Drop the Tension at PechaKucha

Earlier this year, Wendy was invited to speak about our conscious overland journey between Melbourne(AUS) and Katowice(PL) at the Bratislava PechaKucha Night Volume 37.

For those of you not familiar, PechaKucha is a presentation format originating from Japan, that is now popular around the world. It’s simple, yet challenging: 20 photos x 20 seconds. Definitely a tight schedule to summarise over a year on the road! The evening was part of the [fjúžn] festival, promoting and celebrating a multicultural Slovakia.

Wendy’s speech focused on a basic question travellers should ask themselves when coming back from a trip: How should we speak about our journeys? Travel stories often speak of exotic customs, bizarre foods or insane adventures. But do these stories build an accurate image of the place we visited? Don’t we, in stressing the differences, forget that the places we saw and people we met share much in common with ourselves and our own communities? Don’t we, in telling our stories in this way, unwillingly perpetuate stereotypes about how much people around the world differ from us? Is there another way to speak consciously about our travel experiences?

Enjoy the video from Wendy’s presentation!

#5 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

Here’s the latest episode of our summer/winter reflective series “12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland“.

Nowa Huta

5. How to live without a backyard

For an Australian, your own backyard seems to be a rite of passage. Even in my student share houses, there was always a backyard, usually under-used and overgrown. I hardly knew anyone who lived in an apartment – that’s something only for rich, inner-city, business people. Here in Poland (and the majority of the world), that equation is rather reversed. Continue Reading →

#4 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

Here’s the next instalment of our summer/winter reflective series, with Wendy looking back at her year as a migrant in Poland: “12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland“.

Those blocks….Katowice

4. To look beyond the blocks

A few kilometers from the charming medieval Kraków city center, things start looking very different. Take a trip to Łódź or Katowice and you just can’t ignore that things look… Continue Reading →

#3 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

Here’s the next bite of our summer/winter reflective series “12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland“.


3. If it ain’t broke, fix it!

While the modern shopping mall is now a completely normal part of capitalistic life in Poland, unlike back home, it is still possible to meet all of your needs without entering these shiny temples of consumption. In fact, absolutely unlike life in Australia, it is still possible (and affordable) to get most things repaired, instead of throwing away and buying new.

Continue Reading →

#2 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

Here’s the second course of our summer/winter reflective series “12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland“.

Pierogi by Babcia on Christmas Eve

2. Eat and cook to the seasons

The ever changing, more extreme seasons of Poland, mean you’d better just embrace whatever time of year it is to the fullest while it’s here. Poland has taught me that this also ought to include your everyday eating. Continue Reading →

#1 of 12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland

We’re trying a new technique 😉 Rather than posting one mega article that’s just too long to read, we’re going to feed you this one in bite-sized pieces across a summer/winter (depending what hemisphere you’re reading from!) series – hopefully keeping you hungry for more! The series is a reflection piece Wendy put together looking back on her first year living in Poland: ’12 things I’ve learnt living 12 months in Poland’. Smacznego!

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016: Poles flocked to the cemeteries to place candles on the graves of the departed and reflect on life, death, loss and love. On All Saints Day, a national holiday, these sites of grey stones, narrow passageways and quiet resting are transformed into bustling hubs of family meetings, large floral displays and as the afternoon darkness of night settles, the twinkle of thousands of candle lights to mark each life with memory. The smell of melted wax is thick and sweet on the air, escaping from the gaudy, modern plastic lanterns, in the competition to see who’s relative’s grave will have the candle burning the longest.

While I don’t have graves of relatives to visit here, the day was also a time of reflection for me, as it marks one year since I crossed the border from Belarus into the country that I’d travelled half the world over without a plane to reach. I’ve lived in Poland one year now – a whole 4 seasons getting ready to repeat their turns. So let me think a little about what I’ve learnt in this time, in this place…

New Years Day 2016, Wrocław

1. To see the beauty in every season

Continue Reading →

To those graduating high school

The following text is the ‘past student’ speech Wendy gave at the Maffra Secondary College end of year Presentation Night 15th December 2016. 

I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land Maffra stand on: the Brayakooloong people of the Gunaikurnai nation and pay respect to the elders past and present.

I’m back in Maffra tonight to celebrate the milestone of my youngest sister Louise completing her year 12. To her and her classmates, congratulations! Tonight marks both the close of one chapter of your life and the opening of a new one which holds more possibilities for you than any of us can imagine. Whether you sit there knowing what you’re going to do next year, or are still making up your mind – to you all, I’d say, take your time and know there are no ‘wrong ways’.

Wendy and Louise: sisters together again.

Continue Reading →


This article was first published on tourism_LOG blog where it was one of the winning pieces of the “Fair travelling and experiencing the world” competition. It’s a shortened version of 5 WAYS TO BE A CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER post with text cut down to minimum for a quick read.

Travelling to far away countries has become a possibility for more people than ever before. This is really exciting as travel is the best education we can get, helping us to become an informed global citizen. But no one ever really teaches us how we should travel…

We fly, sail, Interrail, cycle or hitch-hike around the world, staying in hostels, resorts, home-stays, couch-surfing… But how to get most of our trips while making sure we respect people and places we visit? How to be a CONSCIOUS TRAVELLER?

When you're far away from home, consider the impact of your steps. Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.

When you’re far away from home, consider the impact of your steps. Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.

With our Drop The Tension project we have travelled from Australia to Europe without flights, looking for answers to this question. Here’s some of what we learned… Continue Reading →


Cheap airfares are making overseas travel a possibility for more people than ever before. This is really exciting, as travel is the best education we can give ourselves to become informed global citizens. But on the other hand, no one ever really teaches us how we should travel….

We brushed up against many different forms of tourism on our overland journey half-way round the world, and it seems to us there is plenty of room for more conversations around conscious travel. In fact, if it was up to us it would be a compulsory school subject ;). Travelling “right” is really a double-sided coin that comes down to:

  1. Ensuring proper respect to the people of the places we visit
  2. Ensuring travellers get the most out of their trips abroad.

This article is Drop The Tension‘s first in our series of useful information to help backpacker-local interactions be positive experiences for both sides. Take this as a guide for anyone heading overseas. But it might be especially useful for a young person heading off backpacking for the first time (Know someone? Share this their way!), especially if you’re travelling solo (we think you’re awesome :))

We’re not into rules and remind you that this is just a guide of things to keep in mind. Common sense is the first thing you should pack for the trip and it’ll help you determine what is appropriate for your given situation. Any questions or comments, please contact us below – we’d love to start a discussion around this topic!


Consider the impact of your steps when travelling


Conscious travel is about being aware of the impact your being there has on a place. A conscious traveller should strive to keep their travel low-impact. In this, I mean that we don’t want the places we visit to change dramatically through our visit. It’s that old rule ‘leave things as you found them… or a little bit better.’

Your impact includes everything from:

  • The cultural impact: in some destinations, you’ll find yourself getting a lot of attention as a foreigner. The world round, people are listening to western music and watching Hollywood films. Seeing you can sometimes be the movies ‘coming to life’. People will be watching how you behave and might even copy what you do. While in the ‘spotlight’, don’t behave in a way you wouldn’t want to be copied… Don’t make yourself (or your country) famous for something you wouldn’t want it to be famous for!
  • Your environmental impact: many places in the world lack environmental education. If locals are paying attention to your behaviour, disposing of rubbish (which, by the way, was introduced to the rest of the world by ‘The West’, without even a hint as to what to do with it!) correctly or refilling plastic water bottles where possible can start showing people other ways of doing things that care for the surroundings.
  • The impact of where and how you spend your money.

Continue Reading →

Mongolian Naadam festivities

Kazakh country in China

Kazakh country in China

The sun is getting lower in the sky. We’re standing on the roadside in a dry, treeless landscape, a wide valley bordered by rugged, rocky mountains. It looks like the snippets of footage from Afghanistan that I’ve seen on the news. The earth-brick houses are squares with flat roofs. The road signs are in Arabic. But this isn’t the middle east. We’re in almost the most north-western corner of China, a region predominantly inhabited by Kazakh people, heading for the western border crossing into Mongolia.

May Ling is waiting with us. We have already walked a few kilometres together, along the dusty road, before we managed to flag down a passing car – a rarity out here. She knows a handful of English words and we a pinch of Mandarin, so there is some understanding between us. May Ling is patient and seems committed to helping us, but she is understandably eager to get into town. We have established that she’s come out here for work, but that there is no hotel in town. Anyway, next town is the border town, 30km further down the road, we’d rather sleep there so we can cross in the morning. The wind is blowing so strongly that we stand sideways, angled against it. The sight of a car on the distant rise brings us hope – maybe this one? But so far we have only been disappointed at the sight of indicators flashing towards town. Reaching the border by tonight is beginning to look unlikely… And that wind is feeling cold. Continue Reading →