SALTY: Ashleigh Clarke's passion for the region she grew up in is depicted through her instagram account, thesailingyogi.
SALTY: Ashleigh Clarke's passion for the region she grew up in is depicted through her instagram account, thesailingyogi. Contributed

How the Sailing Yogi amassed thousands of followers

VISUAL storytelling is a powerful medium, and a collection of stunning photos on Instagram reveals an idyllic lifestyle in the Whitsundays that words alone could not paint.

Ashleigh Clarke has amassed more than 12,500 followers in two years, through her account thesailingyogi.

She's a fourth generation local, growing up on a cane farm just outside Proserpine.

As a young girl, Miss Clarke would spend hours looking at old footage and photos of the islands, shot by her by grandfather Mitchell Clarke and father Glenn Clarke.

"I've grown up watching that amazing footage - some of it would be from the 1950s. My dad has also got drone footage, and that's how I got into it," she said.

In 2017, Miss Clarke won the people's choice award in the QantasLink My Town Spirit Awards.

The competition was launched to find Australia's favourite towns, in a campaign designed to showcase the best of regional Australia.

"I just did a really quick video from footage I already had around the islands, and it got 30,000 views."

The video caught the eye of Tourism Queensland, and Miss Clarke was asked to do a "Whitsunday takeover" on the TQ Instagram page.

Thesailingyogi has taken off since then with the drone footage of the region being a major player in the growth of the account.

"I had a drone before anyone else, and I think that was a point of difference from other travel and lifestyle accounts."

It's interesting to note how the ultimate digital platform for the younger generation was born from her love of old footage and photos, shot by her 89-year-old grandfather.

About 50 per cent of her followers are from the US, with Australians living in major cities lusting after a lifestyle in the tropics making up the rest.

The account is treated like a business, and Miss Clarke's content is carefully curated, as Instagram's algorithm favours consistency.

"The reach on Instagram can be phenomenal."

"I was on a charter boat once, and between myself and three others our story views were over a million. That's over a million people who saw this beautiful region, in the most authentic way possible."

So where does 'yogi' come into the equation?

The digital marketing guru is also a yoga teacher and until last year owned a yoga studio in Proserpine.

She made the difficult decision to close her studio last year when she decided she couldn't juggle both.

She still teaches two classes a week, one in Cannonvale and one in Proserpine. In the pipeline for the visual storyteller, is a podcast, sparked by a conversation she had with a marine biologist and a master reef guide.

She wants it to be conversational in style, so people can connect to the stories told, but also come away afterwards a bit more educated about what lies beneath the surface.

"I love the reef, and I love the entire Whitsunday region. I want people to know the reef isn't dead."



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