Last weekend the Australian Society of Travel Writers held its annual awards, and I was honoured to pick up two gongs: one for the best story about Australia (over 1000 words), and the other for the best international story (under 1000 words). I was also a finalist in two other categories, including travel photographer of the year.
My winning entries were features about Tasmania’s Freycinet Peninsula (published in Australian Geographic magazine) and a road trip through the Himalayas in India (published in the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age). I’m pleased personally, of course, but I’m also pleased for the stories’ sakes, for they each represented aspects of travel and travel writing that have become rather unfashionable.
The Freycinet feature (Beyond the Bay) involved multiple interviews, using local voices to the interpret the land’s story. It was the longest article I wrote in the year, and its heartening to know that long-form travel writing still has its place. The India article (A Winding Passage to the Heavens) gave me a chance to explore slow travel. As travellers and travel writers we’re often guilty of hurrying through places, getting what we want, and rushing off to the next place or story. For this article I spent eight days travelling a route – the highway between Manali and Leh – most people cover in a day or two. The fact I was cycling gave me little option – slow was the only gear I had through the Himalayas – but in the end the bike was incidental to the tale I wanted to tell, which was (I hope) about absorption of land, place and time.
Camp in the Indian Himalayas
Other winners (links go through to their blogs or websites – well worth a look):
Louise Southerden (travel writer of the year, best international story over 1000 words, best responsible tourism story)
Rod Eime (travel photographer of the year)
Lee Atkinson (best journey or adventure story)
Sue Gough Henly (best Australian story under 1000 words)
Christina Pfeiffer (best use of digital media)
Tim Richards (best travel industry analysis)