Saturday 29 December 2018

2018: The year of coming home

End-of-year greetings to you, fellow sun-travellers. How was your journey around the golden orb this time?

I love this part of the year, for the pause it gives us all, whatever our beliefs, the breathing space amid the relentless moving-forwardness of life, the chance to glance back at the year that's been.

Barefoot, at home
At first, it's hard to see it clearly. Then markers appear out of the memory mist and a movie begins to play, seen from your own eyes. Each year unique to each of us, despite all the shared experiences and events.

I packed my travel bag less often than usual this year, by choice: to minimise my flying time and to spend more time at home letting my roots sink deeper into the rich Northern Rivers soil.

I'm not sure I have the mix right yet - between travelling to make a living and staying home to make a life - but I'm working on it. And although being home is often regarded as second-best, a consolation prize, something you do when you don't travel, particularly in my world, it's precious to me and I'm increasingly grateful for all the love, belonging and natural beauty I've found in Lennox.

Frangipani thanks
At the same time, I feel privileged to travel and want to thank all the editors and travel people (PRs, tourism organisations, tour operators, you know who you are) who have sent me places and published the stories I've brought back.

That's my 2018 in a macadamia nutshell: a year of balancing these competing, co-existing urges.

Here are a few personal highlights from it, things that made me feel lucky or happy or connected to this big old world hurtling around the sun.

Nepalese kids on the trail
1. Trekking in the Langtang Valley. This Nepal trek went beyond the usual simplicity of walking amid snowy mountains and along glacier-fed rivers, because every day we met people affected by the 2015 earthquakes that devastated the country. A reminder that while many places are over-touristed, some destinations really want, and need, tourists. Read all about it here.

Old jeans make excellent bags!
2. Boomerang Bags Lennox Head. The community group I helped to start last year had its official launch in June and has become a good news story around town. Our volunteers turn recycled fabric into reusable shopping bags we give away and sell at local shops to reduce plastic pollution. It's the first time I've been involved in something like this and I love it.

A stone-walled shed, Nepal
3. Other home-game highlights: I started singing lessons! And, as part of my education, saw A Star is Born (four times!). I read a lot of fantastic non-fiction, particularly Sapiens, Eating Animals and Utopia for Realists. And I helped my dad launch his new website,, which helps people find someone to travel with. I also did a travel sketching workshop and started doing little drawings when I'm away.

Serenity at Santani
4. Serenity in Sri Lanka. Though I've been into yoga and meditation for a while, I stayed at my first wellness resort in August. Santani Wellness Resort was the highlight of my Sri Lanka trip. The life of a travel writer might seem dreamy from the outside, but it's still a life, with all its ups and downs, and those three days at this beautiful place - with its twice daily yoga classes, incredible Ayurvedic food, kindly people, and bungalows reflecting the "architecture of silence" - soothed my soul and brought me home to myself.

5. A win for sustainable travel. Also in August, I won the ASTW's Best Responsible Travel Story award, for the sixth time, for my review of Feynan Ecolodge in Jordan. It feels wonderful to be recognised by one's peers and an award like this is also a great opportunity to spread the word about low-impact travel and I'm grateful for that.

A writer's tiny house (yes please)
6. Learning how to build a tiny house. In September I added fuel to my daydreams of a rent-free existence by doing a weekend tiny house-building workshop run by Fred's Tiny Houses. Daunting as the whole idea seems to me, Fred's workshop inspired me to make this happen, somehow. Stay tuned.

7. Japan, revisited. I spent October in Kyushu, where I did a working holiday more than 20 years ago, and fell in love with Japan all over again. The best part was self-driving around the island in the world's cutest campervan, indulging my love of Japanese food and relaxing into the bosom of Japan's peacefulness.

Buddha in Dad's garden
8. Coming home, again. Last month Dad and I planted three native flame trees on his property for Mum, who died 25 years ago. That was a big milestone, not least because the life I now live began that day.

After Mum died, I left my corporate job to live in Japan, where I found my feet as a writer and travel photographer. Much later I remembered she'd been a photographer too, before she married Dad, and had always loved to travel. She also grew up in Murwillumbah, in northern NSW, just north of where I came to live four years ago - by chance, I thought, or maybe it was Mum calling me home one last time.

Barefoot love from me to you
That's how it is sometimes. We put one foot in front of the other, thinking life is linear, until something makes us realise it's really a circle.

May your new year be full of adventures, away and at home, that remind you we're all connected - to the earth, to each other, to the past and the unlived future. See you back here in 2019.


  1. hey bubba, you made me cry again. lurve forrest

    1. Thanks "Forrest", I love that this moved you, and I love you too xx

  2. ‪Great reading your review of 2018. It’s not something most of us actually do especially as people rarely keep diaries these days. ‬Sharon and I have decided to spend more time travelling around the UK next year to take in some of our beautiful countryside and historic towns, houses and estates. Hope you have a great 2019.

    1. Thanks so much Gary, and happy UK travels in 2019. Hope our paths cross again over there someday soon. Have a great new year :-)

  3. Lovely blog Louise. Yes, how I miss my mum too. Happy travels and stay/at-Home’s in 2019. I too like to be connected at home. Caroline

    1. Thanks Caroline, happy travels (and at home time) to you too, hope we cross paths again in 2019 x