A spontaneous four-week holiday in the middle of an “I don’t know what to do with my life right now” crisis for a young Townsville couple on the verge of a break very quickly turned into a three-year (and counting) adventure of a lifetime that has redesigned their lives, meaning first, money later. With no real plan other than to love each other, love the world, and love their lives, they shuned the corporate chains and have not only been able to connect to themselves with peaceful honesty but, along the way, managed to raise a wild $79,382 for critically ill children involved with the Make-A-Wish foundation.
One day, Hayden picked up his wife’s guitar out of boredom for a nostalgic play around. In an attempt to take a scenic selfie, he accidentally live-streamed his performance to Instagram, where he was met with roars of MORE MORE MORE igniting an old musician flame that had been long dampened out.
When Hayden was a young boy, he would rock out with his dad in the country, Roy Orbison style, singing their hearts out until the sun went down. Hayden’s dad bought him his first ever guitar and taught him so well that at the age of 15, Hayden, with the help of not having a baby face, could walk into nightclubs and pubs with the confident strut of an of-age adult and perform live to hundreds after hundreds. The money he earned from each event he would use to pay for school, and the crowd couldn’t get enough of his music. The father and son were thicker than thieves, and when his dad suddenly passed away when Hayden was 18, so did his desire to play.
The first October Hayden and Amber were on the road in 2021, they welcomed their first daughter Frayer into their new world of adventure and possibility. Frayer’s arrival triggered a chain of events that has since changed lives by the many.
“She came out and I just was completely in love and I was just like, I can’t go back to work. I can’t go back to work just yet. I need to spend time with this little thing in front of me”. Hayden shakes his head with a smile, still waved by the strength of fatherly love.
I said to Amber I said what are these parents doing when their kid comes out to find out they are sick? How do you possibly go through that idea? I just could not imagine it. Could not fathom it. All these parents dealing with critically ill kids, they’re focusing so much on the treatment, which is so understandable, to give that child life, that a lot of the time life slips past them in the meantime and they never actually have those amazing moments and memories that me and my family get to have every day.”
By this time, Hayden had been pulling up weekly to perform for his anticipated Instagram live, which had eased its way outside into the intimate campfire setting.
From the second Frayer was born, Hayden has a mission to make her as proud of him as he is his dad.
“His ability to just do good. He was the kind of guy who would look at you, shake your hand and lift you up if needed. That’s what I want to be, and that’s what I want when I look back down the track, that regardless of what happens, if I ever suffer the same fate and drop dead randomly or get hit by a car or whatever, my daughter will grow up and know that we’ve helped other people. Leave the world we come into in a better place than when we entered it. That’s ultimately the driving force.
My dad and I grew up in central Queensland, where underprivileged communities existed. It was just me and my old man, but we’d sometimes have 10 or 15 kids around on a weekend. He’d feed them all, and it would just be a constant sleepover party essentially of these young kids because our house was a better environment for them than theirs was.”
Consumed with compassion and desire to follow in his father’s legacy of kindness, Hayden and Amber used their growing social media base and new musical confidence to bring some relief to these struggling families they had witnessed or heard of and resonated so profoundly with at this moment in their lives. They committed to a sudden ambition to tour 50 campsites, perform 50 live shows, and hopefully raise $50,000 to donate towards Make-A-Wish for all of the incredible healing they do in support of sick children and their families.
Hayden gleamed, still happy with shock,
“It started of slow, no one really knew about us so it was only who was already there, but fast forward 12 months, we had four or 500 people turn up to be there. We had played shows in excess of 1000 people. It really has been a transformative journey. From a bloke who accidentally tried to take a selfie to performing live to 1000 plus people and even bigger.”
“There was a young fella at our last show called Max who was around 10 and he travels with his mum and dad just like us and Frayer. Max walks up to me at my last show, and he gives me this little bag and I’m like, Oh, what’s this? It was every dollar that he’s ever saved in his 10 years. And it makes me almost emotional now thinking about it because that’s what I’m most proud of, is the fact that, that little boy Max who knows? Maybe he goes on to change the world for a million people? After what myself and Amber have done, he’s going to take that and make an even greater impact.”
This wasn’t the only incredibly genuine and kind act they witnessed from children,
“There was another boy in Darwin whose family saw our show and we caught up with them three months later, and he gave me a bag of money there was maybe $40 inside, and this little kid had been collecting nuts that fell off trees, using finger paint to paint them, and selling them as a wish balls. It’s the moments like that which make me really proud and drive me even more. I look at those fellas individually and there are many more, but those young guys I like to think that maybe, in their life I played a part at some point in the men they become. Because they witness someone doing something good and being that light hopefully they shine even brighter lights down the track and thats it. That is what I’m super passionate about and using my platform now to go even bigger to go greater, not just from a charity standpoint, but to inspire more people like those little followers to be awesome.”
Having now been fully exposed to what it means to live life to the fullest and be honest with yourself, Hayden and Amber show no signs of wanting to return to the day job routine they were trundling through before,
“We now understand and comprehend that it’s not the things in your life; it’s the people or the things you do in life that are the most valuable. We were just coexisting in our previous lives. Here I was, the picture of success from the outside, but inside, it was all crumbling.
“I was a sales manager for a construction company so it was a high-pressure job and always go go go. If I wasn’t physically at the office, I was on the phone, doing deals or talking because I thought that the more money we had would lead to more happiness. I thought the harder I work, the more money I will get, which will make us happy because we can buy more things we can go to nicer places and have nice houses. That was my rationale and I put myself through so much stress trying to please people in my job.”
Hayden and Amber went from a space of constant fighting and not seeing eye to eye to a space of drawing the best out of each other again. Relieved from the stress of external societal pressures, the struggles that had been getting them down whimsically blew from the little van windows almost as soon as they took off and said Sayonara.
“We were so happy. We got caught in the floods. We were cut off, and we had very little food. We were catching water from the tarps to drink, and we just were like, “How amazing is this?” We had huge smiles on our faces and saw that we had all these possessions, all these things, and we couldn’t enjoy them. Now we had nothing. We were so stoked.
We’ve just realised that time is the most precious commodity that we have.”
Now inspired more than ever, Hayden and Amber plan to commence the tour again over Christmas, upscaled and braced for impact. Their little rock and roll tour camping lifestyle has brought them home within themselves. The sweet influence that Hayden’s father had on him continues to be present in his every mindful action, and now the mindful actions of all the growing bright souls that the Ashton couple warm.
When they left everything behind, they gained the absolute world. They broke free from the pressure that keeps most of us bogged down in our minds and let the dream make itself apparent.
Hayden ends with a final note of inspiration from which we can all take, which is,
“There’s so much division and unrest in the world and so much darkness from a certain perspective so to be a little light in the corner of a caravan park that makes changes the way someone sees the world for the better, even just for a moment, or just for an hour, just for a day or maybe change their whole life. I know that he definitely did. (Haydens’ Father) I thought if I can just be a light and more people can shine our light, more positivity can enter the world. And we can show that there’s so much love, and so much kindness and so much good still here and that the world can be a better place.”
Incredible spirit you wonderful family!
To catch one of their shows on the road coming up, get in tune with their social media and jump onto their next tour!
Sit, close your eyes, and enjoy a Roy Orbison classic, In My Dreams.