Polixeni Papapetrou – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Polixeni Papapetrou passed away in April 2018. We keep this post about her as a tribute to this courageous woman and acclaimed artist.

When photographic artist Polixeni Papapetrou chose her 5 favourite places to visit in Australia, they were not just travel destinations. They were landscapes that captured her imagination and inspired her to transform them into her art. Dramatically beautiful, they are insightful and unsettling works.

Her art provides us with a unique perspective on these landscapes.

Polixeni has said that in her work, landscape is another protagonist in the narrative.

Polixeni’s parents immigrated to Australia from Greece, and she was born and raised in Melbourne. She qualified and practised as a lawyer. But it was her intense and singular vision as a photographic artist that won acclaim and forged for her an Australian and international career replete with grants, exhibitions and awards. Her works have featured in over 50 solo exhibitions, and over 90 group exhibitions in Australia, the United States, Asia and Europe. They are held in private and institutional collections in leading galleries here and abroad, including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Polixeni and Lexi by Robert Nelson

Polixeni’s art has evolved through a series of themes.

Earlier works depicted the construction of identities through photographs of drag queens, body builders, clowns, circus performers, and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley impersonators.

Subsequently and most notably, Polixeni created the series on childhood and its shifting meaning. Featuring her own children, Olympia and Solomon as they grew into adolescence, the series uniquely combined reality and imagination, nature and theatre, the benign emblems of childhood story-telling with an underlying sense of menace.

In later works, Between Worlds, (2009), The Dreamkeepers (2012), and The Ghillies (2013) masks and costumes worn by the children allow them to transgress boundaries – young to old, human to animal – and transform them into disruptive and unsettling figures in picture-perfect landscapes. As Polixeni describes it: “ I have these characters in my mind and like to find the habitat for them and then photograph them. For me it is about reconciling my inner world, possibly the unconscious to the real world.”

It was her son’s interest in the camouflage outfits named after Scottish gamekeepers and used in computer games and by the military, that inspired the stunning images of The Ghillies. Polixeni photographed Solomon wrapped in camouflage in the landscape. But in this series, instead of being hidden in the landscape, he seems to grow out of it.

Despite serious illness, Polixeni continued until her death to create new series of works with the continued enthusiastic participation of her children and her husband, art critic and academic Robert Nelson.



Polixeni’s Top 5 Places:


Polixeni Papapetrou The Loners 2009

Flinders, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria 

When friends invited us to their holiday home in the coastal town of Merricks, on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria I was eager to go. I knew about the town as it is the home of the popular 1920s- built Merricks General Store and Stonier’s and Merricks Estate wineries (two of my favourite reds). I was enchanted with a site in Flinders, known as Bush Rangers Bay. The contrast of rural and the wild coastal terrain of Bass Strait makes for breathtaking landscape.


Polixeni Papapetrou The Shell Collectors 2009

Polixeni Papapetrou The Shell Collectors 2009

I have made numerous pictures at this location such as The Loners, portraying two elderly rabbits walking along the coast line framed by basalt cliffs, another of two horses enjoying the violin, three industrious pigs gathering straw at the site of the old quarry and a mother and son collecting shells on the coast. When making The Shell Collectors we were caught out by a rapidly changing tide and while the children scurried away in a flash, I had to gather my camera equipment before the encroaching waters carried it away to sea!  Nearby is the formidable Flinders Blowhole where if you dare you can walk on the rocks or even walk to the spectacular Cape Schank.


Polixeni_Papapetrou_Study_for_Hattah_Man_and_Hattah Woman_2013

Polixeni Papapetrou Study for Hattah Man and Hattah Woman 2013

The Mallee region 

VIC and NSW 

Mildura is a short plane trip from Melbourne, but I find the six hour long scenic journey by car one of the most relaxing drives in Victoria. As we progress through the drive, I love seeing the earth change colour turn from brown to a rich red. That is the signal that we have arrived in Mallee country, on which the beautiful stunted mallee tree grows. Before we reach our destination in Mildura to spend time with family friends, the         De Pieris who run the acclaimed Stefano’s restaurant and Mildura Brewery, we stop off at various locations to make work.

The semi-arid Murray-Sunset National Park is a must stop for me. The landscape is virtually untouched other than the site of the Raak Plain, an old gypsum mine which looks like an apocalyptic landscape. I made the picture called Study for Hattah Man and Hattah Woman on the Raak plains.

Polixeni Papapetrou Salt Man 2013

Polixeni Papapetrou Salt Man 2013

The landscape has a mysterious and ancient mood that I wanted to capture. I also love the Pink Lakes in the same park which change colour throughout the year. During Spring the lakes turn a deep pink colour and you can walk across them. I made the picture Salt Man on the Pink Lakes. The gorgeous pink coloured salt we have on our table at home is produced by the Murray River Red Salt Farm.

A short distance further from Mildura crossing the Murray River into New South Wales brings you to the town of Wentworth and the spectacular ancient site of the Perry Sand Hills. It was once a camping and hunting ground for Aboriginal people. As a result of the Ice Age, the area turned into sand dunes sculpted by wind erosion over thousands of years. As far as the eye can see, the area feels like a scene from another planet, acres and acres of shifting orange coloured sand dunes. I have visited this site a number of times to make photographs.



Polixeni Papapetrou Wild World 2008

Lake Mungo, NSW  

Another favourite destination is Lake Mungo, a significant ancient Aboriginal site, which was once  an Aboriginal fishing, hunting and camping ground. During the last Ice Age the water levels dropped and the lake dried up. Subsequent erosion of the land revealed human and animal remains as well as tools. The most spectacular discovery were 40,000 year old skeletal remains known as ‘Mungo Man’ and ‘Mungo Woman’. Walking on the dried lake has a moon-like eeriness about it.  The small museum on the site and the old woolshed are added attractions. Many visitors camp on the grounds, but as I can’t wear my heels camping we stay in the Lake Mungo Lodge.



Polixeni Papapetrou Hanging Rock 1900_2006

Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges, Victoria 

As a teenager in the 1970s I was captivated by Peter Weir’s film, Picnic at Hanging Rock. Set on Valentine’s Day in 1900, a party of schoolgirls ventured out for a school excursion at Hanging Rock. Three of the party set out on a walk on the rock and were not seen again. The story of the three missing schoolgirls has become embedded in Australia’s cultural imagination to the point where people are surprised to learn that the account is a fiction. When I discovered that Hanging Rock was just outside of Melbourne, I hopped to and immersed myself in its mysterious history.

Polixeni_Papapetrou_The_Lantern_ Keeper_2012

Polixeni Papapetrou The Lantern Keeper 2012

The site itself is one of the world’s most extraordinary and significant geological formations. The Rock is a former volcano and is shaped into pinnacles created over 6 million years ago when lava rose through the earth’s crust. The magma that rose to the surface is only found in two or three other places in the world. It is a ghostly place, wild and chaotic and is a perfect backdrop to set the scene for my work portraying the ancient, spiritual wilderness of Australia.

I was moved to make a photograph about the three missing schoolgirls at Hanging Rock as well as making Magma Man and The Lantern Keeper as I could imagine my invented characters living there, hiding in the Rock’s many nooks and crannies.


Polixeni Papapetrou The Visitor 2012

Polixeni Papapetrou The Visitor 2012

The Victorian High Country (Mt Buller) 

When you mention Mount Buller, in Victoria’s high county, you immediately conjure up images of snow and skiing. I love to visit the mountain in the warmer months of the year, as working on-location is more comfortable and easier. The stunning snow gums at Mount Buller are also fully expressed in the warmer months and create pockets of natural beauty set against these spectacular mountains.

When we made The Wanderer, we arrived the day before and were surprised by sudden overcast conditions, a thunderstorm and a blackened sky. I despaired and thought that I would not be able to take photographs as planned on the following day. I resigned myself to having a holiday, but plans were once again changed when we woke up to a brilliant blue sky the following morning.


Polixeni Papapetrou The Philosopher 2012

Similarly when I made The Visitor during the Spring, a dampness descended on the mountain, which was atmospheric. I thought that I’d have days of this perfect photographic backdrop, but once again we woke to a clear sunny sky the following day.


I also made The Philospher at this location. The image reflects a person alone on the top of a mountain. It symbolizes the solitude of thought where the vastness of the landscape is the counterpoint to the intimacy of an internal world. It is an internal/external that we all struggle with. I love the way that the landscape in the High Country plays tricks on me.  We also love to visit the nearby town of Mirimbah, eat at the café, walk in Mirimbah Park and jump into the lake when it is hot enough.


Images in Eden Series

Travel Tips:

* If you are friendly with your neighbours, let them know that you will be away. Otherwise leave home in the dead of night! And don’t forget to put the dogs in kennels.

* Research the history of the areas that you are visiting. And take maps. Intuiting your way across foreign terrain is only great if you enjoy becoming seriously lost.

* Pack as lightly as possible as you always accumulate things along the way. Kidding yourself if you say that you won’t.  But always take plenty of water.

* A book goes a long way to relieving the boredom of travel.  Yes holidays can be a bit boring, but you can always attempt an interesting conversation too.

For more information about Polixeni Papapetrou see:http://www.polixenipapapetrou.net


• MAMA Art Foundation Photography Prize, Murray Art Museum, NSW, 21 May – 7 August 2016

• Timelapse, Gippsland Art Gallery, Victoria, 24 May – 24 July 2016

•European Month of PhotographyAthens, Benaki Museum, Athens, 9 June – 26 July 2016

•Spring 1883, Windsor, Kalli Rolfe Contemporary, 17-21 August 2016

•Eden, Stills Gallery, Sydney, 31 August – 5 October 2016

•European Month of Photography, Berlin, 1-31 October 2016

•Beyond Eden, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne, 22 October – 2 December  2016


Photo of Polixeni Papapetrou by Robert Nelson







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Professor Gillian Triggs – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Gillian Triggs, Chair of Justice Connect, won enormous respect for her courage and fortitude in defence of human rights in her previous position as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. This despite being subjected to unprecedented attacks and pressure from government ministers and their representatives.

Professor Triggs was catapulted into national headlines when she released a report on children in immigration detention. Tony Abbott, the then Prime Minister, Attorney-General George Brandis, and the then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison declared that the report was biased, that they had lost confidence in her and that she should resign.

Professor Triggs stood firm. She insisted the report adhered to the law and was objective, and if she were to resign, it would suggest otherwise and would undermine the independence of the commission.

These personal and professional attacks on Professor Triggs sparked a social media campaign of huge support for her which affirmed widespread confidence in her integrity. It also had the effect of making people aware of the existence of the AHRC and led to thousands more seeking its services.

"Human rights are for everyone, everywhere, every day." Professor Gillian Triggs

“Human rights are for everyone, everywhere, every day.” Professor Gillian Triggs

Australia has no Bill of Rights, so the AHRC is the “first port of call” for complaints regarding human rights and breaches of anti-discrimination laws, she says. Its responsibility is to monitor Australia’s performance in meeting its international human rights commitments. And its services are free.

Professor Triggs once remarked that it was ironical that in the year in which we celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, she came under increasing attack because the Commission drew attention to  “the erosion of our human rights and to the diminution of the checks and balances that preserve our democracy.” For her it was the “year of living dangerously”.

Gillian was born in England, and when her parents decided to emigrate to Australia when she was 12, she was was not happy about having to give up her studies as a ballet dancer at the Royal Academy. But once in Australia, she joined the Borovansky Ballet. At university, she was one of the small number of women studying law. She was part of the burgeoning feminist movement on campus, and with characteristic flair, won Miss University at Melbourne University in 1966.

Gillian Triggs is held in the highest esteem by her peers. In her 50-year career as a lawyer, she has held academic positions such as Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney. She has also had an international commercial legal practice, and worked with governments and international organizations on human rights law. She was Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005-7 where she directed social justice projects in Iran and Africa.

This year Gillian published Speaking Up in which shares the values that have informed her convictions and the causes she has championed.  Her publisher, Melbourne University Press writes: ” She dares women to be a little vulgar and men to move beyond their comfort zones to achieve equity for all. And she will not rest until Australia has a Bill of Rights. ”  She has also written five other books, mostly on international law and human rights.

A portrait of Gillian Triggs in Lego blocks appears in a new work by Ai Wei Wei commissioned by the NGV for the exhibition Andy Warhol/Ai Wei Wei. Incorporating more than two million Lego blocks, the cube features portraits of twenty Australian activists, champions of human rights and freedom of speech. (See image above)


Gillian’s Top 5 Places:


Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park - photo Great Trails Victoria

Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park – photo Great Trails Victoria

Wilsons Promontory, Victoria

True Australian wilderness that has been protected with fierce determination by locals, government and environmentalists. The area is a treasure trove of Aboriginal middens, wildlife and dramatic scenery. The beaches are pristine and ‘Squeaky Beach’ has tiny white particles of sand that record every step.





Sydney Harbour & Opera House

Sydney Harbour & Opera House

Sydney Harbour, New South Wales 

One of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Every inlet and beach can be explored by ferry or walking.  There is something of interest for everyone. The zoo, local history, the sculpture walk across the cliffs, fishing and sailing, or eating in the restaurants. I took my family visiting from England on a yacht  trip around the harbour for Christmas eve; an unforgettable night.



Green turtle - photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Green turtle – photo courtesy of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Great Barrier Reef, Queensland 

One of the natural wonders of the world. Snorkelling or diving reveals a magical world of colour and life .  The reef is radiant with fish and marine species.










Mt.Buller - photo by daz77

Mt.Buller – photo by daz77

Mount Buller, Victoria

Mt.Buller is the beginning of the Great Dividing Range and a stunning change from coastal Australia. The cattle trails through the mountains or the ski runs down the mountain offer spectacular views of an Australia that is unexpected and grandiose. The local wines, cheeses and  fresh produce make it a gourmet’s delight.





Great Ocean Road - photo Britannica Kids

Great Ocean Road – photo Britannica Kids

Great Ocean Road, Victoria 

The Great Ocean Road is  spectacular as it winds around the edge of the Australian continent from Geelong in Victoria to the Coorong in South Australia. The coast is rugged and home to vibrant bird and wild life.






Travel tips:

* Do your homework before you go to avoid the traps and to get the most from your adventure

* Stop to watch and listen rather than trying to do too much; enjoy the moment.

* Pack really wearable comfortable clothes

* If you can, pay extra for good accommodation

* Look up a friend in the area or find a new one; they can introduce you to the best secrets of the area


Photo of Professor Triggs by Matthew Syres.










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Fabian Dattner – My Top 5 Places in Australia

” You have to have a beard to be a leader in Antarctica.” It was this statement that sparked the indignation and the imagination of Fabian Dattner and led to an unprecedented expedition of 75 women scientists to Antarctica in December 2016.

Women and Leadership

Fabian, a partner in consulting firm Dattner Grant has had 30 years experience in leadership training, both internationally and with Australian government, corporate  and not-for-profit organisations. She has authored 3 books on leadership and is one of Australian’s best-known entrepreneurs, speakers and executive instructors.

So she was well placed to notice first-hand the paucity of women in executive positions. This prompted her seven years ago to set up Compass, a training program specifically designed to equip women with leadership skills. And it was during one of these Compass courses in Tasmania, that women scientists, many of them working in polar science, expressed their distress at repeatedly being passed over for leadership in favour of men.

Women in STEM

Indeed, only 9% of leadership roles in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in the world are held by women. This is remarkable given that women constitute the majority of undergraduates, graduates and Ph.D students in science.

What Fabian heard from the women working in polar science made such an impression on her, she had a vivid dream that same evening in which she was taking a group of them on a ship to Antarctica. The next morning she consulted with Dr. Jess Melbourne Thomas, an Antarctic Marine Ecological Modeler, who agreed that such a project would be feasible. From that point on they both began planning and within 6 weeks the project received the endorsement of the CEO of the Australian Antarctic Division who described it as a “ brilliant idea.”  And Homeward Bound was born.

2016 Homeward Bound expedition of women scientists in Antarctica

Homeward Bound

Support from global figures streamed in, including that of Dr Jane Goodall, primatologist and environmental campaigner; Dr Sylvia Earle, global leading Marine Biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer; and Christiana Figueres, Former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The project went viral with thousands of women in science applying for the 75 places on the first Homeward Bound 19-day expedition to Antarctica in December 2016.

These scientists all strongly identified with the twin goals of Homeward Bound as stated by Fabian. The first: to promote women with a science background into leadership and decision-making positions. The second: to increase the impact of these women on climate change and the sustainability of the planet.

The 10-year objective of Homeward Bound is to build a world-wide collaboration between 1000 women in science. Fabian believes that these women, acting together, can be a more powerful force of global leadership on these vital issues.  “Our individual brilliance is not as powerful as our collective cleverness, “ she says.

The 75 scientists who took part in the first expedition came from countries around the world. They represented a wide range of fields –  marine science, climate change ecology, biodiversity conservation, astronomy, geology, zoology and neuroscience – to name just a few. They represented a wide range of expertise – from Ph.D students to professors. And they represented a wide range of ages – from women in their twenties to women in their seventies.

Homeward Bound journey on Ushuaia – photo Ute Hohn-Bowen

Prior to sailing, the participants took part in 12 months of building connections and teams. Once on board, part of the day was devoted to training led by Fabian, in leadership and strategic skills. There was a major science symposium at sea, with each of the scientists presenting her field of expertise, and there were group discussions of the most up-to-date climate change research and other key issues facing the planet.

Up to five hours each day were spent exploring the extraordinary beauty of Antarctica in 16 different landings and in meeting Antarctic experts. A film crew was present on Homeward Bound and recorded the entire expedition.

Antarctica- photo Fabian Dattner 2016 Homeward Bound

Why Antarctica?

Why was Antarctica chosen as the context for this project?

“ Because Antarctica is the engine of the planet, “ says Fabian. In Antarctica you can see some of the fastest and most breathtaking results of climate change to be seen anywhere on the planet, she said. It provides a dramatically visual early warning system of where we are headed.

The next Homeward Bound expedition, due to leave on February 2018,  has been flooded with applicants.

“ We are looking for women who are worried about what is happening to the planet and who think they can make a difference, “ says Fabian.

Homeward Bound funded the first expedition largely though global crowd-funding projects. Now they are seeking to provide scholarships for women in science who cannot afford to fund their own participation in the expedition.

WomanGoingPlaces supports the objectives of Homeward Bound in strengthening the collaborative participation of women scientists at the highest levels of decision-making. And we encourage our followers to support these scholarships. For further information see the Homeward Bound website.

Fabian’s Top 5 Places



Antarctica – photo Fabian Dattner 2016 Homeward Bound

Antarctica is not a place I felt at home, Antarctica was a place I was in awe.

The icebergs are not what anyone imagines an iceberg is about, they’re huge, they’re like a city building. They are behemoths and from then on in you’re in a spellbinding environment

Antarctica has the lowest biodiversity on the planet.

There are two things on the surface, tiny little bits of green – an Antarctic grass and a tiny bit of moss. And this vast ice scape. And you’ll be walking through snow and ice and there is a rock, and it’s not like you see it everywhere by the way, you need a biologist to point it out to you. There’ll be tiny beads of water and in that there is a teensy weensy bit of gloop and in there are the larval stages of this wingless fly. And that’s it.

But in summer, in the water and under the water, is a majesty and a magic that is incomprehensible. The largest biomass in the world is there. Krill, and on the back of the krill come the whales and we saw humpbacks. And there are times where you’ll see the whales working as teams to move the krill into a circle and then they move in and eat. We saw Minke Whales dancing with the boat. We saw Leopard seals. We saw Weddell seals, we saw Chinstraps and Adelie penguins. You see lots of ocean-going birds, birds that have traveled obscene distances to breed because the water is so rich.

[Under the Antarctic Treaty system Australia maintains sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory.]

South Coast Walk, Tasmania

It’s a fly-in-walk-out walk. You fly out of Hobart on a 4 seater for an hour and you land on a little airstrip in the middle of nowhere in some wilderness. The plane flies off and you begin a walk. And you’re walking along the South West coast, for about a 100 kilometres. You’re walking through forest that is largely untouched on such a narrow path and you have a heavy pack on your back.  Light filters through the grand trees onto the green landscape and it is so beautiful you can’t talk. If you’ve loved Lord of the Rings, it’s like Lothlorien where the elves live.

It was one of the hardest walks I’ve done and one of the most beautiful. It is right up there with one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Coral off Lord Howe Island – photo Lord Howe Island Tourism Association www.lordhoweisland.info

Lord Howe Island would definitely be one of my favourite places. With the bleaching of the Barrier Reef it is actually probably one of the most southern ends of diverse coral that you’re going to see. There hasn’t been any bleaching there. And diving there was just stunning. It’s this tiny little isolated island in the Pacific Ocean and you have to go quite a long way to get there. If the weather throws you a kilter, you can’t land. There are only 300 people that live there and there’s quite a restricted tourist population. You can only get around on bicycles. I love the beautiful wilderness and the places that human beings haven’t desecrated. There is pristine water to dive in. Just pristine water.

Kakadu, Northern Territory

Kakadu escarpment Northern Territory – photo auswalk.com.au

There’s this walk, not a complex walk anyone can do it, but you go up past an extensive area of Aboriginal rock banding which is in itself haunting. It’s 50, 60 thousand years old. But the most memorable part is getting to an escarpment where you have a 360 degree panoramic view of the best of Australian outback with not a single building as far as the eye can see in any direction. And I remember the epic part about that was coming to the top and a big Texan came up behind us and he’s standing next to me in his stetson hat and he says “ I don’t know why people rave about the Aboriginals –  I can’t see that they’ve left anything here” (in Texan accent).  And I said, “ No, they’ve left us this beautiful, beautiful space.”

Flinders Ranges, South Australia

Flinders Ranges South Australia – photo australia.com

We went to quite a remote area in the Finders Ranges. It was during the drought. So it was a very desolate dry hard space. But in a way that parts of Australia can be so epically beautiful. We saw rock wallabies and it’s very rare that you see rock wallabies in the wild. They move across the rock scape in the way foxes move at night in your backyards – in a ghostly, almost don’t touch the ground way. And we were in a very remote spot walking and I suddenly looked up at a desiccated dry mountain top of rocks and something moved and there they were. So that was one of the heart stopping moments of wilderness for me.




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Janette Jeffrey – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Jan Jeffrey

Jan Jeffrey

Janette Jeffrey has broken 7 World Records as a Masters Swimmer from 2015 -2016.

She also holds 9 National records in freestyle and breaststroke in her age group 65-69 years. That’s just in the swimming pool.

In ocean swims she was the female wInner of the Cousins Travel Open Water ‘Ocean’ swim series 2016/17 in 60-69 age group. She has won her age group of the prestigious Lorne Pier to Pub race nine times.

But her picture made no front pages, and you have probably never heard of her.

If young sportswomen have great difficulty getting any coverage in mainstream media, it is almost impossible for older women competing in Masters events to do so.

Jan competed in the 16th FINA World Masters Swimming Championships 2015 in Kazan, Russia in August. She won 4 gold medals in the Women’s 65-69 years category for 50 metre, 100 metre and 200 metre breaststroke, as well as the 400 metre freestyle competitions.  Not many people get to break their own world records, but that is exactly what Jan did in Russia.

The FINA World Masters Games are the Olympics of Masters Swimming, and this makes Jan the fastest in the world by many seconds. She competes against ex-Olympians who now swim Masters and she is able to beat them. “To have been able to swim the 200m breaststroke better than anyone else in the world at my age, is hard to believe”.

Jan swims with the Malvern Marlins, a very enthusiastic and committed local Masters Swimming Club that trains at the Harold Holt Swim Centre in Glen Iris in Melbourne. She has been President of the Marlins and was made a life member in 2014 for her on-going contribution as a swimming coach.


Jan with the gold medals she won at the 16th FINA World Masters Swimming Championships 2015 in Kazan Russia

She joined the Marlins at the age of 43, initially just to manage her kidney disease. But she came to love not only the fitness, but also the fun and friendship she found in the group. Jan developed a drive to keep shaving the time off her laps. Her determination kept her going even when faced with life threatening illness and injuries. Extraordinarily, she achieved her 4 world record swims after undergoing a major operation on her heart.



She combines her love of swimming with her love of travelling around Australia in a caravan with partner and fellow Marlin, Gerry Tucker, who is also an accomplished Masters swimmer. Jan enjoys painting the natural beauty of the places she travels through. She also finds the local “swimming geeks” and joins them in swims and competitions.

Jan will be going to compete in Budapest at the Fina Masters World Swimming Championships in August this year.

Before she retired, Jan spent many years as a teacher at Caulfield Grammar School’s Malvern Campus in Melbourne.

Jan’s Top 5 Places:


Caloundra, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Caloundra, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Sunshine Coast, Queensland: For the thrill of Relaxation

We just love heading north to escape the Melbourne winter. (That’s what retirees can do.)

Our favourite destination is the Sunshine Coast.

It’s hard to pick my favourite place but Golden Beach, Caloundra suits us fine, and it is here where we have made a base for ourselves. The Glasshouse Mountains welcome us as we travel along the Bruce highway into town. The spectacular sight of the glassy waters of the Pumicestone Passage reminds us that it is time to relax and enjoy life.

Bribie Island resting in the background shelters us from the surf coast.  It is truly worth getting up early to watch the sunrise in the east, and just as rewarding, the sunset at night over the Glasshouse Mountains. What a view!

Our favourite pastime believe it or not, is to swim in the morning. We have met up with a great group of swim geeks who train at the 50m Pelican Waters Swim Centre. At the weekend, their passion is to swim in the ocean from Moffat beach around the point to Dickey beach, and back. On Sundays, they may choose another beach depending on the weather conditions. (Shark sightings nil so far, wetsuits allowed for us Melbournites, goggles & fins are optional.)

Kayaking over to Bribie Island with friends is a highlight of our time in Caloundra. Long walks along this pristine coastline (we are usually the only ones there), and a surf in the Pacific Ocean is a must, of course.  A picnic of fresh prawns from the local fish shop, mango, avocado and salad with fresh bread of course, topped off with a glass of bubbly under the pandanus trees, usually follows our swim.

Best places to visit:

Emu on Bribie island

Emu on Bribie island

  • Golden Beach for great bike paths that lead to all the sunny beaches. You must try stand-up paddle boarding on the Passage.
  • Mooloolaba for shopping, coffee, and people watching, and the Mooloolaba Spit to tuck into a bucket of fresh prawns for lunch.
  • Monteville, Maleny and Eumundi – take the time to enjoy a drive up into the hinterland for great markets, shops, art galleries and restaurants.
  • Kings beach for a surf and swim in the salt water pool beachside.
  • Cottontree for another pool swim, and the great Boat Shed restaurant for a sunset meal.
  • Sunshine Beach SLSC for a hearty lunch and afternoon drinks.
  • Alexander Headland for lazy walks on the long sandy coast line.
  • Buderim for a great life drawing class – a must each week when I am there.


Moree thermal baths, NSW - photo Nicole Steinke

Moree thermal baths, NSW – photo Nicole Steinke

Moree, Northern NSW: For the thrill of Rejuvenation

A tradition for the last four years since we purchased our caravan has been to call into the township of Moree in northern NSW. Why? Because we heard that it has hot thermal pools in which to relax and undergo some serious rejuvenation therapy. It was like a scene out of film director Ron Howard’s science fiction movie “Cocoon”. In this case, this huge pool was filled to the brim with older people wallowing in hot water, with steam rising into the damp night air. Yes, at night! They are in the pools from early morning to late at night, resting their bones and rejuvenating their souls with stories, old and new. My first conversation went like this: “Have you been around the block yet?”  Translated this means “Have you caravanned right around Australia yet? ” In these waters, you don’t need a travel agent or Trip Advisor to tell you where to go, what to do, and when to do it. Everybody here over 60 appears to be computer savvy possessing mobile phones, iPads, Kindles, etc. They Skype with family all the time. No need to go home!

I forgot to mention Moree has a new aquatic centre with a fantastic 50 m pool in which to do a training session. No rest for us poolies. After our workout of 3km or more, our bodies need rejuvenating!

Moree does have lots more to offer

  • Art galleries
  • Boutique shops
  • Heritage museums
  • Walking tours
  • Wineries
  • Market gardens galore – featuring olives, nuts


High Country Victoria horse riding

High Country Victoria horse riding

High country Merrijig, Victoria: For the thrill of Adventure

Simply go up to the high country in Merrijig, Victoria and do a mountain trail safari ride with the Man from Snowy River.

My first ride of many, was for one week. What was I thinking as a novice horse rider? As it turned out it probably changed my life around. Within an hour, I was trotting and cantering through the most beautiful countryside I had ever seen. Forget the aching muscles and saddle soreness I developed in those first few days, the whole experience was worth it. The fear of sitting on top of such a large animal had disappeared, and I was in awe of the bush environment. Starting from the Merrijig area we rode through such areas as Sheepyard Flat, where I did my first ever jump over a log (it was a big log!); along the Howqua River; Craig’s hut; Bindaree Falls; The Bluff; Mt Lovick; King Billy Tree; Hells Window; Mt Howitt; the Devils Staircase and many river crossings. Mustering cattle was another experience. Talk about moving back in time! I must tell you that the rides cater for all ages and ability levels. The rides are great for families. As darkness falls, many bush stories are told around the campfire and you can sleep in swag under the stars, if you dare.

You may be lucky enough to book into a ride with the original Man from Snowy River, Tom Burlinson, who makes a regular trip back each year to reunite with the “Lovick” Cattlemen family and renew his friendships.

These rides have been a life experience that I will never forget.


Lorne Pier to Pub swim

Lorne Pier to Pub swim

Lorne, Great Ocean Road, Victoria: For the thrill of Excitement

Head to Lorne between Airley’s Inlet and Wye River in summer.

As you drive down the Great Ocean Road in January, you realise that summer is here. Your breath is taken away by the panoramic views and wide expanse of water as you wind around the cliff tops into Lorne.

Tourists pour into this seaside town for a weekend of exciting competition. Thousands of competitors will compete in the Mountain to Surf Run, followed the next day by the iconic Pier to Pub Open Water swim. The atmosphere is electric.  Some of us diehard competitors have actually been here for the week, rehearsing the swim each day.

We spend the summer competing in the Cousins Travel Open Water Swim Series, and this weekend is the most prestigious swim, attracting up to 5000 swimmers.

I have swum this event about twenty-two times now, and won my age group nine times. Each year it gets harder and harder to swim this event. What a challenge!

If swimming in the ocean with a pack of swimmers, feeling like you are in a washing machine, isn’t your cup of tea, then believe it or not, there are other things to do:

  • Great Otway National Park

    Great Otway National Park

    Restaurants and cafes galore.

  • People watching whilst drinking coffee.
  • Walks in the Great Otway National Park.
  • Visit Erskine Falls.
  • Art Galleries.
  • Shopping, shopping, shopping.
  • Lying around on the beach reading.
  • Nippers programs for the kids.
  • Surfing.
  • A local Cinema.
  • Playgrounds for kids.
  • Yoga classes.
  • Massage.
  • Swimming pool.


Katherine Gorge National Park

Katherine Gorge National Park

Darwin, Northern Territory: For the thrill of Exploration

Head to the top end and visit Darwin for some unforgettable experiences.

Darwin is the gateway to Kakadu, Litchfield National Parks and Katherine Gorge.

We had the best experiences up here after competing in the Masters Swimming National Championships in Darwin. We swam in a chlorinated pool not a waterway! It was very scary swimming in the waterholes for us southerners, but signs deemed the area to be safe and free of crocs.

I often think I need to return and re-experience the Top End again. There is so much to see.

Places to visit:

Kata Tjuta, The Olgas, Northern Territory

Kata Tjuta, The Olgas, Northern Territory

  • Take a tour to Alice Springs.
  • Hear stories about the art, history, and cultures that will give you an insight into Uluru’s deep significance to the local Indigenous people.
  • Watch the spectacular Uluru (Ayers Rock) sunset with a glass of bubbly.
  • Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are just as spectacular.
  • Do a Kings Canyon tour and complete the iconic rim walk.
  • Bed down outside and marvel at the outback sky.
  • Travel in style on the Ghan train from Adelaide to the Top End, and in luxury, marvel at the outback.
  • Explore Crocodile Dundee country at Kakadu National Park.
  • Visit Mindil Beach sunset market.
  • The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is superb with carvings from the Tiwi Islands, bark paintings from Arnhem Land, and dot paintings from the desert. See the fantastic display of the Cyclone Tracy tragedy graphically illustrating life before and after the disaster. You can stand in a darkened room and listen to the whirring sound of Tracy at full throttle − a sound you won’t forget in a hurry.
  • A trip to the Western MacDonnell Ranges is not to be missed and the incredible Ormiston Gorge is a must.
  • Litchfield National Park was awesome and the waterfalls and pools were absolutely beautiful.

Travel tips:

*  Travel insurance is a must. If you can’t afford it then you shouldn’t be travelling.

*  Scan all important documents and send to self and family back home.

*  Travel light. If you are moving around, no-one will notice that you have worn something again and again.

*  Take snacks with you. You never know when you are going to get caught out with food.

*  Looking forward to using citymaps2go (offline Maps and travel APP) next time I travel overseas.





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Renata Singer – My Top 5 Places in Australia

“ There are no signposts for women as they get older, “ says Renata Singer, author of the newly published book ‘Older and Bolder Life after 60 ’.

Throughout their lives, women have followed all the usual signposts – going to school, university, entering a profession, having a job, getting married, having children, often going back to work. But when they hit their 60s, this generation of women enters unknown territory. Retirement, isolation, and babysitting the grandchildren, are not attractive signposts for them.

For the first time in history there are millions of women now in their 60s, who are highly educated, have professions and expertise, and have spent years in the workforce. And for the first time in history, these women can expect to live to their 90s.

So the question arises – how do women want to spend the next 30 years?

Renata saw fabulous women in their 90s and 100s, working, performing, competing and taking on new challenges, and having a great time.  It drove her to write her book in which she looks to the ‘elders’  for guidance and inspiration. In it, she interviews 28 women aged 85 to 100. Each woman has her own, very individual way of living her life – but each of them is audacious and courageous. They are all women who won’t allow themselves to be defined by their age, by stereotypes or by society’s expectations.

Renata’s other books include True Stories from the Land of Divorce, Goodbye and Hello, and a novel, The Front of the Family With her husband, the philosopher Peter Singer, she co-edited The Moral of the Story: Ethics Through Literature.

Renata is also an educator and community activist. She co-founded Fitted for Work in Australia, a non-profit organisation that in the 10 years since it was founded, has assisted 20,000 women experiencing disadvantage to get work and keep it by providing free business clothing, interview training, mentoring and transition to work programs.

She lives and works both in New York and Melbourne.

‘Older and Bolder Life after 60 ’ is published by Melbourne University Press https://www.mup.com.au/items/159545


Renata’s Top 5 Places:

Writing this from New York makes me immediately homesick.  Yes of course I love high-pitched sirens going day and night, sticky people-packed pavements, cheek-to jowl galleries, and more theatre than all Australian capital cities put together.  But my favourite place in the world is:


Mt Buffalo_View to the Valley

Mt. Buffalo – View to the Valley

Mt Buffalo National Park, Victoria

I first visited Mt Buffalo National Park on my honeymoon.  My husband’s family had been regulars at Mt Buffalo Chalet since he was a child and I fell for the place immediately.

Every Easter holiday, it was a mad rush to pick up the kids the minute school ended and up the Hume Highway to beat the traffic, so much excitement percolating in that back seat that they were almost well behaved.   And always a cheer as we passed the exit to Glenrowan and saw the mountain for the first time – not looking that much like a Buffalo despite its name.

Mt.Buffalo - Lake Catani

Mt.Buffalo – Lake Catani

Sadly the Chalet is no longer open but you can still camp (from Melbourne Cup Day in November until April each year). The camping ground is right on stunning Lake Catani.  You can easily spend a week exploring what Mt Buffalo has to offer.  But it’s also worth driving up from the bottom of the mountain for the day to hike or stroll, rock climb, picnic, hang glide, and to see the lyrebirds and wallabies, swim or kayak in the lake and – best of all – enjoy the fantastic views.



Lamington National Park O'Reilly's Husband Peter Singer & daughter Esther

O’Reilly’s at the Lamington National Park- 
Husband Peter Singer & daughter Esther

Lamington National Park, Queensland

The park is a two hour drive from Brisbane and I’ve been there many times staying either at O’Reilly’s or Binna Burra, both perfect places from which to explore the area.

Once in the Park, you’re surrounded by cool damp rain forests, part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area.  Forests like this once covered all of Australia and many of the trees and plants – like the Antartic beech tree – are unique  and date back to prehistoric times.  Imagine, they have outlived the dinosaurs and three-quarters of the other species they once co-existed with.

Lamington Plateau - O'Reilly's

Lamington Plateau – O’Reilly’s

You’re sure to come across a bower bird nest and may even be lucky enough to see the male performing its crazy dance trying to attract a mate.   Our most scary animal experience in the Park was our youngest daughter screaming blue murder when she almost stepped on a blue mountain crayfish.

Don’t miss the Tree Top Walk at O’Reilly’s.  You climb high up and up and from this exhilarating vantage point get the chance to observe life in the rainforest canopy at close range.  Many of the lookout points on the walks have panoramic views over the Gold Coast, south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.


Great Ocean Rd -Eastern Beach Renata with granddaughter Amalia, & daughters Ruth and Esther

Great Ocean Rd – Eastern Beach
Renata with granddaughter Amalia, & daughters Ruth and Esther

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

For ten years we’ve had a holiday house in this area.  Big enough for our extended family of children and grandchildren, it’s a rare weekend that our house is empty.  We love other friends and family to use it when we can’t.  There’s nothing wreckable in the place and it’s only five minutes walk from a very safe – by surf beach standards – beach.

For four weeks in January everything along this coast is packed out, with crowds on the beaches and in the supermarket.  Traffic jams are typical especially when the Fall’s Festival over New Year is on at Lorne.  It’s like that on long weekends and over Easter but otherwise – for most of the year – the beautiful beaches are amazingly empty.

The drive is one of the most scenic in the world and there are not to be missed sights like the Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell and the whale watching at Warnambool.  Or like me, if you’re not in the water at the beach, the best way to see this and any country is to walk.  Take one of the long walks like the Great Ocean Walk from Apollo Bay to Port Campbell, or one of the short to medium strolls in the rainforests behind Lorne.  Maybe I’ll see you there next summer.


Cape Leveque - photo kooljaman.com.au

Cape Leveque – photo kooljaman.com.au

Cape Leveque, Western Australia

You’ll definitely need a 4 –wheel drive car for the 200 kilometre drive from Broome – the soft dirt road is really rugged.  Or you can fly.  Either way you’ll arrive in everyone’s idea of paradise, as long as you go in the dry season from June to September.

Cape Leveque lies on the northernmost tip of the Dampier Peninsula, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  The resort is 100 per cent indigenous owned by the two neighbouring communities of this area, the Djarindjin and the Ardyaloon communities.  They’ve been running the place for over 20 years.

It’s one of my most recent discoveries.  We stayed in a safari-style tent with its own bathroom and kitchen, overlooking the white sands, red cliffs and sparkling blue sea.  We enjoyed a glass bottom boat tour, and one of the bush tucker guided walks that opened our eyes to all the food around us that was eaten by indigenous people.

Although there are many many things to do, best of all is doing nothing but soaking up the sheer tranquillity and beauty of this magical place.

Be sure to be on the beach for the spectacular sunsets when the rays light up those red cliffs like a magic lantern show.  If you like a drop of alcohol, you’ll need to bring your own as there is none, not even in the excellent restaurant.  BYO is fine.


Tidal River Wilson's Promontory

Tidal River Wilson’s Promontory

Wilson’s Promontory National Park, Victoria

The Prom is so beloved by the people of Victoria that in 1996 hundreds of people lined the beaches forming ‘Hands off the Prom’ signs with their bodies and towels and stopped then Premier Jeff Kennett’s plans for a large tourist development.

After a pleasant three hour drive from Melbourne, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options at Tidal River.  You can camp, caravan or stay in huts, cabins, and lodges of various sizes and at different levels of comfort.  Again it’s almost impossible to get the peak holiday times.

At the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, really the Prom has everything – huge granite mountains, open forest, rainforest, and sweeping beaches. The ocean around the Prom is a marine national park and great for snorkeling and diving. It’s at the Prom that I first saw mangroves: those stunted resilient trees with their tangle of roots above water.

You are absolutely assured of seeing kangaroos, emus, echidnas and older wild life at dawn and dusk and that’s the time to watch out for them on the road.  They are not road safety conscious.

If you’ve got small children they’ll love Squeaky Beach and the warm shallows of Tidal River  – yes the white sand does squeak.

Wilson's Prom - Lighthouse

Wilson’s Prom – Lighthouse

Again it’s a paradise for walkers with walks to suit everyone. Most recently we did the hike to the Lighthouse – you can stay there overnight – probably my absolute limit at just over 20km each way.  One never forgotten family moment is when we camped at Refuge Cove and heard strange scratchings outside our tent. There was a possum busily pulling down the zip on one of our back packs to get at the dried fruit.  Now that’s an evolved species for you.


Travel Tips:

*  I never  travel without my own sun block – most brands make my eyes puff up and water like crazy.

 *  Always try to smile at airport staff – people working at the airline counters and in security could do with   some cheer.

*  I like an aisle seat as I hate climbing over people to get to the toilet.






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Layne Beachley – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Layne Beachley was awarded the Order of Australia in 2015 and she has won 7 world championship surfing titles – an achievement unparalleled by any other surfer – female or male.

She achieved this distinction despite tragic circumstances, some severe health problems, and the unbending discrimination against women surfers.

Layne was given up for adoption by her 17 year-old mother. And her adoptive mother died when Layne was just six. At age seven, Layne resolved to prove her worth by being the best in the world at something.

Strong-willed and determined that “ I must do it”,  she became world champion surfer 6 years in a row. But a massive wave that smashed her spinal cord, plus bouts of chronic fatigue syndrome and depression, forced her to stay out of the water for 6 months.

After that time of enforced introspection, she came back to win her 7th world title. This time she was driven, not by fierce competitiveness, but by the sheer love of surfing.

Even with 7 world titles, her prize earnings were only one fifth of those of the top male surfer, who actually only had one world championship to his credit.  Whenever female surfers travelled around the world to compete, they were only paid a fraction of the money paid to male competitors. The official surfing association steadfastly refused to increase the prizes for women, so Layne set up the Beachley Classic to increase their prize money and ensure that women enjoyed the same opportunities and conditions in the sport as the men.

And in the same spirit she has set up the Aim For The Stars Foundation to assist girls and women facing adversity to achieve their goals.

“For the first eight years of my surfing career I was my sole financial supporter. A typical week would consist of sixty hours waiting tables, folding t-shirts, teaching people to roller blade and a total one hour of surfing ” says Layne.

The Foundation awards a minimum of $70,000 worth of scholarships each year in a diverse range of fields. In 2015 there were scholarships for rowing, indigenous nursing, cross country running, theatre direction, and paediatrics.

The only criteria for eligibility to apply is to be female, over 12 years, and to have a defined goal and passion. Applications for 2016 are now open. For applications and details of the  major fundraising event to be held on August 7th go to www.aimforthestars.com.au 

Layne is committed to remaining motivated and fit enough to surf until she is 80.

Layne Beachley

Layne Beachley

Layne’s Top 5 Places:


Layne Beachley surfing in Noosa

Layne Beachley surfing in Noosa


As a former professional surfer and still hitting the waves every day, one of my favourite places to visit for a relaxed surfing holiday in north Queensland is Noosa. With so much to see and do in the event the swell isn’t cooperating, Noosa is historically renowned for its sheer beauty and pristine emerald green warm water, beautifully framed by the National Park. When the waves are pumping, the points offer an abundance of world class waves that give you one of the longest leg burning rides, making it an atmosphere unmatched anywhere in the world.





At Uluru

At Uluru

The Northern Territory

I enjoy taking a break from the ocean and immersing myself in nature which is why I absolutely love the Northern Territory, especially Uluru, Kings Canyon and Litchfield National Park. If you want to experience the outback and traditional Australia then a trip to the red centre is an absolute necessity. The Tali Wiru ‘dining under the outback sky’ experience at Uluru offers extraordinary gourmet cuisine while the sun sets over Ayres Rock as a backdrop, then work it off the next day with a mountain bike ride around the big red rock and feel the powerful presence of indigenous ancestry. The hike into Kings Canyon is a wonderful way to start the day and the best way to observe the region from above. Lichfield has an abundance of waterfalls, swimming holes, nature hikes and camp grounds.


Sydney Harbour bridge

Sydney Harbour bridge


Naturally there is no place like home and my favourite city in the world is Sydney. We have the most beautiful beaches in the world that are very user friendly, monitored by lifeguards all year round and great for surfers of all skill levels, from beginners to world champions. A trip to Sydney is not complete without a ride across Sydney harbour on a ferry, presenting you with the time to soak in the natural beauty and diversity of this great city. To put it all in perspective, I thoroughly recommend walking to the top of the Harbour Bridge, even if you have a fear of heights!


Layne with husband, INXS star Kirk Pengilly and their camper

Layne with husband, INXS star Kirk Pengilly and their camper

El Questro

If you want to spoil yourself and discover one of the most magnificent locations Australia has to offer, look no further than El Questro in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Kirk and I hired a 4WD camper and drove the Gibb River Road from Broome to Darwin, rewarding ourselves half way with a luxurious stay in the Homestead. It is an exclusive retreat perched atop of the Chamberlain Gorge with magnificent panoramic views of the Gorge and river systems from Sunrise to Sunset. It is the ideal place to fully appreciate the untamed beauty of the Kimberley and is nothing short of 5 star luxury.


Margaret River from a helicopter

Margaret River from a helicopter

Margaret River

Western Australia is only 4 hours away from the eastern states but once you arrive you feel like you are a million miles from care. I absolutely love the Margaret River region because it has everything I want to experience on a holiday. Wonderful accommodation choices (my favourite is the Wyndham Resort at Dunsborough), fantastic restaurants that will amaze you with their culinary options, lively bars, beautiful beaches and plenty of adventure. The region is renowned for it’s wineries and cellar doors which are some of the most spectacular in the world so make sure you go with a designated driver or enjoy one of the many awesome wine tours on offer.


Travel Tips:

1. Safety first. Always let friends or family at home know where you are going and when you expect to return so if something unexpected occurs there will be someone keeping an eye out for you.

2. Plan ahead. Once you have decided where you want to visit, jump online or talk to people who have been there to give you some insiders knowledge on things to do and see off the beaten track.

For more information about Layne see www.laynebeachley.com

Photos courtesy of Layne Beachley & news.com.au


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Di Morrissey – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Di Morrissey is one of Australia’s most successful writers. She has written 24 best-selling novels and 2 children’s books.

Before publishing her first novel Heart of The Dreaming in 1991, she travelled the world as a journalist, television presenter and producer, actor, and diplomat’s wife. What followed was not only extraordinary success as a writer, but also a long-standing activism on behalf of the environment.

Each of her novels is anchored in a particular place that inspires her writing.

” The place chooses me. There’s generally a circumstance or I’m invited to go somewhere.  I went toad-busting in the Kimberley. And I began to see what was happening in the Kimberley and went, ‘No, no. I have to write about this.’ “

Di trained and worked as a journalist in Sydney and London. When she married her first husband, Peter Morrissey, a U.S. diplomat, they were posted to Hawaii, where she began a career as a television actor.

When her marriage ended, she returned to Australia and for eight years appeared on Channel Ten’s Good Morning Australia. Risking all, she left this job in order to write – a desire she had nurtured since childhood.

Many of Di’s books portray the challenge of a woman breaking the mould and striking out to explore her identity. They also integrate key social, political and cultural issues into the narrative. They are all Australian stories, even when their settings are elsewhere, e.g. Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia or Vietnam.

Like many of us, Di was more familiar with foreign destinations than with Australia. That changed when she began filming stories and travelling with Good Morning Australia. In her own words, she “ fell in love with ” her country and realised how special and important it is that “ we look after our country.”

Those feelings led her to join writer Tim Winton in their successful campaign to save the Ningaloo Reef (read WomanGoingPlaces on Ningaloo Reef for Women Travellers) as well as her involvement in many other environmental issues.

She also actively campaigned for the release of Aung Sang Suu Kyi, which led her to Burma (Myanmar) and the subject of her book The Golden Land in 2012. She established a school outside Mandalay and set up the Golden Land Education Foundation in order to raise funds for the school.

To read more about Di and her books go to her website: http://dimorrissey.com.au

To find out more about Di’s school in Burma go to:  www.goldenlandfoundation.org

Di’s Top 5 Places:





I passed through Broome in 1983 when filming for the TV programme Good Morning Australia and found a sleepy, far flung dot on the Kimberley coast, proclaiming  itself to be an international pearling centre. In the time I was there it made an indelible impression on me –  not just the dramatic scenery, but the historical aura that surrounded it still alive with the remains of an old pearling lugger in the mangrove swamps, the pearling masters’ latticed and distinctive homes and the still existing Chinese and Japanese influences. The old pearling sheds had been  turned into pearl shops selling the magnificent pearls produced by the local pinctada maxima oyster in the pristine, warm azure waters just off the coast. There is no more perfect pearl in the world than Australia’s South Sea Pearl – a product of technology and nature.

Now the old world is married to upmarket tourism where the magnificent Cable Beach stretches for miles and where camels led by Afghan cameleers now carry tourists along the sunset beach. The blue sky is extraordinary as are the turquoise waters. A coastline of blood red rocks and sand record that it was where dinosaurs once walked.

It’s always been a town that welcomed travelers, those getting away from it all and those whose lineage is woven into the local multicultural heritage. In Broome you feel you are in another world, far from mundane realities.

There’s a definite magic on the northwest coast which inspired Tears of the Moon and Kimberley Sun. 


The Kimberley

The Kimberley

Mitchell Plateau & The Kimberley

The Kimberley in WA is a vast area of stunning beauty sheltering one of the last pristine wilderness areas on the planet. The magnificent gorges, rivers, waterfalls and plateaus are not only spectacular scenery but home to the world’s oldest art and sacred sites. The many indigenous tribes of the Kimberley, although some no longer living on country, respect and observe traditional ceremonies. I spent time with Ngarinyin elders on the Mitchell Plateau, learning about their culture and visiting secret sites of Wandjina art which was a huge privilege and evolved into my novel, The Songmaster.

A lot of places are difficult to access, some require permission from traditional owners, some are best seen by helicopter, but it is an unforgettable experience to travel the Gibb River Road. Like so many precious places in Australia, you should  see it before mining interests ruin it.


Heron Island

Heron Island

Heron Island

The Great Barrier Reef is our best known natural feature, and the one most seriously threatened by overdevelopment.

Heron Island is  one of the few islands in north Queensland that is  actually part of  the reef and is a naturalist’s wonderland. It’s always been a modest, simple place that attracted nature lovers. It’s the sort of place which had no loud nightlife, little communication with the outside world and where people went to bed early to get up before dawn to watch the magnificent green and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. Months later the hatchlings make their perilous dash to the sea.

You can walk around the island, whale watch, swim, dive and snorkel amongst the magnificent coral, take a boat outside the reef to fish and yet because it is so low key you feel you have the place to yourself. There has been a University of Queensland  research station on the island for fifty years. I spent time with marine biologists and researchers and it was especially exciting to be there the night of the coral spawning when the sea turned crimson as the coral released millions of spores into the sea to hopefully form new coral clusters and cays over time.

Heron Island is the setting for my novel The Reef.


Dorrigo National Park

Dorrigo National Park

Bellingen NSW

I was looking for a small, pretty, peaceful town for the location  for my novel The Road BackA place where there is an interesting, caring community, where the beautiful environment is treasured, a place where residents hold memories of idyllic childhoods, neighbours who look out for each other, where heritage homes are restored and gardens made showplaces – an oasis place in this troubled world.

I lived for many years in beautiful Byron Bay, but its ethos changed as money moved in and the colourful characters (an attraction in the town) were moved out. Driving between Byron and Sydney I always made a stop to see friends in Bellingen. So I went back recently and stayed and explored the area of Dorrigo plateau, the country surrounds and the rainforests. The lovely Bellinger River is perfect for swimming, fishing, kayaking, rafting, birdwatching, or a picnic.

There’s a lot of old history in the area and its scenery has been painted, photographed and filmed. It was used as the setting for the film ‘Oscar and Lucinda’ and the  little church at Glennifer was instantly recognisable. There are a lot of  cute B&B’s both in town and out in the picturesque  countryside and plenty of good food. The place is so idyllic that it seems too good to be true and yet just a few minutes for bustling Coffs Harbour with its myriad of facilities.



Manning Valley - Flat Rock lookout

Manning Valley – Flat Rock lookout

The Manning Valley NSW

The green, green valley of dairy farms dating back to pioneer days, and even earlier times when cedar logging sustained the infant colony of NSW, is a magical place to me. The beautiful Manning River which rises in Barrington Tops in the Great Dividing Range flows down through the valley in a massive delta system and out to sea.

The historic town of Wingham in the valley  is where I was born and the house my grandfather built is little changed from those days. I had been living for many years in Byron Bay, but on a return visit to the valley walking through Wingham a lovely old man stopped me in the street to say, “I went to school with your Mum, love.”  I realised this place holds my earliest memories and my roots are still deep in this valley, so I moved back in 2007.

There are wonderful scenic attractions from Ellenborough Falls on the Elands Plateau, the villages around Wingham and riverfront Taree. The river runs through the heart of the valley, an artery that refreshes us  and is great for fishing, boating and kayaking, or, as in my case, a place to sit and dream, to remember and to find inspiration.

My book The Valley is set here.


Travel Tips:

* Don’t buy cheap luggage, it’s not worth it.

* Same with a good travel agent.

* I always carry a pashmina or a sarong and basic toiletries and spare reading glasses   (and a book!) in my hand luggage.

* Do your homework about the place you’re going to before you leave.

* Choose gifts that are small and light.

* And talk to people along the way!





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Tracey Spicer – My Top 5 Places in Australia

When Tracey Spicer issued a call in October 2017 on Twitter for people to contact her if they had been subjected to workplace harassment and assault, she was astonished by the response.

More than 1,500 people contacted her with their #MeToo stories. Tracey then in 2018 spearheaded the establishment of Now Australia with the aim of raising funds to provide counselling and legal support to victims of workplace abuse.

In the 2018 Honours Awards, Tracey Spicer was awarded an AM for her service to broadcast media as a journalist, television presenter and her work as an ambassador for social welfare groups.

Last year Tracey published her book ‘ The Good Girl Stripped Bare’.  She describes it as a  ’femoir’  – part memoir, part manifesto about the barriers women face in the workplace. Tracey is one of Australia’s best know women in media and has worked as a news anchor for national news, current affairs and lifestyle programs for a number of networks.

From her experience she has seen that for a woman, network news is less about good journalism and more about good looks. In her book, Tracey describes the pressure on being a ‘good girl’ and obediently accepting the helmet hair, masses of makeup and fatuous fashion. And the instructions from bosses to ‘stick your tits out’, ‘lose two inches off your arse’, and ‘quit before you’re too long in the tooth’.

But when Tracey was sacked by email after having a baby, she stripped off her ‘good girl’ role and turned ‘bad’, taking legal action against the network for pregnancy discrimination.

The memoir follows in the spirit of an earlier TedxSouthBankWomen Tracey delivered.  During this talk, Tracey ‘stripped bare’ item by item the encumbrances- clothing, make-up, hair- that women endure daily to keep up appearances. The video went viral with over 1.5 million viewers on YouTube enthusiastically responding to her bare-faced challenge to society’s unreasonable and unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look.


To read more about Tracey visit her website www.spicercommunications.biz

Tracey’s Top 5 Places:




I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me 46 years to visit this remarkable place. It was a wonderful education for the kids, about Australia’s indigenous heritage. There’s a terrific training program for indigenous youth, run by Voyages.

To read more about and see photos of Uluru go to  https://womangoingplaces.com.au/uluru-ayers-rock-australia





North Queensland

       Far North Queensland

OK, I admit it: I’m a Queenslander. And I love that laid-back attitude. Everyone in Palm Cove or Port Douglas says “g’day” or “darl” or “luv”. It makes me feel right at home. Of course, the Daintree is simply stunning, especially when seen from the SkyRail Rainforest Cableway.







Oh dear, it’s time for another admission: we are a family of political junkies. Canberra is also home to some of the best museums in the country, including Questacon. Truly, we’d go and live there if it wasn’t so far from the beach!






Falls Creek

Falls Creek

 Falls Creek

We love going here in winter, because the ski in-ski out accommodation is so convenient for families. The restaurants are also fabulous, including Three Blue Ducks with its paddock-to-plate philosophy.





Emily Bay Norfolk Island

Emily Bay Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island

Yes, it is part of Australia! I took my nine-year-old son there last week, because he’s studying the First Fleet at the moment. The history is fascinating, and the beach at Emily Bay is like a tiny piece of Tahiti.


Travel Tips:

Pack light, especially if you’re travelling with children. We all take too many things with us!

Do something different. We just got back from a week on a sailing boat. It was the best family holiday we’ve ever had.




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