Hi, Adventurer My Account

Breaking Gender Barriers in the Outdoors: Dr. Kate Grarock's Inspiring Journey on TV Show ALONE Aust

Breaking Gender Barriers in the Outdoors: Dr. Kate Grarock's Inspiring Journey on TV Show ALONE Aust

Introducing Dr. Kate Grarock, an ecologist, hiker, YouTube creator, speaker, Mum, and participant in the thrilling reality TV series Alone Australia. Kate is a passionate environmentalist who loves inspiring people to embrace the outdoors as much as she does.

During her time in the Tasmanian wild, Kate had to overcome many challenges, including coping with the fear of wind and the danger of falling trees while missing her partner Elsie and six-month-old daughter Juno. Her desire to show her daughter that women belong outdoors was her source of inspiration. Kate learned to manage her emotions and the haunting melody of "Mad World" that played in her head repeatedly while focusing on her survival needs. Her experience on Alone Australia has had a profound impact on her life, and she continues to share her passion for nature and the environment with others. Kate believes that women have a significant advantage in extreme conditions due to their metabolism, multitasking abilities, and resourcefulness. 

Kate is a strong advocate for women's equal participation in outdoor activities and believes that society has a long way to go in breaking down gender barriers.

If you love Kate as much as we do, come and see her speak at the speak FREE event with Women Want Adventure at Paddy Pallin Store on Friday 26th May. Limited places so register here! 

Alone Australia continues Wednesdays on SBS and is available to stream on SBS On Demand.

What things scared you most?

I’m extremely comfortable outdoors, but I think the scariest thing out there was the wind and the massive rotting trees that were everywhere. I heard many, many huge trees fall and it was challenging to sit with that.

Who did you think about most while you were out there?

I missed my partner Elsie and 6 month old daughter Juno.

How did you manage missing them while in the Tasmanian wild. Did you try to block out too much thinking about them, or did you accept the circumstances and the long separation? 

I used Juno as my inspiration. I wanted to show her that women belong outdoors. I spent a lot of time out there listening to my thoughts and feelings, I chose not to try and block them out. Emotions are like massive waves in the ocean if you try to block them eventually they catch up to you and you will get pummelled by them. Instead, I chose to ride the emotional waves and fully embrace them, knowing they come and go but don’t last forever. The hard feelings will eventually pass and it's beautiful and important to feel them.

What were your most recurring thoughts while out there?

I had that song Mad World stuck in my head - it got creepy like haunting - I had the same line on repeat in my head  “And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad, The dreams in which I'm dying, Are the best I've ever had….Mad world” 

It just sat there on a loop for days and hours on end. I had to work extremely hard to catch it and stop it and switch it out with a happier song.

I think when your body is significantly deprived of calories your mind does some strange things and I often had to silence the thoughts that were screaming at me that I was unsafe. I would stop and tell myself, I’m warm, I’m dry, I have plenty of water and enough food to keep going. That would silence the thoughts but some days it was easier to silence them than others.  

Couldn’t listen to that song for a long time after the experience but now I love it and have it on my ‘Kate Alone’ playlist. It makes me feel so nostalgic now.


Do you think being a woman gave you advantages the men didn’t have?

Absolutely, women are the ultimate survival specialists. Women often have better metabolisms for survival, more body fat and lower calorie requirements than men. Women are great at multitasking and assessing a situation fully and are happy to supplement their diets by foraging and not focusing exclusively on meat. There are even research papers that show women are better at survival in extreme conditions (e.g., famine and epidemics).

In our society the outdoors has sadly been more or space for men, but I am extremely excited to see that changing. I dearly wanted to join the cub scouts as a little girl but was told that only boys can join, despite my mum's best efforts to change their minds. Women have not had an equal platform to enjoy all the benefits that come from being outdoors - the positive mental aspects of being a part of nature, the self confidence that comes from self-reliance outdoors. Things are changing slowly with amazing supportive groups like women want adventure. But we still have a very long way to go. The first season of the USA season of ALONE didn’t have any women on the show! I think the greatest number of women starting the show is 3 out of 10 participants. Even my young cousin has expressed her concern at being judged in the outdoors for being a girl. That makes me sad, I was hopeful the barrier I experience in getting into the outdoors were due to me being a bit older and growing up in regional South Australia. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Would you change any of the 10 items you selected based on what you experienced?

Not at all, I am really happy with my choices. I spent a LOT of time researching and going over what I would and wouldn't take. The last thing I wanted was to be sitting out there wishing I’d brought something I didn’t.  I used my YouTube channel as a cover to talk to all my amazing network of friends and workmates about the pros and cons of different tools and approaches. For example I chose not to take an axe as I only have limited experience using one and I feel like they are a very high risk item when you are cold, wet, fatigued and not mentally sharp (due to lack of calories). If I was to do it all again I’d pebbly take all the same gear with the exception of a couple of clothing choices.

How has your life changed since being on Alone Australia?

It's changed in so many ways. An experience like that gives you a new lens to view the world and for that I will always be grateful. It really was life changing. I think anyone who has done some bushwalking will understand the joys of a hot shower and running water. This experience was like that but on another level. I think about my experience everyday (sometimes several times a day). A quiet moment of reflection at a dinner party with friends (I pause for a second and feel grateful for such good people in my life and a full belly of healthy food). Taking my daughter for a walk through the neighbourhood is bliss. I try to keep that joy and knowledge of how bloody special life is in every moment. Even when life is a bit hard. For example, the whole fam got gastro the other day. I remember laying on the floor of the shower with that beautiful hot water on my back and I felt pure joy.

My bushwalking adventures are also more enjoyable as they feel much more comfortable cooking up a warm meal and experiencing nature in comfort is so lovely. It has also deepened my connection to nature and I'm so grateful for that.

It has been incredible being able to process the experience privately (before the show went to air). Working through the high highs and significant low points of discomfort, starvation and associated psychological distress. But that's why I signed up for it. I believe pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is the place for massive personal growth and learning.

Now as the show is going to air I am loving watching it all unfold, seeing my little home and watching the amazing people I got to share this experience with.

It’s wild now I get recognised from being on the show. The Canberra community has been incredibly supportive. I was walking my daughter the other day and I heard a 15 year old call my name. He runs out of his house to shake my hand and have a little chat. We have watch parties at a local cafe and a few of the kids had drawn pictures of me out fishing for eels. It's so beautiful and exciting. 

It’s an incredible privilege to have had this experience and it just keeps giving and giving.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely, but it would be great to be in a more natural environment - not on a dammed lake surrounded by dead trees. I draw great energy from being in nature but seeing these human impacts every day was hard.

What do you want viewers to take away from your experience?

I’d love people to share the learning of how powerful it is to push yourself outside your comfort zone. The level of self-confidence and personal development you can gain from it is incredible. But I also realised ‘your’ comfort zone can be completely different to another person’s and that’s great. It could be getting off the couch and going for your first 1 km walk, or joining a supportive group to do your first overnight hike. Whatever it is, there are huge personal gains to be made by pushing yourself just that little bit further.

© Copyright 2024 Women Want Adventure. All rights reserved.

Made with by SiteSuite in Sydney