ASTW joins the war on waste

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ASTW names founder of G Adventures as convention keynote speaker

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

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

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

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

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

About the ASTW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


An update from Bud at Tinmugs

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

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

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

Warm wishes
Bud Higgins and the Tinmugs Kids x”

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


Hungry tummies are being fed

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


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


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

Williamsburg Travel Book Room. Pic by Yvette Avard

Williamsburg Travel Book Room. Pic by Yvette Avard

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

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

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

Winners of the 2016 ASTW Awards of Excellence

We are proud to announce the winners of the ASTW Awards for Excellence 2016

Travel Writer of the Year – Sponsored by South Africa Tourism
WINNER – John Borthwick
Where the Cold War Thawed – The Weekend Australian
Burmese Daze – Traveller – Fairfax Media
In the Wake of Cape Crusaders – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Other Finalists
Kerry van der Jagt
Where to Sing and Swim with Wild Dolphins – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Grin and Bear It – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Myanmar: Floating on a wave of hope for a new beginning – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Craig Tansley
Coming Up Trumps – Traveller – Fairfax Media
The Last Great Ski Town – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Maldives Luxury Adventure on a Budget – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Photographer of the Year – Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand
WINNER – Dan Avila
Alone in the Universe –
Love on the Bosphorus – Vacations & Travel magazine
Heaven    –

Other Finalists
Jocelyn Pride – Three Pillars of Travel: Protect/Respect/Reflect
Mark Daffey – Antiquity/Harmony/Destiny

Best Story about the AGM Host Destination  – Sponsored by Voyages Indigenous Tourism
WINNER – Marie Barbieri
The Red Beating Heart – Australia & New Zealand magazine

Other Finalists
Justine Costigan – Written in the Stars – Jetstar magazine
Angela Saurine – The Heart of the Rock – Best Weekend – News Ltd

Best Family Travel Story – Sponsored by Signature Media
WINNER – Mark Daffey
Are We There Yet? – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Other Finalists
Belinda Jackson    – Dolphin Island Fiji: Family Experience for a chosen few- Traveller – Fairfax Media
Helen Hayes – Salzburg – A Favourite Thing – Holidays with Kids magazine
Sheriden Rhodes – Island Life Revisited    – Five Star Kids Magazine

Best Travel Blog – Sponsored by TFE Hotels
WINNER – Rene Young
Together We Roam

Other Finalists
Jayne Gorman – Girl Tweets World
Aleney de Winter – Boy Eats World

Best Travel Broadcaster – Sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland
WINNER – Greg Grainger – Greg Grainger TV

Other Finalists
Ben Groundwater – Beauty and the Backpacker travel web series – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Quentin Long – Mornings/Today Extra – Channel 9

Best Australian Story – Sponsored by Tourism Australia
WINNER – Kerry Van Der Jagt
Where to swim and sing with dolphins – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Other Finalists
Andrew Bain – Cape Crusaders – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Celeste Mitchell – Girls Just Wanna Have 4WD Fun – Escape – News Ltd

Best Food Story – Sponsored by Outrigger Hotels & Resorts
WINNER – Carla Grossetti
A Taste of History – Cuisine magazine

Other Finalists
Sue Wallace – Summer in Aspen – Delicious
Sue Gough Henly – Dining for the Greater Good – Australian Traveller magazine

Best Responsible Tourism story – Intrepid Travel
WINNER – Jocelyn Pride
Alaska Untouched – Wellbeing

Other Finalists
Kerry van der Jagt – Monaco’s Prince Albert is on a Mission to protect the environment – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Andrew Bain – Nature’s treasure trove – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Best Adventure Story – G Adventures
WINNER – Lee Atkinson
Driving Across the Simpson Desert – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Other Finalists
Andrew Bain – Back to Peak Performance – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Catherine Marshall – Drums of the Jungle God – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Roderick Eime – Southern Exposure – MINDFOOD magazine

Best Cruise Story – Sponsored by Hawaii Tourism Oceania
WINNER – Craig Tansley
Maldives Luxury Adventure – Traveller – Fairfax Media

John Borthwick – Burmese Daze – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Jocelyn Pride – It’s (not) all Akademik – International Traveller magazine

Best Story Over 1000 words – Sponsored by AccorHotels
WINNER – John Borthwick
Where the Cold War Thawed – Weekend Australian

Other Finalists
Craig Tansley – Where Cross Country Skiing is a Religion – Traveller – Fairfax Media
Marian McGuinness – Scents and Sensibility – Weekend Australian

Best Story Under 1000 words – Sponsored by Macau Government Tourist Office
WINNER – Tim Richards
A Boy and A Coin – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Other Finalists
Rob McFarland – Cowboy in Training – Escape – News Ltd
Kerry van der Jagt – In Wake of Van Gogh – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Best Tourism and Travel Trade Story
WINNER – Lee Mylne
Traversing the Long, Open Road – Travel Bulletin

Other Finalists
Kristine Madden – The Wheel of Fortune – Travel Bulletin
Sheriden Rhodes – Well, well, well – Traveller – Fairfax Media

Communicator or Communications Team of the Year – Sponsored by Travmedia
WINNER – Klick Communications

Other Finalists
Karena Noble

PR Campaign of the Year – Sponsored by Travmedia
WINNER – Karena Noble
Launch of Field of Light Uluru

Other Finalists
Kim McKay – Positively Wellington Tourism
Natalie Schofield – Westin – World Sleep Day

Best Tourism Organisation or Travel Product – Sponsored by ZOIK
WINNER – Caroline Davidson
Rocky Mountain International – The Real America

Other Finalists
Karena Noble – Ayers Rock Resort Indigenous Tourism
Leigh Maloney – The Little Nell

ATE 2017, Sydney

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

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

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

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


Watch the ATE 2017 video


Visit the ATE website

Blog your way to Antarctica competition

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

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

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

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

TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace 2017

TravMedia’s highly successful International Media Marketplace (IMM) program returns to Sydney on 24 February, 2017.

IMM is the industry’s leading networking event for global travel and tourism brands to meet the media. More than 110 media and 108 exhibitors participated in IMM Australia 2016.

Exhibitors enjoy a table to brief leading travel and food journalists, editors, broadcasters and digital influencers on news hooks and feature angles. Attendees can pre-schedule 22, 15-minute appointments throughout the day.

For details and to register, visit: