Hiya Jayne. So, how did you get into travel writing?
I think it’s because I was homesick! I started writing articles about travel when I was away and missing home. I thought, “what can I do to take my mind off being homesick,” and I just started writing about what I was seeing and experiencing. I then randomly sent them off to newspapers. I didn’t really get a good response, but then I studied writing and editing and that helped me with the craft and then I started getting published. I’ve been writing for LP as a freelancer for three years.
Did it help with the homesickness?
Ha, totally. I don’t get homesick at all now because I’m always working when I’m travelling. When I first went overseas I was 18 and had just finished school. I travelled by myself, so I really put myself out there. I think homesickness was to be expected.
Are you a fan of travelling on your own then?
Ah yeah. It helps you meet other people because you’ve really got to make a bit of an effort. You just learn so much from other people who are travelling so it’s a bit of a shame if you keep to yourself. Some of my closest friends are people I met on the road. That said, it’s also really lovely to share every moment with somebody.
You wrote the Queensland bit for Lonely Planet?
Yeah, from Townsville up to Cooktown and Lizard Island and across the country. We had days of driving across the country, nearly to the Northern Territory border, which was absolutely incredible.
Anywhere you’d recommend?
The north coast hinterland. There are some pretty interesting areas around Charters Towers and Ravenswood. They’re just so different. Just meeting the locals and hanging out at the pub. And the Savannah Way is actually not too much off the beaten track, the Undara Volcanic National Park. There’s these great places but you’ve got to get out there and travel the dusty roads. There’s also a really special place, Boodjamulla National Park. They’ve got some amazing gorges. It’s just beautiful.
Did you rewrite much of the book?
Yeah totally. I think I’m pretty thorough. I went to all the places, stayed in as many backpackers as I could and I guess you get a bit ruthless. You just think, “well, I wouldn’t send anyone here”.
So are you always undercover?
I’m 50/50. If I’m staying somewhere I won’t tell them. But if I’ve just popped in and am asking to see a few of their rooms, you know, they suss it out.
What can’t you travel without?
Deodorant! Hang on, I’ve got my backpack right here, I’ll see. I used to have some lucky travelling crystals but I lost them. I dunno, you can pretty much buy anything on the road. I went with my iPhone last time and it was amazing how much it changed things. It was the first time I’ve been so connected on the road and I found that quite useful. But then it’s also refreshing to go places where you’ve got no mobile.
Are you good at travelling light?
Yeah, pretty good. If I’m travelling with other people I’ll often have competitions about who can have the lightest backpack.
What do you think the attraction of Australia is?
The sky is bigger and there’s a lot of space. It’s an amazing place to have an adventure, it’s so big. You can travel for days and not see people. I still find it unbelievable. And the good old roadtrip. Australia is one of the best places for a roadtrip.
Lonely Planet’s 15th edition of Australia is out now.