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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Whale swim in NSW south coast: with 3AW radio Melbourne

Can you imagine the sound of a pod of racing humpbacks? We’re in the thick of whale season, and Australia’s south and east coasts are pinging with cetaceous shenanigans. Last week, I even took a whale swim with ethical sealife tour operator Wobegone in Jervis Bay, on the NSW south coast.

Note that there are currently no whale swims in our state – still a relatively new experience in Australia – which is why I crossed the border, and donned the wetsuit in Jervis Bay.

I had a chat with Melbourne radio station 3AW today about swimming with whales, and the best place to see whales here in Victoria.

However, Victoria has currently spectacular whale watching – I did a ringaround before the interview, and my head is filled with stories of people looking out their windows at whales, seeing them on their morning walk, spotting them on the ferry… the big ones are definitely in town!

You can spot them right across Victoria’s south coast – from Portland to Warrnambool, on the ferry from the Bellarine to the Mornington Peninsula, on The Prom and then they turn north, to head up Australia’s east coast. It really is magical!

The whales’ annual migration from Antarctica to its breeding and calving grounds off the Australia coastline is now on, and we’ll see our biggest visitors around for the next six months.

My whale swim trip was hosted by boutique hotel Bannisters by the Sea in Mollymook, which is owned by British chef Rick Stein and features an exceptional, sustainable seafood restaurant. And to get there, keeping the sustainability focus, I drove to Mollymook in a Polestar electronic car.

LINKS

Woebegone Freedive https://www.woebegone.com.au/

Bannisters by the Sea https://www.bannisters.com.au/mollymook/

Polestar https://www.polestar.com/au/


Best things to do on the Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

In Melbourne, you’re either east or west holidaymaker. Mornington or Bellarine; pick your peninsula.

Never both – east is the Mornington Peninsula – a holiday hotspot close to my heart. It’s where I took my first holiday, at six weeks, and I’m still back there whenever I can shoot through from the city. Stylish and loaded with great wineries and restaurants, cafes and some of the state’s best hotels.

West is the Bellarine Peninsula. It’s the little sister. Also with great places to eat and drink, with fantastic produce and glorious views. But it’s quieter, it’s more low key. Less corporate, more family-run.

The two peninsulas are connected by a ferry across Port Phillip Bay, so I took the trip from Sorrento on the Mornington side to Queenscliff on the Bellarine, complete with dolphins surfing in the ferry’s wake- how’s that for a great omen for the holiday ahead?

The results of my finds on the Bellarine Peninsula are packed into this story for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers’ Traveller section, where I find all the gold; from gold-leaf facials to gold-medalled wines plus wild beaches, wild pinot, wild seals and wild convicts: all just 90 minutes from Melbourne.

https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/inspiration/nine-must-do-highlights-of-victoria-s-underrated-peninsula-20240610-p5jkii.html

I was a guest of Visit Geelong & The Bellarine. See visitgeelongbellarine.com.au


Travel in Australia: busting myths on 3AW

What travel myths do we tell international visitors about travel in Australia? That Perth is the world’s most isolated capital. That Brisbane is just a big country town? That Melbourne has the best coffee?

This week, I jumped onto 3AW Melbourne radio to chat with afternoons host Tony Moclair about these myths, which fellow travel writer Ben Groundwater exposed in his article for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers, titled Seven big myths we tell tourists about Australia, busted.

Click below to listen, and tell me what you think!

What other great myths are there about Australia? That everything – from sharks to emus – wants to kill you. That we’re all blonde, blue-eyed and beach loving. That every meal is a shrimp on the barbie… What’s your favourite?

To read Ben’s article, click here.

https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/reviews-and-advice/seven-big-myths-we-tell-tourists-about-australia-busted-20240528-p5jh7u.html

 


Glamping in Saudi Arabia wins TravMedia’s Travel Writer of the Year award

 

I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment – this week, in Sydney, I took home a new award, the inaugural TravMedia Travel Writer of the Year! Gongs galore!

The award recognises the most read story on the TravMedia platform, and it was my story on glamping in Saudi Arabia, for the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers, which caught TravMedia users’ eye. It was a review of the gorgeous Habitas AlUla, hidden in a canyon in the Asher Valley, and the first five-star property to open in AlUla oasis, now the jewel of Saudi’s tourism offerings.

TravMedia is the global media network and the world’s largest online news portal for travel media and travel industry PR professionals, and holds an annual conference in Sydney, which we’ve just returned from this weekend. There was a strong Melbourne contingent, with writers from all over Australia and some international fly-ins from Bali and New Zealand. We were there to meet with tourism reps from around the world, from as far as Dubai and New York, Tokyo and the most distant islands of Australia.

A huge thanks to TravMedia founder Nick Wayland (that’s him in the photo with me) and his team, including Blake, Julie, Lauren and Gaynor!

If you’re keen to read my award-winning story, click on the url below 😀

https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/reviews-and-advice/this-amazing-glamping-resort-shows-saudi-arabia-can-be-fun-20230905-p5e21v.html


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


Nominations for the Australian Society of Travel Writers’ awards 2023

Good things come in – whatever size, shape or form you’d like. But today, I have news of two very good things, I’ve received two nominations in the 2023 Australian  Society of Travel Writers’ Awards; for Travel Writer of the Year (yep, the big one!) and Best Accommodation Story.

Some years are tough for those of us working in the creative industries: pandemics, deaths of loved ones, that sort of thing takes a toll on your creativity. Then there are the times where the light is golden, the stories pour into your lap and the words flow like sweet honey.

My three stories for the Travel Writer of the Year award are from far afield – from the deserts of Saudi Arabia and the jungles of Borneo – while my accommodation story is far closer to home, from lovely Beechworth, in north-eastern Victoria.

I’ve shared the links to my stories, if you’d like a read, and send especial thanks to my editors, who continue to commission me and are willing to listen to stories from these remote corners of the world.

2023 Travel Writer of the Year nomination:

Solo travel in Saudi Arabia (Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller) : https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/inspiration/visiting-saudia-arabia-as-a-woman-i-went-to-the-notoriously-sexist-country-as-a-solo-female-tourist-20220705-h24v9q.html

Women travellers in the Middle East (Sydney Morning Herald/The Age Traveller): https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/inspiration/travel-guide-for-women-travellers-in-the-middle-east-tips-and-advice-20220624-h24nad.html

Lore of the Jungle (Gourmet Traveller) https://www.magzter.com/de/stories/travel/Gourmet-Traveller/LORE-OF-THE-JUNGLE

2023 Best Accommodation Story nomination:

Slow Road to a Blissful State (Explore/Canberra Times) https://www.exploretravel.com.au/story/8124768/slow-road-to-a-blissful-state/

 


Teaser alert: the newest travel podcast in town has dropped!

I’m super excited to announce that I’ve teamed up with fellow travel journalist Kirstie Bedford to create a new podcast for the Travel Writers Radio show.

Travel podcasters

Kirstie Bedford and Belle Jackson have launched their new travel podcast.

Travel Writers Radio is a two-hour, drive-time slot running on Melbourne’s J-Air 88FM each Wednesday, and repeated on Saturdays 1-3pm, which you can also listen back on https://soundcloud.com/travelwritersradio and the podcast takes the show further out into the world.

Rome! Tasmania! Champagne! They’re just a sample of the places we’ll take you on the first episode Travel Writers Radio podcast, which drops on Spotify, Amazon, Apple and wherever you find good podcasts, this coming Thursday 1 June.

You can also visit us at https://travelwritersradio.com to check it all out.

Click here for a little teaser full of promises. See you on the pod!

See https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/travel-writers-podcast/


Hotels reborn: 10 historic buildings that are now luxury hotels

Where are you sleeping tonight? In a prison cell? A castle? A monastery. A jam factory? I’m talking about rooms inside buildings that have been reborn as hotels – buildings that may otherwise have fallen into irretrievable disrepair, or worse.

Traveller cover photo Pentridge Prison

Traveller cover photo The Interlude @ Pentridge Prison

This weekend, my cover story in the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers is about hotels whose buildings have served a previous life – I rounded up 10 across Australia and abroad, with an extra serve of five Australasian hotels on the side. I looked at hotels as far apart as London, Peru and Turkey, which have been train stations, palaces, even a state Department of Education. Some, like the Las Casas de la Juderia, in Seville and London’s St Pancras Renaissance, were from recent travels. Some, like The Interlude here in Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison complex, are only just about to open. All are close to my heart.

Sometimes, it’s the location or the beauty of a building that lures developers to imbue it with renewed life. Other times, it’s the building’s backstory that a visionary can weave into its incarnation, to be reborn with new purpose.

“Heritage is the art of saving what is useful and beautiful, but also updating it for modern use,” says Terry Fripp, of Kerry Hill Architects, whose projects include Perth’s much-lauded COMO The Treasury, formerly Western Australia’s historic State Buildings.

It’s the ultimate act of recycling: reusing existing resources while also giving back, in the form of hotel restaurants, bars, spas and event spaces that are, for the most part, accessible by the public.

Click here to read my story on the 10 great hotels reborn, with another serve of five Australasian hotels on the side.

or see https://www.theage.com.au/traveller/inspiration/10-historic-buildings-reborn-as-stunning-luxury-hotels-20230512-p5d7vp.html


High country luxury; The Benev, Beechworth

I love a small hotel with a history, and The Benev, in Beechworth, ticks all boxes for its beautiful restoration

For those following along on my instagram account, you’ll know I’ve been hitting the Hume Highway from Melbourne up to Victoria’s High Country a few times in the past six months. I dropped in to the new Bright Velo – a cycling themed hotel in Bright, (you can read my review here)

Click here to read my story on The Benev.

See https://www.exploretravel.com.au/story/8124768/slow-road-to-a-blissful-state/


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

 

 


Global Salsa

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