ASTW joins the war on waste

As part of our very own “War on Waste” the ASTW is going “plastic bottle-free” and “clean and green” this year’s convention, awards and AGM (18-20 August) and we need your help.

If you’re coming please BYO reusable water bottle to use during the event and on the pre- and post-famils you’re doing .

BYO lanyard too if you have one lying around, to cut down on waste; spares welcome, for those who don’t bring one.

Thanks to our hosts Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Sunshine Coast Council and Visit Sunshine Coast, there will be filtered water stations where we can refill our bottles. The Welcome Event will also be plastic bottle-free, biodegradable bamboo plates will be provided and leftover food will go to OzHarvest (which distributes surplus food to people in need, reducing landfill in the process).

Big thanks to Angela Saurine for getting the “sustainable AGM” ball rolling and to Peter Hook, Danielle Lancaster and the rest of the ASTW committee for coming together on this issue.

Let’s all help make the 2017 ASTW Cinventin and Awards our most sustainable event yet!

Did you know…? Caloundra Music Festival on the Sunshine Coast was the first festival in Australia to go plastic bottle-free, in 2013.

Do you give a crap?
On a related note, Penny Watson has kindly arranged for ASTW members to receive a 15 per cent discount when buying forest-friendly toilet paper from Who Gives a Crap, which donates 50 per cent of its profits to help build toilets in developing countries. Go to and enter the code.


Finalists for 2017 ASTW Awards of Excellence

Here is the full list of finalists for the 2017 Awards of Excellence. Congratulations to everyone! We would also like to thank the sponsors for the awards this year. If we have no sponsors, we have no awards. Thank you to each and every sponsor for your support. See you on the Sunshine Coast 18-20 August!

ASTW Travel Writer of the Year – sponsored by Visit USA Australia

Penny Watson

Meals on Wheels – Traveller/Fairfax Media
A Taste for Incognito – Vacations & Travel
Rolling with the Locals – Traveller/Fairfax Media

Catherine Marshall 

Great Southern Land – Qantas Magazine

After the Big Chill – The Australian

Africa’s Great Bat Invasion – Traveller/Fairfax Media


Mark Daffey   

The Avocado Canoe Club – Wild Magazine

Polar Opposite – The Johnnie Walker Edit

Here be Dragons – Great Walks


Kerry Van Der Jagt     

On the Dreaming Track – Qantas Magazine

South Pacific Spring – Nat Geo Traveller

Life in the Deep Freeze – Traveller/Fairfax Media


ASTW Photographer of the Year – Sponsored by Abercrombie and Kent
Danielle Lancaster

Badlands Sunrise – Vacations & Travel Magazine
Sand dunes – Vacations & Travel Magazine
Lester – Vacations & Travel Magazine
Solomon Islands – Travel2Next
Whale tail – Where Gold Coast

Dan Avila

Vanishing Warmth – Vacations & Travel magazine
Spa Pool – Caravan and Camping with Kids magazine
Snowy Istanbul – Just Luxe
Ranger Sarah – Kimberley & Pilbara Holiday Planner 2017
Washed stones – Vacations & Travel Magazine

Mark Daffey
Winter Wonderland – The Johnnie Walker House Edit
The Usual Suspects – Get Lost Magazine
Perahera Partying – Lonely Planet Asia
Mirror Image – Get Lost Magazine
Bo-Kaapster – Lonely Planet Asia


Communicator or Communications Team of the Year – Sponsored by TravMedia

Janaya Birse – Hawaii Tourism/The Walshe Group, Sabi Sabi Private Reserve
DC&A Worldwide – Destination Canada (Pip Macken/Donna Campbell)

Best Travel Photograph – Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand

Kara Murphy – Richelieu Rock star  – Boat International
Mark Daffey   – Usual Suspects – Get Lost Magazine
Dan Bannister – Ancient Stepwell in Jodhpur  – Holidays for Couples
Dan Avila – Miles Away – Club Marine Magazine
Mark Daffey – Mirror Image – Lonely Planet Asia

Best Story about the AGM Host Destination – sponsor tba

Angela Saurine – Safari Surprises – Mamamia
Aleney de Winter – Bites and Sites on the Streets of Stellenbosch – Boy Eats World
Shirley Sinclair – Drink in the Rugged Beauty – Sunshine Coast Sunday

Best Family Travel Story – Sponsored by Bound Round

Penny Watson – Rolling with the Kids – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Tiana Templeman – Land Ahoy – Flight Centre Travel Ideas
Aleney de Winter – Angkor Away – Holidays with Kids magazine
Julie Miller – Jumbo Tales – Flight Centre Travel Ideas
Sheriden Rhodes – Family Face Time – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Best Travel Blog – Sponsor tba

Have Wheelchair Will Travel – Julie Jones
The Global Goddess – Christine Retschlag
Boy Eats World – Aleney de Winter

Best Tourism Organisation or Travel Product – Sponsored by Nugggit

Kyoto Tourism – Alison Roberts-Brown
The Rees Hotel – Caroline Davidson
Glasgow Tourism – Laura Speirs

 Best Travel Broadcaster – Sponsored by TFE Hotels

Ben Groundwater
Pamela Wright
Greg Grainger

Best Australian Story under 1000 words – Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Ben Groundwater – A taste of the original Australia – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Marian McGuinness – A little Night Music in Sydney – The Australian
Mark Daffey – Luck Be a Lady – Escape/News Ltd

Best Australian Story over 1000 words – Sponsored by Tourism Australia

Craig Tansley – It’s a Long Way to the Top – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Kerry Van Der Jagt – On the Dreaming Track – Qantas Magazine
Andrew Bain – Camel trekking in the Flinders Ranges – Traveller/Fairfax Media

 PR Campaign of the Year – Sponsor tba

Relaunch of the Ultimo Hotel – Kim McKay – Klick Communications
Royal Caribbean – Arrival of Ovation of the Seas to Australia – Gail D’Arcy
Experience Aloha – Hawaii Tourism Oceania/Walshe Group – Janaya Birse

Best Food Story – Sponsored by Outrigger Resorts

Julie Miller – Eating in New Orleans– Traveller/Fairfax Media
Catherine Marshall – Great Southern Land – Qantas
Jennifer Ennion – Arctic Jewels  – Nourish

Best Responsible Tourism story – Intrepid Travel

Mark Daffey – Thunder on the Mountain  – Wild Magazine
Louise Southerden – Lighting Up Kolkata’s Slums – Momentum.Travel
Ben Groundwater – Poverty as a tourism attraction: Can travel to a developing country really make a difference? – Traveller/Fairfax Media

Best Adventure Story – Sponsored by G Adventures

Jayne D’Arcy – A Sacred Journey – Jetstar Magazine
Tracey Croke – The Revival of Mavrovo – Adventure.Travel
Andrew Bain – Test your limits – Qantas magazine
Catherine Marshall – Africa’s Great Bat Invasion – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Andrew Bain – Grampians Peaks Trail – Traveller/Fairfax Media

Best Cruise Story – Sponsored by Cruise Lines International Association

Christine Retschlag – Beyond Bali – Holidays for Couples
Helen Hayes – She Sells the Seychelles – Vacations & Travel
John Borthwick – Passage to Paradise – Weekend Australian
Jocelyn Pride – A Voyage for the Soul – Cruise Passenger
John Borthwick – Lao and Now – The Australian

Best International Story Over 1000 words – Sponsored by AccorHotels

Louise Southerden – Morocco Unplugged – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Catherine Marshall – On Board the Eastern & Oriental Express – Traveller/Fairfax Media
John Borthwick – Maldives Surfing – Trailblazers’ Incredible Legacy – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Best International Story Under 1000 words – Sponsored by

Belinda Jackson – Of Pharaohs and Heroes – Luxury Travel Magazine
Ben Groundwater – Mongolia’s Milk of Human Kindness – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Kerry Van Der Jagt – Ice and Isolation – Luxury Travel Magazine                           

Best Travel and Tourism News Story – Sponsored by Zoik

Mark Daffey – Let the Games Begin – Vacations & Travel
Angela Saurine – Hot travel destinations  – Weekend Australian
Christine Retschlag – All Things Spice – Travel Bulletin


ASTW names founder of G Adventures as convention keynote speaker

The Australian Society of Travel Writers has announced Canadian entrepreneur Bruce Poon Tip as one of the keynote speakers at this years ASTW Convention and Awards Night to be held on the Sunshine Coast from August 18-22.

Poon Tip is the founder of adventure travel company and social enterprise G Adventures (, the world’s largest small-group adventure travel company. It has 23 offices worldwide and hosts 150,000 travellers a year on more than 650 tours (across all seven continents).

Passionate about travel’s power to change the world for the better, Poon Tip has become a global leader on social entrepreneurship, leadership, immersive travel and innovation. His myriad successes include founding the nonprofit foundation Planeterra in 2003; and bestselling first book, Looptail: How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business.  His latest book Do Big Small Things, is a journal about life and travel that invites readers to share their own inspiration and creativity.

The ASTW looks forward to welcoming Poon Tip to the Sunshine Coast.

For more information about the ASTW, including sponsoring awards, lunches or events; attending events as a member’s guest; or for membership inquiries, please visit our website or contact secretariat Justine White on

About the ASTW

The ASTW is a 300-strong group of travel writers, editors, radio and television broadcasters, bloggers, guide book authors and photographers (as well as travel industry public relations and marketing professionals) whose work appears regularly in major newspapers, magazines, airwaves and websites across Australia and the world.

All ASTW members must satisfy strict criteria to join and are obligated to substantiate their membership annually by providing details of their published output or industry participation. They must also adhere to a Code of Ethics. By ensuring that only bona fide applicants are admitted, the ASTW maintains its integrity and the professionalism of the travel industry.

Update your calendar with this list of photography competitions

With so many excellent photographers within our ranks, here is a list of photography awards to mark in your diaries.

Compiled by Mark Daffey (photo also by Mark Daffey, who was a runner up in the ASTW Photographer of the Year award last year.

Rough Guides Travel Photography Competition

Entries for 2017 close  at 23.59 (BST) on Monday 24 April. Email a maximum of five images to

“We welcome everything from classic travel images taken oh-so-carefully using a tripod to shot-from-the-hip chance encounters snapped on your phone. And if you have any photos printed from film that you’d like to scan and submit (as JPEGs), go for it – the more variety the merrier. The most important thing is that the photograph has personality (which does not equal filters). We’re looking for images that are as unique to the person who took them as to the place they depict. And don’t forget that travel is all about human interaction – we’d love to see people in your images, but please make sure you have their permission.”

Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) Epson State Awards – Travel category

States open and close at different times during the year.

Expensive. And entries must be printed.


Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year

Entries opened January 13, 2017. Closed February 24, 2017 – keep checking websites for dates for 2018.

Entries must have been taken in the Aus/NZ/Pacific Islands region.

Up to 4 entries per category.

Images can’t be entered in more than one category.

Cost $38 first entry, $22 subsequent entries

Entries must have been taken within 7 years prior to the end of the competition period.


Proify – Travel Category

Entries open February 1, 2017. Close October 31, 2017

Can be taken any time.

Cost US$25 for first entry, then $22 (2 or more), $20 (3 or more), $18 (4 or more) per entry.


Smithsonian Magazine – Travel category

Entries opened March 22, 2016. Close November 30.


National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

Entries open April 1

Categories – Nature, Cities, People.

Entries must have been taken within 2 years of the entry date.

Cost US$15 per entry.


Leica Oskar Barnack Award

Entries open March 1. Close April 10.


ASTW Travel Photographer of the Year

Entries close April 30


ASTW Travel Photograph of the Year

Entries close April 30


Travel Photographer of the Year (TPOTY)

Entries open May 12. Close October 1

3 Portfolio categories – 4 images entered

3 One Shot categories

No age limit on pics

Cost £15 per entry.


Australian Photography Awards

Entries open June 2017. Close September 2017


AMB Photography Awards (mountain biking)

Entries open June 1. Close August 25, 2017


Australian Professional Photography Awards – Travel Category

Entries open July 10, 2017. Close August 10, 2017-03-08 Cost $580 for up to 4 images.


World in Focus Travel Photography Contest

Entries close August 30, 2016

No timeframe for images.

Cost US$45



Entries close October 31


Travel Photographer Society Awards

Entries open November 16, 2016. Close March 10, 2017

4 categories

Cost US$12.50 per entry


Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year – Portfolio Category

Entries close December


Siena International Photo Award (SIPA)

Entries open December 15, 2016. Close February 25, 2017. Earlybird discounts January 8, 2017

Cost €15 for 3 entries.


Sony World Photography Awards

Entries close January 5, 2017 for 2016 entries.

Entries in Open category – up to 3 in total

Entries in Professional category – minimum 5, maximum 10 per category.

Entries must have been taken during the competition calendar year.

Entries for Professional category can be taken prior to that year as long as they are first published during that year.

Cost – FOC


International Photography Awards (IPA)


The Nature Conservancy Photo Contest


Walkley Awards


Wild magazine


World Press Photo

Entries open December 1


Australian Photography magazine


Get Lost magazine


Great Walks magazine


International Traveller & Australian Traveller ‘Your Shot’ competition


Photo Review magazine



Sunshine Coast – Pamela Wright takes a sneak peak at the host city for ASTW Convention 2017

Committee member, Pamela Wright, investigates the 2017 host destination for the 2017 ASTW Convention and Awards

To whet the appetite for members who’ll be attending the ASTW Convention, Awards and AGM on the Sunshine Coast in August this year, whale watching tours will definitely be on the agenda.

Departing from Mooloolaba, a 20-minute drive from the Sunshine Coast Airport, this coastal town will play a central role where members can participate by swimming with the humpback whales. Something I’d love to do.

On a visit, last December, I was too late for the whale migration but, because Mooloolaba is the centre of the Sunny Coast’s great fishing industry, you can go on deep sea fishing charters and guided kayak fishing tours. I chose a more demure water activity. A sunset, two-hour cruise with Sunshine Coast Afloat on the Mooloolah River and canals – on a jet boat no less but this time minus the thrills and spills.

For three days, I stayed at The Mantra in a one-bedroom apartment with a view to the ocean from the balcony and a view across the hinterland to the Glass House Mountains from outside the lift. Downstairs, as you leave this excellent property, is O’Malley’s Irish pub and just beyond is the beginning of a long stretch of beachfront esplanade, full of bars, al fresco restaurants, outdoor cafes and fashion boutiques finishing up at the surf club, a great place to dine looking directly down to the beach.

Hiring a car was an option I took, mainly to drive into and through the Hinterland. I drove via Landsborough to Maleney for a wander through the six kilometres of walking paths in the Botanic Gardens and a walk through the township loaded with bookshops and galleries. Eumundi Markets, open as they are every Wednesday and Saturday, was a perfect stop on the way back to Mooloolaba via a surf lesson with Merrick’s Learn to Surf in Noosa, The World’s Best Surf Lesson “If I may say so myself” says champion surfer Merrick.
Ah Mooloolaba – just a taste of what’s to come.

Sunshine Coast Tourism:
Sunshine Coast Afloat:
Merrick’s Learn to Surf:
Tourism Queensland:


An update from Bud at Tinmugs

One of the highlights of the AGM in Cape Town, and the one that required the most tissues, was the visit by Bud Higgins and some of the children her charity, Tinmugs, looks after. Bud’s story is inspirational, with many of our members writing some excellent stories in magazines and on their blogs. The money we donated to Tinmugs, along with some extra donations by some members and by a collection on the day, went to a good cuase – building a kitchen so that little tummies could be fed on site, rather than being prepared in Bud’s kitchen and shuttled to Overcome in the back of her car.

Bud and the children are so grateful. She sends us this message:nd“The roofing guys held us up for a month longer than expected, but we have made progress and the leaking roof of the old shipping container is now

“The roofing guys held us up for a month longer than expected, but we have made progress and the leaking roof of the old shipping container is now water proofed and the new windows which provide necessary light are terrific. Next is a new bench. Thank you again for providing the much needed funding to enable us to be more efficient in our endeavour to feed the poor kids of Overcome .

Warm wishes
Bud Higgins and the Tinmugs Kids x”

Tinmugs was the ASTW charity beneficiary for 2016 at our Convention in Cape Town, South Africa. Bud, originally from Queensland, Australian feeds and nurtures many starving children in a poor suburb of Cape Town.


Hungry tummies are being fed

New pots in a new kitchen cook up another day’s lunch


Please remember to send anything your write about Tinmugs or your experiences in South Africa before, during or after the AGM, to the secretariat – and to upload to TravMedia.


Thomas E. King’s travel books to inspire travellers for decades to come

Williamsburg Travel Book Room. Pic by Yvette Avard

Williamsburg Travel Book Room. Pic by Yvette Avard

Northern NSW café opens Thomas E King “travel book room”

When Sydney travel writer and ASTW Life Member Thomas (Tom) E King passed away last year after a distinguished 40-year career in the travel industry, he left behind more than 750 treasured travel books.
This week, they found a new home: in sunny Lennox Head on the NSW north coast, where a local café has opened a “travel book room” to share Tom’s books with the public, a fitting legacy for one of the most generous souls of the travel world.
The idea is a collaboration between the café and local travel writer and ASTW member Louise Southerden, with assistance from Tom’s longtime friend and Sydney travel writer Graham Simmons who packed the books into 14 boxes and shipped them to Lennox.
Co-owner of Williamsburg Café Lucy Williams was delighted to have the books there because they would be a great resource for locals and visitors.
“The room is a work in progress, but we’re hoping it becomes a hub for travel writing workshops, talks by visiting travel writers and other travel-related events,” Lucy said.
Tom was born in Moscow, Idaho, but moved to Australia in 1974 and became an ASTW member in 1979 (not long after the ASTW was founded in 1975). He travelled to more than 100 countries during his 40-year career in travel writing and wrote more than 2000 stories, which earned him the honour of life membership of the Australian Society of Travel Writers in 2014.
The 750 books are arranged by region and cover almost every country from Armenia to Zambia. There’s a big section on India (Tom’s favourite destination), quirky titles such as The Children’s Guide to London, books that show how much (and how little) the world has changed and dozens of beautiful coffee table books to browse through over coffee.
“With so many Northern Rivers locals having come from somewhere else, Lennox seems a fitting place for the books of a professional nomad and will hopefully spark new journeys of all kinds,” Louise said.
If ASTW members would like to host a travel-related event at the Williamsburg Café, run a workshop or offer locals a few travel writing tips, please contact Louise Southerden at

Williamsburg Café’s travel book room, at 50 Pacific Parade, Lennox Head, is open every day from 7am to 2pm and until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

ATE 2017, Sydney

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event.

ATE brings together Australian tourism businesses and tourism wholesalers and retailers from around the world through a combination of scheduled business appointments and networking events. It also provides international travel buyers with the opportunity to experience Australia’s tourism offering first-hand through pre and post event familiarisations.

Around 1,500 Australian seller delegates from approximately 500 companies, 700 key buyer delegates from over 30 countries, and over 80 international and Australian media attend this global event.

ATE17 will take place at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC) from 14 to 18 May 2017.


Watch the ATE 2017 video


Visit the ATE website

2UE’s Talking Travel with Pamela Wright Expands Time Slot

Talking Travel with Pamela Wright on Sunday afternoons has expanded to one and a half hours from 2 until 3.30 on Macquarie Radio Network. 

There’ll now be a weekly trivia quiz and extra travel news and they’ll also be talking about cuisine and restaurants in different destinations around the world. Please keep in touch with travel information that would be of interest to a general travel-oriented audience. 

Although it’s newsy and informative, Pamela wants it to be fun and will open the program to talk back callers. Hope you can tune in on Sunday afternoons on 2UE 954 or online on