I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 

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Best new architecture openings in 2024

From Paris to Seoul, Notre-Dame cathedral to a robot-built museum about robots, architecture perves are in for a treat this year.

In my round-up of new architecture openings in 2024 for the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers, I suggest you book tickets to Albania or Saudi Arabia, to China or hit New York City to see some of the best new designs in the world.

If, like me, you’re here in Australia, you don’t have to go far to find some of the best – the iconic Sydney Fish Market is a glittering addition by Danish architects 3XN to Blackwattle Bay, while Victoria’s Great Ocean Road gets a piece of man-made architecture that finally matches the natural beauty of the 12 Apostles.

Click the link below to read my story on some of the best new architecture openings for 2024.

https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/inspiration/world-s-most-incredible-buildings-to-have-on-your-radar-in-2024-20231110-p5ej38.html


Rebuilding Maui & Life in Bhutan

This week on The World Awaits podcast… rebuilding Maui and life in Bhutan.

Click here to listen to the latest episode of our travel podcast.

Did you know there are only 45 foreigners living in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan? One is Carissa Nimah, an Australian responsible for marketing the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Surrounded by snowy peaks and temples, I caught up with Carissa to talk about about the hiking trails, homestays and spirituality of Bhutan, bhutan.travel⁠

Also on the podcast this week, Lianne Driessen from Sail Trilogy, talks to Kirstie about the fires that recently devastated Maui. The a 50-year-old tourism business is integral in helping rebuild Maui and Lianne – who lost her own home 12 weeks ago – shares what you can do to help in its recovery, sailtrilogy.com⁠ 

We’re announcing the winners of our giveaway, Lonely Planet’s new book, Best in Travel 2024, hack claiming insurance if monkeys steal your gear, and cover Fodor’s 2024 No List; travel list of places to avoid.


Mindful travel in Nepal & Hiking with refugees

Walking slowly in silence in the Nepalese Himalayas is just one of the ways travel writer Nina Karnikowski says we can embrace mindful travel. Belle talks to Nina about taking the time to travel, and taking in the world around us on a more acute level.

“We can travel at a pace so fast, we actually miss all the wonder around us as we tick our boxes and return home exhausted,” she says. You can see more about Nina’s work, including her latest book, The Mindful Traveller, at ⁠ninakarnikowski.com, and for more about her tour to the Nepalese Himalayas, visit worldexpeditions.com

For many refugees from war-torn countries, settling into Australian life can be daunting. Especially for those who have suffered trauma most of us can’t even imagine. Finding solace in nature himself, Neil McCulloch decided to start a charity where he could help new refugees in Australia settle into life here, and experience an Aussie pastime, camping and hiking – and First Hike Project was born, firsthikeproject.org.au

Neil talks to Kirstie about how the transformative effect of nature on many of the refugees he takes into the Aussie bush, and why it’s so life-changing.

We also reveal the world’s most loved landmarks, including which Australian landmark makes the list (it might just surprise you), share tips on the best ways to save money when you’re travelling in Europe, and take a little ride down the Great Victorian Rail Trail, see greatvictorianrailtrail.com.au

Visit our podcast at https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/theworldawaits


The World Awaits: Bali and memorable wildlife encounters

On this week’s episode of my travel podcast The World Awaits, we discover how to have the best wildlife encounter (best for you, best for the wildlife), and is Bali really all it’s cracked up to be? Also, sip your way around the world at these leading wine destinations and find out how you can while away your time (for free!) at the airport. What an episode!

My co-host Kirstie catches up with award-winning wildlife photographer and journalist Rachelle Mackintosh to chat about the powerful impact of seeing wildlife in their domain. She shares hair-raising tiger encounters, talks of her obsession with sighting whales, and explains how you can ensure you’re doing the right thing by the wildlife experience you book, ⁠https://faunographic.com/⁠

I chatted with Bali-based author and travel writer Penny Watson, who moved to the Island of the Gods in the midst of the pandemic. Penny talks about how not to be an absolute loser when you visit Bali, and how to spread the love. We’re talking Kintamani, the waterfalls of Munduk, Amed on the east coast and Lovina in the north – basically anywhere beyond Ubud, Kuta and Canggu – for access to local businesses, ceremonies, and a connection to the Balinese people. She’s also just released her new book, Wilderness, which you can order here⁠ pennywatson.com.au/books⁠

Also, here’s the link to Alex the Flemish Giant bunny at San Francisco’s airport,  take a listen to Belle’s chat with ABC radio Melbourne, talking about how to while away the time in airports around the world,

And a big shout out to our producer ⁠Alaisdair Leith⁠ for his zen-like patience, and to you for listening! Don’t be afraid to subscribe to The World Awaits via your favourite podcast wrangler or at ⁠theworldawaits.au⁠

https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/theworldawaits/episodes/Episode-12–Bali-and-memorable-wildlife-encounters-e28n42p


The World Awaits podcast goes to Spain and Nauru

It’s been a big couple of weeks in GlobalSalsa World – Turkiye, Australia’s Northern Territory and I’ve also also refreshed my podcast, with a fresh new name and a little nipping and tucking at the format. It’s now The World Awaits podcast, and you can listen to the latest edition here .

This week, fellow travel writer Kirstie Bedford and I take you to Spain and Nauru – at opposite ends of the tourism spectrum. I interviewed one of Australia’s best known travel writers, Ben Groundwater, who is a Spain aficionado and total foodie. Ben invited me on his Flights of Fancy podcast, with Nine Media, a few times – sadly now defunct (but still live if you’d like to take a listen), so I asked him to return the favour.

After embedding himself in San Sebastian in the Basque country, for a year, Ben is a great one to chat about how overlooked Spain is outside the major hotspots such as Barcelona. You know I”m a lover of this country as well, especially after my train adventure in Andalucia last year, which started in (very touristy) Seville, but pushed on through to Jerez, Cadiz and then I ended up in Spain’s most beautiful pueblo blanco, Vejer de la Frontera. If the chat makes you hungry, you can join Ben on one of his foodie tours to San Sebastian with World Expeditions, next year.

You’ll also hear from Lisa Pagotto, founder of Crooked Compass tours. Lisa goes seriously off track in her travels – she’s talking to Kirstie about travelling in the beautiful island of Nauru, best known for its role as the host site of Australia’s detention centre for refugees (please don’t go there, a particularly ugly part of Australia’s foreign policies). I travelled with Crooked Compass on a week-long hike in Palestine a few years ago. How’s that for off-beat travel?

Anyway, tune in, I hope you enjoy the show, and let us know what you think, or where you’d like us to go next on the podcast.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!

You can listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever else you get good ear candy.


Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Türkiye

This week, I’ve been in Cappadocia, Türkiye, possibly the world’s best location for hot-air ballooning. Yeah, you’ve seen the brochures, you’ve been bombarded by the instagram shots of women in ballgowns in balloons.

I couldn’t resist: I threw my hat in the ring, and went up on high, too.

My revelation, while coasting through the quiet skies the other morning is – it’s famous for a reason. Because hot air ballooning over Cappadocia’s extraordinary landscape is, truly the most glorious experience.

The central Anatolian landscape is like nowhere else on earth: primordial shards of weathered rock jut from the earth; yes, it’s all very phallic, if you wish to go that route; but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful.

Over a couple of days, with my guide Ece from Intrepid Travel, I crawled through ancient cave systems, craned my neck to see beautifully rich paintings of Christ the Pantocrator in early Christian churches, heard stories of the Hittites, the Persians, the Romans, Seljuq Turks… who all lived, died, conquered or were conquered at some stage here in Cappadocia’s long history.

It was part of Intrepid Travel’s women’s expedition, which visits Istanbul, the Aegean coastline, Konya and Cappadocia, stay tuned for further posts about this super fun adventure.

For more photos from my Turkiye trip, take a squiz at my instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/global_salsa/

The 12-day guided tour costs from $4,025. See https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/turkey/turkey-womens-expedition-145256


Spend 15 minutes in Sarawak, Borneo

Would you travel for laksa? I would! Come spend 15 minutes in Sarawak, Borneo – as I chat about one of Malaysia’s easternmost states with Phil Clark, of ABC Radio’s Nightlife program.

And I’d definitely travel to Sarawak for its take on the famed Malaysian noodle soup, which the late American chef and food writer Anthony Bourdain thrust onto the world stage, declaring it the ‘breakfast of the gods’.

In the name of research for you all, I ate laksa for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but also managed to fit in a huge range of indigenous fruits and foods I’d never seen before (orange eggplants, wild mangoes easily mistaken for cannonballs).

Also, Kuching is the place to see semi-wild orangutans (the Borneo orangutan is endangered due to hunting, unsustainable illegal logging, mining and agriculture) I also met an ethical animal charity, Project Borneo, whose volunteers rescue and rehabilitate animals injured after human intervention, either from loss of habitat or as pet trade rescues – not only orangutans, but also sun bears, hornbills, sleepy binturongs (bear cats) and fresh and saltwater crocodiles.

I’ve included some great places to eat in Kuching, a couple of boutique hotels and a homestay in the jungle on the Malaysian-Indonesian border run by Saloma, a woman from Sarawak’s Bidayuh tribe.

Click here to listen to our interview on ABC Radio, which runs nationwide. And tune every Monday evening for the Monday night travel segment.

You can listen to past travel chats between me and Phil Clark, including Langkawi & Penang  and, closer to home, hiking in Victoria’s Grampians on the new Grampians Trail.

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/nightlife-travel-sarawak-borneo/102090380

 

 


A traveller’s guide for new architecture openings in 2023

What does architecture need to get onto your travel wishlist? To be a record-breaker? To be cleverly reused and recycled? To be innovative and sustainable?

All these conversations are happening in Copenhagen this year, as the 2023 World Capital of Architecture. The triennial event includes Open House opening buildings normally closed to the public, a run through the city with architects from around the world, and a world congress on the UN Sustainable Futures theme, “Leave No One Behind”.

If you’re staying at home, the newly opened Sydney Modern by Japanese firm SANAA is ripe for exploration, while in Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2022 architecture commission, Temple of Boom – a re-imagining of the Parthenon by Melbourne practice NWMN, is open until October. See copenhagenincommon.kk.dk, artgallerynsw.gov.au, ngv.vic.gov.au

Recently, I rounded up eight great new architectural openings for the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers. It’s a mix of architectural stand-outs coming up in 2023, from super-tall skyscrapers to re-imagined historic sites and quiet, thoughtful conversation starters.

It’s always a tricky one to write – skyscrapers can be delayed (Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur is a year or two behind schedule), museums unopened (we’ve been promised the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo for about eight years now). But 2023 is the year. It’s all opening in a flush of post-COVID exuberance.

Click here to read my story, and let me know what you’re looking at in 2023?


Better than Bali? Why Malaysia should be on your travel radar in 2023

Some destinations are once-in-a-lifetime destinations – think Antarctica or Svalbard. Others, like Bali, receive an annual visit from many Aussies. Malaysia is one of those that falls in between – before the rise of the Middle Eastern hubs of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur (KL to its friends), Bangkok and Hong Kong were the trio of stopovers on our European sojourns.

This year, it’s back on my list, as I transited KL on a one-night stopover, went deeper into Langkawi and Penang and, now, find myself in the wilds of Malaysian Borneo, exploring the sta

te of Sarawak and all its exotic glories, from sun bears to head hunter tribes, orang utangs to jungle food.

While we can’t get enough of Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, Malaysia is still largely undervalued, if not ignored, by us, despite affordable direct flights from Australia, fabulous food, unique wildlife and unrivalled value for money.

Click here to read my story in the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, and you can see plenty of of my snaps on instagram from Sarawak, including its capital, Kuching, on the Santubong peninsula and down on the Malaysia-Indonesian border, here in Borneo, click here.

 


The dish we missed: chefs name their most delicious travel memories

After two years of lockdown here in Australia, where we couldn’t leave our country, what’s the dish you missed the most? I chatted to 10 of Sydney and Melbourne’s top chefs about those delicious travel memories they hold dear, and where they’re heading when they’re back on a plane this year.

I reckon I’m booking a ticket to Spain to take Brigitte Hafner’s recommendation for slow-cooked lamb in Rioja. Or maybe I need to go back to Turkey for Iskander kebab, which Paul Farag reminded me of. Or snapper cerviche on a beach in Lima, Peru.

If you’re not heading overseas, chefs including Shannon Martinez, Christine Manfield and Scott Pickett also shared some favourite dishes closer to home, within Australia, from dumplings at Supernormal in Melbourne to arkhe in Adelaide, for the Parfait Tartlet a la Burnt Ends.

Click here to read the story, published in the Traveller section of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald newspapers.