In this months "InTravel Yarn", Dwayne Good talks all things travel with Dr Anita Heiss, well know Aboriginal author and proud member of the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. Dr Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women's fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles.
Dwayne: Tell us about the year ahead for you, what interesting projects do you have for 2015 and can you tell us about any great upcoming books to look out for?
Anita: 2015 is another mammoth year for me. For starters I have two children’s novels coming out with Scholastic in the second half of the year. Harry’s Secret is set in Cowra and is about a young fella who is afraid to tell his mates how much he loves to draw. Matty’s Comeback is about a Koori kid in Sydney who is mad about the South Sydney Rabbitohs and weeks out of his own grand final breaks his arm and can’t play.
I’m also working on an historical novel called Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms (Simon & Schuster, 2016) about the Cowra Breakout and the impact the #12 POW compound had on the town and the Aboriginal community. That means I’ll be travelling back to Cowra and over to Japan for research.
On top of those projects I will be running writing workshops in Ravello, Dublin, New York and Honolulu this years so there is a lot of traveling for me.
When I am on home soil I hope to continue my work in schools running creative writing workshops with students and conducting professional development days with staff
Dwayne: What is your favourite international holiday destination and why?
Anita: For round-the-clock excitement, theatre, shopping and feeling totally alive, then hands down it’s Manhattan. I’d go every year if I could. For relaxation, shopping and the perfect Mai Tai well of course it has to be Hawaii!
Dwayne: What is your favourite domestic holiday destination and why?
Anita: There are many beautiful places in Australia that I love, but one of my favourite holiday destinations has to be the Gold Coast because it has everything I need for a quick weekend escape with a good friend or just a book. Coolangatta Airport is only an hours flight from Sydney, there’s miles of beach for me to run / walk on and swim in, and with the introduction the Luke Mangan’s Salt Grill (in the Hilton) and Seaduction (in the hotel Sea Temple) there’s also world class dining as well. I love the Gold Coast so much I blogged https://anitaheiss.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/travel-gourmet-gold-coast/ about it!
Dwayne: What international travel destination really resonated with you as an Aboriginal person?
Anita: Many of the places I have been that have resonated with me as an Aboriginal woman have not been tourist destinations. The one place that has a sense of cultural tourism that I appreciate and have been to more than once is Noumea with its Kanak history, culture and presence. The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is always a must do experience.
Dwayne: What Australian destination or experience makes you the most proud to be Aboriginal?
Anita: It sounds biased, but when I drive back to Cowra and see the ‘Welcome to Wiradjuri Country” sign heading into town, I smile with pride. There’s one heading into Mudgee as well. I’d like to see these signs of acknowledgement as we enter different traditional lands around the country.
Dwayne: Australia is a popular travel destination for international travellers, what do you believe our country can do better to represent our Indigenous culture?
Anita: This country is rich in Aboriginal history, culture and stories, and yet you will not see much of it mentioned in the mainstream tourism industry. Particularly at our most treasure tourist sites. Signage at significance events and places are needed, renaming or at least double naming in the local language and English is also a way to recognise the ongoing connection we have to place.
Our major festivals which are also tourist attractions need to embrace and integrate Aboriginal voices into their programs. Sydney Festival has been doing this for years and it’s a great way to showcase what a city’s First Nations peoples have to offer in terms of arts and culture.
Dwayne: What has been your most fascinating travel experience and why?
Anita: I travelled to Kahnawake Mohawk Territory (Quebec) for the first time in 1995. The small community sits on the banks of the St Laurence River about 15 minutes drive from downtown Montreal. The reservation is fully self-sufficient with schools including a Mohawk Immersion School, hospital, radio station, bars and restaurants. One can canoe in the river, be part of the summer pow wow, play lacrosse and then head into the city for serious shopping, partying and French everything. I’ve been back about five times since then, and local community members have come to visit me in Australia. I have some very special friends in Kahnawake and that’s why it will always be special to me.
Dwayne: Business class or economy? and who is your favorite airline to travel with?
Anita: Business Class because it’s usually work related and I need to sleep on the flight. Favourite airline is QANTAS, although recent experience on Emirates really raised the bar in terms of service, food and comfort.
Dwayne: What are some of your most interesting travel habits or routines?
Anita: I don’t know that I have travel habits and routines other than I always arrive at the airport super early. The anxiety of any trip decreases dramatically as soon as I have checked in and passed through customs.
Dwayne: As a regular traveller what are your three “must do” travel tips?
1. Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Arrive before allocated check in time to save any last minute dramas and queues.
2. Always take a change of clothes in your carryon in case your luggage is lost or delayed. I do this so I won’t be caught out, especially if I have a speaking engagement the day I arrive somewhere.
3. Drink plenty of water, in the air and on the ground. There’s nothing worse than walking the streets of Paris (or anywhere) feeling awful, only to learn you hadn’t drunk enough water that day!