After so many miles, misadventures and meat pies, I’m delighted to be launching The Great Australian Bucket List at last. If you’re reading this blog post, you might be wondering what on Earth this is all about, so I thought it best to use this opportunity to explain:
- it is a beautiful and inspiring book (yes, an actual book printed on actual paper) about my personal journey to discover and tick off the most unique experiences Down Under.
- it is a website to support that book with the kind of information books used to be good for but that websites do so much better, such as updated practical information, videos, interactive features and galleries.
- it is not a travel agency.
- it is not a dating site.
- it is not trying to sell you anything, other than a more enjoyable existence, and perhaps, a laugh or two.
It all began way back in 2005, when I set off around the world on a backpacking adventure funded by a $20,000 insurance settlement, the result of a broken kneecap and the decision of an unlicensed driver to not pay attention to big red signs that say STOP. I learned many amazing things on this journey, and you can watch me talk about some of them here:
You see, you can’t do that in print. But you know what you can do in a book?
Tell stories. Inspire. Capture imaginations. And that’s what I started to do, writing long-form essays about my crazy trip to five continents. These were condensed into shorter essays for a local newspaper in Vancouver (where I live) and apparently, lots of people liked it. This led to stories being published in newspapers all over the world, and assignments to keep travelling. I never set out to become a travel writer, but I was rather pleased that I did.
The biggest misconception is that travel writing is a living, when in fact, it is a lifestyle. Low pay, long hours, crazy deadlines, crazier editors feeling the squeeze, constant change, relationship difficulties, sleep deprivation…all worth it, of course, but not quite the dream job everyone thinks it is. They were making TV shows about weird professions, and I thought travel writing is one of them, so I pitched an idea, and 7 months later found myself in front of the camera filming a 40 part series in 36 countries that was broadcast by National Geographic and Travel Channel in over 100 countries and 21 languages.
Using the wonders of digital technology, you can see what Word Travels was all about here. And yes, I am about to violate a cow.
This is when I first started thinking about bucket lists, because mine was flowing over. Tick one item off, another six more popped up. When the show wrapped, I decided to focus on my adopted home of Canada, and spent 3 years travelling everywhere to discover The Great Canadian Bucket List. The resulting book smashed it like an avocado in a hipster cafe. So I wrote another, The Great Global Bucket List, which didn’t do too badly either. And then I was approached to bring my fevered curiosity to Australia (along with my young kids, just plain fevered). And here we are.
I first visited Australia on my first big journey in 2005. I spent a month visiting relatives in Sydney, chasing romance in Western Australia, drinking with friends in Melbourne, and dodging roadkill along the east coast of Tasmania. There was so much to see and do, and too little time and money to see or do it. I have revisited the country several times since, to dive the Barrier Reef, to tick off my first 10K at the Melbourne Marathon. Even if you live in a country, very few people get the opportunity to fully explore it, to take on the Big Lap. Australia has a bounty of nature and history, culture and adventure, sport and food. I focused on the experiences you simply cannot do anywhere else in the world, the unique, the one-of-a-kind, and while I’m proud of how much we managed to do, I’m fully aware there’s still so much I didn’t get to. That’s OK. Travel is a intensely personal, life is not a race, and nobody should be judging your interests and accomplishments. There’s still time. Until one day, there isn’t. In the meantime, I hope readers and visitors recognize the purpose of The Great Australian Bucket List: it’s simply a platform to inspire, inform and entertain travellers about Australia, and a celebration of the very best experiences Down Under.
On that note, take a look around. Every month I’ll be updating the Bucket List with new stories, and if you have some of your own and don’t mind sharing them, send them along so I can post them here too. This is, after all, a national bucket list, one that is eager to enlighten everyone from kids to grey nomads. Thanks for joining me on yet another ride-of-a-lifetime.