Rachael Scobie on her brush with wild hyenas and global travels.

Rachael Scobie has seen it all: having started out as a model and actress, Scobie has since gone on to present for renowned international magazine, National Geographic. The gig has taken her to an incredible 54 different countries, and has seen the model through some life-changing experiences. We talked to Scobie about her globe-trotting diet, career goals, and the scariest thing that’s ever happened to her while travelling the world. 

The Chic Edit: You have experience both modelling commercially and TV-presenting for National Geographic. How do the two experiences influence one another?

Rachael Scobie: I find presenting for National Geographic a lot different to shooting TV commercials. There is a whole team of people who come together to make a commercial, from hair and makeup artists to script writers. And the lighting, cameras, and lenses are far more technical.

With National Geographic we have an outline of what the show is to look like and then we remain flexible when shooting and scripts. I largely make “pieces to camera” up on the go. I did gain a lot of experience shooting commercials before working with Nat Geo, and that really helped with being comfortable in front of the camera.

CE: By the looks of your Instagram, your work with National Geographic has taken you around potentially dangerous animals such as lions, cheetahs, elephants, etc. Have you ever had any scary experiences during your work?

RS: I’ve had more experiences falling over whilst filming than with potentially dangerous animals, as I am a little on the clumsy side. In saying that, I went shark cage diving in South Africa with National Geographic, which was a lot fun and I felt safe. 

I did have an experience in Botswana whilst on holiday; I knew I was alive that night. Walking back to the camping site after showering, I had my torch off and heard a huge commotion from fellow campers. I turned my torch on to discover three hyenas trotting towards me. A little voice in my head said “Whatever you do, don’t run!” so I roared and advanced on them. They just turned and kept going. My heart was in my mouth.

CE: When visiting new countries, it can hard to break from the role of a tourist and become a “traveller”. What do you do to ensure you experience as much of the culture around you as possible?

RS: To begin with, I tend to travel off the beaten track, avoiding resorts and big hotels. I also like to travel on my own, as I find I meet locals more readily. I find it’s the locals who offer a more genuine cultural experience. I also like to pay respect to the history of countries by visiting places such as The Killing Fields in Cambodia or the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda. I also like to get lost by minimizing map use when possible. Getting lost in a new city is one of my favourite things to do; you never know what you’ll discover. 

CE: How have your travels changed your perspective of your everyday life?

RS: The thing that has consistently struck me on my travels to developing countries is the spirit in the eyes of the children who are consumed in life without devices, social media, and “stuff”. Kids who play cricket with an old tin can and stick, kick a homemade soccer ball around, who ask for used water bottles to refill for home: these kids are a reminder that there is life without the pathological need for consumption and that happiness is not bought.

CE: What has been your most memorable/inspiring experience while abroad?

RS: I’ve travelled to 54 countries so it becomes hard to single out experiences. I found the emotion of worshippers, who’ve walked for days, sometimes weeks, in the monasteries of Tibet, China truly overwhelming. I felt dwarfed by the sheer size of Mt Everest. The roar of lions in Africa at night was exhilarating and dancing with locals on the beaches of Mumbai during the festival of Ganesh was enlivening. The Great Pyramid of Giza was so mysterious and the generous hospitality of the poor was most humbling. 

CE: You’ve been featured on numerous fitness magazine covers: how does your diet change over your travels and how do you ensure that you stay fit while away?

RS: I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life and found travelling to certain countries a culinary challenge during the 90’s and early 2000’s. In Spain, a vegetarian salad included tuna. There was ham in most foods in Germany. Lamb was considered vegetarian in Greece. In Japan I was fed tempura parsley. But in India I was in food heaven.

Today, being a vegetarian is more acceptable and catered for. I travelled with National Geographic to Papua New Guinea and ate toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches for ten days as the concept of vegetarian—let alone quinoa—was foreign. When I travel for pleasure I take a relaxed attitude toward exercise and diet, as food plays a key role in my holiday experience. When I travel for work it can be difficult to fit exercise into the schedule, so I’ll be more discerning in regards to my calorie intake. 

CE: What has been the most challenging aspect(s) of your career so far?

RS: Like any job, there are challenges to overcome and solutions to be found. I guess the most challenging aspect was the occasional loneliness I experienced when I lived overseas. But on the same hand, I forged some nurturing and solid friendships as well.

CE: What are your goals for the future? Where will your work take you next?

RS: I’m answering these questions whilst watching three dwarf mongoose and a family of warthogs forage whilst lions roar in the distance in Botswana, where I’ve spent the past 2 months to honour my travel bug. I really enjoy the collaboration of modelling and all it has afforded me over my career, however, it’s hard to predict where my work will take me next.

I re-skilled as a psychotherapist and kinesiologist some years back in anticipation of modelling slowing down, which is inevitable, as the Australian market is smaller than America or Europe. I also founded a candle brand called “Noir et Blanc” and plan on scaling this year. So, much of my energy will be focused on creating beautiful scents and gaining stockists.

Life is about taking out your paint-brush of imagination and creating a masterpiece you are proud of.

Follow Rachael Scobie on Instagram.