ASTW Newsletter – December 2020

December 2020


It’s really simple one: Happy Christmas, everyone!
Thanks for all the support and massive goodwill from so many members — you know who you are — throughout this curious year. Now, please, hop into summer, friends, family, Christmas dinner and all the promises of a very good, very new year.



Thursday 19 November saw the ASTW’s first online Awards presentation, a great fun event hosted by comedian Jean Kittson. Thanks to all the entrants – of more than 600 stories — and judges, as well as the Awards Committee and our valued sponsors. Well done, everybody! And of course huge congratulations to the winners and to the oh-so-close! runners-up.



And continuing in the spirit of this virtual age of digital comradeship, Wednesday 16 December saw the ASTW’s first online Annual General Meeting. An impressive 83 members joined in under the astute chairmanship of David McGonigal. Thank you to all members who attended, spoke, voted and contributed to a very meaningful AGM.


Meet Your New Board Members
Joining the ASTW Board’s continuing representatives — Elisa Elwin, Christina Pfeiffer, Scott Podmore and Pip Macken — we warmly welcome the following new members.

Christina Butcher, Digital Publisher, is a photographer, writer and co-founder of the topnotch blog A member of the ASTW since 2018, she has been writing online for a decade. With a strong digital focus Christina hopes to expand the reach of the ASTW while respecting and maintaining the high standards of its current members.


Caroline Gladstone, Writer, has been an ASTW member for 21 years and previously served four years (2006—2010) as Secretary and Treasurer. Importantly, she has also been a representative for the NSW Branch of the Journalists Union (MEAA). Her position is clear: “I’m big on transparency and finding solutions.” Caroline’s finest ASTW achievement was belting a “four” that earned her the Shot of the Match trophy at the inaugural Wine & Wickets cricket match in 2002.

Kerri McConnell, Digital Publisher, started writing travel and food content for her website, Beer and Croissants in 2015. A qualified accountant with experience across a range of areas, she operates several successful websites and a web design, business consulting and coaching business. As a board member Kerri declares, “I’m passionate about professional development and the opportunities to help members to upskill, reskill or diversify.”


Jocelyn Pride, Writer, took a leap of faith into travel writing in 2013. Joining the ASTW in 2014 was for her “a game changer” that gave her confidence and, as she says, “most importantly, a strong sense belonging”. Jocelyn’s thrilled to be part of a Board that “will help shape the ‘new normal post-COVID-19’ chapter of the ASTW.”


Shirley Sinclair, Writer, is based on the Sunshine Coast and has been a travel writer since 1996 and an ASTW member since 2010. In 2020 Shirley wrapped up 35 years as a journalist at the Sunshine Coast Daily and is now freelancing, working with the new Sunny Coast Times monthly magazine and luxury travel company Rothschild Safaris.

Elisa Elwin,
 Writer. Following a career in social work, Elisa ventured into travel publishing 16 years ago, launching Out & About with Kids, followed by Travel Play Live in 2020. She joined the ASTW in 2015 and stepped-up as President in May 2020, a year of upheaval everywhere. Her skills as a business owner, team leader and, unexpectedly, social worker were essential in liaising with a membership rattled by uncertainty and industry decline. An optimist, for 2021 she says, “I hope to contribute stability to the Board, implementing compassion and respectful communication as core pillars of my role.”

Christina Pfeiffer, Digital Publisher, is the publisher of travel website A prolific freelance writer-photographer for 12 years she “went digital” in 2015. Five years of running websites, a YouTube channel (6 million views) and Pinterest account (2.5 million monthly viewers) sees her skilfully navigating the risks and opportunities of digital transformation. As an ASTW member for 10 years, Christine served on the Committee for four terms and as Vice President in 2013. She held the positions of Treasurer/Secretary in 2020 and was a member of the ASTW’s governance sub-committee. She hopes in 2021 “to guide the ASTW’s digital transformation and steer it through the changing media and travel landscapes.”

Scott Podmore, Digital Publisher, is the Managing Director of October Grey Media and The Luxury Pod, an online travel and lifestyle website/podcast launching 2021. As well as being a freelancer for more than 25 years for Escape magazine, News Limited’s major mastheads and many other publications, Scott is also a bestselling author, photographer and videographer, specialising in travel, lifestyle, music and food. An ASTW member for three years, he brings all-round media skills and business nous and is excited about advancing fresh ideas in the society with the coming year.

Pip Macken, Public Relations member, has been Media Director for Destination Canada for the past decade, in addition to Yukon Tourism, Travel Manitoba and Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia. Through these roles she has forged long-standing relationships with many ASTW members and brings numerous skills to the Board, including copywriting and event management. Most importantly, Pip has a deep understanding of the Australian travel media landscape. She is passionate about maintaining a Society that “encourages, stimulates and celebrates the interests and talents of all its members, through friendships, professional networking and the sharing of ideas.”

Shelley Winkel, Public Relations member. Shelley, Consumer PR Leader for Tourism and Events Queensland has had 25 years’ experience in PR and Corporate Communications for the tourism industry, including roles as PR Manager for Tourism Australia based in Asia, and Area Director of PR for Hilton Hotels Corporation, stationed in Singapore and London. She now leads the Consumer Publicity efforts for Tourism and Events Queensland, working daily to position the holiday state as (drum-roll) … “the best address on earth”. Shelley is proud of the relationships she has with Australia’s leading lifestyle media and how these collaborations support and sustain hundreds of small tourism operators.


The following executive positions for the 2021 Board were determined at the Annual General Meeting:
Elisa Elwin – President
Caroline Gladstone – Vice President
Kerri McConnel – Treasurer
Christina Pfeiffer – Secretary

We bid farewell to PR Representative Kylee Kay who has been an energetic Board contributor during this challenging year. She needs to return to family and work obligations but her astute contributions will be missed. Also departing, as anticipated, are interim representatives Lee Atkinson, John Borthwick, David McGonigal and Lee Mylne, all previous ASTW office bearers who returned to the Committee in August in “caretaker” roles. Many thanks to all five for their generous and energetic contributions and for keeping the small stuff in perspective.

It’s official! The Tweed Tourism Co, in beautiful northern NSW will host the ASTW 2021 AGM and Awards. Pre- and post-famils will be offered to explore the delights of the Tweed region.
Dates: October 14—16, 2021
Host: The Tweed Tourism Co.
Host Resort: Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff



Our ever-energetic lunch supremo Laura Speirs reports:

A huge thank you to South Australian member and lunch organiser, Alexis Buxton Collins for pulling together their very memorable Christmas event on 10 December. SkyCity sponsored a progressive lunch over different venues throughout its complex. (Check the social shots on the ASTW Facebook page.) Meanwhile, the ASTW’s Victoria team celebrated Christmas, sponsored by Visit Werribee & Surrounds, on December 17 when they farewelled 2020 with a progressive lunch starting at the Luxurious Lancemore Mansion Hotel before moving to the new garden café and wine bar, The Refectory Parlour, for lunch within the sprawling heritage gardens of Werribee Park, all enjoyed with local wines from local urban winery Shadowfax Wines.

WA members organised an informal gathering for YUM CHA and posted some of their cheeky photos on the ASTW FB page! We don’t run official lunches in January but the first of the year will be on February 4, 2021 supported by the Emporium Hotel South Bank, Brisbane. Put this in your diary and come along for some of the best city views in town! Invites due to go out in January, 2021. After the success of this year’s Granite Belt “long lunch”, we’ve been invited to return. The lunch starts in Stanthorpe followed by the option to join the two-night famil, March 26—28. Interstate members who wish to attend should start planning now. Watch out for details of both events in the New Year. Big thanks to Kerry Heaney and Susan Fuller for making these Queensland events happen in 2021.

Pending COVID restrictions we are looking forward to resuming a busy lunch calendar again in 2021, so keep an eye on the ASTW Facebook page and ASTW Events page for further announcements. And big thanks, Lola, for all your efforts this year.



No-one home! Your Board and the Secretariat are taking a brief but well-earned summer siesta. We’ll be gone from 5pm Friday, 18 December and will reopen at 9am on Friday 15 January. Same thing with the ASTW Facebook page. Buena fiesta y siesta!

In the mail. Our new ASTW bamboo membership cards have been delivered and soon will be posted to members.

Things viralled out of control or perhaps it was a season of renewed sanity? Either way, what did you do during the pandemic — bake bread, hammer a mad walking program, make and drink craft beer or kilo-stack courtesy of Netflix? We’d love to hear your tales and reflections on “the time when travel stopped.” Many thanks for those who’ve shared their stories so far — see them on the ASTW website. Meanwhile, please send your contribution to

The Global Travel Media Alliance unanimously but reluctantly decided not to hold the GTMA Awards in 2020, due to the impact of Covid-19. The leadership group recently met with the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) to discuss the possibility of the latter joining GTMA. All members are keen to advance this new alliance once clarification is made on issues relating to the overlap of some members of both the Society of American Travel Writers and TMAC.


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 – November 2020

November 2020

Dear ASTW members,

So much has happened in the past month. The BEST news is that Victorians have safely emerged from lockdown — our hearts go out to all who have been impacted. Australia is in a good position as state borders open up again, Americans have voted in record numbers and your committee — now known as the Board — has been working hard.

The ASTW’s virtual awards night is our primary focus right now. Our PR members Kylee Kay and Pip Macken, are working with our secretariat administration team, TAS (The Association Specialists), to create a fabulous night for all. Jean Kittson will add her MC sparkle and wit to the evening. Our thanks to Christine Retschlag for creating the Queensland gathering and to Louise Goldsbury working with TravMedia for a Sydney gathering. These ‘unofficial’ events, COVID-distanced, will add to the celebrations as we applaud our talented finalists and salute the winners.

Speaking of TravMedia, we are delighted to announce that the ongoing partnership with and support of TravMedia has been confirmed in the signing of a 2021 agreement. Thank you, Nick and Dominika for your commitment and sponsorship of the ASTW. Our decades-long partnership continues.

Lunches are happening with Western Australia taking the lead, South Australia following soon after and Queensland ready with a fabulous Christmas lunch announcement. Thanks for your hard work lunch co-ordinators, we all appreciate your efforts. The shared posts of the lunches virtually have us there with you.

We look forward to voting-in a new Board at the upcoming virtual AGM, following receipt of your nomination forms. This is your chance to give back to the ASTW community and to support your fellow members as we work our way through business plus the impact of Coronavirus. The Board works as a team, in collaboration and guided by the constitution and with respectful communication. We look forward to having you join our ranks.

The Board has also created a welcome document for all new members of committees (which previously were known as “sub-committees”). This is a simple document guiding committee members through the constitutional obligations, legal requirements of representing the ASTW and ongoing communication with the Board. There are bucketloads of appreciation for your volunteering and commitment.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week at the ASTW Awards for Excellence 2020!

Take care
Elisa Elwin

ASTW President




Congratulations to all the fabulous finalists in this year’s Awards for Excellence! From 618 entries (up from 524 last year) our judges have chosen record numbers of finalists in each of the 18 categories. We look forward to congratulating the winners on November 19. Don’t forget to register for the event, which kicks off with virtual drinks at 5.30pm AEDT.

And if you’re wondering just how a virtual awards ceremony is going to work, or how to accept your prize, or even just what to wear, our fabulous MC, Jean Kittson, has put together some top tips for ASTW finalists on this helpful little video, but please don’t’ watch it if you’ve got a cup of hot coffee in hand, as it will make you laugh out loud.


Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Carolyn Beasley
Antarctic illumination
Going with the flow down Derby Way

Tracey Croke
What A Difference A Trail Makes
The Path of Hope and Unity
How Mountain Biking helped me in ways I could not have imagined

Tayla Gentle
The wildest trip I’ve ever taken involved total silence and no passport
Life on safari, and how these locals are keeping the peace
5 things I learned conquering Everest Base Camp as a solo female traveller

Catherine Marshall
Eyes on the ice
Georgia, queen of the desert
Bliss in a cold climate

Sarah Reid
As the oil flows, can Guyana continue to be a beacon of sustainable tourism?
Is Saudi Arabia really ready to receive the world’s travelers?
Celebrating a nation that doesn’t exist

Craig Tansley
Horse Riding Through Patagonia, Argentina: This Must Be What It’s Like To Live Inside A Fairy Tale
Ship To Shore In Splendid Isolation In Tasmania’s Wild South-West
Chiloe, Chile: South America’s Island Of Mellennia-Old Myths & Traditions

Kerry van der Jagt
Transnistria, Eastern Europe: The country that doesn’t (officially) exist
Cruise to the Inside Passage, British Columbia and Alaska: Welcome to the orca’s playground Australia’s best Indigenous tourism revealed on a personal pilgrimage


Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Dan Avila
The Giants Causeway – Vacations and Travel – website/electronic edition
The Rowley Shoals – Signature Luxury Travel & Style Magazine
Antarctic Calm – Signature Luxury Travel & Style
Grianan of Aileach – Vacations and Travel Magazine (online)
Antarctic Couple – Signature Luxury Travel & Style

Tracey Croke
Camel Train Dreaming – Wild Magazine
The Charge Into Wadi Rum – Wild Magazine
When I Was a Young Man – Wild Magazine
Take Tea With Me – Wild Magazine
Treasured Rock – Wild Magazine

Mark Daffey
Farmer Wants a Smile – Traveller
House on the Hill –
Last Chance Up Uluru – Good Weekend
Waterworld – Cruise Passenger
Wings – Traveller

Jeremy Drake
Sumo, Onoe stable in Ikegami, Tokyo. Junior Sumo head-to-head. – News Corp – & News Corp – Escape (Sunday)
In deep at the Hagen Show – Get Lost Magazine Online
Innamincka to Lake Eyre with Kirkhope Aviation – Luxury Escapes Magazine
Soul Searching the Cliffs of Moher – Luxury Escapes Magazine
Mindima Skeleton Dancers, Chimbu PNG – Get Lost Magazine

Lynn Gail
In the Swim – Spotted Golden Jellyfish – MiNDFOOD Magazine
Japanese Macaque bathes in natural hot spring.- Get Lost Magazine
Kosi – Head Monk, Mt Koya – Vacations and Travel Magazine
Sunrise – Sanbona Wildlife Reserve – Senior Traveller
Secret World of Geisha – International Traveller – Digital

Jocelyn Pride
Where horses run free – Sawasdee (Thai airlines magazine)
Into the blue – Mindfood
Chile morning – Mindfood
Ancient ritual – Sawasdee (Thai airlines magazine)
Unconditional love – WellBeing


Sponsored by TravMedia

Sarah Anderson, GTI Tourism
Krista Hauritz, Krista Hauritz Tourism & Events
Philippa Macken, Destination Canada
Shelley Winkel, Tourism and Events Queensland



John Borthwick – Road trip to Cooktown
Flip Byrnes – Hunting Hipsters in Cairns
Flip Byrnes – The Daintree by Sea and Land
Shaney Hudson – Can Indigenous tourism help protect the Great Barrier Reef?
Rob McFarland – He’s got a ticket to Dive
David McGonigal – A Whole Lotta Lava
Tatyana Leonov – Lesson of Yesteryear


Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Marie Barbieri – Magic on the Murray
Carolyn Beasley – Zootopia
Rachel Lees – Under the blue vault of heaven
Steven Madgwick – These Unearthly Plains
Jocelyn Pride – Way Down South
Kerry van der Jagt – Cooktown Discovery Festival


Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Catherine Best – Strip-teasing Spider Crabs
Mark Daffey – Parting of the Seas
Susan Elliott – Coolest Flight Ever
Catherine Marshall – On Eden’s Shore
David McGonigal – A Whole Lotta Lava
Sarah Reid – World’s First submarine Uber
Kerry van der Jagt – Magnificent Gallery: Where to see some of Australia’s best-preserved Aboriginal rock paintings



Dan Avila – The Giants Causeway – Vacations and Travel – website/electronic edition
Tracey Croke – When I Was a Young Man – Wild Magazine
Mark Daffey – Wings – Traveller
Jeremy Drake – In deep at the Hagen Show – Get Lost Magazine Online
Rachelle Mackintosh – African Gold – Who magazine
Catherine Marshall – Shattered Glass – The Australian Women’s Weekly



Marie Barbieri – Mountain for Two
Mark Daffey – Into the Blue
Mark Daffey – The Kite Runners
Jeremy Drake – Korul Village Boys, PNG
Jeremy Drake – Chimbu man portrait
Lynn Gail – Where Everyone has a Role
Emily McAuliffe – Sulphur Bay, Vanuatu
Justin Meneguzzi – Hump Day at Wadi Rum



Tracey Croke – The Path of Hope and Unity
Edwina Hart – How I ended up sleeping in the world’s most famous bookstore
Kate Hennessy – Vienna’s Museum of Art Fakes
Rachel Lees – Sri Lanka’s Natural Wonderland from a Boat
Louise Southerden – Istanbul’s Museum of Innocence



Lindy Alexander – Vegan Food Adventure Across India
Susan Gough Henly – Gold Coast
Rachel Lees – The Island that Time Forgot
Rob McFarland – Bordering on Delectable
Jocelyn Pride – Far from Faraway 
Sue Williams – Travel tips on where to eat in China’s Guangzhou


Sponsored by Visit Sunshine Coast

Tracey Croke – What A Difference A Trail Makes
Tracey Croke – The Path of Hope and Unity
Tayla Gentle – The wildest trip I’ve ever taken involved total silence and no passport
Julie Miller – Reining in Rajasthan
Sarah Reid – As the oil flows, can Guyana continue to be a beacon of sustainable tourism?
Laura Waters – Kayaking a Queensland Wilderness



Carolyn Beasley – Paradise with a paddle
Ellie Cobb – Can science and tourism save the reef
Anabel Dean – Wandering Wukalina
Susan Gough Henly – Gold Coast
Rachel Lees – Sri Lanka’s Natural Wonderland from a Boat
Danielle Norton – I Had a Massage in a Thai Women’s Prison
Jocelyn Pride – Far from Faraway
Kerry van der Jagt – Cruise the Inside Passage



Jim Butcher & Christina Butcher– Mr and Mrs Romance
Fiona Harper – Travel Boating Lifestyle
Marianne Rogerson – Mum on the Move
Caro Ryan – LotsaFreshAir
Jarryd Salem & Alesha Bradford – NOMADasaurus Adventure Travel Blog
Michael Turtle – Time Travel Turtle



Aleney de Winter – Cape Town’s Tintswalo Atlantic with kids
Caroline Gladstone – If You Go Down to the Woods Today
Kate Hennessy – Trouble in #tropicalparadise
Natascha Mirosch – Turning Back Time – Staying in a Medieval Mountain Village in Abruzzo
Michael Turtle – The Quinkan spirits live on


Sponsored by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

Mark Daffey – To the end of Earth
Catherine Marshall – The great escape
Jocelyn Pride – Feeling Chile
Jocelyn Pride – Way down south
Craig Tansley – Magical Realism
Kerry van der Jagt – The ancient spectacles of pyramids, mummies and temples on a cruise down the River Nile



Jennifer Ennion – The best way to help during Australia’s historic drought? Visit
Catherine Marshall – Access Ability
David McGonigal – A Travel Guide to the Earth’s Frontier
Julie Miller – The Future of Australia’s Largest National Park
Angela Saurine – Bouncing Back
Louise Southerden – The Future of Sustainable Travel
Sue Williams – How Australian passports are made and checked: The secrets behind our passports 



Kate Armstrong – The Inside Track
Flip Byrnes – Breaking the Wall
Flip Byrnes – How to Manage Adventure Travels with Young Kids
Mark Daffey – Heavens Above
Anabel Dean – Maple Magic
Shaney Hudson – Adventure and simplicity on Cook Islands family holiday
Catherine Marshall – Sowing the seeds of travel and adventure



Destination Canada
Element Melbourne Richmond
Glasgow – People Make Glasgow
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve
Wild Bush Luxury



It may not be a black-tie event this year, but our pandemic Awards Night on November 19 will be no less exciting as we virtually celebrate the best writing, photography and PR of the year.

If you’re celebrating from home the event kicks off with virtual drinks at 5.30pm AEDT. It’s free for all ASTW members but you’ll need to register first:

Sold-out events have been organised in Sydney and Brisbane, allowing up to 30 people to gather for celebrations. Thanks to Louise Goldsbury in Sydney and Christine Retschlag in Brisbane for organising these events.

Sydney members and friends will gather at the Travel Industry Hub in North Sydney, including ASTW president Elisa Elwin and many finalists from our writer and PR ranks. Thanks to Nick Wayland and TravMedia for sponsoring drinks and finger food.

In Brisbane, the red carpet will be rolled out at Red Hill Cinemas, with pre-event drinks starting from 4pm QLD time before linking in to the awards live-stream on the cinema screen (Gold Class, no less).



For the 2020 ASTW Awards the ASTW used a new management platform called Award Force to distribute, rank and collate the 619 entries you sent. (Don’t worry — the judges were still humans!) We hope you found it easy to work with – the feedback from several overseas judges is that they found the system a pleasure to work within and may suggest it for their own awards.





Raise a glass, because 2020 is almost done, and there’s a bigger, brighter, busier and more prosperous year ahead.

Queensland Christmas Lunch: Thursday, December 3, hosted by Tourism PNG at Eagles Nest, Kangaroo Point.

South Australia Lunch: Thursday, November 26, hosted by SeaLink at Electra House, Adelaide. Bookings close November 18. But wait, there’s more: save the date for a Christmas Lunch on Thursday, December 10 (details coming soon).

Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Darwin, Canberra and Castlemaine (and anywhere else members happen to be): While there are no official ASTW lunches or parties organized as yet (thanks to the virus), the best way to celebrate the start of what will hopefully be a fabulous summer will be with an informal get-together at one of your favourite restaurants or pubs. A shout-out on the ASTW Facebook page is the best way to organise this. And don’t forget to post your party pics (the nice, tidy ones) on the ASTW Facebook page.


Save the date – Wednesday, 16 December at 12 noon AEDT – for our 2020 AGM, to be held online. It is vital that the meeting promptly achieves a quorum: the first request is that you return (in advance) a notice of your intention to attend and then, on the day please sign-in by noon so we can go straight to business. The AGM is expected to last around one hour. If there are items for discussion that you wish to place on the agenda, now is the time to formulate them. More details will follow soon in the formal notice of the AGM sent to each member, so keep an eye on your inbox.




Nominations have closed for positions on the 2020-2021 ASTW Board. As all positions were filled there is no need for a vote, and the results will be declared at the upcoming AGM prior to voting on executive positions within the Board.



Your Board — yes, Board, as it is now officially named — would like to announce the completion of the statutory process of filing the recent constitutional changes, as approved by your majority vote, with the NSW Department of Fair Trading. The Society’s new constitution can be found here.

In summary, the voted changes are:
1. The committee is now the “Board” and sub-committees now “committees” reporting to the Board.
2. Digital Publisher members are known now as Digital Publishers and this category has now been included in the Powers of the Board statement.
3. To clarify that 75% of eligible voters refers to 75% of eligible voters who have voted in the electronic ballot.
4. Digital Publishers now have voting rights and may now be elected to the Board and PR and Digital publisher members may now be elected to office bearer positions, except President.
5. Two PR members sit on the Board but should any casual vacancy arise, a further PR member may join to fill the vacancy until the next AGM.
6. Removed a fixed membership fee to allow variances over time.
7. The category of Full Associate Member has been removed as that category no longer exists. (We have Full Writers and Associate Writers.)
8. Corrected contradicting requirements to form a quorum for AGM and general meetings.

Your Board recognises there are several inconsistencies that require amendments in order to finalise an enduring constitution. This will be a job for the next Board.





We are pleased to announce the renewal of TravMedia’s sponsorship of the ASTW for 2021—2022. As the travel industry’s only online network for public relations managers to connect with journalists, editors and content creators worldwide, TravMedia has supported the ASTW for two decades, significantly contributing to the Society’s ongoing success.

We are thrilled to continue our strong partnership with TravMedia and appreciate the financial support that allows us to continue offering significant benefits for ASTW members. TravMedia’s support of the ASTW allows us to foster and develop excellence in travel journalism, travel photography and tourism PR, by offering networking opportunities and platforms for sharing information and celebrating the success of ASTW members.

As part of the sponsorship, TravMedia has committed $10,000 to reimburse eligible members for their attendance at ASTW lunches across the country, as well helping to defray attendance costs at domestic AGMs. To be eligible for this support members must actively contribute to TravMedia, with a minimum of 30 stories uploaded and 10 journalist alerts submitted throughout the year.

In addition to its sponsorship of the society, TravMedia remains a Gold Sponsor of the 2020 Awards, supporting the Public Relations Professional of the Year Award.

“The ASTW incorporates a tremendous network of editors, journalists and photographers who consistently produce and share great content on the TravMedia platform each day,” says Nick Wayland, CEO of TravMedia. “Our long-term sponsorship of the ASTW reflects our commitment to the continued growth and evolution of the Australian travel media industry.”

For more information about TravMedia, the Travel Industry’s Global Media Network, visit For more information about sponsoring awards, lunches or events, please email



ASTW writers again had a lock-out on the front row for this year’s prestigious NRMA Kennedy Awards for Excellence in Journalism. On 6 November finalists Katrina Lobley, Anabel Dean and John Borthwick turned up in their Friday night best at the glittering industry event held at Royal Randwick. A good time was had by all, including John who went home with the 2020 award for Outstanding Travel Writing for his Weekend Australian article, Go With the Floe. Well done, all.



If you haven’t yet had a chance to catch up with the ‘Corona Chronicles’ tales that have been published on the ASTW website as part of our social history project, grab a tea or coffee – or a wine if you prefer – and settle in for a good read. They paint a fascinating picture of how we, as professional nomads forced to stay home, have coped (or not) in this challenging year. Look out for new stories to be published soon.

Better still, contribute to it. Please send us your story about your life in Coronavirus time. Tales about a moment in time, the bigger picture, the small one, or whatever you want. Happy, sad, amusing or serious – it’s up to you.

The stories will be collated for the ASTW archives and, down the track, possibly an e-book. Hopefully the collection will showcase how we all coped and will form part of a future social history for ASTW members, their families and friends.

Send your stories – long or short, with a headline and one photo to There is no payment and you will be asked to sign an agreement giving ASTW the rights or a licence in perpetuity to publish the content on


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 – October 2020

October 2020

Dear ASTW members,

What a month it’s been! (I was thinking of leaving just that as my President’s Report. But, of course, there’s always more…)

Early in the month we had the unexpected departure from the ASTW committee of Catherine Marshall. Thank you, Catherine for your energy, commitment and passion for supporting the society and committee.

The gaps in committee membership were filled with four new/old members stepping in to support the continuing members, Kylee Kay, Pip Macken, Scott Podmore and Christina Pfeiffer, and yours truly.

Thank you to Lee Mylne, Lee Atkinson, David McGonigal and John Borthwick for contributing your combined years of ASTW experience, fresh perspectives and sage advice. We’re also relishing your welcome wit, giving our meetings and correspondence a much-needed lighter tone.

The committee, which sees itself in a caretaker role until the next elections, has embraced the firm request of the Advisory Panel to hit the pause button and cut back on most activities and initiatives until the AGM. We are now focussing on the less glamorous yet essential tasks required to maintain the society and support you, the members, while also navigating the complications of the pandemic.

A heartfelt call out to our Victorian members who have suffered far more than others while in extended lockdown and the hardships this creates.

Included in the committee task list are the 2020 Awards, culminating in our virtual awards event to be held on November 19. Here is the chance to see each other virtually and celebrate, as all other gatherings have been suspended or cancelled for this year. Thank you to the Awards subcommittee members who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to re-structure the ASTW Awards for Excellence.

I want to thank everyone who has volunteered their time and expertise during this extraordinary year. To all members of the subcommittees working behind the scenes and those in front of the cameras, THANK YOU! You are all much appreciated and your value to the society in this year has been exemplary.

I will mention specifically the Professional Development subcommittee for keeping us informed, entertained and connected with ongoing webinars and Zoom drinks. Those thanks extend to all who shared their expertise and talents via the webinars. A wealth of resources is now lodged on the ASTW website for everyone’s reference. Thank you, all, for hanging-in throughout this coronavirus. We look forward to more webinars in 2021.

To close, I reiterate my personal ethics of kindness, respect and inclusion, values I hope I also bring to my role as your Pandemic President.
Kind regards,

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President



This year’s annual awards ceremony will be like no other. Clear your calendar for 19 November, 6pm AEDT We are excited to announce the fab Jean Kittson as MC for our first-ever online event. Many of us know Jean from her TV shows such as The Big Gig and Let the Blood Run Free in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but some may not know that Jean is an extraordinary master of ceremonies. With her mix of wicked wit and a dash of seriousness she promises to be the perfect fit for our event. The event will include the award presentations along with several interactive segments to ensure that everyone is part of the fun and can share it with friends.

The committee encourages members to get together and share the event with ‘real-life’ interactions. Why not find a local venue with a screen (probably a pub or restaurant) for a casual catch-up where you can watch the ceremony and share the fun? Where restrictions still exist, we encourage home or small-group events. These gatherings would be DIY social pop-ups rather than ASTW sponsored events.


Judging is now complete for all categories, thanks to a panel of local and international judges that were recruited and supervised by Mike Smith. The 2020 Awards received 619 entries.

Stringent new measures are in place with both the Award Force and Awards subcommittee procedures. No one beyond the three-person subcommittee and the secretariat has access to the Award Force admin area. No other party knows who has entered, the number of entries per category, the identity of judges and which ones judged each category. The judges do not know their fellow judges or their scores.

The Awards subcommittee will check the scores and all shortlisted entries for eligibility. The secretariat will be notified of their decisions. The Awards subcommittee will report to the ASTW committee with the finalists in each category, plus relevant observations and recommendations.

Huge thanks to Peter Hook, Mike Smith and Justine Costigan for going above and beyond the call in their efforts, enabling the ASTW to run the awards smoothly this year. We look forward to seeing everyone at the Virtual Awards Ceremony and celebrating the winners and all finalists.


Members recently voted via special resolutions for constitutional changes proposed by your committee in order for the society to move forward. During this we received generous feedback that will be applied for future decisions around constitutional changes. A constitution must stand the test of time. To this end a subcommittee will be created post-AGM to work on governance, in conjunction with our Advisory Members, to frame a constitution that hopefully remains ‘timeless’. For now, we are pleased to announce that all special resolutions were passed with a minimum 84 percent of voters for each amendment. The revised constitution has now been lodged with NSW Fair Trading and will be tabled at the next AGM. Thank you to all who voted.


What an enormous contribution the Professional Development subcommittee made to the ASTW during 2020 and the pandemic.

ASTW Zoom drinks became a highlight and a connection for many during lockdown. With the commitment, creative energy and professional talent of primary co-hosts Tracey Croke and Amanda Kendle, many Friday nights were spent laughing, connecting and supporting each other during these strange times. We learned much about one another during these events, from hidden talents, back yard adventures and huntsman spider companions to shared tales from our many travel adventures.

The webinars have been a valuable training opportunity for the society when most other options for gatherings and membership ‘value’ were cancelled or postponed. Thank you to Dianne Bortoletto, Seana Smith, Catherine Marshall and Amanda Kendle for being the driving force in the creation and facilitation of so many worthwhile and informative presentations. A huge shout of thanks extends to all those who presented webinars, offering their expertise and advice.

The committee has decided to pause both the drinks and webinar sessions while awaiting the newly elected committee to work with the Professional Development Subcommittee on future projects. The final Zoom drinks, during which the good folk of Tourism Authority of Thailand treated us to a terrific cooking and cocktail class on Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, was a fitting farewell-for-now event. Meanwhile, we encourage you to continue to meet, connect and support each other outside the official ASTW banner. Looking forward to seeing you all in person when we can all meet again.



We regret that there are no more lunches planned for 2020. Yes — no ASTW Christmas lunch! And no possibilities until January 21 at the earliest. However, some members might consider organising their own informal Christmas gatherings or picnics, with Santa Claus at 20 paces.


Steered by the well read Sue Gough Henly the inaugural meeting of the ASTW Book Club took place via Zoom on 15 September. There was plenty of excitement about THE YIELD by this year’s Miles Franklin award winner Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. Eight members joined the discussion during the evening. What might have been lacking in numbers was made up for by enthusiasm for language and ideas. Sue has a contact for Tara June Winch who might be a great resource in potentially developing an indigenous travel writer-mentoring program. We invite feedback from members before taking this further.

After Sue suggested WANDERLAND by Jini Reddy as the next book in discussion with those who attended the last group, the focus then changed to WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens, as also suggested by Lou (‘loved the writing’) Southerden. Set in the coastal marshes of North Carolina, ‘Crawdads’ offers a scientist’s fascination for the natural world and a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story, all wrapped in an intriguing who-dunnit plot. This excellent debut novel for wildlife scientist Delia Owens was published at age 69.

The next meeting will be at 5pm on 12 November. Stay tuned for more announcements on Facebook. Meanwhile, read on!


Pitches for the 2021 convention have been received and are under review. With the uncertainty that Covid-19 continues to create in travel, the committee has erred on the side of caution, narrowing the potential destinations to two – both domestic, both fabulous. Negotiations continue and we will announce the decision as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the next AGM will hopefully be held in late December or early January.


THE TIME WHEN TRAVEL STOPPED – Social History Story Project 2020

Do you feel inspired to write about your experiences while living through a pandemic that has changed all our lives?

If so, please send your story about life in Coronavirus time – happy, sad, amusing or serious – it’s up to you.

Hopefully, the collection of stories will showcase how we all coped and become part of social history for future generations of ASTW members and family and friends.

Stories can be about a moment in time, the bigger picture or whatever you want.

All ASTW members are invited to send stories to be collated for the ASTW archives and maybe an e-book down the track.

The stories will all be published on the ASTW website in coming weeks.

The Details

  1. Please send stories – long or short, with a headline to
  2. First deadline is November 15 2020 with a second deadline of January 15 2021. Later stories can be added.
  3. There is no payment involved and you will be asked to sign an agreement giving ASTW rights or a licence in perpetuity to publish the content on


Longtime ASTW member and current committee member, John Borthwick recently won the 2020 Pacific Area Travel Association’s (PATA) Gold Award for Best Destination Story. His article, ‘Thai Left Bank is Just Right’, about Bangkok’s Thonburi district was published in The West Australian. This was John’s second PATA Gold gong. We’re proud of the line-up of recent ASTW members who’ve won this PATA Gold Award: Kerry van der Jagt (2019), Aleney de Winter (2018), Christine Retschlag (2017) and Roderick Eime (2016). At drinks soon after the award announcement a fellow writer, who wasn’t familiar with PATA, asked John, ‘A Putter award? You’ve taken up golfing? Well done.’


Are almost in the mail. Members can expect to receive their new cards by early November. As ever, big thanks to TravMedia for their support in producing our membership cards.


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.