The Mother Hood with author and adventure mumma, Catherine Lawson

As the saying goes, there ain’t no ‘hood like the Mother Hood. And here’s one mumma who’s navigating through motherhood just a little differently. Catherine Lawson lives on a sailboat with her partner David and daughter Maya, exploring the seven seas and writing as she goes (amongst her many published travel articles and books, she is the author of 100 Things To See In Tropical North Queensland). We caught up with Catherine as she was sailing out of Cairns to chat about her unconventional lifestyle, homeschooling, how she makes money and about never sitting on the sidelines out of fear. We hope you are inspired!


Is there anything about motherhood that came as a surprise? I wish people had told me to do it sooner, it’s awesome! People say becoming a mother is the best thing you’ll do in life, but it’s the mothering that’s the fun part, and it gets better as your child grows. 

Do you mind sharing with us how you make a living? I studied Journalism at uni in Brisbane, did a business degree, travelled a bit and then started working for a newspaper in Perth. Within a few months I took a job editing a camping and travel magazine and I never looked back. My partner is a photographer and we’ve worked together for more than two decades, producing features for magazines and travel guides, and travelling pretty much full-time. 

Your 10 year old daughter, Maya, has grown up with a life of travel and adventure. I hear that Maya is the youngest Australian to reach Everest base-camp! What’s the wildest place you’ve taken her?: Kutai National Park in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo to track wild orangutans.

Interview continued below …

How long have you been homeschooling Maya? Maya has never been to conventional school (kindy plus prep and we are now into our 7th year). It’s been an amazing journey; there are a million ways to educate a child and the classroom is only one of those options. 

There is no typical day when you teach in the world. This morning, as I type, Maya is on the helm, learning to navigate and how to read soundings as we sail north. Every experience is an opportunity to learn, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to sit your child down and open a text book.

Do you have advice for anyone else (like me haha) who is thinking of homeschooling their kids? Go for it. Your relationship with your child or children will grow in beautiful ways, and you’ll really get to know how they think, play and learn. There’s a top little feature on our website about how to be a homeschooler.

Note to readers: That homeschooling article on Catherine’s website is super interesting and informative. I keep thinking about what she says here:

“I’ve been a part of many homeschooling groups – in Darwin and in Cairns…In Darwin this year, our local homeschooling group met a couple of times each week to tackle all kinds of adventures from ranger-led walks and circus workshops, to beach fossil hunts, and water slide fun... My daughter took ice skating lessons and joined a kids’ gem club, tried her hand at small boat sailing and lawn bowls too“.

Sailing and circus workshops during school time? Hell yeah!

Is there anything your mum taught you that you’ve found yourself passing down or doing with Maya? My Mum dared me and my siblings to do crazy things when we played; to have a go and never sit on the sidelines out of fear. I think it’s really important not to be scared in life, and to have a go, even if things don’t work out perfectly.

Fantastic advice. I hope to bestow this same philosophy upon my daughter. Thanks so much for your time, Catherine!

Planning a big adventure through Tropical North Queensland? Get the guide written by Catherine (a Queensland local … when she’s not off in some far flung corner of the globe).
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