Tuesday 22 October 2013

I won, I won! (said with glee not gloating)

This is me on the inside at the moment: running full pelt along an empty beach, cartwheeling occasionally, splashing through the shallows, barefoot of course. If I could bark, I would be yelping at seagulls. If I had wings, I would run at the wind and take flight. 

Zen and the sea - the beautiful
Hyakuna Garan in Okinawa, Japan
It's partly due to the fact that I spent all of last week playing in the outdoors on Lord Howe Island (again? Stay tuned for a new post on why I went back so soon to my favourite little island on Earth). 

And partly because, I'm just going to come out and say it, I won three awards at the Australian Society of Travel Writers' annual awards night on 12 October. (Yay!)

(My writer friend Rob McFarland, a fellow finalist for this year's big award, emailed me from New York after the event to call me an "award-winning writing machine", which I'll take as a compliment, thanks Rarb.) 

I am utterly honoured to have won, for the fourth time, the ASTW Travel Writer of the Year award for a portfolio of my three best published stories for the year. 

Two of the stories also won individual awards: for Best Responsible Tourism Story (the story about charitable tourism in Cambodia) and Best International Story over 1000 words (Temple for the Senses, about a Zen-inspired luxury hotel in Okinawa). 

Not the cat that swallowed the canary,
the goanna that ate the rabbit
- on the Arkaba Walk
The third story - Leaving no footprints - was about a tourism-funded conservation project cleverly disguised as a three-day walking trip, the Arkaba Walk in South Australia.

It's great to see travel stories about the positive side of travel getting some attention, and eco stories winning major awards (not just eco-writing ones). It's rewarding too, to be recognised by one's peers, people who know first-hand that behind the glossy exterior of our profession there are, as in any job, grindstones and both-ends-burning candles.

(I'm writing this from my latest abode, for instance, a hotel room in my hometown of Manly, but that's another blog post...)

Congratulatory hugs to all the other 2013 award winners. Larger-than-life thanks to all the award sponsors and to YHA Australia for the accommodation over the AGM/awards weekend. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a beach to mentally gallop on...