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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Hot to shop: Noosa

It’s not just about the surf and sand in this Sunshine Coast town, in Queensland.

Noosa is where the beautiful people gather to frolic on Main Beach, in between coffee, drinks and dinner on the pavement or by the window of the latest new restaurant; this scene’s all about being seen, especially if you’re fit, fabulous and tanned deep brown. 

They’ll be newly-arrived Melburnians lurking in the shadows in their southerner’s black rags and milk-white skin.

Don’t have a kaftan/surf board to fit the smart set? Look no further it’s hot to shop Noosa


For a dip, drop and shop

The pool is the lure and the cure on a bright Dubai morning.

When in doubt, go to Dubai. So what that it’s 14 hours’ flight from Australia.

FACT: the best way to cure pending jet lag is to jump straight off the plane and into a pool.

Click here to read more…


Hot to shop: Cairo

In the printed media business, we work with interesting timings: to wit the publication of the Sun Herald’s Hot to Shop: Cairo, just as the riots were taking hold, when shops were either closed against the demonstrations, or being forceably opened by looters.

As was said to me recently, it could have been worse: London’s The Guardian published a story on Cairo for kids at the height of the demonstrations. Damn those long lead times!

Look on the bright side, travellers! Cairo is going to be dirt cheap in the coming months – if the government gets its act together. Having read the news reports about the French supermarket chain Carrefour being looted to blazes, I have to wonder what the looters really thought they’d do with all that weird foreign food: pesto, risotto, thai curry paste…

Well, if Queensland can mount an advertising campaign to lure back lost tourists after a swathe of natural disasters (floods, cyclones, more floods), why not Cairo? It may be a few weeks to early, but the Occidental Tourist likes to stay ahead of the pack.

So if you’re heading for Egypt some time soon, here are my hot tips for the best shopping in the Victorious City, more


Hot to shop: Seoul

They call it Planet Korea, and the bizarre north Asian capital, Seoul, is regularly written up in the world’s big newspapers of the day for its new design focus and old culture.

I would never have found my way through Seoul’s insane shopping scene without pro-shopper Joey, my Seoul sister Fee and a large dose of sheer luck.

It’s a game of hide and seek, and you shall find, in a labyrinth of old markets and modern malls.

You can shop for fashion till 4am, and grab breakfast in the markets while waiting for them to open all over again. With almost no English signs or language spoken, and street cred achieved only by doing the whole shopathon in 9-inch heels, this is not a scene for novices. We can but try…

To read the latest Hot to Shop, click here


Travelling 14 hours just for you, Bryan Adams

Straight off the plane and into the rooftop pool…

It took four people to get me off the aircraft and to the hotel: the woman to meet me and take my passport and rush me through customs, the baggage man, the hotel rep to say hello and the driver, whose white Lincoln shussssssshed down the near-empty highway on 114km/hour.

“The speed cameras pick you up if you’re above 115, 120,” the driver explained as my brain tried to catch up after the 14-hour flight from Melbourne to Dubai. “Not like the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road, where they don’t catch you till you exceed 180.”

Luckily at this time the smooth roads were quiet, and the early morning light catching the construction cranes, illuminating roadside portraits of stern sheiks and glinting off Burj Khalifa, pointing like a dagger in the distance.

My hotel, the new Pullman, is in the massive Mall of the Emirates. Take a lift to the first floor and walk into shopping hysteria.

The mall’s soundscape ranged between the call to prayer echoing throughout and Bryan Adams, played a few tasteful moments after prayers. FYI, iPads are no cheaper than in Australia, and the shops are stocked with grey and black knits, as Dubai goes into its long, dreary winter (think: Melbourne winter, but shorter, drier and about 20 degrees warmer). Temps today: a pre-set 20.5C in my hotel room, 33C out in the sunshine.


Hot to shop: Kuala Lumpur

Photo: the bewilderingly fabulous mall, Suria KLCC.
Photo: AFP &
Sun Herald

Malaysians have two great loves: eating and shopping. Sometimes you could flip that around to shopping and eating.

Either way, the capital, KL, is truly fabulous for a shopover, especially if you’re a mall fiend.

Smell the fakes, snap up the bargains then advance to genuine designer talent. Click here to read the full story…


Things I like about Changi airport

Why I love Changi airport. Simply because the loo fits my luggage trolley in it. Singaporeans love their shopping and are happy to accommodate the trait in its visitors.

There are lollies on the desk of the customs clerk. I ask him if he eats them all day. “No,” he says. “Then I would be too sweet and nice to the passengers.”

The 24-hour GST refund desk and the Singaporean glam shoe company, Charles & Keith, with GST-free, sale-marked-down shoes right next door.

And the other thing I absolutely adore about Singapore? The fact my handbag gets its own seat, without question. And, to top that, when I go into a chilli crab restaurant, it not only gets its own seat, but has a cover draped over it so it’s not spattered with sauce. God, it sounds so uncool, but viva Singapore!


Hot to shop: Delhi

Spices, silks, scarves and saris? Let the games begin. 

Delhi is full of emporiums selling jewellery and scarves. Even I got bitten by Delhi’s voracious auto-rickshaw drivers, who receive a commission from shops that they’re keen to run you in to. Lucky they were dealing with someone who’d hardened their heart against the charms of cashmere, the glimmer of gold and the gazillion pretty dust collectors that Delhi merchants are dying to foist upon you.

However, I can recommend a place for a nice turban, in Amritsar… more


Animal kingdom in city streets

“Do we have any respect for animals?” was the theme of one conversation at a lunch on Friday at the fabulous Circa restaurant here in Melbourne. The question came up as Circa makes a big issue out of sourcing organic produce, finding happily bred, free-ranging animals to eat, and right at our backs was a massive herb wall which the chefs pluck green goodies from.

Interestingly, in Jakarta, a Japanese chef told us that they do not use Japanese wagyu beef because the Japanese, to increase the fat content in the meat, not only massage the cows but also feed them beer, thus making the meat haram, and unable to be eaten by Muslims (Indonesia being a predominantly Muslim state). Instead, they source their hugely expensive wagyu from here in Australia. Hurrah for us!


It got me to thinking about the animal market in Jakarta, a strip in the suburban streets which is billed as a bird market. But when we got there, not only were there bright parrots, finches and all manner of songbirds, but loads of weird animals I’ve never seen before. One guy, obviously a specialist in the weird, pulled out a lemur, a furry little beast with the HUGHEST EYES.

I thought were found only in Madagascar, but apparently this lot is indigenous to Sumatra. Adezah, who was hanging out with us there, used to have one as a pet, and he held it gently, while it clung to his fingers desperately, almost lovingly, its little warm hands shaped like a frog’s. Apparently, lemurs are traded illegally, their Indonesian population under threat.

There were also spookily long-legged rabbits, perky iguanas, a rooster with a black comb and face, an upside-down fruit bat, loads of owls (which the Indonesians call ‘ghost birds’), a tank full of black scorpions and hundreds and hundreds of mice, bred as food for the many snakes on offer. A nice lady modeled an American ball python for me, its thick waist wrapped around her neck, and everyone was quite happy to let me pat or photograph their animals.


The saddest sight at the market, though, was a couple of tiny monkeys, just two months old, sitting in an empty cage by the busy roadside, staring uncomprehendingly at the traffic with wild green eyes.
I photographed them to show you.

I’ve seen monkeys in street pet shops before (in Cairo, remember?) but these were so young, so tiny, and so bewildered, they came to mind at my posh lunch yesterday. In this instance, no, we have no respect for animals.


Red light alert: Jakarta on sale

All the world loves a bargain and Jakarta is currently on sale. Armed with a handful of adept and hardened shoppers, I tottered behind them, from store to store, their cries ringing in my ears, “Zara! Kate Spade! Massimo!”

They were right, it was bargain central, as the world over enjoys mid-year sales.

In return, I dragged them to the markets. Oh, I love a good market. Of course, this being south-east Asia, the markets don’t mean overpriced organic tomatoes and artfully arranged eco-carrots, but Jakarta has a couple of streets that are lined with long, thatch-roof stalls, one street for antiques, another for animals.

The antique shops told a story of Jakarta’s history: old Dutch maps, German dictionaries, biographies of the former president Soeharto and stacks of dauntingly instructive, simply named hardcover tomes, including “The Persian Gulf” and “Childcraft”.

I found a stuffed kumbung (yes I’ve googled it and can’t find it anywhere, either, but it’s a type of animal, I’ll keep searching), a preserved turtle and a cupei (ditto kumbung, I think I must have written this down wrong, serious language barriers going on here), a weasel-like animal with wild glass green eyes.

This market’s also a great stop for puppets, including this fetching duo of Barak Obama and the Indonesian  mega-moutful of a president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyon, more sensibly known as SBY (which started to get me all mixed up – SJP. No, that’s Sarah Jessica Parker. JPY. John Paul Young. Wrong again).

My shopping companion on this trip trotted away with a set of East Javanese puppets and some old weights, and me? The ultimate kitsch gave my baggage that extra oomph, a pair of brass betel nut cutters from Sumatra. Going cheap. Obviously a must-have when visiting Indonesia.


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