Louise Southerden, four-time winner ASTW Travel Writer of the Year, camping in Mongolia.
Louise Southerden, four-time winner ASTW Travel Writer of the Year, camping in Mongolia.

Travel writer tours the world and chooses to live here

HAVING travelled the world and visited some of the best places the planet has to offer, the decision for travel writer Louise Southerden to make the Northern Rivers her latest base says something about our region.

Ms Southerden is one of Australia's best travel writers and has won many awards, such as the prestigious Travel Writer of the Year award from the Australian Society of Travel Writers awards four times.

She also runs a blog under the guise of No Impact Girl.

Ms Southerden has been living on the Northern Rivers almost three months now.

"I tried out Byron and Mullum first, to get my bearings, before moving to Lennox almost two months ago," she said.

"I'm fast falling in love with the Northern Rivers. I'd been here on surf trips before, but never for more than a couple of weeks so it's been great to settle in and see what the place is really like, particularly now that the school holidays are over.

"I love the friendliness and relaxed pace of life, and that there are still lots of interesting, creative and innovative things happening.

"This could be my new home, at least for a while.

"I've definitely got the nomad gene, and it's good to know there's an international airport nearby, just in case, but for now I'm really happy to stay in one place, this place, and see if we suit each other."

She said she was writing, catching up on stories about trips she did late last year.

"Before I got here, I was on the move for 18 months, so I've been really enjoying doing simple, summery things in a beautiful place: mostly just swimming, surfing and going for exploratory drives to get to know the area," she said.

"You don't have to look too hard to see that this region has lots of drawcards: so many pristine beaches, lots of marine life, Cape Byron and the lighthouse, the national parks, and all the coastal and hinterland communities that each have a distinctive vibe.

"I think what makes the Northern Rivers unique is that people seem to really love living here and care deeply about where they live, and at the same time they're really accepting and welcoming to newcomers. It doesn't take long to make new friends and feel at home here."

She said highlights included Byron Farmers' Market, The Pass and Wategos.

"I love Mullum and Bruns, and last weekend I discovered that Ballina has its very own balsa-wood Kon-Tiki raft from an expedition in the 1970s from Ecuador; it's right there in Ballina Maritime Museum. Who knew?"

Travel writing could be called a dream job, she said.

"It certainly has its moments," Ms Southerden said.

"I try to never take for granted that I'm, say, hiking in Mongolia or cruising Kamchatka in the name of 'work'.

"But it can definitely be a hard slog to make a living.

"And it's not just about loving travel. You really have to love writing too.

"The trick is to enjoy combining the two: I really love travelling with a purpose, so my travel isn't just for me but a way to gather information and experiences I can later share with people, and hopefully inspire them to feel a sense of wonder about this amazing world."

Follow Louise's adventures on noimpactgirl.com

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