Travel Articles

Bridges over quiet water    The Weekend Australian Travel & Indulgence 4 March 2017

Cruising Coimbra’s River of Poets offers time for quiet reflection

The moment I hear the evocative name the locals use for their river, O Rio dos Poetas, it sounds so romantic that I just have to book a 50-minute boat trip along this so-called River of Poets, the Mondego. It courses through historic Coimbra in central Portugal, the country’s former capital,the birthplace of six kings and the seat of the oldest university.



Saturday night fever in downtown Porto    The Weekend Australian Travel & Indulgence 13-14 December 2014

An accident and emergency room was never one of my top 10 attractions to see in Porto. The 18th-century Torre dos Clerigos, the Bolhao Market and the Se Cathedral of Porto were on my list, but not the Hospital de Santo ¬Antonio on a Saturday night.

One minute we’re having a family get-together at a fish café on the walls of the Bacalhoieros, where the warehouses of dealers in cod once stood, sipping Alentejo reds and gazing across the Douro river to the famous port wine houses terraced up the opposite bank, the next moment my husband is ordering a cab.



A Macau Baker’s Delight    The Sunday Age M Travel 9 February 2014

Kerrin O’Sullivan follows her obsession for pastries.

My obsession with Portugese tarts begins by chance. Escaping a Melbourne thunderstorm, I take refuge in a Fitzroy deli. In pride of place, amongst bottles of piri piri sauce and tinned bacalhau cod, are baked pasteis de nata - little egg tarts with flaky pastry and sweet gooey centres. It’s the beginning of a beautiful romance.



The camel's back   The Sunday Age M Travel

The permit issue’s sorted, and the camel train is once again padding back and forth on Noosa’s North Shore.

Dancer, the 24 year-old camel carrying me, is nuzzing. Nuzzing, I’ve just learned, is the sound that camels make. “Nuuuuurrrr,” rumbles from her black velvety mouth. Not quite a groan, it’s something between a bleat and a bellow.



Corsican Odyssey   The Sunday Age M Travel

With its white cliffs and blue waters, Bonifacio's tranquillity is the stuff of legend

I may not be sailing home from a long and brutal Trojan war. Or be the King of Ithaca. But like Ulysses in Homer's epic poem The Odyssey, when I see Bonifacio's skyscraping chalk cliffs from the water, I am impressed.



On the right tracks with the two Franks   The Weekend Australian

A dad-and-daughter road trip unfurls to a perfect beat

We have the granite-dotted summit of Arthur's Seat on one side, and the show-stopping sparkle of Port Phillip Bay on the other. Weaving through the villages and vines of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula, our heads twist left and right. It's like watching table tennis with views.



Dive and Dispatch   The Sunday Age M Travel

Sending mail from the world's most unlikely post office

It's perhaps my most peculiar postal experience to date. Speedo-clad and clutching a postcard, I'm swimming through Vanuatu's clear turquoise sea in search of the world's only underwater post office.



All atremble to the end of the line   The Weekend Australian

Jolts and judders on a tiny train in Corsica

In mid-transaction, while purchasing a ticket for Corsica's u trinighellu, or the Trembler, at Calvi's sleepy peach-hued railway station, the bench behind the grille dismantles in pieces on to the ticket-seller. Helpless to intervene I peer through the bars as the peak-capped chap dives to catch a sliding laptop, dropping not only the EFTPOS machine, but a few choice French expletives in the process.



An afternoon at the lake house   The Weekend Australian

An evocative visit to Henry Handel Richardson's childhood home in northeast Victoria

It feels a little eerie, as if I'm looking through the great author's eyes, indeed through time itself. The french windows of Henry Handel Richardson's one-time childhood home, Lake View House, have been flung open and the glorious northeast Victorian sunshine floods in. From the shady veranda, I have an unimpeded view of the lake; its island, created from an old mullock heap, prompts memories of Chiltern's goldmining heritage.
Rutledge Lane, Melbourne

Great walls   The Sunday Age M Travel

A colourful city tour celebrates Melbourne's street art

It's the pinstripe navy suit that makes me laugh. Or rather, what's attached to the suit when Adrian Doyle, manager of Melbourne Street Art Tours, swings around - a beautifully tailored pinstripe-hoodie.


Basket case on a beach in Vietnam   The Weekend Australian

The Incidental Tourist

In boats, as in life, one should choose one's companions carefully. The famous saying that "some people shouldn't do Vegas" could be expanded to "some people shouldn't do boats".


A voyage around my mother   The Weekend Australian

A last minute call-up result in a precious opportunity for bonding

The longest we are separated is when my mother is at the hairdressers. Or the salon, as they call it on the ship. Either way, over the fourteen days we are cruising the South Pacific, there are not many minutes we are apart.


When dinosaurs roamed Melbourne   The Weekend Australian

A just-opened exhibition celebrates the life and times of the animals that once ruled the earth

When dinosaurs were hungry, which species ate vegetables and which preferred meat? And which lot ate anything, anytime?


Where street kids get a taste of success   The Weekend Australian

Kids in the kitchen reap rewards

Choosing between the prawn and papaya salad and the chicken and lemongrass skewers at Hanoi's KOTO restaurant is difficult, but choosing to dine here presents no such quandary.



Everglades reveal their secrets   The Weekend Australian

Life is nice and cruisy on the Sunshine Coast

Perhaps I've watched one too many American film noirs, but I am relieved to find my eco-cruise of the Noosa Everglades bears no resemblance to the pot-boiler horror flicks set in the everglades of the Florida Keys.


Just get me to the river   The Weekend Australian

In search of a cooling boat ride in Hoi An

I blame the mapmaker. And the guidebook editor. The temple is on the opposite corner and the intersecting street has a different name. Someone has messed up. Either that or the street has been renamed and the temple has moved since the map was drawn.


See you at the Gabba   The Weekend Australian

Take a tour of Brisbane's famous cricket ground for a hit of sporting history

The nicknames of Australia's sporting stadiums have always baffled me. Melbourne has the G, Perth has the WACA and here I am at the Brisbane Cricket Ground, better known as the Gabba. Also baffling is Brisbane's weather. Instead of trademark blue skies and dry days, I encounter surly clouds and drenching rains; three of southeast Queensland's dams are 100 per cent full and Brisbane's low-lying areas are sandbagged against flooding. Blender Lane, Melbourne



A moving experience   The Weekend Australian

Keeping pace with local long-distance champion Steve Moneghetti by Ballarat's Lake Wendouree

On an arctic winter's morning I am striding beside Ballarat's picturesque Lake Wendouree. Rendered a weed-choked dustbowl by 12 years of drought, it's brimming with water and beautiful once again. Looping the lake is the Steve Moneghetti Track, and I'm setting a cracking pace.


Homage to a local hero   The Weekend Australian

The legacy of Hal Porter lives on in the Gippsland town of Bairnsdale

My pilgrimage to Bairnsdale in Victoria is a form of literary homage. The quest? To see for myself the town that featured so prominently in the life and writings of Hal Porter. To see with my own eyes, the Bairnsdale that Porter described in his own idiosyncratic style; at times misogynist, at times outrageous, yet always erudite and rewarding.



See Prague from underneath the arches of Charles Bridge   The Weekend Australian

Cruising the Czech Republic's own Little Venice

If we are in Little Venice in the Czech Republic, can we safely assume that Big Venice is still in Italy? Why? Because Prague's Little Venice has all the charm of the Veneto, but in miniature.


Raining Ponchos in Halong Bay   The Weekend Australian

Afternoon showers fail to dampen the spirits sailing on a Vietnamese junk

There is something about the ponchos. The six of us are caught in a tropical downpour on the Bai Chai Tourist Dock waiting to depart on a two-day cruise of Halong Bay, and we are disintegrating in unruly laughter.



The Abominable Snowman   The Weekend Australian

The Incidental Tourist

It was to be our first family skiing weekend - our destination, the Victorian snowfields on the slopes of Australia's Great Dividing Range. If the first mistake was to leave the city for Mt Buller in Melbourne peak hour, then the second was to include my husband, whose closest rendezvous with snow had been excavating a frozen wiener schnitzel from the depths of the Westinghouse.


Tourists Most Horrid   The Weekend Australian

If you're going to be a snob abroad it's essential to follow the rules

It is difficult to be both a tourist and a snob, or so the great writer Paul Fussell once claimed. Nevertheless it is a worthy ambition and one that I am prepared to help you with.