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Ashley Dobson

Picture Perfect

4x4 vehicle driving on the beach next to the water

To scroll Ashley Dobson’s (@ashleydobson) Instagram feed is to become immersed in a mesmerising world of nature at its most spectacular. Stunning images of waterfalls, mountains, seascapes, marine life, and every so often a human or two grinning madly as if they can’t quite believe their good fortune in finding themselves in such a scenic locale. This is a reasonable depiction of Ashley’s life.

“I’ve been in love with photography since I was young. I’ve always had a camera with me since I can remember, always snapping everything,” Ashley says.

young woman outside smiling and looking away from camera

Quest for the perfect image

When she moved from her US home in Wisconsin to Australia, the stunning natural scenery captured her heart and imagination. “I fell in love with tropical north Queensland, the waterfalls, the ocean, the islands,” she says. “I fell in love with nature.” And so, she began photographing this natural wonderland and sharing her images on social media.

On the day we chat, Ashley is in Jervis Bay on the NSW south coast, headed to Hyams Beach, home of what is considered the whitest beach sand in Australia, in her never-ending quest for the perfect image. “The weather’s good. I’m very excited.”

There was no plan to become an “influencer” or create a livelihood, but that’s exactly what happened. “It was never supposed to be that,” Ashley says. “But it attracted people, and it turned into a community. It didn’t happen overnight.”

woman cooking outside at a campsite in the late evening

Ashley’s favourite Dometic camping gear

When life and work drew Ashley, her partner Alex and their kelpie Rusty to Brisbane, camping road trips became a necessity to get their regular fix of immersion in nature. Which, naturally enough, led her to Dometic.

“When we moved to Brisbane, I fell in love with camping and four-wheel driving,” she says. “I reached out to Dometic a few years ago … and we made the magic happen.”

Ashley first fitted a rooftop tent to her Suzuki Jimny and then began assembling the essentials to allow for extended trips off road and off grid, to place herself deep into the natural world and take the sorts of images she’d dreamed of.

“The rooftop tent is number one, it makes a massive difference,” she says. “From there it’s pretty basic – CFX3 fridge/freezer, Dometic Cadac 2 Cook 3 Pro cooktop, Dometic GO Compact Table, Dometic GO Compact Chair, portable lithium battery and solar. The water system with tap (Dometic GO hydration water faucet) is one of the best products they have. I’m obsessed with it. It’s nothing too hi-tech but it all just works.”

woman smiling driving a car

Discovering the most picturesque locations in Australia

Ashley rattles off a list of her favourite destinations – a roll call of picturesque waterfalls and islands, Millaa Millaa Falls, Elinjaa Falls, Magnetic Island, Green Island, Fitzroy Island, Fraser Island (or K’gari), North Stradbroke Island . Her wish list of places she’s yet to visit extend north Cape York and west to the vast WA coastline.

Peak “pinch me” moments? “Pretty much any time I go to K’gari is a pinch me moment,” she says. “I just ask myself, how is this even possible that I get to do this?”

So, how is it possible, that a girl from Wisconsin fell in love with the Australian coast and has managed to create a livelihood capturing it through her passion for photography?

“Just being authentic, sticking to what I love, telling a story of where I am, and that inspires others,” she says. “It was never a plan. Even to this day, behind the scenes I don’t know what I’m doing. Every day is new, going with the flow. New opportunities arise all the time. I just keep doing what I’m doing, travel within Australia and I have a few ideas overseas.”

Given Ashley’s taste for island life, and accessing the vast archipelago of tropical islands just off the Queensland coast, often far from modern conveniences, the reliability of her gear is key for the success of her missions.

“The Dometic gear makes it so easy. It’s such good quality. The fridges are so good, they won’t break, they’re super sturdy, which matters when you’re a long way from anywhere.”

And with all the essentials of outdoor living reliably sorted, Ashley’s free to follow her guiding philosophy. “Nature is the star. And life is better outdoors.”

Amen to that.