As well as being a freelance writer, I'm the author of three travelogues, and a contributing writer to three travel anthologies.
A STORY OF HONOUR, RELIGION AND THE PERFECT CASSATA
When I accepted an invitation to attend the confirmation of a friend's god-daughter in Sicily, I naively expected little more than the chance to immerse myself in some genuine southern Italian hospitality, while exploring the vibrant tastes, smells, flavours and rituals of Sicilian food. But Sicily has a way of getting under your skin, and as well as being seduced by the island's earthy and mysterious charms, I found himself unexpectedly swept up in flamboyant family dramas and dangerous village politics, eccentric personalities and age-old feuds. As the cover blurb puts it, this is "a delicious and
wholly irresistible tale of passion, power, politics and pasta.
This is the story of a summer in Sicily."
INTO THE NEVER-NEVER
TRAVELS IN AUSTRALIA
As the critics describe it, Into the Never-Never is "a beautifully-written and often hilarious account of Brian Johnston and his sister Nicola's adventures in the remote outback and on the coast of Australia." The book is suffused with my affection for the country and its people. It's also shadowed by an acute awareness of Australia's underlying cultural tensions, and presents Australia's burgeoning cultural diversity in microcosm. Reviewers noted that my "dry wit and wonderful descriptive powers" are once again in evidence. Whether bogged down on a beach in Broome, sightseeing in Canberra, or speaking with
the traditional owners on a clifftop in Kakadu, I hope I never
lose my keen sense of the absurd or my sensitivity to the
nuances of everyday encounters.
SNAPSHOTS OF SRI LANKA
TRAVEL TALES FROM THE ISLAND OF SERENDIPITY
Some of Australia’s best-known travel writers join together to donate travel stories to this book in a good cause: all the profits benefit the Samadhi Grove early childhood development centre in Smagipura village in southern Sri Lanka, where staff work with underprivileged and disabled children. The destinations in the story contributions range from the coast to the central mountains, from elephant orphanages to unusual hotels, and also involve a host of unusual characters: cricket tragics, surfers, Buddhist monks and fishermen.
I was delighted to contribute a chapter entitled “Rollicking in Ruins” about the cultural triangle of central Sri Lanka, which includes the spectacular ruined cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla.
BOXING WITH SHADOWS
TRAVELS IN CHINA
In this account of the nearly three years I spent living and travelling in China, reviewers noted that I recreate my experiences "with a delightful perceptiveness and subtlety". Humorous encounters with a TV crew, a snake, a drunken shoe salesman and China's most famous rock star are interwoven with more serious observations on political campaigns and ethnic minorities, and balanced with personal reflections and lyrical descriptions of the landscape. Endearingly honest and self-reflective, I journey often bewildered across the country, but never leave behind an engaging wit and sense of
humour. "Boxing with Shadows is a rich, delightful and re-
warding book," said one critic, "powerfully evoking a unique
moment in time in this fast-changing and fascinating nation."
RED DUST & WANDERLUST
TALES OF TRAVEL IN AUSTRALIA
The country's leading travel writers share some of their favourite places and most memorable experiences on home turf in this collection of Australian travel stories. From far north-west Western Australia, the “anxious coast” of South Australia and the tram tracks of Melbourne, to the frontier of Cape York and many places in between, they discover much about their own country. The contributing writers lose themselves in lush rainforests, reveal the delights of small-town living, and get red dust on their boots in some of Australia’s most remote spots.
I was asked to contribute the story "A Walk on the Wild Side" about a night hike through the rainforest of the Daintree in far northern Queensland.
BEST FOOT FORWARD
30 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN TRAVEL WRITING
For the past 30 years, Australia’s travel writers have combed the continent and the world searching for stories that have informed, enticed and cautioned Australian travellers, bringing home a view of the world and its current holiday hotspots as seen through a uniquely antipodean lens. In this anthology, published to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW), Australia’s best travel writers share their passion for discovering more about the world we live in.
I contributed the story "The Great Call of China" about travelling through Guilin and Yangshuo in southern China.