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

ASTW Newsletter – May 2021

May 2021



DEAR ASTW colleagues,

Winter is upon us, folks, but some in the ASTW think the atmosphere and energy in the Society is akin to spring. That was certainly the vibe after the mega-lunch at The Crown at Barangaroo in Sydney earlier this month. It was electric and many spoke of a revived ASTW. Well, while glasses of superior T’Gallant Pinot Grigio will certainly do that to you, there definitely is a feeling of renewal.

May has been a huge month – five members of the ASTW Board assembled at the Secretariat’s offices in St Leonards, Sydney, and others Zoomed in from Victoria and regional New South Wales for two days of meetings, which included substantiation. It was a pity that our Victorian members Scott Podmore and Jocelyn Pride had to cancel at the last minute, due to anxiety over possible border closures after a Covid outbreak in Sydney’s eastern suburbs a few days’ earlier. We’ll see you next time!

Lunches also took place in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and news broke that once again Trivia was on the agenda.

Thanks again to Tourism Australia for sponsoring the lunch on May 12. If you thought it was a bit loud, that’s because some 180 people were there, 140 of whom were ASTW members who’d not seen each other for ages.

Tourism Australia took us through the events of the past 16 months from the bushfires and floods to the pandemic with an excellent montage of news headlines, footage and photos. We saw the latest, and fun, Holiday Here this Year ads, starring power couple Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake, while TravMedia CEO Nick Wayland conducted a Q&A with Tourism Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Susan Coghill on TA’s marketing aims and plans.

By comparison, the Queensland lunch was an intimate affair with a tantalising trifecta of checked shirts, bootscooting and beer (more details below). Perth’s lunch at Samuels on Mill at the Parmelia Hilton hotel and the South Australian lunch at Hotel Indigo, Adelaide Markets, were held just days ago, so we’ll wait until next month to bring you the photos and news.

Thanks to all the lunch sponsors and to the lunch co-ordinators for making it all happen so seamlessly.

On a more prosaic note, for the first time in two years the Board investigated the word counts and PR clients of its members during a full-day substantiation meeting on May 10. Many submissions were straight forward, others needed a few more questions answered and unfortunately there were some 100 or so members who hadn’t lodged forms. During the following few days, several Board members and the Secretariat contacted those people urging them to get their forms in pronto. The official cut-off date was April 30, which had been advertised on Facebook and in the newsletter several times. We’ve decided to extend the absolute cut-off to Friday, June 4, for all stragglers. After that, it’s curtains.

Regrettably, several members contacted me and the Secretariat to say they weren’t renewing their membership this year – due to lack of word count or loss of clients, or because they didn’t have the financial wherewithal to justify their membership. We’re sorry to hear this and we want everyone to know that members are always free to re-join the Society when their work output and/or their businesses improve. If that happens during the coming year, feel free to contact the Secretariat on There is no joining fee for returning members.

On a more positive note, several writers and PRs who left the Society some years back have made contact and are expected to re-join soon.

In a few weeks, the Secretariat will send out the 2021-22 invoices. Fortunately, the fees are the same as last year across all categories. While many would have liked to see a fee drop, that just isn’t possible as the Society’s costs have, unsurprisingly, not gone down. We still pay the same Secretariat fees; website fees and our other regular outgoings include accounting fees, insurance and general expenses relating to all ASTW events.

Webinars are also starting again – the first to kick-off is on tax – next Wednesday, June 2, at 10am. You’ve got to love a company called Creative Crunchers. I look forward to many tax tips. More details below.

One of the big announcements this month was that Trivia is coming back. Save the date of Thursday, September 23, 2021. Believe it or not, it will be the ASTW’s 25th trivia contest. I tried to calculate how many of these crazy, chaotic nights I’d been to over the years and came up with at least 15, maybe more. We’ve had nights at a Balmain pub, on the harbour, at a slew of fancy city hotels, while tables of contestants have dressed up as gangsters and geisha girls. This, the Silver Trivia anniversary, will be great. Mark it down in the diary.

Just a note to everyone who books events such as lunches and trivia. If you need to cancel your booking, please contact the ASTW Secretariat first before placing any notices on the Facebook page. The Secretariat maintains the waitlist and they are the best people to know who’s next in line for a spot. Thank you.

Our next social event is the Captain Cook Cruises lunch on Sydney Harbour on Friday, June 4. I never tire of a day out on the harbour, and I believe we’ll be treated to Captain Cook’s new menu. See you there.




OUR successful ASTW webinar series is continuing this year and will kick off next Wednesday, June 2, at 10am AEST when Matthew Tucker speaks on Demystifying Taxation.

“I don’t need any help minimising my tax,” said nobody. Ever.
And especially when it comes to freelancers, taxation and compliance is anything but straightforward and can be a minefield. Matters are not helped when our forte is creative writing, photography and digital content development rather than numbers and legislation.

In this webinar, Matt will answer your burning questions about the often-complex issues facing freelancers. He will discuss good bookkeeping habits, PAYG instalment management, balancing paid employment and ABN, non-commercial loss provisions, superannuation for contractors, foreign income, GST and the choice to incorporate.

Matt is principal at Creative Crunchers: an accounting practice located in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, specialising in the arts and entertainment industries. He looks after a range of clients including individuals, partnerships, companies and trusts.

Matt has worked as treasurer on the boards of Playlab and Radio 4ZZZ and spoken for a range of arts organisations over the years. In a past life, he played the drums in a covers band and a number of original outfits ranging from jazz to heavy rock.

Note: You need to register to be able to join the webinar on the day. Once you have registered, you will receive a link for Zoom directly to your inbox. Each person registering will receive their own unique linking code so it is important that you watch out for your email and keep it in a safe place.

This webinar will be recorded so those who cannot make the live session can still view it. To assist with Matthew’s preparation, please email your questions to

In other upcoming webinars, members will find a range of topics that will appeal both professionally and personally to grow and upskill.

For example: June 16, 10am AEST, How to improve your smartphone photos and videos – Christina Butcher; June 30, 10am AEST, Fast ways to edit your photos and videos from your smartphone – Christina Butcher.




YAY! Trivia Night is back and locked in for Thursday, September 23. And when Jeremy Bourke tells our members on Facebook that this announcement is “anything but trivial”, you know it must be good. Keep an eye on future newsletters and announcements and get your teams ready so you don’t miss out on all the fun.


AFTER the year we’ve had as an industry due to Covid, some 180 ASTW members, Tourism Australia representatives and other travel industry guests couldn’t wait to catch up in style on May 12 at Crown Sydney’s Pearl Ballroom in Barangaroo.

There was definitely a welcome buzz in the expansive room as some Board members joined others from around Australia in flying in for the grand ASTW Sydney lunch.

Tourism Australia hosted the event, showing its latest media campaign – putting comedian Hamish Blake and his wife Zoe in the picture of a medley of our nation’s “big” landscapes. ASTW President Caroline Gladstone gave a short welcome before TravMedia founder Nick Wayland interviewed TA chief marketing officer Susan Coghill about the state of play in the industry.


BOOKINGS close today for the next Sydney lunch on Friday, June 4, when Captain Cook Cruises takes ASTW members for an afternoon cruise on Sydney Harbour. Meet at 12.15pm, for a 12.30pm sharp departure, and return at 2pm. Interstate members are welcome.


DEER heads with women’s bras strewn over antlers. Boot-scootin’ dancing. Checked shirts and cowboy hats. They all came together when Outback Queensland brought a taste of the country to the city for the May 14 ASTW Brisbane lunch.

Outback Queensland Tourism Authority hosted the event at Lefties Music Hall in Petrie Terrace’s Caxton Street, and not only delivered an entertaining afternoon of event must-dos and horseplay, but also a paddock-ful of prizes.




THE ASTW Board has called for expressions of interest for sponsors of categories in the 2021 ASTW Awards of Excellence, to be announced at this year’s convention in the Tweed.

This is your chance to associate your brand with Australia’s most prestigious travel writing, photography and PR awards and spread your goodwill and congratulations to the winners and finalists. To be involved or make further inquiries about award sponsorship tiers, email Caroline Gladstone at




WE’VE made it easy to find important posts on the ASTW Facebook group page. Group announcements are a way for administrators to highlight important posts. When information is posted to the Facebook wall, it will only stay near the top of the page while members are engaging with it through likes and comments.

As the wall is constantly being updated with posts from members, older posts get pushed further down, making them more difficult to find, especially if you can’t remember enough detail to search for it.

Our important posts and those we want members to be able to access quickly, such as our Jobs and Resources information (see below) can be found at the top of our Facebook page under announcements.



THE Jobs Board is another free service for ASTW members on our Facebook page.
It’s a pinned post, so it will always appear at the top of the FB page. In these crazy Covid times of jobs uncertainty, this post allows members to post any new openings they hear of.

Check it out regularly to see if a heads-up on one of those jobs could be of interest to you.



DESTINATION NSW has launched a new Media Centre to support every professional publishing and content creation need, providing access to the latest travel and tourism news and the largest collection of content assets of any tourism body in the world.*

Register now at and enjoy instant download capability of 30,000 high quality images, video and inspirational editorial content features, as well as breaking news on Sydney and NSW’s visitor economy, products and experiences.

The ASTW Facebook group also now carried a Resources thread that will keep this reference to the new Media Centre and any other useful tools and resources members might need in their day-to-day business in the one, easy-to-find place.

*Based on extensive research by Lookatme, comparing State and National Tourism Boards media centres globally.


Writer and Digital Publisher members are reminded that TravMedia has useful tools to make your jobs a lot easier. Publishers/Editors can find a writer for their projects by using the Editor Alert tab. Writers, seeking information from PRs, should use the Journalist Alert tab. Hundreds of TravMedia members are then immediately notified with just one alert.


THREE new applications for ASTW membership were approved at the May Board meeting.

Tina Irving, Sharon Timms, Anna Mansfield and Alex Mitcheson have applied for Associate Writer membership and now have entered their 30-day objection period. Any objections to new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at before June 26 .

PLEASE also welcome our new official members who passed their 30-day objection period: Cath Johnsen (Assoc Writer) and Susie Boswell (Assoc Writer). 

Australian Society of Travel Writers: of the members, by the members, for the members.

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 – April 2021

April 2021



DEAR ASTW colleagues, Welcome to the April newsletter and my first as the Society’s president.

When I was asked to nominate for the Board back in October last year (by Life Member and former president David McGonigal), little did I realise I’d be the Society’s president only a few months later and would follow a long line of distinguished and generous members who’ve gone before me.

Firstly, I’d again like to express my thanks to Elisa Elwin who stepped down from the role last month, after a year in the chair. Elisa had a tough time of it: there were no fun lunches to attend for most of her 12-month tenure, no trivia night and no real-live AGM and conference with cocktail parties, gala dinner and dancing to enjoy with good mates. No, just a bunch of Zoom meetings, which get quite lacklustre after a while. Thanks for stepping up when you did, Elisa, and I do hope you can now relax a little and turn your attention to your business. Good luck.

Of course, Elisa did not steer the ASTW through the early days of the pandemic single-handedly. She was ably helped by the 2020 Board members who all did a remarkable job to keep the Society on course. Within no time, the first of a collection of informative webinars was launched. I tuned in on most Wednesdays to hear speakers talk about a diverse range of topics such as blogging, podcasting, photography, Pinterest and LinkedIn, to name a few. None of it was lost of me, in theory at least, as I took copious notes during each Wednesday session. Thank you so much to the webinar organisers – Catherine Marshall, Amanda Kendle, Tracey Croke, Seana Smith and Dianne Bortoletto – and all the presenters. I won’t name you, in case I leave someone out, but we all know who you are. You did an incredible job.

Speaking of webinars, we intend to restart this series in June. We are just locking in details and timings. In a previous newsletter and on Facebook, we did ask members if they had any requests or other ideas for webinars. I like the idea of “Time management: How to manage your time better + tips to avoid procrastination + technology hacks to get things done”. If anyone is a wiz at that sort of thing, then please get in touch via the Secretariat.

I’d also like to thank those who initiated the Zoom drinks concept – a virtual pub, where members could chat over a few beverages late into the night. Cheers – and thanks again to Amanda Kendle and to Tracey Croke who organised the events. And thanks to Susan Gough Henly who initiated the Book Club. ‘Tis a pity it didn’t take off beyond one Zoom reading. I guess it was a bit like university days for many – you never quite got around to reading the set text as the lure of the local pub was a bit more attractive (speaking personally, of course).

And I’d also like to extend thanks to all those ASTW members who belong to the sub-committees, advisory boards and the lunch co-ordinators. They are all listed on the website.

This brings me to the current Board. I felt a lot less daunted by the president’s role, even after 21 years in the Society, knowing I belonged to such a good team. Secretary Christina Pfeiffer is across the entire business side of the ASTW, all matters of governance and, unfortunately, has had a few too many dealings with lawyers that the ASTW has had to engage to investigate membership issues. She does all this with unfailing good humour. Kerri McConnel, the new treasurer, is an accounting dynamo who knows her way around a financial spreadsheet and budget. She’s invaluable to the team and knows every page and sub-clause of the Constitution, making me think she sleeps with it under her pillow – weird as that does sound. I’m also pleased that 10-year ASTW member and former travel editor-turned-freelancer Shirley Sinclair stepped up to take over the vice-president role earlier this month. Her 38 years as a regional journalist where she’s covered every newspaper round, along with travel, really shows in her no-nonsense approach to getting things done and writing at lightning speed. The newsletter is her baby, and she produces it in record time. Other Board members are also working at tasks including the awards, social media, webinars/training, the conference and sponsorship and communications.
There has been a change in the PR members of the Board and that is explained later in the newsletter.

All this talk of Boards brings me to something I’d like to say.
Recently, one of the team said she was saddened to see that an “us” and “them” mentality had developed with some of the members. “Us” being the rank-and-file ASTW members, if I can use that term, and “Them”, being the Board. I’d just like to say that there’s no imaginary line that anyone steps over when they put up their hand or are cajoled to join the Board. Everyone is still the same old person they used to be (der…).

I had a look at the current membership list today. As it stands, there are 311 members, made up of Digital Publishers, Public Relations execs, Full Writers, Associate Writers and Friends of the ASTW. I scanned the list of the 114 Full Writer members and among it were 47 people who I personally know have at one stage been a Board member. That’s 41 per cent of the Full Writer membership – an awful lot of folks who have crossed from the “us” to the “them” and back again, and some who have even backed up for seconds and had another go at being a “them”. Of the entire 311 members, I found that 70 current members had been on the Board: around 22 per cent. As you can see, many people have volunteered their time to the Society. I think you get my point and thus now ends the sermon.

In about 10 days, the Board will meet in person for the first time since early 2020 and will consider substantiation. It will be great to actually meet our interstate comrades beyond Zoom. I’ve never met Kerri McConnel nor Scott Podmore, so I am looking forward to that.

That meeting will precede the big event of 2021 – the first ASTW Sydney lunch on Wednesday, May 12.

The Sydney lunches are always huge, but this is going to be a mega event with some 200 participants. This sell-out (free) lunch, at Pearl Ballroom – The Crown Sydney, Barangaroo, is being generously sponsored by Tourism Australia and has been brought to us by ASTW member Emma Sturgiss (Tourism Australia’s Global Manager – Communications) and our indomitable ASTW lunch co-ordinator Laura Speirs. Thank you, Emma and Laura.

As there hasn’t been a Sydney lunch since February 2020, everyone will be champing (or maybe chomping) at the bit, keen to see each other and swap all their Covid tales. Let’s just remember to keep all the chat down during the speeches, folks. Many interstate members are flying in for this lunch, including six Board members. It’ll be amazing!

See you all there.





ARE you planning on attending the 2021 ASTW Convention in the Tweed region? Given the unique circumstances and restrictions on travel due to COVID, our convention planning team is seeking member feedback to help with planning and budgeting.

We would really appreciate it if you could take a minute to respond to this two-question survey:

Thanks to all those who have already responded to the survey and given us your comments and ideas.

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



IN other news, PR Board Member, Janaya Birse, has taken up a maternity leave contract as PR Brand Manager Australasia for IHG Hotels and Resorts and will no longer be able to devote the hours required as an active Board member. We are sorry to see her go but thrilled that she has been successful in securing work during these challenging times.

ASTW PR member Heather Jeffery has stepped into Janaya’s shoes, taking on the role of PR member. Heather’s extensive convention experience will be invaluable as we work towards the ASTW Convention, set for October this year in the Tweed, and we are truly grateful for her enthusiastic contributions so far. Welcome, Heather!

After 10 years as Public Officer for the ASTW, David McGonigal has stepped down from his role, passing the baton to our President Caroline. Caroline stepped up to take on the role as it has to be held by an NSW resident.

We pass on our sincerest gratitude to David for his time and wisdom over the past decade. He remains a much-treasured Life Member of the ASTW.



STANTHORPE and Granite Belt Wine Region really put out the welcome mat for the ASTW Queensland “Long Lunch” and overnight famil. About 20 enthusiastic members joined representatives and dignitaries from the local council and tourism bodies on a happy “travelling circus” that took in: popular wineries including Balancing Heart, Castle Glen and Girraween Estate; respected restaurants and cafes such as Ballandean Estate’s Barrel Room and The Little Larder; lunch in McMahons’ orchard; high tea on the Wallangarra railway station platform by the Queensland/NSW border; a pastry class at Zest Pastries; cheese tasting at Stanthorpe Cheese’s Jersey Girls café; brief stops at Sam’s Fruit and Veg and Straw House Farm BnB for more opportunities to “meet the makers”; plus a stroll around one of the happiest places on the Granite Belt – the Christmas Farm. The accommodation at Girraween Environmental Lodge and Kurrajong Barn and Cottages was the cherry on top of a glorious weekend. (Photo credit: Glenda R Photography)

If you, too would like to get in on the fun, the May 14 ASTW Queensland lunch, hosted by Outback Queensland Tourism Authority at Lefties Music Hall still had a few seats left at the time of publication.




THE Western Australia ASTW crew made an enthusiastic bunch for lunch at the March get-together. A dozen members and guests, including a ring-in in – Queenslander Cathy Finch, were able to eat, drink and be merry on March 19 at the Little Creatures Harbourside Lunch and Brewery Tasting.





THE ASTW Board has called for expressions of interest for sponsors of categories in the 2021 ASTW Awards of Excellence, to be announced at this year’s convention in the Tweed.

This is your chance to associate your brand with Australia’s most prestigious travel writing, photography and PR awards and spread your goodwill and congratulations to the winners and finalists. To be involved or make further inquiries about award sponsorship tiers, email Caroline Gladstone at



DON’T miss the boat. Substantiation closes at midnight tonight (Friday, April 30). All full and associate writers, digital publishers and PR representatives must substantiate to show they are still working in the tourism and travel industry to remain ASTW members.

Life members are not required to substantiate each year as per part 3, clause 13.f of the Constitution. However, they are entitled to vote if they do substantiate and are deemed accredited.

Due to travel restrictions forced by COVID-19, the ASTW Board has relaxed the substantiation rules for 2021. Work will now cover the two-year period from May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2021.

Login to, see the members tab at the top right and use the drop down menu to substantiation or use this link: Substantiation – Australian Society of Travel Writers ( If you need a little help, check out the Substantiation Guidelines and FAQs, also on the website.

And to allay any fears current members might have about their ability to substantiate in future to retain their membership, let the Board state here and now: the next substantiation will cover another two-year period from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2023. If you need to change your membership category due to a change in circumstances of your role in the tourism and travel industry, just let the Secretariat know at


WITH travel writing gigs few and far between for some at the moment, many of our members are relying on their side businesses to generate income. A big thank you to Jane Lawson for compiling the useful document called “Travel Writers’ Bit on the Side A-Z Directory”. The directory document can be found on our ASTW Facebook page, underneath “Files” at the top right-hand corner. Some members might not know of its existence or forget that it’s there. Please feel free to add your business, service or product to the list by emailing Jane Lawson at


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

The Board has launched the “We Want You Back” campaign: any former ASTW members who have come back to the tourism and travel industry can re-join the society for no joining fee. And as in past years, if joining in May or June, your membership fees will cover the next 14 months for the price of 12. What a bargain!

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

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


EARLIER this month, ASTW Life Member and one of our biggest supporters, Len Rutledge, received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from James Cook University for “his significant contributions to the tourism industry as a pioneering and internationally respected travel writer and publisher”. Well done! Your ASTW colleagues pass on their best wishes and thanks, Dr Rutledge. (Photo credit: Phensri Rutledge)

And if you were in any doubt as to why, here is his impressive citation:


WHILE many members are familiar with our fun ASTW lunches, annual conventions and awards, trivia nights and other activities, they may not be aware of what goes on behind the scenes to finance the ongoing success of the ASTW.

If you’re interested to know more about our treasury, corporate governance and financial management, read on!

Our all-important treasury functions involve the management of money and financial risks to ensure ASTW has the funds we need to manage our day-to-day obligations, while also helping develop long-term financial strategy. The stronger we are, the more valuable benefits we can offer to members.

Like any non-profit, to keep our organisation running requires revenue (largely from membership fees), fundraising (from special events) and sponsorship from many partners in tourism – for example, destinations, airlines, cruise companies and hotels that see value in engaging with the ASTW.

Good governance and prudent management of finances by the ASTW Board are key, and this has serious legal obligations for every Board member.

ASTW Treasurer Kerri McConnel says it’s a legal responsibility of the Board to ensure cash reserves are responsibly managed, never depleted in such a way to place the future of the ASTW at risk and that the society never trades while insolvent.

“The best way of doing this is through sound financial practices that guide all spending decisions, and by ensuring all income is accounted for, and all expenditure carefully managed,” she says.
“Every single financial transaction we make requires an auditable paper trail.”

As Treasurer, Kerri brings with her over 25 years’ experience in corporate business and a B. Business (Accounting). She has significant financial and general management experience in large corporations in Australia and the United Kingdom. Her previous board experience including Australia Post Licensee Advisory Council, Queensland University of Queensland Alumni Board (President) and Queensland University of Technology Council. She was the inaugural president of the QUT Learning Potential Fund Friends and Alumni Committee and member of the Learning Potential Fund Committee QUT. Both committees focused on socially and financially disadvantaged students. Kerri also was treasurer and member of the Fostering Executive Women committee, and member of the Planning and Resource Committee at QUT.

Like all organisations reliant on tourism and travel in 2020, the ASTW did not escape the financial impact of the global pandemic.

With quarantine restrictions and borders closed, many of our regular lunches and major events were cancelled, curtailing our expected income from those events.

Sponsors for various events have been fewer as tourism bodies, airlines and hotels severely impacted by COVID-19 reduced their promotional budgets.

As the income and employment of many writers and PRs were also hit hard, ASTW membership was also slightly down for the first time in our history.

Where to from here?

“The bottom line is that our cash reserves have diminished this year, more than we would have been used to in prior years, but that should not deter the ASTW from proceeding with confidence,” Kerri says…

“Looking forward, as always, our discretionary expenditure will be tightly managed.

“As always, all expenditure must be approved by two separate official signatories.

“As part of governance, the ASTW Board will also ensure that the legal and constitutional requirements of the ASTW are continually reviewed and updated.

“Contract obligations now in place, such as our all-important Secretariat, will be a key priority.

“Behind the scenes, the new Board has also been reviewing existing processes that have a financial impact, amending where necessary, and creating new guidelines.

“For our two previous years, the ASTW was granted an audit exemption by NSW Fair Trading. For FY2021, the ASTW, the Board has agreed to engage an external auditor as part of good governance.

“Accurate and clear financial reporting is tabled at each monthly ASTW board meeting and these financial reports are publicly available, should members wish to see them.”


PLEASE welcome our new official member who has passed her 30-day objection period:
Nadine Cresswell-Myatt. And we have received applications for membership approval from: Cath Johnsen (Assoc Writer) and Susie Boswell (Assoc Writer). Now residing in Port Macquarie, NSW, Susie has had a life-long career in journalism including stints on Fleet Street, London newspapers and with News Corp in Australia – plus, she won a Walkley award for news reporting in the 1970s. Journalist Cath, a freelance writer since 2012, says: “Sharing the stories of people and places never feels like work, and I still get a thrill of excitement every time I travel somewhere new, even if it’s within my own state or city”. This duo will now be subject to the 30-day approval process which will expire on 30 May. Any objections to new member applications must be sent to the ASTW Secretariat at


LET the ASTW amplify your stories for the world to see. Use the hashtag #astw_inc on Instagram, so we can share the love of travel.

And for Twitter, keep these points in mind:

1. In any tweet where you’re sharing with the public a link to a published travel story, or a great travel photo, or something similar, please include the hashtag #astw.

2. Then we’ll see the tweet and retweet it via the ASTW Twitter account at, so it reaches a wider audience.

3. Note: Avoid automated cross posts from other social media or the placement of loads of hashtags in your tweets (maybe three max) as it’s a poor experience for the reader.


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 – March 2021

March 2021



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

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

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

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





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


HERE are your 2021 ASTW committee members and their responsibilities:

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

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

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

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

Working Groups – International Liaison Elisa Elwin and Danielle Lancaster.

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

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





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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

ASTW Newsletter – February 2021

February 2021



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

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

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

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










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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


THAT’S imPRessive

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



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


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

Proudly presented by The Barrel Room at Ballandean Estate

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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



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

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


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


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


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


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

ASTW Newsletter – January 2021

January 2021


A New Year

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

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

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

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



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

AGM AND CONVENTION Dates: October 14-16, 2021

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



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



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

NSW – Laura Speirs

VIC – Belinda Jackson

SA – Alexis Buxton Collins

WA – Dianne Bortoletto



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


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

New member applications

Louise Terry – Public Relations member

Jessica Palmer – Associate Writer member

Chrissie McClatchie – Associate Writer member

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


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


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

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- isolate.

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.

Call for Nominations