I’ve been in a travel writer for nearly 20 years, and next week I’m doing something unlike anything I’ve done before: I’m becoming a “correspondent” (aka #Corrozpondent) for Tourism Australia. It’s quite a thing to do.
I’m one of a handful of other travel writers and photographers deemed “influencers” (eg folks like Gary Arndt, Jo Maxwell Stouggard, Lee Abbamonte). We travel alone, crafting our own itineraries, hitting the road, then writing about it.
This is not my first time in Australia. A decade ago, while working for Lonely Planet, I lived in Melbourne – saturating myself in “long black” coffees, going to footie games, buying a pewter Ned Kelly (better than a Mick Jagger Ned Kelly), and learning of the existence of Malaysian laksa. (Incidentally, why haven’t more American food trucks discovered laksa yet?) I made a few side trips into Victoria state too, driving on the left side of two-lane roads crossed by kangaroos to the forested peaks of the Grampians, or staying in seaside huts at Wilsons Promontory.
I like Australia.
But I’ve long had some serious Australian gaps. So with this trip, I’m targeting a couple that loom largest: a taste of the Outback, and finally pacifying all my Melbourne pals who kept on about how great that Tasmania place is.
I love trains. So after a night in Sydney, I’m taking the Indian Pacific to Broken Hill, New South Wales – an overnight ride that barely scratches itself into the continent, yet reaches a familiar setting the “Outback,” as seen in scores of films such as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert:
After that, I fly to Tasmania’s second city Launceston, aka “Lonnie” (Australian abbreviations — abbrevos? — are so cute), where I begin a five-day trek on the Overland Track into the Cradle Mountains, going hut to hut. I’ll look out for Tasmanian devils as I go, of course, but also the more mysterious (and thought to be extinct) Tasmanian tiger. Apparently proof of its existence can get you a reward of half a million dollars. So I’ll keep the camera handy. (Here’s a century-old shot from a zoo in DC.)
And I’ve always heard you never forget your first Hobart.
Yes, this will be fun.
Note: As part of the “corrOZpondent” program, my trips will be paid for by Tourism Australia.