Influencing Change To Save Our Reef System
When 28-year-old Cairns beauty therapist Larissa Rogers experienced her first real taste of the ocean lifestyle she had agreed to be part of when she met 25 year old Josh Matulis. It was the catalyst for the hugely popular Reef Addicts social media channels.
“We had stopped at Exmouth on our first big trip around Australia,” recalls Larissa. “The forecast was for mild weather all day, so we headed out in our little dingy for some fishing.” However, without warning, the weather turned. “One minute we were cruising along, the next we were pushing into 20-knot winds and crashing through a three-meter swell that was flooding the little boat,” Larissa recalls. “Josh just looked at me and said hang on, it’s going to be a rough one”.
Josh is no stranger to dealing with tricky situations, having spent most of his life exploring remote parts of Australia to find the best fishing and camping locations. Larissa looked to his experience to help get them through the dangerous situation in one piece. “Josh will always say that the best way out of a sticky situation is to stay calm,” Larissa explains. “It was a wild ride – easily the wildest we have faced - but we made it back safely, and it certainly gave us something to talk about when reliving the trip.”
It’s this spirit for adventure, combined with a passion for environmental preservation, a relatable rawness, and a love of fishing that Larissa and Josh capture in their regular Reef Addicts short films that see viewer numbers measured in the millions. Their passion for the outdoors also aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals of Yamaha Motor Australia, and for this reason the YMA Marine Division jumped at the opportunity to provide assistance to the pair when Josh and Larissa purchased a new FXHO WaveRunner.
Mick McCabe, National Marketing Manager, Yamaha Marine said, “When Larissa and Josh reached out to Yamaha, we quickly realised there were a lot of synergies between the amazing content they were producing and Yamaha’s goals of promoting Australia’s amazing waterways, while also ensuring they are protected for future generations. Our partnership with Reef Addicts directly aligns with the Yamaha Rightwaters program, which focusses on supporting the long-term sustainability and conservation of our waterways and oceans.”
The adventurous duo has come a long way since their early travels, literally and figuratively, and while the quality of the filming and editing has improved with experience, Larissa believes their popularity is due to the authenticity and unscripted nature of the content they produce. “We started doing the films as a way to save memories from our trips, for our own enjoyment,” reveals Larissa. “Josh enjoys editing all the videos and putting them together. Then we decided to just put it out there on YouTube to see what would happen.”
While stunning remote locations, fishing lessons, and the unscripted directness of Josh, a quintessential northern Aussie bloke, was always going to strike and chord with male viewers, it’s the forever vivacious and effervescent Larissa- accompanied by her mischievous dog Tyro - that has seen viewer numbers skyrocket, with a growing army of loyal female followers. This is something Larissa is most proud of. “I’m getting an increasing number of women turning up at the salon already aware of Reef Addicts,” explains Larissa. “Often, they say things like ‘I'd love to be able to do what you guys do’. I encourage them to just get out there and have a go. Josh and I use our films to prove that you don’t need a glamorous $250,000 boat to have an amazing on-water adventure, we get by with our Yamaha WaveRunner and an old four-metre tinnie with a 25hp Yamaha outboard, and that’s more than enough for us.”
Despite what some may think, Larissa’s profession as a beauty therapist is more of a help than a hindrance when it comes to inspiring a new generation of female adventurers. “My profession is all about being pampered and looking glamourous, but the adventures Josh and I go on are a million miles from pampering, most of the time we are camping in some remote location, swimming in the water all day or covered in sand, and we live off what we catch, it’s proper off-the-grid-stuff – but I love it. I want to show others that going to the amazing places Josh and I are travelling to doesn’t mean you need to give up being pampered for good – you can do both. You don’t need to start with a massive adventure, just get out there and have a go, and have fun.”
Larissa also revealed a more serious side to what they hope to achieve with Reef Addicts. “Josh and I are trying to educate viewers on the importance of being sympathetic to the environment, especially our wonderful reefs and their sensitive eco-systems,” she explains. “We want to spread the word about how important it is for everyone to be doing their bit to look after the environment, encourage sustainability projects, and make sure our waterways remain amazing for future generations to enjoy. I feel a real sense of satisfaction when I’m with a client at the salon and they say, ‘I watched your latest film and was amazed and horrified to see how much rubbish ends up in the remote waterways you visited – we really should be doing more to keep it clean’.” There’s a synergy between Larissa’s profession - with a desire for her customers to look and feel their best - and her passion for the same to be true about our waterways and coastline.
Reef Addicts also provides an opportunity for Larissa to display her exceptional ability with a fishing rod, something she has possessed from a young age. “There is quite an age gap between me and my younger brother,” she reveals. “So growing up it was just me and my dad. He would take me out fishing and snorkelling all the time, we were always camping, or off on some adventure. And then there’s my stepdad, he has two girls, and no boys, so it’s a similar situation there. When I met Josh, my interest in fishing really skyrocketed.”
Larissa hopes that her fishing videos are also inspiring girls to drop a line for the first time. “I’ve had girls contact me and thank me for showing them that there is so much more to fishing than a blokey, beer-drinking day on the water in a hot tinnie,” she laughs. “The skills required to hook and reel in a big fish, the amazing places you need to go to find them, and the fun factor – these are the things I like to promote. It’s awesome when the email inbox begins to fill with pics from our female viewers proudly displaying their latest catch. My next goal is to improve my spearfishing skills and take viewers on a journey as a bit of a how-to guide to getting started.”
Larissa reveals that one of the most important things Josh instilled in her from early on, is that fishing does not require a kill-and-grill mentality. “Josh and I only ever take from the ocean what we require to feed ourselves, and we want to push that message through our films,” she says. “This approach will ensure the ocean can continue to deliver for generations to come.”
With their Reef Addicts YouTube channel soon to reach 50 episodes, and viewer numbers regularly exceeding one million, Larissa, Josh and Tyro are preparing for their next big adventure.
“We are going full time on the YouTube channel, which means life on road with our Yamaha WaveRunner FXHO, and our Yamaha outboard-equipped tinnie. The plan is to show our viewers parts of Australia they may not even know exist, how to get there, and how awesome an adventure can really be. Hopefully, we will inspire the next generation of adventurers, fishermen, and environmentalists to use whatever amplification platforms are available to them to continue the work that Reef Addicts, and others like us, are doing.”