Meet the toddler who trekked 1,800km across the outback

Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 05:25:04 AM. Lauren and Justin Jones wanted to raise a strong, independent child who loved nature — and prove to themselves life doesn't end when you become a parent.

The Jones family spent more than 100 days on the road from NT to SA Video: The Jones family spent more than 100 days on the road from NT to SA (ABC News)

Raising a toddler can be hard at the best of times, but taking a one-year-old on a 1,800km hike across the outback presents a whole new parenting challenge.

Lauren and Justin Jones have returned to their Sydney home after spending 102 days on foot with their now 18-month-old daughter, Morgan.

The couple set off from Dockers Creek in the Northern Territory in July and ended their journey at Port Augusta in South Australia.

The Jones family poses for a photo in the outback. Photo: The Jones had six food drops on their journey to keep them going. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

"We did this for two reasons," Mrs Jones said.

"We wanted to raise a strong, independent child who loves nature, and to show that life doesn't have to end once you become parents.

"I think it's easy to put your dreams on hold when you have children, but we want other parents to know you can still have fun."

The Jones's endured temperatures ranging from zero to 42 degrees, and battled severe thunderstorms and flash flooding.

The sun sets as the Jones make camp in the outback. Photo: The sun creates a magnificent backdrop for the trek. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

They received six food drops on their marathon trip, and survived on a basic diet of healthy freeze-dried vegetables.

Morgan was pulled along in a custom-built buggy, while her parents walked by foot for an average of seven hours a day.

Morgan sits in the buggy on a dirt road. Photo: The buggy became Morgan's home for months as they navigated the dirt roads. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

"It took a lot of adjusting but Morgan got used to roughing it quicker than we did," Mr Jones said.

"She learned that making toast required collecting sticks and lighting a fire.

"She also learnt not to touch snakes and how to dress appropriately when it's stinking hot or freezing — these lessons aren't taught to kids in the family home.

"One of the highlights was that Morgan actually took her first few steps while we were trekking through remote Australia, so that was pretty special."

The Jones family pose for a photo with their buddy on a dirt road. Photo: The main buggy that stored their food and water weighed up to 270kg. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

Lauren and Justin documented their unique experiences in the outback on Instagram, with many photos capturing barren Australian outback.

But taking on nature is nothing new for Justin, who has kayaked from Australia to New Zealand, and traversed the coast to the pole in Antarctica.

Lauren and little Morgan enjoy a meal in the scrub. Photo: Lauren and little Morgan enjoy a meal in the scrub. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

"These things are always challenging, but this time was a bit different because I was with my family for the whole time and that was great," Mr Jones said.

"But families come with a lot of stuff you know — the cart we pulled weighed 270kg at one stage and I actually lost 19kg in a four-month walk."

Justin stands with his buddy surrounded by the outback. Photo: Justin is used to trekking in remote areas. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

The Jones's only returned home to North Bondi a few weeks ago and they are still adjusting to reality.

"The parenting challenges are really different — in the outback, we had to watch for snakes, here it's cars and the dangerous surf," Mrs Jones said.

"But our main goal was teaching Morgan confidence and now, as a toddler, she's much more resilient to the small things that affect toddlers.

"So now when she falls over, she just gets up and dusts herself off — it's nice to see how much she's changed and grown over time."

A sunset creates a silhouette of the buddy used to cross the Outback. Photo: Settling back into life in Sydney will take some time for the Jones family. (Supplied: Lauren and Justin Jones)

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