Travel Writing

20 Years of Outback Magazine

It’s been 20 years of telling stories of the bush for Outback Magazine. How lucky am I to have been on board for the past six! #dreamjob. It was such a privilege to be invited to share what it means to be a contributor:

“Absolutely nothing beats an email from the Outback editorial team asking me if I’m up for a road trip. Any time! I’ve been to so many places I may not otherwise have ventured, sharing stories, tears, celebrations, secrets, campfires and meals with the most genuine people. Good people. And oh the laughs! (Especially when photographer Robert Lang is within cooee.)

Interviews turn into unbreakable bonds, with promises of return visits. On Wilpoorinna Station, in outback South Australia, Lyn Litchfield’s baked chops are well worth the 13-hour drive from my farm on the Limestone Coast. And I’m still in awe of the Anzac Day dawn service on the Birdsville Track’s Cowarie Station. I’ll be back, Oldfields!

I’ve slept in dongas, shearers’ quarters and swags under the stars, and will be forever grateful to the shift manager of the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna who took one look at me after a dusty assignment and offered me substantial room upgrade – add it to your bucket list! The one constant that I’ve encountered in my extraordinary role as an Outback contributor is the universal high regard for the magazine. It’s trusted, honest and frank – far from pretentious – but it’s also filled with optimism and friendship. Such wonderful qualities in anyone’s book.”

Australia in Style

Very, VERY excited to receive a copy of this incredible book produced by RM Williams Publishing in conjunction with The Tailor – Australia’s premier luxury travel specialist. 

I wrote two of the articles, and one of them involved a trip to Port Lincoln…immersing myself in the experiences on offer when you book a tour through Goin Off Safaris. Here’s some highlights:

Mundulla’s Sustainable Community

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tidier, more community-driven town than Mundulla on SA’s Limestone Coast. It’s total tree-change perfection, from the gorgeous sculptures awaiting discovery on the walking trail…

To the historic buildings…

And those idyllic farming scenes that look straight from a film set!

RT Images and I made this video as part of Mundulla’s national entry for the KESAB Sustainable Communities award. We also have some more good news stories on Tatiara towns coming soon!

The real story behind the Oddball movie

How low can a fox go? In Warrnambool, the depths are quite extraordinary. The coastal town’s Middle Island little penguin population plummeted from several hundred seabirds to single digits during the 2004-05 breeding season, and foxes were to blame; they had been swimming across from the mainland for a feed. Furious locals declared that the annual massacre had to stop, but how to outwit a cunning fox? Ask a chicken farmer.

maremmas

Local poultry expert Alan ‘Swampy’ Marsh had been having enormous success using Maremmas to protect his free range chooks, and suggested sending a dog across the channel to guard the penguins. The idea ruffled a few feathers, for it was a world-first, but Swampy’s dog, Oddball, passed a four-week trial with flying colours – the island has been fox-free ever since. I shared the tale in the Dec-Jan issue of Outback magazine, while the story of the penguin protectors has also made it onto the big screen, with the movie Oddball directly inspired by the Middle Island Maremma Project.

Picture courtesy Roadshow Films

Picture courtesy Roadshow Films

Poetry on a Plate in Bourke, NSW

The most memorable meals often happen during travels, and the poetry dished up on a plate in Bourke, NSW, was no exception. I was passing through with my family on the way home from Cape York, and the editor of Outback magazine asked us to stop to investigate Andrew Hull and Sarah Goulden’s unique recipe for success – beef casserole, lentil stew and lemon-curd tart served with a generous helping of poetry and music at Kidman’s Camp.

Poetry

From April – October, up to 100 campers line up here for a welcome reprieve from ‘yet another barbecue’.

Kidman2

“We didn’t want to make a generic product, and because the stories and food are original and local, it makes a whole experience out of it,” Andrew says. “It’s not just turning out a meal from a canteen; it’s a real event.”

Kidman3

Outback Cover copy

Lucindale – The little town that could…and did.

I am forever intrigued by country towns – how they came to be, and how they manage to survive. Lucindale, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is the ultimate rural role model of sustainability. I shared the story of this little town that could (and did) in the February/March 2015 edition of Outback Magazine.

Luc

“Small town, big vision” is its motto, and you would expect nothing less of a place which welcomes 22,000 visitors to its annual South East Field Days (the usual population is 400).

Field-Day-pic_1--A

The town also has a host of sporting clubs – including a triathlon club and a karting club – a country club, caravan rallies, camp drafts, music festivals and the unique exhibition Art in the Sticks, hosted by local farmer-artist Hamish Macdonald. He sums up Lucindale well: “Most little towns are dying, but our town has stayed alive because the town has decided it wants to exist.”

Luc2

What lies beneath – Kilsby’s Hole, SA

I recently discovered the secret to the success of a South Australian sheep property, and it was locked in a vast underground chamber…

sinkhole3

sinkhole

Kilsby’s Hole lies beneath the pastures of Bringewood in SA’s Limestone Coast, and in addition to being a priceless water source for owner Graham Kilsby’s successful prime-lamb operation, it’s rated among the world’s best cave diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

sinkhole-2

0008182

Image supplied by SA Tourism Commission. (No – I’m not the diver!)

This is why I love being a freelance writer – such a privilege to be able to share stories about such interesting people and places. My article on Kilsby’s Hole appeared in the Aug / Sep 2014 issue of Outback magazine, and I’ve added a link to my Portfolio.

Cottage stay in Penola – Country Style

I’ve been waiting for my story on this delightful Penola accommodation to appear in Country Style, and here it is, in the new July 2014 edition!

cs2It’s called Shurdingtons, and it’s located on the corner of the famous Petticoat Lane. This historic street has been the source of many stories for me over the years. A picture-perfect gem.

cs July

 

My week – A Freelance Journalist

People often ask me what sort of work I do. Here’s what happened one week in April:

1. Distributed a media release promoting a regional event.

sipsblog

2. Wrote about the weddings of three AFL footballers and nine other gorgeous couples for a high profile magazine.

Bartel-0569_BW1

Image by Kristen Cook

3. Told the story of a farmer with an amazing attraction on his property (besides sheep) for another national mag.

sheep

4. Proofed the final layouts of two previously written articles which are about to go to print for another national mag.

grace2

5. Wrote a 1000-word article for a Local Government publication on behalf of a local council.

6. Scripted a new documentary for the rock lobster industry using previously recorded interviews.

DTL3

7. Lined up a series of homes and businesses to be photographed by an interstate magazine photographer and stylist visiting the region…

8. And was on standby to cover a court case for a newspaper. (Case fell through, but that’s ok.)

Always loving the variety.

 

 

Real Weddings Destination Weddings

I loved writing about the brides who headed abroad for the new Summer Edition of Real Weddings. One couple married in this French castle…

Another jetted away to gorgeous Koh Samui…

While this travel-themed wedding in NSW was rather perfect, too.

The cover? Pure delight.

RW-Cover