Been there, done that? Now get writing! AFTW 2013 invites entries for 3 travel writing competitions:


The Australian Festival of Travel Writing is now ready for boarding!

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Travel is never boring. Great travel writing should reflect that fact.

The Australian Festival of Travel Writing (AFTW) celebrates the excitement of travel, interpreted by some of the world’s leading specialists in the travel genre.

Getting out of your comfort zone embraces the concept that travel is stimulating to both the mind and soul. Travel nurtures perception, widens perspectives and distils communication on a global scale.

This year’s multi-media festival will feature internationally acclaimed writers and broadcasters. A scintillating range of presentations – from workshops aimed at inspiring budding new writers to rousing wide ranging talks given by renowned travel authorities – are part and parcel to this festival.

Our upcoming festival showcases many fascinating aspects of travel as a source of wonder and delight. Alongside the regular panels with renowned local and international travel writers, we’ve planned a number of new events as a means to encourage more public involvement. There’ll be spirited debates about the rising numbers of “voluntourists” and “humanitourists” and what this means for travel industries and destination trends, the world of travel from a surfer’s perspective, a prize for the best new writer in the field, and a bunch of other competitions. We’ve lined up an excellent array of best selling writers and award winning videographers. We’ve also included a business view of travel. Why is travel a multi billion dollar business? We’ve asked industry leaders to help us understand how to get the best value for our money when booking a holiday. How much advertising is real or merely spin? We’re aiming to present a festival appealing to all travellers, from frequent flyers to travel dreamers alike.

Getting out of your comfort zone is about seeing travel as a stimulant to all of our senses and sensibilities. Travel is not just about sightseeing – it engenders global responsibility.

As we cross borders while encountering peoples from vastly different walks of life, we have the opportunity to grow closer in humanity.

The world is a more peaceful place when we get out of our comfort zones.


Tony Wheeler is the co-founder of Lonely Planet, and a long-time supporter of the Australian Festival of Travel Writing. Tony will feature in our 2.30pm Saturday panel: ‘Burma – the Shape of Things to Come,’ as well as hosting Sunday morning’s 11.30am ‘South East Asia on a Shoestring – Seventies Style,’ based on travel following the first ever Lonely Planet guide. He will also be discussing his forthcoming book in ‘Travels in Dark Lands,’ on Sunday March 24th at 2.30pm.  Make sure you have your tickets by booking through the ‘Program’ link above!


Discover Indians’ impressions of Australia and Australians by catching up with Joe Hildebrand at the Australian Festival of Travel Writing. Joe will be featured in our 1pm session on Saturday March 23rd: ‘Drunk, Dumb and Racist.’ Follow the ‘Program’ link in the navigation bar to book your tickets now!


Best-selling French author, sommelier, wine educator, and host of SBS television’s “The Grape Escape” Olivier Magny will be joining us in Melbourne to share his journeys through wine, quirky tales on “Stuff Parisians Like”, and strategies for getting published in an exclusive writing workshop.

You can see Olivier Magny on Saturday March 23rd in ‘On the French Wine Trail’ at 11.30am. For a more in-depth session, sign up for our ‘Gourmet Travel Writing Workshop’  starting at 9.30am, Friday March 22nd. Olivier Magny will also be hosting breakfast sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8.30am: ‘Dessine-Moi un Parisien’ (en français) on Saturday, and ‘Stuff Parisians Like’ (in English) on Sunday. Grab your tickets by following our ‘Program’ link to reserve your spot!


Worldwide traveller, acclaimed author, founder of “Vagabonding” and creative writing lecturer at Yale University, Rolf Potts recently took on the No Baggage Challenge and won! He’ll tell us more about his trip around the world, and his ethic of independent travel during the festival. He’s taught writing workshops in Paris, Hawaii, San Francisco, Reykjavik, New York, and St Petersburg, and now you can also enrol in his exclusive writing workshop in Melbourne.

Rolf’s workshop: ‘The Art and Ethics of Travel Writing’, will run on Wednesday March 20th from 9.30am-4.30pm. Places are limited, so book via the ‘Program’ link to make sure you don’t miss out. Rolf will also feature in our Saturday 11am panel entitled ‘Vagabonding – making long term world travel a reality’, and as part of our Saturday 4pm debate: ‘Smart Traveller or Reckless Tourist? The Ethics of Travelling Today.’


Join Brian Thacker, for a very 1970s slideshow as he takes you around South East Asia on a shoestring, using Maureen and Tony Wheeler’s very first Lonely Planet guide. Get into your bell-bottomed pants for a trip on the banana pancake trail!

Brian will be featuring in: ’South East Asia on a Shoestring – Seventies Style,’ Sunday at 11.30am, and ‘Travelling for Laughs’ at 2.30pm. Grab your tickets by following the ‘Program’ link in the navigation panel!


Author of The Carpet Wars: A Journey Across the Islamic Heartlands, and part of the Australia India Institute, Christopher Kremmer is set to appear in our ‘India’ the land of contrasts panel, Saturday 11.30am. He will also feature in ‘Dumb, Drunk and Racist,’ our 1pm Saturday session on experiences and interpretations of Australia and Australians from an Indian point of view. Follow the ‘Program’ link above to book your tickets to make sure you don’t miss out!


Writer and traveller, Josiane Behmoiras will be featuring in our Saturday 11.30am panel: ‘India,’ about this complex country. Josiane will also be part of our Saturday 4pm debate: ‘Smart Traveller or Reckless Tourist? The Ethics of Travelling Today.’ To catch her, grab your tickets by following the ‘Program’ link in the navigation panel above!


Michael Williams, Director of the Wheeler Centre and star of Randling, will be hosting our Opening Night Gala! This session on Friday March 22nd, will run from 6.15-7.30pm, and is a free event. Please book via this link.


Co-founder and director of Mr & Mrs Smith Asia Pacific, Simon Westcott will be featured in our 2.30pm Saturday panel: ‘Burma – the Shape of Things to Come’. To see Simon, get your ticket through the ‘Program’ link above!

Etihad Competition Winner!

Bridgett Cains is the lucky winner of the Etihad Prize for the best essay about her dream destination. She has won flights for two to London with her poignant story about accompanying her mother on her first trip back to the UK since leaving when she was 4 years old.


When we gave her the good news, Bridgett’s reaction was:
“Winning this prize has affirmed my decision to write a book about the places that dance has taken me. Not only will this trip to the UK contribute to the book, but will give me a chance to thank my mother for her support by taking her to explore the city where she was born. It will mean a combination of training, research, sightseeing, and spending time with family, and is most importantly an opportunity for Mum and I to go on the adventure we’ve always dreamed of. Her squeals of excitement over the phone will stay with me forever. Thank you.”


We wish both Bridgett and her mother happy and safe travels! Read Bridgett’s story below:
At the age of three, the only place in the world I wanted to visit was London. My mum was born there, and as far as I was concerned it was a magical place filled with castles and snow. A real queen lived there, wearing a spikey hat that she referred to as a crayon, and if I used my cutlery properly and ate like a lady, I’d be allowed to eat dinner with her. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to eat dinner with the Queen, but was open to the idea of befriending anyone who had their very own horses.

Mum was only four when she came to Australia and hasn’t left the country since, but introduced her anglophile daughter to Doctor Who and Monty Python, and instilled a lifelong appreciation of tea, leaving her parents to advise over my multiple school projects on the UK. I’d visit my grandparents and listen to their stories for hours, fascinated by the country and desperately wanting to visit. By the time I’d reached my teens I was more interested in meeting my relatives than the Queen (although people had commented that I held my cutlery as though eating was a form of art), and my focus had shifted from horse riding to dancing, but London was still my goal.

The plan was to finish school, get my Bachelor of Dance Performance, and join a dance company in London. Mum made a lot of sacrifices in order to keep me in training throughout high school, and it wasn’t easy, but I finished school, started full-time training, had glandular fever by Easter, and spent the rest of that year in bed. When I’d finally recovered and started dancing again, I was offered a job teaching dance in New York. I had no interest in visiting the US, and even less in New York. It seemed loud and larger than life in comparison to the sensible and sophisticated impression I had of the UK, but I accepted the job, reasoning it’d look good on my resume, and left Australia for the first time at the age of nineteen.

My first passport expired this month, and is filled with stamps from the US and Canada. Over ten years I’ve taught at a youth circus in the Catskills, worked with magicians in Manhattan, belly danced in Albuquerque, studied world dance and burlesque in San Francisco, and assisted in the construction of a performance space in the Hawaiian jungle, but I’ve yet to set foot in the UK.

With a goal to perform, teach or study dance in as many countries as possible, the next destination on my list had been whittled down from ‘everywhere’ to a fuzzy ‘anywhere but the US’ while I save for my next trip. But now, failing an invitation from Buckingham Palace, I’d love nothing more than to accompany my mum on her first trip home, where she can watch with pride as her daughter wields cutlery at The Ritz instead.


Award-winning writer, Sue Gough-Henly will be joining us for the Australian Festival of Travel Writing. Catch her in our Saturday March 23rd panel at 11.30am: ‘From Amateur to Professional: What it Takes to Be a Travel Writer.’ Book ticket by following the ‘Program’ link above!


If you’re curious about gourmet travel, then don’t miss Christopher Hayes. Christopher will be hosting a workshop on Friday March 22nd, entitled: ‘Gourmet Travel Writing,’ from 9.30am-4.30pm. Places are limited, so book your ticket through the ‘Program’ link above!


Writer and surfer Daniel Ducrou will be speaking in our ‘Surfing Stories’ panel, Sunday march 24th at 2pm. Tickets can be booked through the ‘Program’ link above.  Don’t miss out!


Award-winning Kris Madden will be appearing in our Saturday 4pm debate: ‘Smart Traveller or Reckless Tourist? The Ethics of Travelling Today.’ Catch her by booking your tickets through the ‘Program’ link in the navigation panel!


If you read the travel section of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald or the Age, you’ll be familiar with writer Ben Groundwater. Ben will be featuring in our 2.30pm Sunday panel: ‘Travelling for Laughs’, so grab your tickets via ‘Program’ to hear about some hilarious travel moments!


Catch Tania Beccaceci in the ‘Capital in the World Project’ panel, Saturday 4pm, to learn about how travel is shared in real-time. Don’t miss out by booking tickets now via the ‘Program’ link above.

Microstory Competition Winners

The Australian Festival of Travel Writing would like to thank all entrants to our 25 word micro story competition, and to congratulate our winners. The winning entries were announced during the Festival on March 24th, with the three highest placing entrants asked to read their stories in front of the audience. These three winners were:


Third place: Kerrin O’Sullivan

“I decided to try to find your tombstone, aging under Australian skies.

So strange to die so far from home – Iran 1980.  And dead now longer than you lived.”


Second place: Annefleur Schipper

I decided to try, instead of judge. To ask instead of assume and to do instead of fear. I decided to travel, instead of stay.”


First place: Steven Thurlow

I decided to try … getting off my tram two stops early. A faceless woman swayed past swirling Arabic calligraphy, splashed upon a sign like melted honey. Sydney Road beckoned.”

Congratulations to these three talented individuals!

e would like to add that the winner of our final 500 word competition to win two flights anywhere in the world courtesy of Etihad will be announced in the next few days.  Keep watching for this coming update!


If you’re interested in the travel writing scene in China, then don’t miss seeing Xu Zhiyuan. Xu will be featured in our Saturday 10am session: ‘The World According to a Contemporary Chinese Travel Writer’, and also Sunday’s 10am ‘China Now.’ Make sure you book your tickets early via the ‘Program’ link above!


New writer Natasha von Geldern will be featured in our Saturday March 23rd panel: ‘From Amateur to Professional: What it Takes to be a Travel Writer’ at 11.30am.  Follow the ‘Program’ link in the navigation panel to book your tickets now!


Melbourne travel journalist, Craig Tansley will be appearing in our Saturday 11.30am session: ‘From Amateur to Professional: What it Takes to be a Travel Writer’. Book your tickets by following the ‘Program’ link above.


Doris Zac, creator of the ‘Capital in the World Project’, will be appearing at the Australian Festival of Travel Writing in a presentation about the project.  ’The Capital in the World Project’ will be held at 4pm, Saturday March 23rd – book tickets by following the ‘Program’ link above!


Chris Taylor is flying in from Bangkok to talk about his new novel Harvest Moon set in Southwest China. Is it the Chinese version of The Beach? You’ll have to ask him yourself…

You can catch Chris on Saturday March 23rd at 2.30pm, in ‘From Travel Writer to Novelist,’ or Sunday 10am in ‘China Now’. Get your ticket by following the ‘Program’ link!


Tess Rice has spent seven years in the Transit Lounge! In fact she co-founded this independent press with Barry Scott and they’ve published many great and emerging travel writers. Tess will introduce you to some of these amazing travellers from near and far in the Transit Lounge panel: ‘Travels in a Supermodern Age’, Sunday March 24th at 1pm.  To make sure you don’t miss out, book your ticket now through the ‘Program’ link!


Social geographer and co-producer of the Byron Guides, Tricia Shantz looks at tourism, climate change, surfing and the community from a holistic perspective. She shares her experiences of how all of these elements interact in Byron Bay, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste.

Catch Tricia on Saturday March 23rd at 1pm in our panel ‘How Byron Bay Became a Tourist Mecca’, or on Sunday in ‘Surfing Stories’ at 1pm. Tickets are available by following the ‘Program’ link above!

Page 1 of 2 1 2