Welcome to my final issue of Australian Traveller. It’s been an incredible five years, watching the mag go from strength to strength, pass so many tests and survive the GFC to become Australia’s biggest-selling travel magazine.
Looking back, there are a few moments that stand out, mostly fond, some not so much, but all memorable. A few good ones: Answering the phone and hearing Peter Russell-Clarke go “G’day” – exactly like he did to me through the TV for much of my childhood. Bouncing along the dusty Finke River bed in a battered troopie, learning landscape photography from Steve Strike and Grenville Turner, two of the very best. Seeing Uluru for the first time. Exploring Norfolk Island. Meeting Ken Duncan. Working alongside friends and loved ones.
To this day – even though T+L no longer exists in this country – we’re still not legally allowed to discuss how that particular matter was resolved.
Some not so good ones: Agonising over our October 2006 cover, even going out to newsagents and showing mock-ups to young Mums (the main feature was on Holidays for Kids), then making a final decision and realising, as sales plummeted, that it looked just like a smug kid taking a dump on a beach.
Or when Fairfax mega-magazine Travel + Leisure launched in Australia, but somehow forgot to buy the URL for travelandleisure.com.au. When they discovered that a plucky travel mag operating out of a shoebox already owned it, all hell broke loose. To this day – even though T+L no longer exists in this country – we’re still not legally allowed to discuss how that particular matter was resolved.
Or when we launched with our now infamous Ten Ugliest Towns feature, not foreseeing for a moment the media storm – and volume of hate mail – that article would produce. Geelong has only just forgiven us. Zeehan and Surfers Paradise probably never will.
But see? Even the downtimes, given time, seemed like good times at AT. So now, to a few thank yous.
Thanks to the readers first of all. I’ve often literally been brought to tears by some of the letters over the years. I’ve never seen such a loyal group, and it’s been a privilege.
Thanks to all my favourite contributors (too many), designers (two), mentors (Travis Cranley, still going strong, and AT’s original editor Greg Hunter, dearly departed and sorely missed) and everyone else who has helped me to lead the team at AT HQ for five fantastic years.
And last of all to Nigel Herbert and Quentin Long, who own, run and are the lifeblood of Australian Traveller. Both geniuses in their own distinct ways, often it’s been their willpower alone that has kept the wheels turning.
Now I’m going home to spend more time with my son Sam and try my hand at other things. It’s not so bad. Look at it this way: I finally get to become part of a very special group of people: Australian Traveller readers.
Thanks again for everything, and I hope to meet you out on the road some day.