Meet our judges

Our judges for the ASTW Awards of Excellence 2019

Without judges, there are no awards. Every category in the ASTW Awards of Excellence has three independent judges. Many live overseas and are members of our sister writing associations in the USA, New Zealand, Canada or the UK. All are experts in their field and have considerable experience.

We thank them all.

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews has been a travel writer and photographer for the last seventeen years. Over this time he has explored much of Asia and on the way lived in Japan, South Korea and now currently Shanghai, China. He feels that one of the best ways to get under the skin of a place is through the local food. Having experienced plenty of unusual dishes such as raw horsemeat and silkworm larvae, writing about his adopted city’s cuisine in this issue seemed positively tame.

Catherine Beattie

Catherine Beattie edits and publishes Spa Wellbeing – an online spa, travel and lifestyle magazine. She also blogs and reviews cruises, spas and hotels for travel websites and consumer magazines and writes tourism reports for Mintel. Catherine is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

Ewen Bell

Ewen Bell is a Melbourne based photographer and journalist. He currently shoots for UK editions of National Geographic Traveller, Lonely Planet Traveller and Food & Travel. He is the former Editor at Large for Digital Photography magazine in Australia and regular contributor to Digital Photography magazine in the UK. His focus is always on sharing what makes the world beautiful, and the inspiration to step outside your boundaries and experience it for yourself. “Travel is the most valuable gift you can give yourself.”

Jennifer Bain

Jennifer Bain is an award-winning Canadian journalist. She is now freelancing for a variety of publications after spending 18 years at Canada’s largest newspaper (the Toronto Star), first as food editor and then as travel editor. She has published two cookbooks and her next book, 111 Places in Calgary That You Must Not Miss, is due out in Spring 2020. She’s currently writing a fishing memoir/thesis for a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction. @thesaucylady

Sue Bryant

Sue Bryant (@sjbryant) is an award-winning writer and editor specialising in travel. She is cruise editor of the Sunday Times, writes for Cruise Passenger and World of Cruising. Her work has also appeared in High Life, Food & Travel and TRVL magazine for iPad, among many others. Wearing a different hat, Sue is editor of Journeys magazine (@JourneysMagUK), the UK’s first glossy mag dedicated to experiential travel. She also edits Uno Stile di Vita, the guestroom magazine for Baglioni Hotels.

Sue has also written or edited more than 25 travel books, from guidebooks about the Costa del Sol, Barcelona, Ibiza, Cyprus and Tel Aviv to Insight Guides’ Great River Cruises (Europe and the Nile). She has edited coffee table books, writes all the destination content for and has produced cross-cultural training guides to more than 70 countries for executives going to live and work abroad. She lives in west London with her two teenagers, two dogs and some chickens.

Paul Chai

Paul Chai has been a travel writer for over a decade, starting with the Australian launch of US travel magazine Travel + Leisure, a joint venture between Fairfax and American Express. He is a regular contributor to Fairfax Media’s Traveller website, as well as writing for inflight magazines for airlines from Singapore Airlines to Cebu Pacific. Pre-travel industry it was an eclectic journalistic ride from The Financial Times in London to working for the film industry bible Variety. He was editor of Tiger Air’s magazine Tiger Tales. @chai_paul

Isabel Conway

Isabel Conway is a multi-award winning Ireland based travel writer, based in Kinsale Co Cork..She writes regularly for the travel pages of the Sunday Business Post, Dublin, Irish Independent newspapers, The Irish Examiner, Sunday World and Evening ECho Newspapers. She also writes for the Sunday Times travel section and for the online travelezine She co-founded earlier this year.

Isabel has been Irish Travel Writer of the Year twice and also took the  long haul award twice in recent years and since 2011 has been in the prizes every year at the Travel Extra journalist of the Year awards, Ireland’s travel writer Oscars. She has also been awarded the British Guild of Travel Writers prize in the Europe category (over 1,000 words) and was a prize winner in the 2018 ATOUT France, French Tourism board awards. Isabel’s background is that of news reporter/feature writer in Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium where she has also written many travel features over the past 30 years.

Sue Dobson

Sue Dobson is an award-winning travel writer and magazine editor based in the UK, whose life-long passion for discovery and experiencing different cultures has taken her to every continent and into countries less travelled.

Hilary Doling

Hilary Doling is Editor in Chief of one of the world’s largest independent luxury travel websites, The Luxury Travel Bible (operating out of the UK and Australia) and Executive Editor of the glossy Five Star Kids magazine (Signature Media), devoted to luxury family travel. She started her career on London’s Fleet Street where she worked for newspapers such as The Times and The Guardian and for England’s glossy magazines. In search of sun she moved to Australia as Travel Editor at Fairfax newspapers (The Sun Herald) a position she held for twelve years and then became Editor in Chief of Luxury Travel Magazine. She is an international speaker on luxury hotels and travel, appearing at such events as ILTM Cannes and has visited every continent and set foot in more than 92 countries.

Natasha Dragun

The former managing editor of MiNDFOOD and deputy editor of DestinAsian, Natasha Dragun has been roaming the globe on the hunt for gripping story angles for more than 15 years. A freelancer specialising in travel, wellness, food and wine writing, Natasha contributes to a diverse range of media today, from CNN and Conde Nast Traveller to Escape, The Australian, Voyeur, Signature Luxury Travel & Style, International Traveller, Delicious, Selector, Vacations & Travel and Broadsheet, among others. @ndragun

Guy Dundas

Making the move across from travel wholesale and touring to travel writing and editing 11 years ago, Dundas has his eyes on the latest developing travel and stories news around the world. As Managing Editor of LATTE, his niche is refined to the luxury segment, producing LATTE’s weekly EDM and regular social content. @guydundas

Paul Dymond

Paul has been a travel and nature photographer for nearly 16 years, was contracted to Lonely Planet Images (now Getty) for more than ten of those years and has been published in most of the big magazines that we love so much. He even won the ASTW Photographer of the Year back in the day when connecting to the Internet involved R2-D2-like sounds coming out of the modem. These days, as he balances the needs of a young family with being away with work, his business is moving more and more towards helping large organisations get a handle on their out-of-control image libraries, creating custom photographic and video databases so that they can more easily access and utilise these mostly untouched photographs. He is still represented by three major photo agencies and continues to do photographic work when it comes across his desk in Cairns.

Barry Eaton

Barry Eaton originally trained as an actor in Sydney, but then mainly worked in radio and television as a presenter and news & sports anchor at the ABC in Sydney and also at various commercial radio stations, including 2GB and 2CH. As a freelance writer Barry has had four books published as well as writing feature articles for leading newspapers and magazines in Australia and the US. He wrote travel features for The Sun Herald and other newspapers and also worked as a media consultant with Tourism Canada, The Tahiti Tourist Bureau, Lauda Air, et al. His corporate experience includes running his own video production company as well as teaching business writing and currently as a trainer in presentation and media skills. He also works as a freelance voice over artist, MC and conference presenter and hosts his own radio podcast. Barry is former Co-ordinator of Journalism and lecturer in radio at Macleay College in Sydney.

Toni Eatts

During her impressive career as a journalist, Toni spent 10 years editing cruise publications, including Cruise Passenger magazine, and writing cruise stories aimed at passengers and travel industry professionals. Her articles have been published in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review, Cruise Passenger magazine, on Cruise Critic and in various trade publications. She also wrote three substantial cruise guidebooks for a leading travel chain.

Kerri Elstub

Kerri Elstub is a broadcast journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. She has worked at Radio 2UE and Channel 9, where she was Supervising Producer on A Current Affair. Kerri is now Editorial Director of Nine Digital.

Mary Anne Evans

Mary Anne Evans is a former magazine editor and now a freelance travel writer living in London. She was the France expert for for 8 years and edited the Gault Millau Guides to London for 4 years. She is the author of guide books to Brussels, Bruges and Stockholm, writes on Finland, contributes to Frommer’s Guides to London and France and blogs on Silver Travel Advisor and Everett Potter’s Travel Report. She has just launched her own website:

Liz Fleming

As far as Liz Fleming is concerned, the only thing better than having a great adventure is sharing it. That’s why travel writing is her dream job. For more than 15 years, she’s been exploring the globe from Machu Picchu to the Arctic Circle and from the sultry beaches of Bora Bora to Botswana’s Okavango Delta – and writing about it all. Her work has appeared in major newspapers and magazines across North America, she’s the Editor-in-Chief of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Magazine and is on the editorial mastheads of a couple of other travel magazines, makes regular radio talk show appearances and is always ready to jump into the next adventure.

Michelle Grima

Michelle Grima is an established media communications consultant based in the Blue Mountains. Having started her career at the Daily Telegraph in the late ‘80s, Michelle went on to manage national media for Tourism Tasmania, and now runs her own travel and lifestyle media business, Australia PR.

Catharine Hamm

Catharine Hamm is the Travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. She was born in Syracuse, N.Y., to a peripatetic family whose stops included Washington, D.C.; Honolulu; and Manila. Her varied media career has taken her from McPherson, Kan., to Kansas City, Mo., San Bernardino, Salinas and L.A. Hamm has twice received individual Lowell Thomas Awards, and the Travel section has been recognised seven times during her tenure as editor. Her favourite place? Always where she’s going next.

Alex Hayes

Alex has over a million followers on his social media feeds with over 600,000 on Instagram, 390,000 on YouTube, and 140,000 on Facebook. A former competitor on the junior pro-surfer circuit, Alex also loves throwing himself out of hot-air balloons, blimps and helicopters, is an in-demand DJ and is an ambassador for Instagram, and for Nickleodeon’s Junior Citizens of the Reef campaign. He is also involved in youth suicide awareness and working to improve mental health. @alexhayes

Nick Henderson

Nick Henderson is head of social media at Tourism Australia, the Australian Government agency responsible for attracting international visitors to Australia. Tourism Australia’s social media accounts are followed by more than 14 million people with the team creating up to ten pieces of content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo each day. Nick started working in social media in 2009 in the United Kingdom and more recently was head of social media at Virgin Australia prior to joining Tourism Australia.

Stuart Innes

Stuart Innes was Travel Writer-Editor of The Advertiser newspaper in South Australia in the 80s and 90s and, until retiring in 2012, it’s Tourism Writer. He was one of the longest-serving ASTW committee members, including four terms as president during which he introduced the annual travel writing awards. He is a former judge of the South Australian Tourism Awards.

Alan Kennedy

Alan has been a journalist for the past 40 years. He began his career with a cadetship on The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and has worked throughout Australia and in London. After working on the development of Australian Business magazine in the early 1980s, he pursued a successful career as a freelance journalist, concentrating on the car industry. As motoring editor of both Australian Business and The Bulletin, he wrote extensively on industry policy. He spent 19 years at The Sydney Morning Herald – firstly, as motoring editor. He edited the Stay In Touch column for three years, before becoming deputy editor and then editor of the sports section. He returned to reporting for his last few years with the Herald, covering the America’s Cup and Olympic sailing, the AFL, Formula One and tennis. Alan has been a member of the Australian Journalists’ Association (AJA), now part of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), for 40 years and has been active in the union for most of that time. He chaired the Australian Consolidated Press House Committee, then, after joining the Herald, became chair of the Fairfax House Committee. He was president of the journalists’ section of the MEAA for eight years. He was on the Walkley Awards judging panel for nearly 10 years. He was a member of the Australian Press Council from 2005 until 2016. He left The Sydney Morning Herald at the end of 2005 and now works as a freelance journalist.

David Kirkland

David Kirkland is one of the most widely published tourism photographers and writers in the Asia Pacific region (though, more recently, his work has taken him to the Middle East and the African continent). He specialises in capturing memorable promotional photographs for national tourism authorities and producing world-class images for international resorts and boutique properties. David became a professional travel and tourism  photographer and author in 2000 after more than a decade of managing tourism authorities in Australia. His earlier background was in journalism and public relations. He has written and photographed 15 books, and he owns the largest on-line photo library dedicated specifically to travel and tourism in the Asia Pacific region.

Matt Kirouac

A native of New Hampshire, Matt moved to Chicago in 2006 to attend culinary school. While cooking, he developed a love for food writing, and has written and edited for food- and travel-focused outlets like Culture Trip, TripExpert, Zagat, Plate Magazine, What Should We Do, and numerous others. He’s the author of Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago, and the co-founder and co-host of the Parklandia podcast with iHeartRadio, talking all about travel and national parks. Check out his work at

Shirley LaPlanche  

Shirley LaPlanche joined the ASTW mid 1980s while editor of the Hospitality Section for The Australian. In 1990 she went freelance writing on a regular basis for the Australian Tourist Commission and travelling extensively on stories for magazines and newspapers in Australia and overseas. Her deep interest in eco-tourism led her to write her book Stepping Lightly on Australia which was published in 1995 by HarperCollins and sold worldwide. She says she is now semi-retired but is still travelling as often as time and money allow and still writing the occasional piece for her favourite magazines and newspapers.

Ben Lerwill

Ben Lerwill is an award-winning freelance travel writer based in England. His writing has appeared in more than 50 national and international titles, including National Geographic Traveller, BBC Travel, The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

Jules Lund

After 15 years hosting some of the biggest TV and radio shows in Australia, Jules Lund is now on a mission to unlock the world’s creativity through his tech company, TRIBE. With offices in five cities across the globe, TRIBE is a self-serve marketplace connecting 10,000+ brands with 50,000 everyday creators to generate premium content at scale, speed and a fraction of the cost. Known for his showmanship, Jules travels the world helping marketers get the jump on the next multi-billion dollar category.; @juleslund

Ewan McDonald

Ewan McDonald has been Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and Features Editor with NZME, publishers of the NZ Herald and other print and online platforms. He is president of Travcom, the NZ Association of Travel Writers, Photographers and Communicators, and is a multi-award winning travel writer.

Denise McNabb

Denise McNabb has specialised in aviation, travel and business writing and editing on both sides of the Tasman for more years than she cares to remember. She came to Sydney in 2009 as the first Australia correspondent for the Fairfax New Zealand group of newspapers and was editor of Aviation Business magazine in Sydney before she returned to New Zealand last year where she is a freelance writer. Denise was the first New Zealand journalist to win the Airservices Australia Aviation Journalist of the Year in 2008. In 2007 she won the inaugural NZ Brook Asset Management Business Journalist of the Year award.  She was inaugural secretary of New Zealand Travel Communicators when it was formed in 1992 after returning from her first stint in Australia where she was a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers when travel editor of the Sunday Mail and the now defunct News in Adelaide.  She co-founded the New Zealand Herald travel section and created for its publishers the tourism magazine arrival for inbound travellers at Auckland Airport. She has written for Vacations & Travel Magazine, the aviation and the business travel section for The Independent Business Weekly, The Press and The Dominion Post in New Zealand, and News Local, Platinum magazine, the US-based Global Business Travel magazine, and travel trade publications.

Aaron Millar

Aaron is an award-winning travel writer, journalist and author. He contributes regularly to The Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller (UK), CNN and many other national and international publications. He is The Times of London’s North American travel specialist and National Geographic Traveller’s USA columnist. He is the host of the podcast Armchair Explorer, where the world’s greatest travel writers tell their best story from the road, and is the 2014 and 2017 British Guild of Travel Writers Travel Writer of the Year, the IPW Best Destination Writer 2017 and Visit USA’s Best National Newspaper Writer 2014, 2016, 2017 & 2018. Aaron grew up in Brighton, England but is currently hiding out in the Rocky Mountains of Louisville, Colorado.

Janyne Moore

Janyne has 15 years’ experience working as a journalist including her time as an on the road reporter and newsreader at Sydney Radio 2UE and Executive Producer of the Ray Hadley Morning show on Radio 2GB before moving into Public Relations. Janyne co-founded In The Media PR generating widespread media coverage for clients like Cancer Institute NSW, Nike Damn Am event, UbiCar, Garvan Institute and MooGoo.

Kayte Nunn

Kayte Nunn is a former book and magazine editor, and the author of four novels, the latest of which, The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant, was published in Australia in June, 2019, and will be published in the UK in 2020. Her previous book, The Botanist’s Daughter was a top ten bestseller when it was published in Australia in July 2018, and has been published in Italy, Germany, France, Serbia and Spain, as well as in the UK. She lives in the NSW Northern Rivers.

Alan Orbell

Alan Orbell’s travel writing career began on the now defunct Travel Agency Magazine published by Canadian company Maclean-Hunter.  He was appointed editor of St James Press’s Travel Bulletin in 1977 and in the 1980s purchased the magazine from the company when it was taken over by Reed International. After a brief period as a freelance he was appointed launch editor of new magazine Selling Long Haul – later Selling Travel – in 1989 and subsequently became publisher and then part-owner of the publishing company, BMI Publishing.  After selling the company in 1995 Alan remained with BMI Publishing as publisher/managing editor until April 2015 after which he continued to write on a freelance basis.

April Orcutt

April Orcutt writes a weekly travel column for the Los Angeles Times and has written for National Geographic Traveler, BBC Travel, Vacations & TravelHemispheres (United Airlines’ inflight),, Travel.AARP.orgNational Geographic Traveller India, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, AAA (American Automobile Association) magazines, Alaska Air (Alaska Airlines’ inflight), and more. April has won top honours in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition (Gold), Visit California’s Eureka! Awards, and U.S. Travel Association’s IPW Awards.

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie Pelling is a writer and journalist based in the North of England. She is Co-Director of The Family Adventure Project – a blog aimed at providing families with advice and inspiration for travelling and being in the outdoors. Together with her husband Stuart Wickes and three children she has biked, hiked and paddled in dozens of countries. The family’s latest adventure was an epic interrail trip from home to Istanbul with three teens and five folding bicycles. Kirstie won the British Guild of Travel Writers’ Travel Blogger of the Year Award in 2016 and 2018.

Oliver Pelling

Oliver Pelling is the Australia editor for and a freelance writer. He has written for the likes of Rolling Stone Australia, Smith Journal, New Zealand Herald, Huck magazine, and more besides, and works predominantly in the realms of travel, sustainability, music and (sub)culture. He’s happiest when he’s not writing bios.

Adrian Phillips

Adrian Phillips runs Bradt Travel Guides – the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher – and is also a leading UK travel writer and broadcaster for outlets including the BBC, ITV, Sky, The Telegraph and National Geographic. He currently holds the awards of Travel Writer of the Year (BGTW Awards), Consumer Writer of the Year (Travel Media Awards), Magazine Writer of the Year (LATA Awards) and Travel Writer of the Year (silver) (AITO Awards).

Diana Plater

Diana Plater was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA but grew up in Sydney, Australia. Her journalism has appeared widely in newspapers, magazines and online. She has covered Indigenous and race issues since the beginning of her career and was based in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s during the Sandinista/Contra war. She has written several non-fiction books, including Taking Control: How to aim for a successful pregnancy after miscarriage, stillbirth or neo-natal loss, and the Cootamundra Girls Home chapter in Many Voices, Reflections on experiences of Indigenous child separation published by the National Library as well as a play, Havana, Harlem. Raging Partners, written with Ollie Smith, was short-listed for a 2001 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. Whale Rock, published in 2019, is her first novel.

Barbara Ramsay Orr

Barbara Ramsay Orr is a freelance journalist, author of the Frommer’s Guide to the Niagara Region, third and fourth edition, and Globe Pequot’s Day Trips From Toronto.  Barbara is the immediate past president of SATW, having also served as Vice President and Active At Large. She is the recipient of multiple writing and photography awards, including Lowell Thomas Awards for Excellence in Travel Journalism. Her work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Chatelaine, Canadian Living, NUVO, The Globe and Mail, American Express UK and Readers Digest. She’s also an accomplished award-winning photographer, as a well as an embarrassingly inept but enthusiastic artist. Follow her adventures at

Christopher Reynolds

Christopher Reynolds has written about travel, the outdoors, arts and culture for the Los Angeles Times since 1990. Since 2009, he has climbed Mayan pyramids, roamed Red Square in a snowstorm, been shushed at the New York Public Library and jumped from the tallest building in Soweto (rope attached).

James Rushforth

James Rushforth is one of the world’s most awarded photographers with twelve international photography competition wins. His most recent achievement saw a double first place at the prestigious International Photography Awards, where he was also named Special Photographer of the Year. In 2018, he was named Photographer of the Year at the British Guild of Travel Writers awards. His work has been published in numerous magazines and national newspapers including National Geographic, The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph. James also writes tutorials and blog posts for a number of popular media platforms such as Viewbug and 500px and has appeared as a judge in several global competitions. James is also an experienced and professional climber, mountaineer, skier and travel writer.

Jock Serong

Jock Serong has worked as a criminal lawyer and surf media feature story writer. He was founding editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. His four published novels, most recently Preservation, have won awards both in Australia and internationally. He lives on the coastline of southwest Victoria with his family.

Megan Singleton, Blogger at Large

Megan Singleton (@bloggeratlarge) is an Auckland based award-winning travel writer and blogger. She founded one of New Zealand’s largest travel and lifestyle blogs, Blogger at Large in 2009 after beginning her blogging career in 2006 for a nationwide travel agency where she cut her teeth blogging twice a day, five days a week for three years. Megan’s travel writing career started in 2000 and her work is published around the world on websites, magazines and newspapers. She is also a weekly travel correspondent on two radio stations in New Zealand.

Susan Skelly

Susan Skelly has held executive positions with mastheads including Qantas The Australian Way, The Bulletin, and Good Weekend. She is an author and an award-winning feature writer, specialising in travel, luxury, and design for newspaper and magazine titles in Australia and abroad and for her website, Excess All Areas.

Amanda Statham

Following a BA Hons degree in Politics from Newcastle University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from De Montford University, Amanda has enjoyed a successful career. Amanda is Travel Editor of Cosmopolitan and and was travel editor of You and Your Wedding magazine for eight years. She writes for national newspapers, magazines and guidebooks and has also presented films and university lectures on travel writing.

Eric Stoen

Eric Stoen is a writer and photographer specializing in family travel, based in California. His goal is to encourage everyone to take their kids to unique destinations, and he provides first-hand information through to make it easier to plan those trips. He’s travelled with his kids (ages 8, 10 and 12) to 49 countries on seven continents. He’s won Conde Nast Traveler’s Photo of the Year award and is a NATJA gold award winner for travel writing, and in 2017 Forbes named him the World’s #4 Travel Influencer. He’s an ambassador for Travelocity, AFAR Magazine and Universal Orlando. @travelbabbo

Ben Stubbs

Ben Stubbs is a lecturer at the University of South Australia. He has a PhD in travel writing. Ben has written numerous feature articles, essays and guidebooks for publications in Australia and overseas. His first book explored the ‘New Australia’ socialist utopian colony in the Paraguayan jungle. Ticket to Paradise: A Journey to Discover the Australian Colony in Paraguay Among Nazis, Mennonites and Japanese Beekeepers was published by HarperCollins in 2012. 18/07/2019His next book, After Dark: A Nocturnal Exploration of Madrid (2016) begins from the premise of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who once wrote that we are blind half our lives because of what we miss during the night. Ben was drawn to explore the Spanish capital at night like the flâneurs of the past. He set out when the sun went down to explore this often-maligned city and to experience Madrid as a trasnochador—one who lives After Dark.

David Swanson

David Swanson has been a freelance travel writer-photographer since 1995.  His stories and photos have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, American Way, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Miami Herald, Dallas Morning News, and San Francisco Chronicle, and he was a contributing editor at Caribbean Travel & Life magazine for 14 years, where he wrote the award-winning Affordable Caribbean column.  David is currently President of SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers, the world’s largest organization of travel communicators.

Richard Tulloch

Richard Tulloch began to travel extensively through his work as a writer of plays, books and television for young people, most famously writing the original Bananas in Pyjamas and recent plays adapted from The 13-Storey Treehouse series. He now divides his time between bases in Sydney and Amsterdam. Since 2009 he has been a regular contributor to Fairfax Media, particularly specialising in active travel stories.

Jacinta Tynan

Jacinta Tynan is a News Presenter with Sky News, Columnist for Sunday Life Magazine, author and mother of two young boys. With more than 25 years’ experience as a journalist, she’s regarded as a commentator for her generation with her candid and heartfelt columns about life, love and motherhood. Jacinta has published four books including Mother Zen – described as a manifesto of modern motherhood – and manages a website

Jacinta also writes travel stories focusing on travelling with kids as a solo parent. Her work has been published in various publications including Escape, Sunday Life, Kidspot, Holidays With Kids and Mindfood Magazine.  She also produces and presents Change Makers on Sky News, interviews with inspirational people making a positive difference in the world.

She is the proud patron of SISTER2Sister, a mentor program for teenage girls, an Ambassador for Barnardo’s Mother of The Year, Monkey Baa kids theatre and is an official Australia Day Ambassador. @jacintatynan

Kathryn Webster

For the past 12 odd years Kathryn Webster has been the editor of AA Directions, the New Zealand magazine for AA Members, which has a significant proportion of travel in its editorial mix. She was President of TravCom New Zealand for three years and is still on its committee.

Annabelle White

Annabelle White is a New Zealand Food and travel media personality who has and does appear on Tv/ nationwide radio, magazines and newspapers. The author of 11 cookbooks and former food editor for NZ House & Garden and NZ Womens’ Weekly and the food columnist for the Sunday Star-Times for over 23 years – this former history teacher followed her love of communicating food and travel into a busy full time job. She has an MA Hons first class in history and geography and a few years ago was awarded a distinguished alumni award from the University of Waikato.

Arnie Wilson

Arnie Wilson – former regional UK  TV reporter, former UK national newspaper reporter, deputy news editor and diary columnist, former Financial Times writer for 15 years (specialising in skiing but also writing regular non-skiing travel) former editor of the Ski Club of Great Britain’s magazine, Ski+board, and former regular columnist in  Australia’s Theskimag!) Now freelancing

Ruth Zukerman

Ruth Zukerman is a leading tourism and hospitality professional with a successful career spanning more than 25 years in Australia, USA and Asia.

Well respected in the areas of public relations, marketing, business development, communications and crisis management Ruth has worked with a range of high-end global brands including Four Seasons*Regent Hotels, Conrad and Intercontinental Hotels and Hyatt Corporation in the USA.

With a passion for hospitality her vast experience has included Regent International Hotels based in Australia responsible for global sales, marketing and public relations. She spent 10 years with the Conrad Bali, opening the resort as Director of Sales & Marketing and six years in the role of Director of Public Relations during the time when incidents such as terrorism greatly affected business to Bali. Ruth was part of a small team responsible for restoring tourism from Australia by means of PR campaigns and crisis management to expand develop and promote tourism to Bali.









Australian Society of Travel Writers Announce the Finalists for the 2019 Awards for Excellence

The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) is proud to announce the finalists for the 2019 Awards of Excellence.

“We had a record-breaking amount of entries this year”, said President of the ASTW, Helen Hayes. “Based on feedback from our members, we have also added a number of new categories to cater for the diversity of our members and the travel media industry.”

In announcing the finalists, Ms Hayes also acknowledged the support of sponsors and judges.

“We would like to thank each and every one of our sponsors – without them, we have no awards. In particular for those sponsors who continue to support us year on year.

“We would also like to thank the judges. We have three independent judges for each category, all of whom are industry leaders hailing from the USA, UK, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore and Australia”, she said

The winners will be announced at the 2019 Awards for Excellence, to be held at the Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, on 19 October.

The full list of finalists is below.

For media information contact ASTW PR representatives:
Saskia Baker on 0407 752 813 or
Mandy Dwyer on 0417 133 374 or

For more information on the ASTW or to become a member visit




Andrew Bain

River runs for a raft of reasons – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The full Monte Rosa – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Top-end Tassie – Outback magazine


Catherine Marshall

On another planet with the apes – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Colour by numbers – Weekend Australian

You want to be transformed – Qantas


Louise Southerden

High hopes in the Himalayas – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

The call of the high – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Kyushu’s sacred mountain hike – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age



Dan Avila
Winter is coming – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
In the belly of the glacier – Signature Luxury Travel and Style magazine
Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel magazine
The lights are on – Vacations & Travel magazine
Beautiful Lech – Vacations & Travel magazine


Jocelyn Pride
Moose in the mist – Wellbeing
A grand view – The Finer Things in Travel
White thunder – The Road Ahead
Penguin party – Fodor’s Travel
Hidden beauty – Wellbeing


Fiona Harper
Humans of Amritsar, India ­­- KarryOn
Amritsar ­- KarryOn
Wagah border ceremonial parade – KarryOn
Street scene in Amritsar – KarryOn
The Golden Temple in Amritsar – KarryOn


Sponsored by TRAVMEDIA

Laura Speirs – Glasgow
Jodi Clark – TFE Hotels/Tourism NT
Kate Parker – Intrepid Travel
Shelley Winkel – Tourism and Events Queensland


Mary O’Brien – Smooth operator – Australian Financial Review
Danielle Lancaster – Shades of Thailand – Vacations & Travel magazine
Flip Byrnes – The Sanctuary – Fernwood magazine


Aleney de Winter – Sugar & spice and all things nice – Holidays with Kids magazine
Dani Wright – Snowshoe to fondueEscape/News Ltd
Flip Byrnes – Finding Aladdin – Holidays with Kids magazine


John Borthwick – Iron Horse Trek Is One Helluva Ride – The West Australian
Michelle Hespe – All Shook Up – True Blue magazine
Sarah Reid – What’s it like to swim into the world’s weirdest underwater orgy? –


Andrew Bain – Top-End TassieOutback magazine
John Borthwick – The Indian Pacific: An epic train journey across Australia, from Perth to Sydney – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Celeste Mitchell – Walking the Larapinta Trail, NT – Escape/News
Catherine Best – Walk on the dark side – Mahubay (Philippine Airlines)


Aleney de Winter – A taste of Cambodia – Escape
Catherine Marshall – Palate of Persia – MiNDFOOD magazine
Mark Daffey – Flavour of the Month – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Penny Watson – Sweet-toothed LondonTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Dan Avila – Sunset Polar Bear
Laura Waters – Mt Taranaki
Lynn Gail – Monkey face


Carolyn Beasley – Into the wild – Luxury Escapes magazine
Catherine Marshall – A naturally kinder future The Australian
Kerry van der Jagt – Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe safari: Seeing cheetahs in the wild – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age

Sponsored by G ADVENTURES

Craig Tansley      – Zimbabwe, Mana Pools: A game park where guests can walk among the wildlife – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Steve Madgwick – The things I learned taking public transport the entire length of Africa –
Tracey Croke      – There’s no war in the Wakhan –

Sponsored by ASTW

Brand USA
Intrepid Travel
Tourism New Zealand


Catherine Marshall – Troubled waters – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kate Armstrong – Natural Selections – The Weekend Australian
Maggy Oehlbeck – Sea Dreaming – World Magazine
Susan Gough Henly – La Belle France – International Traveller magazine

Sponsored by ACCORHOTELS

Catherine Marshall – On another planet with the apesTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Craig Tansley – Ladakh, India Himalayas hiking: Sublime loneliness – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Roderick Eime – Find your rhythm in CubaVacations & Travel magazine


Catherine Marshall – Sound of silence – Australian Financial Review
Dan Avila – Going to extremes – Signature Luxury Travel and Lifestyle
John Borthwick – Five pleasures of Patagonia – My Discoveries
Rob McFarland – The chorus from the canopy – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


DC&A Worldwide – Destination Canada PR Content Campaign

Intrepid Travel – Adventure Travel Index Campaign

Tourism New Zealand – #GETNZONTHEMAP campaign

PEPR – Hilton Destination Marketing Campaign – Australia and NZ


Sponsored by SCENIC

Christine Retschlag – Beautiful one day, bitcoin the next – Queensland Uncovered
Helen Hayes – The rise of the family safari in Africa – Holidays with Kids magazine
Julie Miller – Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park – Traveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age
Kerry van der Jagt – Zimbabwe wildlife safari: Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe signals a new era of wildlife tourismTraveller – Sydney Morning Herald/Age


Aleney de Winter – BoyEatsWorld
Christine Retschlag – The Global Goddess
Fiona Harper – Travel Boating Lifestyle

Sponsored by TFE HOTELS

Aleney de Winter – Minneriya National Park – Ethical Elephant Attractions in Sri Lanka
Carrie Hutchinson – What it’s like spending the night in a Qashqai homestay on a women’s expedition in Iran – Intrepid Travel blog
Helen Hayes – Aspen guide: Everything you need to know about Colorado’s glitziest ski town – 9Honey

Sponsored by THAI AIRWAYS

Dan Avila – Greenland warmth – Vacations & Travel
Mark Daffey – Dolphin delight – Australian Wooden Boat Festival
Tracey Croke – The Afghanistan You Never See: Game of “Buzkashi” –


Lee Atkinson – Australia’s Best Nature Escapes
Melanie Ball – Top Walks in Tasmania
Ben Groundwater – Go Your Own Way: Hacks, Tips and Tricks to Travel the World Solo


Travel Corporation
Intrepid Travel
World Expeditions


Writing and Photography Awards Calendar

CLIA – Media Award – Cruise Lines International Association

Awards held Feb 2019. Entries for 2020 TBC

AFTA NTIA Awards – Australian Federation of Travel Agents

Nominations open Jan each year. Awards held in July. (20th July 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize

Entries close around early March (6th March 2019) Winners announced in May (7th May 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

National Geographic Travel Photo Contest (Categories Nature, Cities, People etc)

Entries close around March, late entries accepted until May for increased fee. Winners announced around June.

Head On Photo Festival (Categories Portrait, Landscape, Mobile)

Entries close around mid-February. Awards held around May.

Tasmanian Media Awards

Nominations close around mid-March. Awards held around May. Dates for 2020 TBC

South Australian Media Awards

Entries close around March. Awards held around June. Dates for 2020 TBC

Fremantle International Portrait Prize – Biennial Award

Entries closed for 2019. Exhibition 13-27 October 2019

ASTW Awards for Excellence

Entries close around April (30th April 2019) Awards held around October (19th October 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

PATA Gold – Award – Pacific Asia Travel Association

Entries close around April. Awards held around September. (19th September 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

Travel Media Awards (For work published in print or online in UK)

Entries close around April-May. Awards held in September. (20th September 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC.

Australian Photography Awards (includes Landscape, Travel/Street, Wildlife, Portrait, Mobile etc)

Entries open June-Sept (1st June – 2nd September 2019) Dates for 2020TBC.

Kennedy Awards – Outstanding Travel Writing

Entries close 1st July each year. Awards held around August. (9th August 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

The Nature Conservancy 2019 Photo Contest

The global photo contest will open on 1st August 2019 and close 31st August. There will be a range of categories including one for Australia-based photographers, with fabulous local and global prizes you can win from a prize pool of $20,000!

Queensland Clarion Awards

Entries close around July. (12th July 2019) Awards held around September. (7th September 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

National Photographic Portrait Prize

Entries open around October (October 2019 for 2020 prize)

WA Media Awards

Entries open around June and close around August. (24th June- 2nd August 2019) Awards held around November (2nd November 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

NT Media Awards

Entries open around July and close around August. (2nd July-13th August 2019) Awards held around November (16th November 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC 

Walkley Awards

Entries open around July and close around August (1st July to 31st August 2019) Awards held around November (28th November 2019) Dates for 2020 TBC

Australian Travel Awards (Categories include Social Media & PR Campaigns, Tourism Boards etc)

Entries close around August (30th August 2019; late entries 6th September 2019) Awards held around November (29th November 2019)

Here’s an ear’s out to our Aussie bilbies

Here’s an ear’s out to our Aussie bilbies

Each year The Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) donates $1,000 AUD to a worthy cause and
this year, at the AGM on the Sunshine Coast, Emma, a very cute baby Bilby, willingly accepted on behalf of the Save the Bilby Fund.

CEO, Kevin Bradley (he is the one with the beard), told the membership some rather outstanding facts and statistics about Australia’s wildlife such as it is estimated that 7.5 million native Australian animals are killed every night by non-native animals and that Australia has the highest extinction rate in the world.

Members quickly realised their opportunity to be up close with an extremely endangered native Australian animal such as Emma who had no trouble quickly gaining everyone’s attention.

To learn more about bilby visit:

Five Fast Bilby Facts

  1. Bilbies breed quicker than rabbits with only a 12 to 14-day pregnancy
  2. They are omnivores and eat small lizards, mice, spiders, insects, roots and seeds but drink very little water
  3. Of the two bilbies once found in Australia, the Greater Bilby is the only living species and is currently rated as endangered
  4. Bilbies have a sharp ‘spike’ on the end of their tails and large transparent ears.
  5. Many Australians buy the Easter Bilby instead of the Easter Bunny but not all chocolate manufactures contribute to the fund so always check the fine print or refer to the Save the Bilby website.





Finalists for 2017 ASTW Awards of Excellence

We are proud to announce the ASTW finalists for 2017.

Congratulations to everyone! We would also like to thank our sponsors for the awards this year.
If we have no sponsors, we have no awards. Thank you to each and every sponsor for your support. See you on the Sunshine Coast 18-20 August!

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

Visit USA Australia

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

Catherine Marshall
Great Southern Land – Qantas Magazine
After the Big Chill – The Australian
Africa’s Great Bat Invasion – Traveller/Fairfax Media

Mark Daffey
The Avocado Canoe Club – Wild Magazine
Polar Opposite – The Johnnie Walker Edit
Here be Dragons – Great Walks

Kerry Van Der Jagt
On the Dreaming Track – Qantas Magazine
South Pacific Spring – Nat Geo Traveller
Life in the Deep Freeze – Traveller/Fairfax Media

ASTW Photographer of the Year – Sponsored by Abercrombie and Kent

Visit Abercrombie and Kent

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

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

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

Communicator or Communications Team of the Year – Sponsored by TravMedia

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

Best Travel Photograph – Sponsored by Tourism Authority of Thailand

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

Best Story about the AGM Host Destination – sponsored by the ASTW

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

Best Family Travel Story – Sponsored by Bound Round

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

Best Travel Blog – Sponsor by Beyond Travel

Visit Beyond Travel

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

Best Tourism Organisation or Travel Product – Sponsored by Nugggit

Visit Nugggit

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

Best Travel Broadcaster – Sponsored by TFE Hotels

Visit TFE Hotels

Ben Groundwater
Pamela Wright
Greg Grainger

Best Australian Story under 1000 words – Sponsored by Tourism Australia


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

Best Australian Story over 1000 words – Sponsored by Tourism Australia


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

 PR Campaign of the Year – Sponsor by ASTW

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

Best Food Story – Sponsored by Outrigger Resorts

Visit Outrigger Resorts

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

Best Responsible Tourism story – Intrepid Travel

Visit Intrepid Travel

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

Best Adventure Story – Sponsored by G Adventures

Visit G Adventures

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

Best Cruise Story – Sponsored by Cruise Lines International Association

Visit Cruise Lines International Association

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

Best International Story Over 1000 words – Sponsored by AccorHotels

Visit Accor hotels

Louise Southerden – Morocco Unplugged – Traveller/Fairfax Media
Catherine Marshall – On Board the Eastern & Oriental Express – Traveller/Fairfax Media
John Borthwick – Maldives Surfing – Trailblazers’ Incredible Legacy – Traveller/Fairfax Media

Best International Story Under 1000 words – Sponsored by Sarawak 

Visit Sarawak Tourism

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

Best Travel and Tourism News Story – Sponsored by Zoik

Visit Zoik

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