Mattea is the nomadic traveller and lifestyle photographer who has captured our hearts and given us complete wanderlust as she travels around Australia in her golden 1975 VW Kombi. Inspired by the diverse landscapes around her, she captures the simple moments along the way in such a beautiful way. Let us soothe your travel itch and teleport you across Australia as we find out all about Tia's travel adventures.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF - WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU'RE FROM AND WHAT SETS YOUR SOUL ON FIRE?
My name is Mattea, Tia for short. I grew up in a town north of Toronto amidst the city and cottage country.
I was blessed with a beautiful Swedish mother, which meant my summers were spent in Scandinavia having fika, picking flowers and taking icy cold dips in the Baltic Sea. At the time it was all normal to me, but now looking back I realise how much those summers shaped me.
As soon as I graduated high school, I knew I needed to explore the world. I saved up as much money as possible and embarked on a solo adventure to Australia. I quickly fell in love with discovering new places and learning about unique cultures. These transformative years of my life took me to over 20 countries. This is when I learned what it was that truly set my soul on fire. I would never be the same after the many eye-opening experiences.
YOU’RE CURRENTLY TRAVELING AROUND AUSTRALIA IN YOUR 1975 VW KOMBI. TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS SO FAR?
Travelling Australia in a vintage van is a unique adventure in more ways than one. The incredible beauty of this great island is matched by its harsh weather and rugged terrain. Our VW bus, who we call Stella, sits so pretty in these wild landscapes, however she is delicate- at times she has not been up for the challenge.
Jordan and I began our journey in 2019, back when a house is what we called a home. We made a good living in Perth city and although we enjoyed this stage of our lives, it didn't excite us.
Once we decided to change our lifestyle there was no looking back. We explored the entire west coast, headed over to the east, and now our journey continues through the south. We hope to see as much of Australia as we can.
CAN YOU TELL US ALL ABOUT YOUR KOMBI STELLA ? SHE’S OUR DREAM VAN!
The moment we laid eyes on Stella, we knew we had to have her. It didn’t matter that she was missing an accelerator pedal and only bunny hopped down the road. Most of our friends thought we were crazy but only Jordan and I truly understood the dream.
Now four years on, we have almost completely rebuilt our old girl from the ground up. It began with a full engine rebuild. Once she had her new heart, it was time to fix up the gearbox, suspension, fuel pump and the list goes on. After all of that, the fun began. Stella’s interior was a blank canvas, ready to be painted. It wasn’t easy to decide how we wanted the layout- to this day we continue making improvements bit by bit. The more time we spend on the road, we get better at living in our tiny space.
Since putting so much love into Stella, she has become like a family member. She may be temperamental at times, but we couldn’t imagine our lives without our little vibe machine. We notice that she has a way of making people smile.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE YOU HAVE VISITED SO FAR AND WHY?
Traveling Australia has given me a deep appreciation for simple beauty. From the moment I laid eyes on the pristine beaches of Esperance, I felt so many emotions. I remember saying out loud many times “If heaven was a place on earth, this would be it.”
The south-west coastline has an abundance of untouched, dream-like beaches. With sand so white and waters so clear and blue, it’s a place like no other. I can’t wait to be back.
WHAT DESTINATION ARE YOU DYING TO TICK OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
I’ve always felt drawn to the desert. There is so much beauty in the rich red dirt and the way the light turns dust golden in the air. I’m oh so excited for the moment we cruise down the wide open plains with Ayres Rock in the distance.
Uluru is a place which holds so much spiritual significance, it’s more than just a landmark!
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LIVE THE VANLIFE?
When I arrived in Australia back in 2015 my idea was to see it all.
While working on the west coast I met Jordan and our adventures began instantly. We’d spend our weekends sleeping under the stars, while camped at the end of old beach tracks. While covered by the smell of the campfire we’d talk about life and everything we wanted to become.
We had young hearts and we wanted to roam free. It was from these humble beginnings our love for adventure grew, and our vision of a simple life in wide open spaces evolved.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 ESSENTIALS FOR TRAVELING?
Less is best when living in a small space. We usually pack one of each item and try to have multiple uses for some things when possible.
Comfy Bed - Jordan and I learnt early on that a good night’s sleep helps us have a successful day. When I began sewing the cushion covers, I made sure our bed was extra comfy by adding a memory foam topper into our bed. This worked really well to ensure a sound sleep. Speaking of - good bedding also goes a long way. We have the softest linen bedding and... I just love my bed.
Power - We have a good battery and solar set up which makes our daily travels more practical and enjoyable.
Stella has a flexible solar panel fitted to her roof that runs our fridge, and chargers our phones, laptop and camera.
While working as a freelance photographer on the road having reliable power is essential to keeping me in my flow.
Picnic Rugs - Whether it’s slow days spent lazing in the sun or cold nights sitting by a campfire. Our trusty throws are rolled up and ready to go. They are the first thing we use to get the vibe right. Our favourite rugs are from Wandering Folk.
DO YOU HAVE ANY DAILY RITUALS THAT HELP YOU STAY GROUNDED AND CONNECTED?
If I’m being completely honest, I struggled with this for the first year whilst living on the road. Waking up in a new place each day took me a while to adjust to.
Over the years, I have come to learn the importance of daily habits and rituals. For me, starting my day off the right way is key to keeping a positive mindset.
I like to start my days with movement, whether it be a walk, run, yoga flow, or high-intensity workout. Getting my blood flowing in some way is my ultimate motivator.
I have come to thoroughly enjoy my journaling and meditation practices as well. I don’t always do these in the morning, more so at any time of day when I feel inspired to do so.
To stay grounded and connected while living on the road, I do my best to stay hydrated, active, healthy, rested, and productive - these acts give me balance.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
There are so many different styles I love but I seem to be drawn to a minimal, timeless styles. Although light colours don’t always stay so clean, it’s a simple look I keep coming back to.
The older I get, the more I notice the similarities in me to my mum. I've been inspired by her to wear natural fibres like linen and hemp. She loves earthy tones as do I.
Although I do love simple styles, I do also get a kick out of dressing up in funky colours and patterns - they make me feel energised!
I like to purchase high-quality clothes and less of them. Some of my favourite clothing items to date are years old.
YOU’RE ALSO A PHOTOGRAPHER AND SELL YOUR OWN DREAMY PRESETS. HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD A CREATIVE FLARE?
I remember getting my first DSLR when I was 12. My friends and I would get ready and have photoshoots around the neighbourhood (my private photo albums on Facebook are pretty funny). I truly believe that I was meant to pursue my path in photography.
My parents raised me in a way in which I’m very grateful for- I tried several instruments and just about every sport. Once I found dance, I stuck to it and spent a lot of my time at the dance studio. Dance helped me to express myself, it let me be creative in a unique way.
I was always given the freedom to choose what I wanted to do. Looking back at what I loved doing, creativity was always in me.
WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM?
Being on the road in endlessly changing horizons is where I feel most inspired. I find there are many more opportunities to witness the beauty of Mother Nature when so much time is spent outdoors. The many hues and shapes
I find that my best ideas come to me while exercising, showering, and driving. I think it’s because in these situations there are no distractions.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR MATTEA CARSON?
I am a manifesting generator, my head is constantly full of daydreams and new passion projects. Sometimes it seems I can never get my mind to rest.
For a while now I have been enjoying expressing myself through videography. This is what is calling me most at the moment so I’m excited for this to be a big part of this next chapter.
I will be sharing videos from our time on the road over on my YouTube channel which you can find here - I hope to inspire others to spend more time outdoors, and to take the leap to follow their own passions whatever they may be.
Follow Tia's journey here
Follow the adventures of Stella the VW Kombi here
Shop prints & presets here