Information for ASTW members about their membership, such as logos, AGM, constitution, code of ethics.

ASTW Newsletter – March 2021

March 2021



VACCINES are rolling out… travel bubbles are on the horizon – hopeful murmurs that Australians will be able to travel again by 2022.
Keeping the optimistic thread, the Board has been busy planning the Tweed convention, discussing the Awards for Excellence 2021, working on admin and systems with our assiduous Secretariat, and organising lunches with the tireless support of our excellent committees.

I want to offer a special note of thanks to Mike Smith, Justine Costigan and Peter Hook, who are stepping down from the Awards Committee after a year of constant commitment, effort and teamwork.

Stay safe everyone, managing wild weather and floods. Our thoughts are with you.

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” – Michelle Obama





PRE- and post-convention media familiarisations for the 2021 ASTW AGM and Convention in the Tweed, NSW, will bring the people, places, stories and experiences of this stunning region to life. Here’s a small taste of the experiences that await to whet the appetite and get you thinking about your preferences.

Hand-to-heart: Taste our local provenance
Visit our growers, brewers, roasters and distillers, creating distinctive flavours made with love by hand and from the ground up (think crop-to-cup, paddock-to-bottle, farm-to-plate, hops-to-sips, cane-to-rum).

Immersive arts and inspiring makers
Be inspired by our creative culture and community. Take a class, meet artists, peruse galleries and visit studios.

Step back in time
Unearth the incredible history of the Tweed from Indigenous stories and Gondwana-era rainforests to art deco streets and the dramatic collapse of an ancient shield volcano.

Savour our coastal flavours
Breathe in the sea air and taste the bounty found in our coastal towns – from harvested pipis and local oysters to nationally awarded restaurants, celebrity chefs and headline bakehouses.

Snap that
Put your video and photographic skills to work with a local guide to discover the Tweed’s most photogenic natural landscapes, from coast to country.

Catch a wave
Train like a pro (where Australia’s Olympic surfers get prepped), learn to catch a wave at Australia’s best beach and cruise the coastline from surf break to boutique sleeps.

Meet our country characters
Take a hinterland drive to meet the folk forging our inland experiences – from boutique stays and farms to iconic dining, village vibes, inspiring artisans and more.

Salt water to fresh flow
Dive in for aquatic adventures unique to the Tweed from close encounters with the big three of the sea (whales, dolphins and turtles) to kayak trails that glide alongside millennia-old stands of rainforest.

Get a bird’s-eye view
Traverse a coastal staircase, take to the sky on a scenic journey and hike to a stunning lookout atop the edge of an ancient volcanic rim to see the Tweed from on high.

Treat the tribe to the Tweed
Experience a laid-back family beach holiday with a Tweed hamlet hop, taking in award-winning holiday parks, comfy glamping and spacious beach view apartments, plus lots of fun for the whole gang.


AGM AND CONVENTION DATES: October 14-16, 2021
HOST: The Tweed Tourism Co.
HOST RESORT: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff


HERE are your 2021 ASTW committee members and their responsibilities:

Memberships committee – Shirley Sinclair, Caroline Gladstone, Jocelyn Pride and Kerri McConnel.
Sponsorships committee – Scott Podmore and Pip Macken.
Grants committee – Elisa Elwin.
Training and development committee – Kerri McConnel, Christina Butcher, Shirley Sinclair.
Convention committee – Pip Macken and Janaya Birse.
Awards – Jocelyn Pride, Christina Pfeiffer, Caroline Gladstone and Kerri McConnel.

Governance committee – Christina Pfeiffer and Kerri McConnel.
Lunches – Board lunch manager Elisa Elwin; national and Sydney lunch coordinator Laura Speirs; Brisbane lunch coordinators Sue Fuller and Kerry Heaney; Melbourne lunch coordinator Belinda Jackson; Adelaide lunch coordinator Alexis  Buxton Collins; Western Australia lunch coordinator Dianne Bortoletto.

Sustainability committee – Jocelyn Pride and committee members Louise Southerden, Justine Costigan and Sarah Reid.

Ethics  Committee – Lee Mylne, Sarah Anderson,  John Borthwick, John Maddocks, Shelley Winkel.

Working Groups – International Liaison Elisa Elwin and Danielle Lancaster.

Other tasks
FB group moderators – Christina Pfeiffer, Elisa Elwin, Kerri McConnel.
PR releases and comms – Pip Macken and Janaya Birse.
Newsletters – Shirley Sinclair and Caroline Gladstone.
Social Media (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook pages, Twitter) – Christina Butcher.
Webmaster – Christina Pfeiffer.

If you are interested in joining a committee, please contact a board member or email





THE first ASTW luncheon for Victoria was a great excuse to get out of lockdown garb and into our finery. Afternoon tea at The Windsor is a Melbourne institution – a place of celebration, an historical snapshot, a bucket lister.

With a great turn-out of 26 members and two guests, we were welcomed by marketing manager Caryn Ng who, together with The Windsor team, treated us all to the most decadent of luncheons. French bubbles, teared silver stands filled with the most intricate of savouries and sweets, a tea menu the length of a novel, buzzy conversation… it felt like the COVID-19 curtain was finally lifting.

A highlight was the address by the recently appointed executive pastry chef Felix Goodwin who gave a detailed overview of the menu – a fusion of tradition and innovation. Felix’s interest in native Australian ingredients, combined with culinary background in Asian influences, is the basis of his creativity. It was particularly poignant to hear him speak openly about his personal challenge of being celiac, therefore unable to taste most of what he prepares.

Thank you to Belle Jackson for organising such a wonderful event (and sadly missed it, due to a travel gig), and to all the staff at The Windsor for a blissful afternoon of escapism.


ASTW lunches are beginning to break free from the shackles of COVID-19 restrictions with dates for gatherings starting to appear nationally.May is looking much brighter for get-togethers overall so keep an eye on your emails and the ASTW website. March 11 saw Victorian members gather at the Windsor Hotel for a special High Tea. Little Creatures Harbourside Lunch and Brewery Tasting hosted the West Australian contingent on March 19.And this weekend, Queensland members are shining up their boots and scootin’ towards the Granite Belt for the ASTW Brisbane Lunch (plus coach with one-night Granite Belt famil option) this weekend, March 27-28.Ballandean Estate Wines is hosting the Saturday lunch, with overnight famil and coach pick-up option including accommodation at Girraween Environmental Lodge. Others are heading west under their own steam and extending their stay to discover the charms of Stanthorpe and beyond for themselves. It promises to be a hoot.

AS RECENTLY indicated on the ASTW Members’ Facebook page, the Board acknowledged the suggestion that extra finalists might be added to the already-published list of 2020 award finalists. It considered that proposition at its March 9 meeting.

This suggestion had been made by several ASTW members following the Board’s announcement, in the February 2021 newsletter, that after a further review of the 2020 awards, an amendment was made to the Family Travel award category, which resulted in Mark Daffey being named a joint winner.

However, after careful consideration, the Board voted not to add any more finalists to the list. In all categories in 2020, the judges chose a winner or joint winners, a runner-up or joint runners-up, as well as three to five finalists. The Board is satisfied that all those deserving of a finalist position have been named.

As this matter is now closed, we look towards the future.

We would like to acknowledge the incredible work of the 2020 Awards Committee comprising Peter Hook, Elisa Elwin Justine Costigan and Mike Smith, who toiled tirelessly to enable our Awards for Excellence to take place in 2020 – a particularly challenging year for the travel industry. The 2020 Awards Committee processed more than 600 entries, while navigating through Awards Force, a new software program specifically designed for the management of awards. After laying a solid foundation, the 2020 Awards Committee has decided to step down and pass its expertise on to the next group. Thank you, Peter, Elisa, Justine and Mike.

The 2021 Awards Committee will be headed by Jocelyn Pride, who’ll be assisted by Christina Pfeiffer, Caroline Gladstone and Kerri McConnel. This is a voluntary role and as committee members, they will not be permitted to enter the ASTW Awards of Excellence. Together with the Secretariat, this committee will administer and oversee the next round of awards.

Given the current climate of the travel industry, we are looking for input as to how the next ASTW Awards of Excellence might look. To help us gauge members’ thoughts, a survey will be sent out shortly. Please keep an eye on your inbox.


THE ASTW Board understands the challenges members have faced in all areas of the tourism and travel industry following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. It has affected our ability to travel, caused the closure of media outlets and greatly reduced travel pages, devastated business bottom lines and affected employment and our physical well-being. To allay any fears about ASTW membership eligibility, the Board will uphold an earlier suggestion to allow substantiation requirements across a two-year period from May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2021. The same substantiation rules outlined on the ASTW website will apply; only the time-frame changes.

All writing and photography work published during these dates will be accepted; this also applies to all PR contracts and arrangements. Substantiation will open on April 1 and members have until April 30 to complete it.

THIS is a reminder to all in the ASTW to keep their communication with members – be they Board members or not – respectful and kind at all times. That includes all Social Media posts and emails to colleagues and Board members. Please address all communication with the Board to the Secretariat at:

Emails or posts that are aggressive, intimidating or otherwise disrespectful will simply not be answered. We acknowledge that almost all Society members do communicate respectfully and abide by the ASTW’s Code of Ethics. However, from time to time lapses occur.

The Board is working on a Complaints Procedure. It will be uploaded onto the website in coming months. The idea is to have a formal process that can be followed and a timeline for action. Now we certainly don’t want to see an increase in complaints! However, it is important to have a process to follow.

FREELANCE travel writer and content creator Nadine Cresswell-Myatt has applied for writer membership of the ASTW.

The Melbourne-based freelance travel writer has written travel stories for more than 20 years – about culinary tourism, cultural travel, female solo travel and boomer travel – and goes by the nom de plume of Red Bag Will Travel. Her membership is subject to the 30-day objection period and which will expire on April 24.

Any objections to new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at Louise Terry, Jessica Palmer and Chrissie McClatchie have all passed their 30-day objection period and are now official members. Welcome!

WE all enjoy sharing our love of the travel and tourism industry, so why not ask more friends to party with us at the ASTW?

The Board has begun a membership drive after COVID-19 dealt our industry a savage blow, forcing many of our colleagues to find employment elsewhere. Consequently, some have had to change their membership category or say farewell to the ASTW altogether. So, we’re prompting all members to “ask a friend” – like-minded travel writers, photographers, PR representatives and digital publishers – to consider the many benefits of Australia’s most highly-respected organisation for travel media.

Maybe you’ve come across them on social media, met them on a famil or seen their by-line in your favourite travel mag. Ask them to head to the website at Australian Society of Travel Writers – travel media and public relations professionals and go to the Join Us tab at the top to see if they qualify to apply and discover all the Member Benefits here: Member Benefits – Australian Society of Travel Writers (

From April 1, the Board also will be launching the “We Want You Back” campaign: any former ASTW members can rejoin the society for no joining fee.


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

ASTW Newsletter – February 2021

February 2021



ANOTHER month with borders shutting and reopening as clusters surface and are contained. Now the vaccines are being rolled out with news coverage heralding Australia’s success and a positive future for travel.

The past week also gifting our Federal Government tackling Facebook. Publishers and news business pages were targeted, with many of our ASTW members’ pages caught up in the geo-targeted ban on Australian news.

Your Board and committees have been busy with admin responsibilities, most listed in this newsletter. A huge shout-out to all those giving their volunteer time to keep the society flowing and members supported, all while trying to keep their own business and livelihoods viable.

Best of luck, everyone, as we continue to tackle this unfolding year. May the coming months bring us together for lunches and our long-awaited convention in the gorgeous Tweed region.










THE gorgeous Tweed region in northern NSW was announced late 2020 as the host location for this year’s ASTW Convention from October 14-16, with registrations set to open soon.

Blessed with stunning beaches, ancient rainforest and fertile land that drives a rich food and drink scene, the Tweed is set to deliver a convention full of stories, learnings, fun and local flavours.

Meet, connect, unwind and celebrate beachside at the convention venue, Mantra on Salt Beach, with a program that includes morning wellness, evening festivities and plenty of inspiration in between.

Pre- and post-familiarisations for media delegates have been curated to immerse in the Tweed’s famous seaside style and sweet valley vibe. Taste farm-fresh food and artisan flavours, sip from a growing list of distilled and brewed drinks, experience outstanding art and ocean adventures, take a river cruise or seek calm in Gondwana-era rainforest.

Stay longer and take time to discover the Tweed’s village spirit, from the buzzing hum of Tweed Heads to the coast-hugging hamlets of Kingscliff, Cabarita and Pottsville and out along the Tweed River to peaceful Tumbulgum, art-deco marvels at Murwillumbah and valley life at Tyalgum, Uki and Burringbar.

From all these places, the ancient peak of Wollumbin Mount Warning is always in sight, welcoming you to the Tweed from wherever you are.

We can’t wait to meet you here later in the year! Note the dates now and be ready for registrations opening soon. Plan your convention stay with inspiration via


AGM AND CONVENTION DATES: October 14-16, 2021
HOST: The Tweed Tourism Co.
HOST RESORT: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff


THAT’S imPRessive

A BIG welcome to Janaya Birse, who has stepped up to the ASTW Board as second PR member and convention co-ordinator, joining Pip Macken. A destination specialist with more than 20 years’ experience in public relations, marketing and sales within the tourism industry in Australia and the United Kingdom, Janaya specialises in: consumer marketing and strategic planning; marketing and communication strategies; trade marketing and stakeholder management; media release and copywriting and marketing communications; digital marketing; and event management. Janaya fills the vacancy left by Shelley Winkel who resigned due to work commitments.



TRAVMEDIA’S International Media Marketplace (IMM) is Australia’s largest media networking event connecting PR professionals with Australia’s top-tier media titles. IMM Virtual Australia 2021, sponsored by Tourism Australia, transports your most-loved brands from Australia and New Zealand directly to your computer, in the safety of your own home or office. Taking place across May 5 and 6, IMM Virtual Australia is the same networking event you know and trust, run through TravMedia’s bespoke Media Marketplace platform, enhanced with video-conferencing capabilities.  IMM Virtual Australia will provide media with updates and information from a wide range of Australian and New Zealand travel brands and help plan a year’s worth of stories, features and press trips without leaving your chair. The event includes 16 pre-scheduled, one-on-one appointments, press conferences and an editors’ panel, and will run across two days from 11am-3pm AEST. TravMedia’s IMM Virtual is not a replacement for February’s IMM. However, given the current circumstances, we are excited to bring you IMM Virtual Australia in May with a face-to-face IMM Australia postponed until Q2, 2022. Register your interest now.


The BarrelRoom (+ Coach with 1 Night Granite Belt Famil Option)
Where: Ballandean Estate Wines, 354 Sundown Road, Ballandean Qld
When: Saturday, March 27, 2021
Time: 12.15-2.15pm
Cost: $40.00 incl GST for ASTW members
For more information, click here.

Proudly presented by The Barrel Room at Ballandean Estate

Apple & Grape Season: ‘Meet the Makers’ – ASTW Granite Belt Famil
2 Days, 1 Night Famil
 Saturday, March 27, to Sunday, March 28, 2021
  • Meals Coach pick-up 8am Saturday, March 27, at Brisbane Transit Centre
  • Meals and 1 night accommodation (See draft itinerary next page)
  • Return coach to Brisbane Transit Centre, arriving 6.15pm Sunday, March 28
Cost for accompanying non-member partners: $110.00 incl GST (based on double/twin share, invoiced prior to tour).
Transit Proudly presented by Granite Belt Wine & Tourism
in partnership with Southern Downs Regional Council

THE Queensland members have been enthusiastically flying the flag for lunches. The February 4 get-together – the first ASTW event for 2021 – was held, with thanks to hosts Emporium Hotel South Bank and Caitlin O’Loan, where members (including a ring-in from the Northern Territory and another from Adelaide) devoured spanner crab pancake with garlic chive and aged cheddar, oven-finished market fish with fermented soybean chilli and charred bamboo shoot with steamed Asian greens and mixed leaves, petit fours and coffee of choice. Members downed NV Petit Cordon by Mumm while viewing a poolside Cabana Suite with a grand smart TV and views of the Brisbane skyline from the bed.

Members need to keep an eye on the ASTW FB page and ASTW website events page. We always alert lunches four weeks out.


THE ASTW Board has reviewed the 2020 Awards for Excellence process with fresh eyes following the AGM in December.

After long deliberation and looking at the process from all angles, board members made the decision to amend the record of winners and finalists as the only transparent, fair and positive way forward.

As part of the review of the issues relating to the awards system that was introduced last year, the Board acknowledged the importance of members abiding by the terms and conditions and concluded that any 2020 Awards for excellence entries that did not adhere to those rules should be disqualified. However, the Board also acknowledged that there were teething problems with the new system and parts of the entry process may have caused some confusion for members. Because of this, the Board decided all previously named finalists and winners who were affected would retain their trophy, certificates and titles.

Mark Daffey, who was previously the runner-up in the Best Story About Family Travel category, is now a joint winner of that category. Mark will be sent a trophy and certificate, and please offer him your congratulations.

We have made this decision in the spirit of fairness and transparency and trust all ASTW members will view it in that spirit.



LINDA Bloffwitch, who specialises in 4WD/caravan/camping and associated lifestyle articles, has applied for Associate Writer membership, and was approved at the February Board meeting. Thank you for wanting to join the ASTW family, Linda!

Her memberships is subject to the 30-day objection period, which will expire on March 27. Any objections to new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at


WHAT would you like to see included in the 2021 Webinars Schedule? What topics would you like to learn about? What will help you grow your business, add to your skill set and develop professionally as a member of the travel media? Who would you like to hear from? The webinar series that kicked off last year was new, exciting and very well-received, allowing us to stay connected, keep spirits up and help our membership while so many were in lockdown. If you missed any of the webinar series from last year, log into the ASTW website, go to the Members tab and click on Webinars from the drop-down menu. Or head to Email with your suggestions. Meanwhile, the Board is working hard to develop a calendar highlighting upcoming professional development and webinar opportunities so members can properly plan and schedule in the events they are interested in and ensure they don’t miss the boat on registration.


WE all enjoy sharing our love of the tourism and travel industry, so why not ask more friends to party with us at the ASTW? The Board has begun a membership drive after COVID-19 dealt our industry a savage blow, forcing many of our colleagues to find employment elsewhere. Consequently, some have had to change their membership category or say farewell to the ASTW altogether. So, we’re prompting all members to “ask a friend” – like-minded travel writers, photographers, PR representatives and digital publishers – to consider the many benefits of Australia’s most highly-respected organisation for travel media. Maybe you’ve come across them on social media, met them on a famil or seen their byline in your favourite travel mag. Ask them to head to the website at Australian Society of Travel Writers – travel media and public relations professionals and go to the Join Us tab at the top to see if they qualify to apply and discover all the Member Benefits here: Member Benefits – Australian Society of Travel Writers (


WRITER member Susan Gough Henly is keen to restart the Book Club and recently put a call-out on the ASTW Facebook page. Members may have missed this post. Sue’s trying to gauge interest, so if you’d like to get involved then please respond via the Facebook post.  The book she has in mind is Bruce Pascoe’s Loving Country, described as a “powerful and essential guidebook that offers a new way to travel and discover Australia through an Indigenous narrative”.


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

ASTW Newsletter – January 2021

January 2021


A New Year

WELCOME to 2021. And thank you to all the new Board members who decided to nominate in this vastly challenging time for our industry and the world. We are here volunteering for the benefit of all members and the society itself. There is much appreciation for your selfless commitment to the ASTW and its members. This year started badly with consumer confidence shaken in interstate travel after the pre-Christmas cluster on the Northern Beaches, subsequent lockdown and immediate border closures. International holiday travel seems another year away at least. In March, the loss of JobKeeper will be another significant hurdle anticipating that many more of our members will move by necessity to roles outside their chosen career of tourism and travel.

The entire ASTW society, including the Board and committees, are dealing with the impact of the ongoing pandemic on our professional and personal lives. We will continue to support the members with many events and opportunities where permitted and possible. The Board will be filtering our volunteer workload into manageable hours during 2021. The first significant change will see all incoming correspondence, unless urgent, tabled and discussed at our monthly Board meetings, replied to as needed the week following. The Secretariat will continue to be available during regular business hours.

The ASTW Board of 2021 has an exceptional task ahead to support the society and each other. Thank you, Christina Pfeiffer, for staying on for the long haul. We need your historical perspective, many skills and considered countenance. Pip Macken and Poddy (Scott Podmore), so grateful you remained with your words of wisdom, calm energy and kindness. Caroline Gladstone, Kerri McConnel, Jocelyn Pride, Shirley Sinclair and Christina  Butcher, we welcome your presence, varied areas of expertise, enthusiasm, fresh energy and, most of all, your support.

‘When written in Chinese the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.’ – John F Kennedy



KEEP mid-October free in your diaries for some welcome travel adventures when The Tweed Tourism Co. hosts the ASTW 2021 AGM and Convention in beautiful Northern NSW. While most of us have enjoyed some downtime (or forced Covid lockdown) in the past weeks, the Board members and The Tweed Tourism Co have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure this will be “the best Games ever!”. After the year we’ve all had, we need to get down to the serious business of travel…and industry camaraderie. Pre- and post-famils will be offered to explore the delights of the Tweed region. So, get in early once those details are released closer to October.

AGM AND CONVENTION Dates: October 14-16, 2021

Host: The Tweed Tourism Co.
Host Resort: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff



SADLY, Shelley Winkel has had to resign from the role as second PR member for the Board due to work commitments. We’re seeking an enthusiastic volunteer who can devote bags of energy focused towards helping to plan the 2021 ASTW AGM and Convention in Northern NSW. You will be joining PR dynamo Pip Macken and the rest of the Board team. If you are ready, willing and able to put up your hand for this vital role, please contact president Elisa Elwin or any of the board members with an expression of interest.



LUNCH supremo Laura Speirs reports that uncertainty with borders due to Covid isn’t helping with planning get-togethers in each state. But now Australia Day is over, the push is on to lock in local events. As always, members should keep an eye on the ASTW FB page and the ASTW website under events for immediate updates on what is confirmed.  Nothing appears unless it’s confirmed, to avoid confusion. Sue Fuller and Kerry Heaney’s February 4 lunch at The Terrace, hosted by Emporium Hotels, is booked out with a waiting list. The 25 spaces filled quickly. In March, Queensland members will be invited to a Granite Belt Long lunch on March 26 to 28, exploring the southern Ballandean area. It is a repeat of last year’s highly-successful event, which saw ASTW members from around the country enjoy Queensland’s wine country.  This year’s Long Lunch is a two-night event with a Saturday lunch. Get in early to be seated at that table. There are no updates at this stage regarding lunches in other states. But here’s a reminder of the hard-working organisers who go above and beyond to keep us connected, entertained and well-fed at these events:

NSW – Laura Speirs

VIC – Belinda Jackson

SA – Alexis Buxton Collins

WA – Dianne Bortoletto



BY now, everyone should have received their eye-catching 2021 ASTW sustainable and eco-friendly bamboo membership cards in the post. No? If you didn’t, that means that your contact details may not be up to date with the ASTW Secretariat. Is the spelling or category incorrect? That also means you need to check your details with the ASTW Secretariat. As a matter of urgency, please log in to the ASTW website (, check your profile details to ensure your address and contacts are current and update if necessary. Next, please alert the Secretariat by email at If your ASTW profile is not up to date, you may be missing out on forging valuable connections with other members and telling the world who you are as a professional travel media representative.


FRANCE-based freelance writer Chrissie McClatchie has applied to be an associate member with the ASTW and was approved at the January Board meeting. At the December Board meeting, PR member Louise Terry, from Tweed Tourism Company, and freelance writer and Family Holiday Destinations founder Jessica Palmer were approved. Thank you for wanting to join the ASTW family, Chrissie, Louise and Jessica! Their memberships are now subject to the 30-day objection period, which ends on February 27.

New member applications

Louise Terry – Public Relations member

Jessica Palmer – Associate Writer member

Chrissie McClatchie – Associate Writer member

Any objections to these new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at by 27 February 2020.


SEVERAL members have now shared their thoughts and experiences of 2020: The Year of the Pandemic. For some, it was a wake-up call to remember what their priorities should be. For others, it was stopping to smell the roses as they approached life with new vigour. Many of us began projects, learnt new skills and stacked on the kilos due to Netflix binges. And sadly, for some, a loss of job or income meant a re-evaluation of life as they knew it. We’d love to hear your tales and reflections on “the time when travel stopped”. See the Covid Social History Stories on the ASTW website under the News tab. There, you’ll find: Mindful Moments in Manly by Angela Saurine; Lynn Gail’s Did you master baking banana bread during lockdown?; A year without Ollie by Lee Mylne; Sidestepping those rainbow-coloured macarons by Sue Wallace; Christine Retschlag’s 2020: The year I came home; The Final Farewell by Kirstie Bedford; and Life in Coronavirus Time by Shirley Sinclair. Meanwhile, please send your contributions to


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.

ASTW Newsletter – August 2020

August 2020

Dear ASTW members,

What a rollercoaster this year has been. And as far as we can tell, there is no sign the peaks and troughs will be flattening out anytime soon – for both the world at large and, on a micro scale, for the ASTW committee.
Front of mind for us all right now are our Melbourne and regional Victorian members, forced to endure Australia’s toughest Covid-19 restrictions thus far. The load you’re enduring – financial, emotional, physical – is immense, and we’re thinking of you. Please reach out, via the Facebook page or in person, should you find yourself in need of a friendly voice and some industry solidarity. We wish you good health above all else.
Since the last dispatch, the committee has been hard at work figuring out how to maximise our members’ benefits and determining which events can be salvaged this year. As you know, we have regrettably had to cancel our face-to-face convention, and have been working on an online awards event and AGM. The good news is that our highly anticipated ASTW Awards of Excellence are now open, and we look forward to celebrating with the winners later in the year.

The bad news is that we’ve been forced by the pandemic to defer our AGM. Given this delay, a decision has been made by two of our much-valued members, Carla Grossetti and Keren Lavelle, to step down from committee as per their original plan of serving until what was originally planned as a September AGM. Carla and Keren both filled breaches in the committee during an intensely difficult period earlier this year, and worked diligently and tirelessly as members of a team united in building a strong and ethical society. Their contribution cannot be underestimated, and we thank them unreservedly for it.

In the midst of such turmoil and change, we urge our members to consider the toll Covid is having on us all, and to support your committee as we attempt to bring this difficult year to a professional conclusion. We look forward to commencing 2021 with new committee members, fresh energy, new ideas and even more vigour to enhance all the work of committees past in elevating our society as a leader in our industry for travel media.

Kind regards,

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President



In highly anticipated news, entries for the 2020 ASTW Awards for Excellence opened on Monday 10 August. Given the current media and travel environment, there has never been a more important time to recognise the very best published work and tourism promotion by ASTW members.

The announcement of the 18 categories follows a comprehensive review of the 2019 Awards for Excellence by the Awards Review Panel. Their recommendations, along with feedback from members, were assessed by a specially appointed ASTW Awards sub-committee, which didn’t comprise any current ASTW Committee members or members intending to nominate for this year’s awards. The Awards sub-committee was tasked with the job of revising the scope and criteria for categories to ensure greater clarity and relevance.

Updated categories include ‘PR Professional of the Year’, which replaces the previous ‘PR Communicator of the Year’ category first introduced in 2019, and ‘The Best Responsible Tourism Story’ category has also been changed to ‘Best Sustainable Tourism Story’. To ensure maximum participation in the Best Travel Book award will be held over for a year, with entries in 2021 Awards covering the previous two years.

The Awards sub-committee also reviewed judges, who have been selected for their long-standing expertise in their field – writing, editing, publishing, photography, PR, and digital media – and are sourced from across Australia and overseas. They volunteer their time, which is massively appreciated, but to ensure transparency they cannot be members of the ASTW and must declare any conflict of interest when judging entries.

For the first time this year, entries will be made through a new, sophisticated software program called Award Force, which will ensure that the considerable administrative requirements of organising an Awards program are streamlined, taking the awards to a new level of professionalism. The system will require members to register, and with the entry system being new, members may need to allocate a little more time to ensure they upload their submissions correctly. In other words, act early, rather than last minute!
Entries can be made via until Friday 28 August.

IMPORTANT: Please note, only paid-up members are eligible to enter the awards.


The ASTW is calling for sponsors for the 2020 Awards of Excellence, to be presented at a gala event in November. The event will comprise an online ceremony in conjunction with simultaneous state-by-state events where allowable. This esteemed annual gathering gives sponsors the opportunity to align themselves with Australia’s most respected association of travel media. In this unprecedented year, we acknowledge the restrictions placed on our PR members’ clients, and have taken this into account when packaging our sponsorship opportunities. Details will be available through a document posted to the ASTW FB page as well as our website.



The ASTW committee has announced that the 2020 awards event and AGM will go online for the first time in the society’s history. The awards ceremony will be held on November 5, 2020. The AGM will now take place in December, giving ample time for organisation and the possibility of state-by-state, in-person functions to coincide.

The President of the ASTW, Elisa Elwin, says the committee made the decision to hold the awards night on November 5 after enduring the most difficult year in the history of the organisation. Elwin says the travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 crisis have led to the necessary cancellation first of the Whitsundays convention and thereafter the modified Sydney convention.

“We acknowledge that both cancellations are a blow to the committee, which has worked so hard to deliver great results for the membership,” she says.

Elwin also acknowledges the impact Covid-19 has had on our industry is now being keenly felt across the board as writers, digital influencers and PR members struggle to find their feet in a landscape that is changing on an almost daily basis. She adds the tumultuous exit in March of five of the 2019 elected committee members has taken its toll on the current committee members, especially as it coincided with the first wave of the pandemic.

“Given the delay of the AGM, a decision has been made by two of our much valued and hard-working members, Carla Grossetti and Keren Lavelle, not to renominate as per their original commitment of coming onboard in the interim until what was originally scheduled as a 3-6 September AGM,” Elwin says.

“Carla and Keren both filled breaches in the committee during an intensely difficult period earlier this year, and have worked diligently and tirelessly as members of our team who were united in building a strong and ethical society,” she says.

Elwin says the remaining committee members would like to take this opportunity to thank Carla and Keren for their tireless work and dedication to the society and their contribution during a time that has inflicted havoc on our industry.

“I would also like to thank the committee members who have made the tough decision to stay on amid this most challenging period. With states under lockdown, shutting borders and most of the world on pause, members Kylee Kay, Christina Pfeiffer, Catherine Marshall and Natascha Mirosch remain committed to building a better organisation that has an inclusive, professional and collegiate culture with ethics and integrity at its core,” Elwin says.

With nearly four months to go until the AGM, the decision has also been taken to fill casual vacancies on the committee. Expressions of interest are being sought and should be directed to the committee via email to Further details of the responsibilities of committee members and position descriptions will be shared with those interested in joining.


As Covid-19 and subsequent restrictions wreak havoc on our industry, we would like to assure our members of our unflagging support. It’s been gratifying to see members reach out to each other; to commiserate or, conversely, to celebrate the small wins that have become so important in these uncertain times. We thank each and every one of you for your part in creating this supportive and caring community.

And if you need a reminder of the more tangible benefits of ASTW membership, including updates relating to Covid-19, please click here. We encourage you to take full advantage of all that ASTW membership offers.

Thank you to all our members who responded to our call-out to update your profile pic and background image on the ASTW member directory. It was wonderful to see that around 40 members updated their biographies and background pics, which range from the English countryside to Uluru and Antarctica. If you haven’t got around to updating your profile, please take a moment to do so.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, please consider uploading the ASTW logo to your email signature. It’s both a great way to signify your status as a professional and to publicise the ASTW. There is one for each member type and you can find them on the ASTW website here.

If you need help uploading a pic, or the ASTW logo to your email signature, please contact the secretariat at

It’s been a busy few months for our new secretariat, The Association Specialists (TAS), and the committee is pleased to report that our main points of contact, Annie and Rachel, are proving themselves to be invaluable assets. They’ve helped streamline our committee processes and engagement through the implementation of efficient platforms such as Our Cat Herder and Asana, and have produced monthly reports which log precise activities and clearly show the hours worked. They can be contacted on 02 9431 8663 or


The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at
• Madelin Tomelty – Associate Writer member
• Chris Chamberlin – Associate Writer member
• Nannette Holliday – Associate Writer member




Members will remember that in the last newsletter we put a yes/no vote to you to determine whether or not the ASTW should endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The numbers are in and it’s a resounding ‘yes’ in favour. We wanted to let those of you who voted, and were curious, know the outcome. We’re now working out which steps to take in order to make our endorsement official, and we will be in touch.

Kate Hennessy


If you haven’t yet attended Zoom drinks hosted by Amanda Kendle and Tracey Croke you’re in for a treat. Amanda and Tracey have hosted these now-monthly events since Covid-19 hit in March 2020, and have turned drinks at the bar into drinks at our individual homes, giving our members a much-needed outlet to socialise. All you need to do is download the Zoom app, pour yourself a drink, click on the link provided each month in an email reminder and on the ASTW Facebook group, and wait for the barflies to join you. To whet your appetite, here are some of the things you’ve been missing:

* Kylee’s fire twirling
* Delightful tales of everyone’s first ever flights
* Dianne’s sunset tours of Margaret River
* Birthday songs from Caro (who also spread her love of bandanas)
* Tracey not crashing while giving us a cycling tour through Manly
* Premiere of Shelley’s new video skills
* Flexible ASTWers: Keren’s yoga and Monique’s contortionist antics
* Making new friends, and learning more about old friends




A huge thank you to long-term member Sue Gough Henly, who has generously volunteered to convene the new ASTW book club, the first of which will be held via Zoom on Tuesday 15 September at 6pm AEST. Members can join in the discussion by clicking this link; password ASTW.

SEPTEMBER BOOK CLUB PICK: The Yield by Tara June Winch

Our inaugural book club pick is this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award Winner The Yield, by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. We thought our members might enjoy this virtual announcement of the winner on YouTube. In line with the ASTW’s support of the Uluru Statement and #blacklivesmatter movement, we recommend The Yield for its relevance at a time when we must all make a contribution towards imagining a post-reconciliation future for Australia. Winch has described the novel as a ‘handbook for truth’. We hope you enjoy reading it, and look forward to discussing it in more depth at our first book club.


A hearty shout-out is long overdue for our webinar subcommittee members Amanda Kendle, Dianne Bortoletto and Seana Smith, whose energetic and enthusiastic work has brought together speakers on a range of subjects for our professional development program. You can access our library here, and follow our experts – many of them valued ASTW members – as they take you through the process of polishing your skills, from writing a good sentence to writing an entire book. If there are any topics you’d like us to cover, or if you have skills of your own to share, please don’t hesitate to contact us on Meanwhile, whet your appetite on these upcoming topics.

Catherine Marshall, professional development subcommittee

How to work with State Tourism Organisations, with Shelley Winkel of Tourism and Events Queensland and host Dianne Bortoletto, 12 August 2020, 11am AEST
In the second in this series hosted by Dianne Bortoletto, the ASTW’s very own Shelley Winkel from Tourism and Events Queensland will discuss how TEQ’s overarching business objectives help shape the experiences they’d like travel media to cover, divulge seven (or more!) simple things you can do to improve your chances for famil support, and help you understand you true competitive advantage when it comes to attracting STO time, money and attention. This is another great opportunity for members who aren’t confident in approaching STOs for famils to pick up some invaluable insights.

How to get started as a travel (or general) copywriter with Emily McAuliffe, 19 August 2020, 11am AEST
If you fancy taking on some copywriting work to diversify your income and assignments or want to learn how to write your own web content and marketing material, this webinar is for you. In this session, travel copywriter Emily McAuliffe will explain what copywriting is and how it differs from feature writing, how to approach a copywriting project, and how to master common copywriting terminology and the basics of SEO. She’ll also share some tips on how to find work and price your projects.



How vibrant is our social media looking these days? Our generous and hardworking volunteers are doing a fantastic job keeping it fresh and interesting, with help from your photographic contributions and pithy writing.
Don’t forget to follow all our accounts (handles as per below) and hashtag #astw and tag @astw_inc in your own travel-related social media – we love to re-tweet and re-gram our members’ work. And if you’re on a famil (remember those?!) consider tagging the PR person/company who supported it as well – that way they’ll get extra love when we re-tweet or re-gram your post.

Again, a warm thank you to our social media team for all that they do. And a special thanks to Kerry Heaney and Danielle Lancaster, who along with Jennifer Johnston have worked tirelessly on the open Facebook page. Kerry and Danielle are taking a well-deserved break, so if you’d like to put up your hand to help Jennifer Johnston, please contact us at

Our Social Media All-Stars
Tim Richards (Twitter: @ASTWinc)
Belle Jackson & Jennifer Morton (Instagram: @astw_portraits/@astw_inc)
Jennifer Johnston (ASTW Facebook open page:
Katie Dundas (LinkedIn: Australia Society of Travel Writers)



In what looks like a popular trend, Queensland members jumped on the bus for another long lunch that was enjoyed over two days. The fun started on July 31 as 20 guests explored the Ipswich region, with highlights including a visit to an olive and lime farm and workshop making boho posies in a teepee.

Lunch at the two-hatted Homage Restaurant in Spicers Hidden Vale — where the homestead has recently been rebuilt after a devastating fire — was another highlight, followed by a tour of the wildlife centre sponsored by the Turner Family Foundation. The evening was then spent drinking local Pumpyard beer, dining at Dovetails and eating interesting ice cream combos including blue cheese and fig and salted caramel, bacon and pecan. Overnight accommodation venues included Quest Ipswich Apartments and Cumquat House, a 1930s heritage B&B.

Day two was spent meeting the animals at Ipswich Nature Centre and experiencing a Japanese tea ceremony at Nerima Gardens, both in Queens Park. With guidance from Indigenous artist Ronald Vieritz, guests had to find their creative sides and experiment with dot painting at a Sip ‘n’ Dip class in the park. Ronald’s advice was that we could probably sell our paintings but not to give up our day jobs. A big thank you to Carly Morrissey for making this event happen during such uncertain times. Stay tuned for the next event, which we hope will be city-based and accessible to all members.

— Kerry Heaney and Sue Fuller


The ASTW acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.