The latest news and press releases from the ASTW team to the world.

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.

Did You Master Baking Banana Bread During Lockdown?

By Lynn Gail

What did your first day out of lockdown look like?

Were you able to master the downtime so many people cherished during isolation?

When restrictions were lifted across Western Australia, I caught a train and headed into the big smoke of Perth City (more a little puff really, when compared to most capital cities) to meet up with photography friends.

Freedom was scrawled across the last week of June in my empty diary.

A trickle of people confident enough to burst their isolation bubbles, were also making the journey.

Train trips often bring reflection, and during the half hour ride I began to process a slow replay of the past, what had it been? – barely three months.

At times, lockdown had seemed permanent – like having your worst relative visit for a few days then ends up staying indefinitely.

As a constantly on-the-go travel writer and photographer who covers remote destinations, I had initially welcomed the break.

It was an opportunity to put my footloose feet squarely on ‘terra firma’, to take pause, ‘sniff the roses’, and soak up the Indian Ocean’s ions while sunbathing with a good book to shield the sun.

Just five minutes’ walk away, the beach became my sanity drug.

As the clinically cleaned carriages slowed into each station, people sidled onto the train.

Furtive glances put a stamp on our new normal as passengers scanned for empty seats surrounded by extra empty seats.

As the train pulled away commuters relaxed, releasing stale air behind their sagging mouth guards.

But as we sped up to slow down, one question nagged at my sub-consciousness – had I mastered lockdown, how was I coping?

Others, it seemed, had relished closed doors, reduced societal contact, and weeks spent at home.

I was becoming unstuck.

Six cancelled trips.

Departure dates scrubbed from my diary.

Daily links to virtual travel videos showcasing restricted destinations only made the ache more acute, while empty suitcases gathered dust.

Social media posts, one after the other, boasted images of banana bread baked 50 different ways – it seemed if you didn’t bake – you clearly were not locked down tightly enough.

Then there were the: ‘cleaned out the cupboards’, ‘replanted the garden’ and ‘rebuilt the house’ type posts.

My cupboards were still full, my garden still weedy, and the house still had a lengthy to-do list nailed to its timbers.

Any attempts to fit the stay-at-home mould were fast proving feeble.

Weekly ‘Zoom’ sessions with fellow writers and photographers eased the stay-at-home drudge as we played musical instruments, donned silly hats, and mastered screen selfies of us nestled in our pigeonholes.

Phrases like, “I’m writing 2020 off,” or, “I can’t wait to get back to normal,” have become standard.

While I too am counting the days until I hear the long awaited announcement, “please make your way to gate number 3, we’re now boarding for Kenya,” to write a year off, which changed our forever history, and the paths of almost everyone on the planet, seems yet another disposable waste.

Surely the silver lining to all the pain and suffering must be to take stock. To look at our world with a renewed focus, and nurture Mother Earth.

Without her, we are a dissolving mass.

It is fair to say conquering cabin fever has been a colossal challenge for myself and my colleagues.

And even with the recent Covid-19 cases and setbacks in the state of Victoria, as a nation we are still much healthier and stronger than our counterparts.

As the world resets its sails and we can to drop anchor and dive into cleaner oceans, the sensation will be so much more satisfying.

As the train pulls into Perth station, I feel I have landed in some faraway destination as the sweet sensation of absorbing life post lockdown soaks in.

Others it seems are feeling the same.

There’s a definite spring in their steps, a keen sparkle in the eyes, and an excitable din of chatter as they ease their way out of the train and step onto travelators to carry them into the city’s bustling malls.

The sun is smiling. Talented buskers are plying their trade outside cafés filled with Covid safe numbers.

And the city comes to life.

It feels like a festival, a celebration of life, and a reminder nothing is permanent.

In the distance I spot my fellow photography friends, and a new normal begins.

Mindful Moments in Manly

By Angela Saurine

When I first heard the term Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, I could immediately relate.

Coined by nutritional biochemist, Dr Libby Weaver, it describes the modern malaise of always being busy.

The constant juggle of work, grocery shopping, housework, social commitments and getting children to and from day care or school, as well as sport and other extra-curricular activities, is something many
of us struggle with.

If there was one silver lining to the recent coronavirus-induced lockdown, it was the fact it gave us time.

The rushing stopped.

We were literally able to stop and smell the roses – and many other types of flowers in our case – and spend quality time with our closest family members, without the usual pressures of everyday life.

Sure, at times it was hard.

But I am confident we will look back at this unexpected period of our lives with fondness in the years, and decades, to come.

My two-year-old son Oliver and I are extremely lucky to live in a beautiful locale – Manly in NSW.

Set on a peninsula, with Sydney Harbour on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, I was well aware that there were many worse places in the world to be forced by the government to self-

The area is blessed with lovely walking tracks, parks, bushland, and beaches.

While I thought I knew the area well, I soon realised there were so many more places to discover.

With playgrounds closed, and exercise one of the few reasons we were permitted to leave home, I was determined to find different places for us to go, within walking distance, and abiding by the social distancing rules.

Some days I pushed Oliver on his scooter to North Harbour Reserve at Balgowlah, along the Manly to Spit Walk.

Once there, we’d stop so he could climb on a rock and onto the winding branches of a big old tree, and have an afternoon snack.

We’d kick a ball around for a while so he could burn off some energy, or meander along the creek and over mossy rocks to get up close to the waterfall at low tide.

As we strolled along the path back, Oliver would point out boats on the horizon, and sometimes cruise ships and planes, which became less common by the day.

We discovered another large park, surrounded by water on three sides, on the site of the old gasworks at Little Manly Point, and ventured up the hill to North Head Sanctuary, where we found swamps and World War II military fortifications.

On weekdays, when it was less crowded, we’d follow the sun to Shelly Beach, pausing to watch water dragons, and a cormorant that can often be seen standing on a rock drying its outstretched wings.

Sometimes, we’d walk to Manly Lagoon, where dogs splashed about in the shallows.

On warm days, we’d explore the rock pools at Delwood Beach at Fairlight, looking for fish in the water, touching periwinkles and playing with seaweed.

On the way home, we might stop to see a cockatoo perched on the railing of our building’s front balcony, and look for strawberries and tomatoes growing in the communal garden.

It was the ultimate staycation.

It’s a shame, in a way, that it took a pandemic to make us more mindful.

But I, for one, am grateful that the experience has given me a new, enlightened perspective, and I have vowed to incorporate some elements into our daily lives.

The story originally published in the winter 2020 issue of Out & About with Kids.

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. 


Call for Nominations

ASTW Awards for Excellence 2020 Finalists Announced

Congratulations to all the finalists for the ASTW Awards for Excellent 2020!

You can see a full list of finalists and links to their stories and photos here

Thank you to all those who submitted an award entry this year.

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. 

ASTW Newsletter – September 2020

September 2020

Dear ASTW members,

The Covid lament sounds for all the world like a broken record: another month of border closures and lockdown for our Melbourne and regional Victorian members, another month of uncertainty and staggering upheaval in our travel and tourism industry. We acknowledge the hardship you’re enduring, and commend you all on your fortitude. Thanks to everyone for the supportive and caring social media posts; it’s good to see our members reaching out where needed and helpfully shifting the tone to one that is positive, thoughtful and good-natured.

Speaking of which, a leaping high-five is due to Sherriff Shaney Hudson for taking on the role of chief ASTW FB group moderator – see below for more information on why this was necessary. The last month has also brought changes to your committee: we had departures by Carla Grossetti, Keren Lavelle and Natascha Mirosch, who had decided not to renominate as per their original commitment of coming onboard until what was originally scheduled as a 3-6 September AGM. Their contributions were significant, primarily due to the extended hours of voluntary work during the committee transitions over the previous six months. We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carla, Keren and Natascha for their time and commitment. You’re missed already!

We are delighted, however, to welcome onto the committee Pip Macken as our second PR representative and Scott Podmore as a full writer member. Scott is doubly celebrated as the only male committee member and a valuable Victorian representative. Much appreciation is due to both of you for joining our ranks at this time.

We have been busy as usual, with our time filled this month by the 2020 Awards for Excellence, planning a virtual awards ceremony for November, working to renew TravMedia’s annual sponsorship contract and assembling constitutional updates to ensure the committee maintains its vigour and relevance in these changing times. I can’t forget the ongoing flow of excellent webinars and collaboration with all our outstanding volunteer sub-committee members (we seriously couldn’t do it without you!).

Special mention goes to the hard-working awards sub-committee – Mike Smith, Justine Costigan and front-man Peter Hook – for your time in not only working on the launch of this year’s new-look awards but also your availability in replying to the many questions and suggestions from members during the entry period. This was an extraordinary effort for a mammoth task, and it’s been a pleasure to work with you on this. With over 600 entries, the many judges are now actively working their way through the submissions before announcing the finalists. Best of luck, everyone.

Take care,

Kind regards,

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President




We’re delighted to welcome onto the committee ASTW members Pip Macken and Scott Podmore. With 20-plus years’ experience in PR and professional writing, Pip has held the role of Media Director for Destination Canada for the past decade. She is also Media Director for Yukon Tourism and Travel Manitoba. Pip enjoys creating PR programs for her clients, including hosting famils (during non-Covid times, of course!) and writing content to entice Aussies to visit Canada. Most of all, she loves getting to know ASTW writers and photographers, and tailoring remarkable famil itineraries to match their personal interests. Scott (or Poddy, as he’s better known) is a content “all-rounder” who brings fresh ideas and commercial nous from his experience as an award-winning journalist and newspaper editor, videographer, bestselling author and managing director of his company, October Grey Media. He’s been a freelancer over the years for dozens of magazines, newspapers and company websites including the Travel Design Group, a part of the Magellan Group, and online travel mag The Departure Lounge. Scott is set to launch some exciting new travel platforms including The Luxury Pod and Conscious Travel Mag post-COVID (once the dust settles).





What a bumper year it’s been for our awards! We received 618 entries this year, surpassing the previous year’s record of 524 entries. We have also received many positive comments about how easy the AwardForce system was to use. Big thanks to committee member Christina Pfeiffer for her intensive, behind the scenes work getting AwardForce installed and ready to use, and the awards sub-committee – including committee point of contact Elisa Elwin – for their unstinting work in the launch of the new and improved 2020 awards. The confidence in the awards process has certainly been reinforced by the significant increase in entries this year.

Meanwhile, the committee is busy planning a virtual awards event for 5 November 2020. While it’s impossible to predict what the future holds with regards to social restrictions, we are hoping to include small group gatherings in various states as part of the celebrations.

We’d like to express our gratitude to Tourism Australia and TravMedia for recommitting sponsorship for this year’s awards. We’re still seeking sponsorship of various elements of the awards event, and welcome enquiries at For details of the awards, please click here.





Thank you everyone for renewing your membership. We were thrilled to report an 81 percent renewal rate – an outstanding achievement considering the extraordinary times in which we find ourselves. This is in contrast to a general slump in Australia’s membership-based not-for-profits of between 20 and 25 percent, despite a widespread reduction or scrapping of fees – something your committee decided not to do. Our members’ positive response validates this difficult decision – in particular during a year in which sponsorships and other income generators have been absent. It is a resounding endorsement of the value of ASTW membership and the professional opportunities and camaraderie it delivers. We look forward to another year of ASTW collegiality with you all.


Following our poll and subsequent vigorous discussion on the ASTW Facebook group about the value of our TravMedia-sponsored membership cards, we have decided to issue these cards to our members using sustainable, recycled material. In order to expedite dispatch, please ensure your postal addresses are updated on the ASTW website before Tuesday 15th Sept. If you are having trouble logging in to your profile, please email your updated details to



The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at

  • Ivy Carruth – Associate Writer member
  • Emma Shaw – Digital Publisher member




We regret to inform you of the cancellation of our Tourism Australia/Accor lunches, which were to have been held in Brisbane on 28 October, Sofitel Sydney on 29 October, and Melbourne on 30 October. Covid keeps messing up our plans, but we look forward to reintroducing this much loved pastime soon. Let’s all put an ASTW Christmas lunch on our bucket list!



The ASTW’s inaugural book club will be launched by member Sue Gough Henly on 15 September at 6pm AEST on Zoom ( and live-streamed on our Facebook group. Our first pick is this year’s Miles Franklin Literary Award winner, The Yield, by Wiradjuri author Tara June Winch. Winch has described the novel as a ‘handbook for truth’. If you haven’t yet read it, there’s still time to grab a copy and join in a discussion about it with Sue and fellow members. Happy reading, and thank you Sue for taking on this project!



While we’ve adjusted the frequency of our webinar program, we have plenty of useful topics scheduled for the next couple of months, including sessions with Tourism Australia and several state tourism operators (watch this space and our Facebook group for more details). To watch any of the 21 webinars currently in our library, visit the ASTW website (password required). Meanwhile, bookmark these upcoming sessions:


TravMedia Masterclass for PRs with Nick Wayland, 16 September, 11am AEST
Following Nick’s hugely successful webinar on how media can make the most of TravMedia, he now turns his attention to the many ways in which PRs can benefit from this platform. In this masterclass he will take participants through each step of the process, from building an attention-grabbing profile to connecting with media, posting press releases and making use of TravMedia’s specialist clippings service.


Telling responsible stories: Think Child Safe with Tracey Croke, Friends International’s James Sutherland and a panel of travel operators, 26 September, 11am AEST
Do you put children at risk when you travel? Most travellers would answer no to this question. Sadly, research shows the majority do – largely because well-intentioned actions can inadvertently lead to exploitation and abuse. When travel returns, vulnerable children around the world will need the power of the tourism industry more than ever. In this webinar, chaired by Tracey Croke, we will shine a light on the blind spots and learn how we can become agents for change by making ourselves, our businesses, our content and our publications child safe.





The ASTW committee has asked Life Member and past president Lee Mylne to chair a new Ethics sub-committee, which will advise the committee on ethical issues and review the ASTW Code of Ethics. As a current Doctor of Creative Industries student researching the ethical challenges facing Australian travel journalists in the digital age, Lee is the ideal person to head this sub-committee. Other members of the sub-committee are writer members John Borthwick and John Maddocks, and PR members Sarah Anderson (GTI Tourism) and Shelley Winkel (Tourism & Events Queensland). ASTW members with ethical concerns or questions are also welcome to contact sub-committee members for advice or guidance. The committee thanks Lee, John B and John M, Sarah and Shelley for agreeing to give their time and expertise to this important topic.



The ASTW secretariat recently released a series of special resolutions for constitutional change as deemed necessary in order to cultivate growth of the membership, the committee and the parameters in which we function. There has been substantial feedback and we take on board all constructive comments. We have learned a lot through this process, and whilst we feel the current changes are an important catalyst for growth, we recognise that there are still gaps in the current constitution; it will require a further, in-depth review to ultimately position it as a fundamental document that stands the test of time as our industry evolves. We acknowledge the changes made by many committees over the years, each with a genuine desire to improve the society; however, with each change a little “chink in the chain” has developed, as one change affects another, and the result has been a less than robust and at times contradictory constitution. Your committee is committed to full involvement of the next steps for correction and ultimately the cementing of the constitution for the foreseeable future. For now, however, we ask that these initial changes put forward through special resolution be voted on through the link forwarded to eligible voters. A positive result will allow us to fill our committee and office bearer positions and bring new talent and energy to the committee – something sorely needed after a tough year indeed. If you haven’t already voted, please do so.



Our Facebook group has become our primary meeting place this year, and we thank Shaney Hudson for offering to moderate the space (along with various committee members who have fulfilled this role until now). While we welcome robust discussion, it’s important we recognise the fact that the ASTW is required to meet certain legal obligations as creator of this group. We ask our members to brush up on the group guidelines, which can be found here. Please carefully consider contentious posts, checking first that they are free from bullying, ableism, racism and aggression. Note, too, that posts will only be approved between 9am and 8pm (unless moderators are available outside of those hours). Finally, a reminder that official requests or questions regarding committee issues or decisions or official ASTW business need to be officially put in writing to the Secretariat at or the committee at





The Global Tourism Media Alliance, of which the ASTW is a member, has welcomed the German travel journalist society, VDRJ Vereinigung Deutscher Reisejournalisten to its ranks. This will create mutually beneficial opportunities for all our societies’ members as well as the alliance itself.



In exciting news, for the first time ever GTMA alliance member the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) has invited ASTW members to join their annual convention, to be held virtually from 14 – 17 October. For more than 60 years, the SATW’s convention has been limited to members, their guests, and professional development speakers. But in the spirit of community, and in recognition that many journalistic and media organisations have had to cancel their annual conventions, they have opened registration to ASTW members. This year’s agenda includes keynote addresses by Longwoods International President Emir Elyon and hospitality entrepreneur Chip Conley; panels on the future of the industry; discussions on sustainability and diversity; hands-on tutorials on communications metrics, SEO, writing and running your own business; destination tours presented by sponsors; and networking happy hours. Confirmed speakers include Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, Travel + Leisure Editor-in-Chief Jacqueline Gifford and Melvin Tennant, president and CEO of Visit Minneapolis. All sessions will be recorded and available to conference registrants after the convention (which will help with the time difference!). The cost for non-member journalist attendees is US$250; those who register by September 8 receive a US$25 discount. You can learn more about the meeting and register at



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 – June 2020

June 2020

“How did it get so late so soon?”
― Dr. Seuss

Dear ASTW members,

And so we find ourselves, inconceivably, already in the month of June, the halfway mark in what is surely the strangest year in living memory.

Despite the growing chill in the mornings and the shortening of days, it feels oddly spring-like for our committee members. After months of sorting and tidying, discarding the old and unworkable and adopting more efficient processes, we’ve finally gained an accurate picture of both our membership and our financial situation. And we are feeling relieved, reinvigorated, refreshed and absolutely fired up for some much-needed future planning.

Supporting us, as we head into part two of 2020, is our new secretariat representative, Annie Coulter (see report below). We are thrilled to welcome Annie into the ASTW family and to gratefully hand over the burden we’ve collectively shouldered over the past few months. With her able assistance we aim to grow the ASTW, not just in member numbers, but in reputation – to be seen as the definitive authority on travel media in Australia.

Annie will be the point of contact for new members, and we hope you will all make her feel welcome if you have the occasion to be in touch.

We are still in discussion about when, where and what our AGM will look like after the unavoidable cancellation of this year’s conference, which was due to be hosted by Tourism Whitsundays in September. While the current uncertainties rendered a full-blown convention impossible, we urge members who might be hitting the road to remember that the beautiful Whitsundays region isn’t going anywhere and is as deserving of our love and attention as ever. And don’t forget the other regions hit hard by fire and drought; they all deserve our love. Meanwhile, we promise to let you know as soon as we can about possible alternative arrangements.

On behalf of the committee I want to thank those who have volunteered for the sub-committees and working groups, a full list of which is contained below. Your time and expertise are very much appreciated and we look forward to collaborating with you all on the many initiatives we have planned for the rest of this year.

And finally: we’d like to see more of you. Please take a moment to upload your photos to our members’ page on the website, come and chat on our Facebook page or check out one of our free webinars.

Stay well, stay positive and above all check in with your ASTW colleagues as we tentatively step into the sunshine of the brave new post-Covid world.

Elisa Elwin
ASTW President




It was with much pleasure this week that we welcomed onboard our new secretariat, The Association Specialists (TAS), following a comprehensive tender process (RFT). The committee was overwhelmed by the quality of responses to the RTF, and our selection team – Elisa Elwin, Kylee Kay, Keren Lavelle, Christina Pfeiffer and Saskia Baker – did a sterling job working through them.

“Although the applicants were all very competitive, we feel TAS and its team members are the most suitable fit for our membership,” says president Elisa Elwin.

“We are really looking forward to working with the team at TAS and moving forward during these unprecedented COVID-19 times and are confident this partnership will aid in strengthening and growing the society into the future”.

The TAS team will be led by director of member services Megan Ogier and association management team leader Annie Coulter, who will be the regular point of contact for our committee and members.

Managing director of TAS Francis Child said he is delighted to be working with the ASTW and looks forward to a long and successful partnership.

“Our dedicated team are already primed to assist the ASTW to grow and flourish as we come out of the most challenging times the industry has ever faced. We are excited to be working with a group of professionals ready to remind us how we can participate in our favourite pastime once again – travel”.

The TAS head office is located in Sydney’s Lower North Shore suburb of St Leonards. Members wishing to contact the secretariat can email, call the direct ASTW phone line on 02 9431 8663 or post a letter to PO Box 576, Crows Nest, NSW 1585, Australia.



We will shortly be commencing membership renewals for the 2020/21 membership year and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support. We are proud to have carried the society along through unprecedented upheaval. For all of us, the first half of 2020 has been a challenging one; however, we realise the ASTW has a key role to play in supporting our members as we rebuild and reimagine our industry as restrictions are lifted. Don’t miss out by failing to renew! This period of consolidation has brought home the unique position each and every one of you holds within an industry association that has enormous potential for resurgence and growth.

In recognition of the pressures of COVID-19, the substantiation process for the membership was suspended for 2020. You will shortly receive an invoice for your membership renewal via email. Please contact us at or call the ASTW phone line on 02 9431 8663 if you would like to discuss hardship options.

We look forward to a dynamic year ahead and are proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.


The following new member applications have been approved by the committee. Any objections should be lodged with the secretariat within 30 days at

Belinda Luksic – Associate Writer member
Jacinta Bonus – Public Relations member
Julia D’Orazio – Associate Writer member
Roslyn Jolly – Associate Writer member
Heather Jeffrey – Public Relations member
Alesha Bradford – Digital Publisher member
Jarryd Salem – Digital Publisher member



After much deliberation, the committee has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Trivia Night. Uncertainty around interstate travel restrictions and requirements for social distancing would have greatly reduced the number of participants, while sponsorship of individual prizes would have been in question. Thank-you to our host, Sofitel Wentworth Sydney, who was on standby for the event, and our major sponsor, United Airlines, who we look forward to working with again when Trivia Night makes its return next year.

As restrictions are slowly being lifted on an almost fortnightly basis now, our super-star luncheon coordinator Laura Speirs and her team have been working behind the scenes to hopefully secure the comeback of all lunches from around August this year for Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. After a five-month hiatus, it will be a wonderful opportunity for members to reconnect face to face in their respective cities.

Although we were disappointed by the necessary cancellation of the Tourism Whitsundays 2020 ASTW Convention, the convention sub-committee have put their heads together and are hoping to create a COVID-19 style convention for 2020. Like the rest of 2020 it may not be the “usual” affair we are accustomed to, but we are hopeful we can create an event which, after so many months in isolation, can reunite members and bring the society together again – with social distancing of course – so we can celebrate in moving forward as a united group of esteemed professionals. At this stage, the mini-convention may be held in mid-October when, hopefully, Australia has opened up completely to domestic tourism for residents of all states and territories.

Saskia Baker and Kylee Kay


There are plenty more webinars coming up (and topics to be explored) but we’re keen to get our members’ thoughts on how often we should be presenting them now that restrictions are being lifted, and what topics you think we should cover. Please keep your eye on our ASTW Facebook page where we’ll be launching a poll next week in which you can vote on these questions. Or, if you’d prefer, you can email your ideas to Catherine Marshall and the professional development sub-committee at Meanwhile, stand by for sessions on memoir writing, creating a Pinterest strategy and advanced video techniques.



While we’ve already mentioned substantiation won’t be a requirement for 2020, we encourage members who haven’t already done so to fish out their published stories and load them onto TravMedia. It’s the perfect place to store and safekeep your travel features for 2021, making substantiation, when it finally rolls around, a far less complicated process. It’s also a place for media to showcase their work to editors, and for both media and PR members to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of travel.


In this new column we profile our members in the spirit of curiosity and comradeship.


Writer member Alexis is a former music journo who joined the ASTW a year ago. He specialises in adventure travel and is a keen foodie.

What do you never travel without?

A notebook (obviously) and a few pairs of ExOfficio underwear

Aisle or window?

Window, every time

Scariest travel experience?

Being ordered to leave Egypt by police during the Arab Spring… and seeking refuge in Syria

Bucket list destination?

The mountains of Central Asia

Best dining experience while travelling?

Taking a break from a folk music festival in Serbia for a farmhouse spread of home-smoked meats, slow-cooked stews and far too much rakia.



Hearty congratulations to ASTW PR member Gaynor Reid for winning the inaugural GTMA’s Global Travel Communicator Award. The panel of international judges said AccorHotel’s “Wintervention” campaign was “a creative idea with strong execution, and the 66 per cent year-on-year increase in bookings represents a great result! It was a fun and highly effective campaign by the Accor communications team that achieved its objectives on a modest budget.”

Gaynor is vice president communications & CSR Asia Pacific for AccorHotels, and was one of four finalists in the award. Her project contributors included Bridie Commerford, Cynthia Dammerer and Ginni Post. The prize was a US$5,000 Apple Gift Card sponsored by


Thank you to Tourism Authority of Thailand for ensuring our Facebook page was filled with beautiful photographs taken by our talented ASTW members. It has evoked great memories in many of us along with a desire to make a return visit to “The Land of Smiles” as soon as we can. Congratulations to Justin Meneguzzi for taking out first place in TAT’s #HugThailand photo competition with his evocative shot of Wat Pho. And happy 60th birthday TAT สุขสันต์วันเกิด from all of us at ASTW.



The ASTW’s sustainability sub-committee now has four members: Carla Grossetti (committee member), Justine Costigan, Sarah Reid and myself as well as Jennifer Ennion and Kate Hennessy on the working group. We’re all about being inclusive, so if you have any ideas, suggestions or feedback or just want to get help ASTW members work and travel more sustainably, please get in touch with any of us by email or through Facebook.

As the travel cogs start turning again, now is a great time to brush up on sustainable travel tips – so check out the new Sustainable Travel section when it goes live on the ASTW website shortly. It explains why sustainable travel is important, what the sustainability sub-committee does and the difference between sustainable and responsible tourism. There’s also a list of links for everything from animal-friendly and child-safe travel to carbon offsets and destinations that have declared a climate emergency. Feel free to let us know of any others!

Since our last report, we’ve also finalised the new sustainable lunch guidelines, with help from the wonderful Laura Speirs and state lunch coordinators. They will be available to download as a PDF from the website soon. And Kate Hennessy wrote a great new Pro Tips Blog post: “7 sustainable questions to ask before your next famil”. We’ll be adding more posts soon, so let us know if you have a burning sustainable travel-related question or if you’d like to write a post.

For more sustainable travel news, keep an eye on the ASTW Facebook page or wait for the next ASTW newsletter. Until then, happy sustainable travelling.

Louise Southerden


This subcommittee has started looking at whether our current constitution complies with the NSW Department of Fair Trading’s requirements. If anyone is keen to check out the society’s constitution in order to consider and make comments on it, please do – you can find it on our website. Sections like the Code of Ethics might be in need of an update, while some of our joining requirements could potentially be re-drafted to fit with the code. Down the track we would like to invite our members’ input for rewriting the Statement of Objectives of the Society, and possibly coming up with a strategic plan for the society.

Keren Lavelle


Memberships and sponsorships, including awards


  • Saskia Baker
  • Lindy Alexander


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Kylee Kay
  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Natascha Mirosch

Convention, Lunches and Awards


  • Saskia Baker
  • Kylee Kay
  • Shelley Winkel
  • Angela Saurine

Convention working group

  • Fiona Harper
  • Toni Fan


  • Carla Grossetti (committee member)
  • Laura Speirs (NSW and national coordinator)
  • Alexis Buxton-Collins (Adelaide)
  • Dianna Bortoletto (WA)
  • Belle Jackson (Vic)
  • Sue Fuller and Kerry Keaney (QLD)


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Justine Costigan
  • Mike Smith
  • Peter Hook
  • David McGonigal

Website, Facebook and Professional Development

Professional Development

  • Catherine Marshall
  • Dianne Bortoletto
  • Amanda Kendle
  • Seana Smith

Digital (website, social media etc)

  • Christina Pfeiffer (webmaster)
  • Natascha Mirosch
  • Katie Dundas
  • Digital working group
  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Kerri McConnel
  • Paula Morgan
  • Amanda Kendle
  • Jim and Christina Butcher

Facebook admins (open page)

  • Kerry Heaney
  • Jennifer Johnston
  • Danielle Lancaster

Social media

  • Jennifer Johnston (Instagram)
  • Tim (Twitter)

Keren, Elisa, Christina (LinkedIn)


  • Carla Grossetti
  • Louise Southerden
  • Justine Costigan
  • Sarah Reid

Sustainability working group

  • Jennifer Ennion
  • Kate Hennessy


  • Elisa Elwin
  • Danielle Lancaster (non-committee member)

Constitution, Legal Documentation, Request for Proposals (RFP)

  • Christina Pfeiffer
  • Kylee Kay (financials)
  • Keren Lavelle

*NOTE: In accordance with the constitution, the president is an ex-officio member of all sub-committees.


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.