I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s good to reflect on the year that’s past and at the places life has taken me over 2012, to remind myself of where I’ve been and what I’ve learned. So here’s a quick look – in pictures – at the places I travelled to in 2012.
MELBOURNE: I was scratching a seven-year itch and preparing to move from my base in Melbourne by New Year 2012….much as I love this beautiful bayside city. These colourful beach boxes are at Melbourne’s Brighton Beach, on Victoria’s Port Phillip Bay.
BYRON BAY: One of Australia’s popular holiday spots, renowned for its annual Blues Festival and the Byron Bay Writers Festival. I’m lucky to have a friend who lives there, and spent a few wonderful relaxing days last January living by the beach as her house-sitter (before staying on for some fun on her return). Thanks Melissa!
BRISBANE: After seven years away, I returned to live in Queensland’s capital in February and have settled back in. This is the arbour at South Bank, wonderful when the crimson bougainvillea is blooming.
NEW ZEALAND: I’m a Kiwi, so going “home” – whether for work or family – is always full of joy. In May, I travelled to New Zealand’s annual tourism industry conference, TRENZ, and spent a few days beforehand on a return visit to Marlborough and Kaikoura, in the South Island. This is one of my favourite images from the trip, taken while out for the day with Whale Watch Kaikoura.
VIENNA: A media trip to Austria in June. One of my strong memories of Vienna was the mouth-watering aromas wafting from the many bakeries in the city. And coffee. And cake. And strudel. And schnitzel. The Austrians love to eat! Thanks Astrid!
SALZKAMMERGUT: This beautiful region, where The Sound of Music was filmed, was a highlight of my trip to Austria. Lake Altaussee, which we traversed in small wooden boats rowed by men wearing traditional lederhosen, is just one of 76 lakes in the region.
VIETNAM: A place I love visiting, and was lucky enough to return to this year, with tour company Footsteps in Asia. Our tour started in Saigon and took in Nha Trang, Dha Nang and Dalat.
CAMBODIA: My first visit to this country with such a tortured history. Despite all they’ve been through, the beautiful Cambodian people are warm, welcoming and open-hearted. Their stories are heart-breaking. This is Mr Chum Mey, one of the last survivors of the infamous S-21 prison under Pol Pot’s regime. He now tells his story to visitors at the prison (now a museum).
AUSTRALIA’S GOLD COAST: A great place for the weekend, less than an hour’s drive south of my home in Brisbane. It’s a holiday playground that Australians either love or hate. Some of it is tawdry and tacky; other parts are beaches at their best. And with 42km of sand to choose from, it’s possible to find a spot you enjoy. This sculpture, symbolising beach culture, is on the foreshore at Currumbin Beach.
CENTRAL JAVA: A trip to Indonesia for the Australian Society of Travel Writers annual conference on Lombok ended with a few days in Yogyakarta and a visit to the magnificent World-Heritage-listed ninth-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur.
HAWAII: It’s not all sand and surfing. One of the things I love about Hawaii is its rich culture. The spirit of ‘aloha’ is everywhere, and although some of the cultural shows are very commercialised, you can’t beat a spectacular fire display.
SYDNEY: Even when the sky is grey, Sydney Harbour is magnificent. I’ve made a few trips to Sydney this year – for both work and play – and it’s always great fun to visit!