sustainable gal, has few material possessions - choosing to spend her dollars on her elusive journeys around our sunburnt country - and is the kind of girl you want in your life. For epic green smoothie sessions, for sunset slides in glassy perfection, for theatre movie nights under starry skies. I think it's safe to say, that when I finally connect with Liss, we will be besties for years to come. Introducing LISS and her sunliner caravan 'Sunny'.
1. Who are you, and what is it that keeps your soul alive?
I am Melissa Connell, but I prefer 'Liss'. 31 years old, currently travelling Australia in my 1959 Sunliner caravan named 'Sunnie'.
It's the simple things that feed my soul - exploring the countryside; singing and playing my guitar; spending time with friends and family; meeting strangers and hearing their stories; laughing. I love laughing! And I love hearing other people laugh!
2. Your life looks pretty damn rad!! If you could perfectly design your day, what would it look like?
Wake up at sunrise and look out of my caravan window at a deserted beach, preferably somewhere warm; go for a bike ride with my border collie; knock back a banana/honey/chia/coconut smoothie; go surfing with a few friends (warm water - I hate the cold!); do a little bit of work or create something.
Then a perfect afternoon would involve swimming underneath a waterfall; reading poetry; watching a vintage surf movie projected onto the side of my caravan; and then enjoying some fresh fish cooked over a bonfire with some friends or family. Yeah, that would definitely be my perfect day!
3. Describe your sunrise and sunset routines for us...
When I'm not travelling, I'm based in the Kimberley (remote north Western Australia) and my usual routine is to wake at around 6am and take pup for a bike ride through the mango plantations of the Ord Valley (Kununurra, eastern Kimberley), then go for a swim.
At sunset I usually go kayaking and wildlife watching in Kununurra's wetlands, pup sits up front. She likes to run up and down the kayak spotting for crocodiles and barra. She always falls overboard! Haha. That's ok, she loves swimming.
My routine when I'm on the road varies each day, depending on where I am. It usually involves a morning beach walk and an evening bonfire. I don't own a television, so I usually go to sleep early and wake early.
4. What is your favourite drink combo. Mine is sailor Jerry's and Coconut Water, FYI. Go!
I don't drink a whole lot of alcohol, apart from the odd Matso's mango cider or Jack Daniels.
5. What would you say the style of your abode is? Beach chic, Boho eclectic, a shit tonne of organised chaos, or something a bit more descriptive?
My 11 foot vintage van is very simple. I don't own much, so she's pretty clean and organised most of the time. I have a few little bits and pieces that I love - feathers, shells, stones, flags and some colourful cushions and rugs. I really love natural and earthy tones, so the interior has a pretty peaceful vibe.
6. If I was to say to you, design your PERFECT Soul Deck... What would it involve? (designs, quotes, words, patterns, size?)
I have a real fascination and love for indigenous culture. I guess this is due to spending so many years in the Kimberley (which has a large indigenous population), and I have a little 'sister' who is aboriginal (I've spent lots of time with her since birth as my folks are her respite foster carers). I'd love to see a collaboration with an indigenous artist, with part of the profit going towards an indigenous organisation. I've heard of a couple of awesome ones lately - programs teaching Aboriginal kids to surf or play music. Aboriginal art generally has a lot of earthy tones, and I love earthy colours.
7. What is your favourite colour combo, and how does it make you feel?
I think that the best colour palettes can be found within nature. I love the colours that can be found in the Kimberley's savannah landscape - brown dirt, long straw coloured grass, green plants, mauve and yellow wildflowers dotted throughout.
Green is my favourite colour, so anything that involves green is calming and peaceful for my soul :)
8. Tell us about your ideal combo of senses (sight, smell, sound, touch, taste)...
I love colour - rainbows, colourful birds, pink lakes (I found a beautiful one in my recent travels through South Australia). I can't imagine being blind and I am so amazed by people like Gurrumul who are blind, yet make amazing music!
I definitely love the sense of smell too. I can't walk past a flower without stopping to smell it! And right now as I write this, a storm is blowing over. I can smell rain coming, and it's such a beautiful smell!
9. (And my personal favourite question) What does it mean to you to live a life of soul? Ie. Is there something that drives you to live each day to the fullest, inspire people, live that sensational vagabond life??
To be honest, I just really love people. I love meeting people from all walks of life, hearing their stories, and also experiencing other cultures. This is why I travel. If I wanted beautiful landscape, I wouldn't need to leave the Kimberley. If I wanted a beautiful beach, well there are plenty right here in Australia. Whilst it's definitely awesome going somewhere like Africa and seeing animals roaming wild, it's always the people that inspire me to continue exploring. Tribes that live in really remote places especially fascinate me. It's interesting to see how people live when they're removed from the media and influences of the Western world. I aspire to live a very basic and sustainable lifestyle, and I feel there is a lot to learn from the indigenous cultures of the world.
10. What is that you do for work, and are would you have it any other way if someone said you could do WHATEVER you wanted??
I've lived in so many places in my lifetime. Growing up, my family travelled a lot and that planted the seed within me. I left home when I was 17, straight after I graduated school in Broome. I moved from town to town - Margaret River, Perth, Gold Coast, Sydney, Byron Bay, London, the list goes on... So I've done every job under the sun! But the one thing that I've consistently come back to since I started working at 14 years old has been tourism, Kimberley tourism. I love the Kimberley so much, and talking to people, so I've been passionate about my job for years. But I dream of opening a B&B by the sea one day. Simple accommodation, a veggie garden, hammocks hanging from the trees. We'll see. For the moment, I'm happy working seasonally in Kimberley tourism. But I definitely feel a change coming soon ...
11. Lastly, what does being a Soul Slider mean to you?
To me, soul sliding is embracing your passion and bringing your own groove and style to your chosen craft / sport / hobby. Expressing yourself, whilst still being respectful of others, facing your fears and enjoying the moment. Having gratitude, thinking positive and wearing a smile whenever possible!
To follow Liss and her AMAZING, soul filled adventures, check her out on instagram