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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Travel entrepreneurs of G Adventures & Lonely Planet on The World Awaits podcast

This week on The World Awaits travel podcast, we bring you interviews with two of the biggest entrepreneurs in travel, @gadventures founder, the super-inspirational Bruce Poon Tip and then travel trailblazer Tony Wheeler, founder of @lonelyplanet

To listen, find us on Apple Podcasts https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-world-awaits-travel-tales-to-inspire-your-wanderlust/id1689931283
Spotify https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/theworldawaits
or listen via our website https://theworldawaits.au/home-2/episodes/

Social entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author and G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip talks about his decision to take his company into the luxury space after three decades – and what it means to you, the traveller. “The beautiful thing of travel [is] you have the opportunity to transform lives if you step out of your comfort zone,” says Bruce Poon Tip, gadventures.com

Anyone who’s ever used a Lonely Planet guidebook will have read the story about how Tony and Maureen Wheeler wrote and published their first guidebook, Across Asia on the Cheap, on their kitchen table in 1973, finally selling the Lonely Planet behemoth in 2011. Tony talks about counting countries, flying with carry-on only, his favourite country and the art of travel. He also shares what he’s reading now, tonywheeler.com.au

We also have a gorgeous giveaway from another travel entrepreneur, Tracy Morris of @theblondenomads whose @gypsealoop is an innovative gold or silver hair tie bangle.

To win, email us at hello@theworldawaits.au and tell us where you’d like to wear the bangle. Bonus entries if you like and follow on instagram at @theworldawaitspodcast and tag a friend!


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

 


My slices of heaven: travel in Turkey & Egypt

Nisanyan was a stone house in rural Turkey, forgotten or ignored for generations and demoted to a lowly stable before its reincarnation into a small, family hotel.

Now, the hotel is its own village outside Selçuk; a series of hand made, whitewash-and-stone cottages, inns and villas along the tree-lined laneway, which I visited on a women’s-only expedition with @intrepidtravel

I wrote about the hotel recently for a cover story in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers, where we were asked to describe our own idea of heaven.

The nights here are cool and silent, save the toll of a goat’s bell and the final call to prayer from a mosque down in the valley. In my cottage, deep red rugs are thrown over stone floors, handstitched coverlets and cushions adorn well-worn armchairs and my daybed, where I languish, the’ bells and the muezzin’s voice carried to me on the jasmine-scented night air.

Why heaven? Turkish breakfasts are the best on earth – here, the tables are laden with locally pressed olive oil, deep red tomatoes, fresh eggs, honey, handmade cheeses.
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I also have an affinity with oases – their sense of remoteness and salvation for the traveller.

It may be remote – on the edge of the Great Sand Sea and just 50km from the Egypt-Libya border – but Siwa’s log book of visitors cannot fail to impress; top of the list is Alexander the Great, who came to consult the Oracle of Amun in 332AD as part of his campaign to rule this rich land.

A mudbrick Bedouin town, it sits on the edge of the Great Sand Sea. It is filled with palm gardens, and surrounded by perfectly clear salt lakes, while freshwater springs bubble up from the hot sands. The local Bedouin culture is very different from the rest of Egypt, with the warmth and hospitality that befits an oasis town.

It is my slice of heaven on earth.

On the flip side, my idea of HELL ON EARTH is The Wall in Bethlehem, Palestine. Hot, dusty, fume-filled streets are dominated by the paint-spattered topped by watchtowers, which epitomises everything that is broken in the current conflict.

Also, anywhere you witness injustice to people, animals or the environment. The street dogs of Cairo break my heart. As does the dumping of chemical waste on the Israel-Palestinian border.  And the plein-air butchers’ markets of Kashmir, where the fly-to-customer ratio is inordinately high.


Enter the Year of the Dragon! Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Melbourne

Kung Hei Fat Choi! The Lunar New Year is upon us, and we’re entering into the Year of the Dragon, and not just a dragon, but the wood dragon, which promises growth and prosperity for all!

Word is China is bracing for a baby boom in this auspicious year, says Chris Chun, the artist of this lovely green dragon and my guest on The World Awaits travel podcast this week.

Take Chris’ recommendation and visit Melbourne’s Chinatown to see the Lunar New Year parade followed by yum cha, then pop into the ⁠Museum of Chinese Australian History⁠ to say “Kung Hei Fat Choi” to the largest dragon in the world, the Millennial Dragon, whose head weighs around 200kg.

Also, ⁠@bookingcom ⁠releases its Top 10 Most Welcoming Places in Australia, and the @SunshineCoast and @VisitVictoria are shining bright – but who do you think got the top gong? Tune in for more Sunny Coast goodness, and to put its claim as Australia’s craft beer capital to the test.

And finally, let’s save money on travel insurance, says financial comparison site @mozo.com.au

Thanks to my co-host @kirstiewrites and sound producer @alaisdair for another great episode! And if you’d like to continue to hear more great pods, why not buy us a coffee? https://ko-fi.com/theworldawaits


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


Winner: ASTW Travel Writer of the Year!

I am so very, very, very pleased to tell you that I have been named Travel Writer of the Year 2023 by the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW)!

The ASTW made the announcement at its awards ceremony in Sydney this weekend, a glittering occasion (not least because I decided to emulate a human mirrorball for the evening). It was one of three awards I received:

  • Best accommodation story; for my review of The Benev spa hotel in Beechworth, in Victoria’s High Country
  • The Jack Butters Award for outstanding contribution to the ASTW; and, of course,
  • Travel Writer of the Year 2023.

The Travel Writer of the Year entry requires submission of three features; I took a turn off the beaten path to include my solo travel in Saudi Arabia for Traveller.com.au, another women-only travel in Islamic countries, for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age and a third story on journeying through the Malaysian state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, for Gourmet Traveller magazine.

The Jack Butters Award is named after the first president of the ASTW, and recognises outstanding service to the ASTW. It’s a tricky one to talk about without sounding boastful – I organise the Victorian events for the ASTW, and in the past have managed its social media, encourage networking and connection within the industry and generally get my hands mucky on the job. I am very proud of this award, as it requires nomination from fellow members. So, thank you to those who thought of me at this time.

I send thanks to my editors, particularly Craig Platt for going out on a limb and running my women-in-Saudi piece on traveller.com.au, and for Anthony Dennis for seeing the need for a cover story on women-only travel in Islamic countries in the Sydney Morning Herald. Neither can be described mainstream topics. And sending thanks to Sarah Maguire, editor of the Explore section of Aust Community Media/Canberra Times/ Newcastle Herald, for indulging my love of raw linen and bush fragrances of The Benev in Beechworth.

I’m equally thankful for the sponsors who make such travel, especially Experience AlUla in Saudi Arabia, North East Tourism here in Victoria, Tourism Malaysia and the countless people who have helped and guided me on my years of travels in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

Thanks also to the sponsors for each award – Virgin Australia who sponsors the Travel Writer of the Year award, and the lovely Victorian company Lancemore Hotels, who sponsored of the accommodation award, and finally, the ASTW itself and in particular, its board and awards committee. Without the ASTW, I would not have the friendships, the connections, the support and encouragement of the many, many talented people in its ranks.

And to end, here are the links for each piece:

Solo woman’s travel in Saudi Arabia – 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-only travel in Islamic countries – 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: adventuring in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo – https://www.magzter.com/de/stories/travel/Gourmet-Traveller/LORE-OF-THE-JUNGLE

Slow road to a blissful state: The Benev, Beechworth, Australia – https://www.exploretravel.com.au/story/8124768/slow-road-to-a-blissful-state/


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.


Saudi Arabia on a plate

Camel kebabs, gold-flecked savoury porridge, shakshuka, mint tea, green coffee and lots and lots of dates. Eating in Saudi Arabia is an adventure in its own right.

I recently wrote a story about food in Saudi Arabia for Gourmet Traveller magazine, detailing my delicious meanderings amongst oases, deserts and desserts.

Click to read
about street eats and Michelin-starred restaurants serving up food beneath the stars, on desert sands and in the mudbrick town of oasis AlUla and seaside city of Jeddah.

All this takes place as Saudi Arabia transforms from secretive kingdom to global leader of luxury travel, with the money and imagination to make even the most incredible projects manifest.

In a whiplash reversal of protocol that took place just before the global pandemic, non-religious tourists are now welcomed into the Kingdom.

Women don’t need to cover their hair and while I admire and covet Saudi women’s dramatic abayas – long, often beautifully embroidered cloaks – there is no requirement for me to be so covered; simply modest clothing is just fine.

What to learn more about travelling in Saudi Arabia? Click to read more of my stories, such as travelling solo as a woman in Saudi Arabia.


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/


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?


Global Salsa

Well, you’ve scrolled this far. What do you think? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

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