Welcome to my website. I'm Louise Southerden, an award-winning Australian travel writer with a passion for nature, sustainability and low-impact travel.

Why the superhero name? 
No Impact Girl was inspired by eco-warrior Colin Beavan, aka No Impact Man (which he meant tongue-in-cheek, just as I do with No Impact Girl), who lived for one year with no environmental impact - in New York City. For more on my No Impact Girl experiment, which spawned the blog, see Why "No Impact" Girl?

One of my happy places:
California's Sierra Nevada mtns
Who is Louise Southerden?
Beyond being defined by my work as a travel writer, because I love what I do, I'm happiest outdoors, preferably in water. I love surfing, swimming and sea kayaking, but also trekking, camping and just being outside. I'm always trying to find ways to live simply and more sustainably.

Originally from Sydney, I'm now living in northern NSW, Australia, when I'm not living out of a duffel bag on the road (for clues as to my whereabouts, see my latest posts).

Where can I read your travel stories?
My main outlet for travel stories is Traveller (that link takes you to my page on the Traveller website), the Fairfax Media travel section in The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax's other metro and regional publications here in Australia.

I often post links to my travel stories (such as Morocco unplugged) here and on Facebook, including some that have won me some Australian Society of Travel Writers awards, including the Travel Writer of the Year award (which I've won four times).

How did you get into travel writing?
I'd love to say I have a journalism degree and a Masters in Travel Literature, but the truth is I fell into travel writing through a side-window. At university I studied zoology and psychology, then worked in social research for six years, which funded my first solo overseas trip where I fell in love with... photography.

Elephant encounter in South Africa
I bought a second-hand SLR camera in London (all manual, and you had to wind on the film using that very cool sideways thumb action - this was almost 20 years ago) and taught myself how to use it on a three-month trip across Africa in the back of a truck.

On returning home to Sydney, I tried to get some of my Africa photos published (I wanted to be a photojournalist, mainly to avoid writing) and discovered that the best way to do that was to write words to go with them. (Only later did I remember that English had been my best subject at school and I've been keeping a diary since I was 12.)

I still remember the thrill of seeing my first travel story, A Day in the Life of an Overlander, in print in an obscure weekly magazine that existed mainly to advertise secretarial jobs.

Ever written a book?
I've written three books, so far. First, there was Japan, A Working Holiday Guide, after I spent a year and a half living and teaching English in southern Japan. Next came the world's first surfing guide for women, Surf's Up: The Girl's Guide to Surfing (first published in 2003, with a second edition in 2008). Click here or the Books tab at the top of this page for more about all my books.

And I published my first ebook in 2014. Adventures on Earth is an interactive collection of my best-ever adventure travel stories and images from dream destinations around the world - think Madagascar, Kamchatka, Bhutan, Antarctica - which is available on iTunes. Here's a video preview:

What's your favourite place in the world?
Arrgh, the toughest question of all. I've visited 70-plus countries (but who's counting) and I don't think there's anywhere I wouldn't go back to. Having said that, I love places with wide open spaces so Norway and Mongolia are up there, and Antarctica and the Arctic. I also have a particular soft spot for a little Australian island called Lord Howe (here are 10 reasons why).

Actually my ebook, Adventures on Earth (see above), was an attempt to answer this question; it's a collection of my stories from 20 of my all-time favourite places on the planet.

Happiness is being on a beach
(this one's in Bali)
Why this blog matters to me
Climate change is an undeniable reality, one I'm increasingly aware of when I travel and see the world changing first hand. I do my best to reduce and compensate for my impact as a traveller - by staying longer in each destination, for instance, and by using my writing to promote low-impact travel (treks, kayaking trips, ecolodges) and responsible travel. A couple of examples: Destinations that need usThink big, start small and a story on charitable tourism in Cambodia.

No Impact Girl is an extension of this, a chance to write about what I most care about: experiencing the wonders of the world, big and small, in a low-impact way.

What does it mean to have "no impact"?
"No impact" is a paradoxical name, and it's meant to be. On one hand, there's no such thing as "no impact". If we're alive, we're having an impact on our environment. And that's ok. Because it's not about absolutes; it's about doing the best we can.

And we can have a positive impact on our surroundings. I strongly believe in the power of travel to make the world a better place, when we respect the people, animals and places we visit.

Thank you!
Thanks for following me (if you haven't yet, just enter your email address in the Follow me box on the home page). You'll also find me on Twitter and Facebook and through the Contact page above.

I'll sign off with possibly my all-time favourite travel quote, by nature writer Edward Abbey:

"May all your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view... where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you - beyond that next turning of the canyon walls." Amen to that.


  1. Hi Louise. I recently stumbled on an article in the Norther Star featuring you in it. I've never heard of your blog but so glad that I know about it now. You're an inspiration. I will definitely be reading your blog more often.

    Also I hope you don't mind, but I also featured you on my blog: http://rheacollections.com/2015/02/24/motivation-monday-experience-the-world-in-a-low-impact-way/

    1. Thanks Ailene, for the kind words and the link - that's lovely. Love your blog!

  2. Hi Louise
    I lost your card but that made me look for this blog and that is a bonus!! Great to get to know you a bit better last night. My email is shauneastment@gmail.com