For this month's Talking Travel installment, I got in touch with fellow Melburnian Cristy Phelan (aka KoalaGirl). Cristy has been a regular contributor to the Travellerspoint wiki travel guide, including a number of excellent articles about diving and music festivals in Australia.
You've lived and worked all over the place -- Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, the Whitsundays, and then overseas in London, New York, Florence and Canada. You're back in Melbourne now... but for how long?
That is a question I've been asked a lot! I think that Melbourne will always be "home" for me, particularly because all of my wonderful family are here, but I can certainly see myself living and working overseas again throughout my life. For now I'm based in Melbourne indefinitely, but tomorrow is always a new day!
What inspires you about travel?
For me, travel is all about experiencing new places, new people and new cultures. Whilst I enjoy visiting and admiring some of the "major sights", it's watching and listening to the local people, understanding their approach to life and encountering the day-to-day nuances of a place that really make me feel alive. Although idealistic, I believe that a lot of the world's social, economic and political problems have arisen because of a lack of understanding of other people and cultures. For me, true travel (not just "sight seeing" or vacationing) goes some way to helping the traveller understand their role in a global community. I get inspired when I (or other travellers) have an "ah-ha!" moment and realise that there are many different philosophies and approaches to life and that no one way is necessarily 'right' or 'better' than the other ways.
You've contributed some great article to the Travellerspoint wiki travel guide about diving in different places. When did you first get into diving?
Funnily enough, one of my biggest fears is drowning! But, I believe that to truly experience life you need to constantly challenge yourself and do things that scare you. So a few years ago one of my best friends finally convinced me that the underwater world was simply another destination that I had never travelled to.... after all nearly 70% of the planet is underwater! With the help of a patient instructor I nervously took my first dive in the amazingly clear, warm waters of Thailand and was addicted! My love of the marine life and historic shipwrecks means that scuba diving and travelling now go hand-in-hand for me. Learning about the varying marine climates and the history that lead up to many of the ship wrecks just adds another exciting element to learning about the people, culture and history of the place I'm visiting.
What are some of your favourite holiday spots around Melbourne?
I am awed by some of the absolutely amazing natural wonders around us; so, if I'm travelling to places around Melbourne, it's usually a road trip and camping for me. I love the beaches at Wilson's Promontory, the lush forests in the Dandenong Ranges, the incredible cliffs and sunsets along the Great Ocean Road and the ever changing bushland of the Great Alpine Road. Of course having a passion for wine and gourmet foods I simply love a decadent weekend at the wineries and local produce restaurants of the Yarra Valley too!
Of all the places you've travelled to, which one do you most wish to visit again?
Tough question... there's just so many places in the world that there's barely enough time to visit them all once, let alone twice! Some of the wonderful places I have visited that I'd love to spend more time exploring include Columbia, Thailand, Denmark and Guatemala.
Check out these past interviews in the Talking Travel series:
- Talking Travel with Hawkson
- Talking Travel with Dodger
- Talking Travel with Derek Logan
- Talking Travel with Lynn and Paul
- Talking Travel with Tom Rhombus
- Talking Travel with Grant Gibbs
- Talking Travel with Claire and Chuck
- Talking Travel with Brendan Harding
- Talking Travel with Jennifer Johnson
- Talking Travel with Sander
- Talking Travel with Rob and Pol
- Talking Travel with Michael Johnson
- Talking Travel with Izzy and Marisa
- Talking Travel with Marlis
- Talking Travel with Gretchen
- Talking Travel with Andrew and Courtney
- Talking Travel with Purdy
- Talking Travel with Maria
- Talking Travel with Niels
- Talking Travel with Amy and Wim
- Talking Travel with Hien
- Talking Travel and HIV/AIDS in India with Dave Reidy
- Talking Travel with Utrecht