The Writing Life

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01

Apr 2016

A Field Trip to Australia and New Zealand

Posted by / in The Writing Life, The Writing Process / 4 comments

Nothing beats “boots on the ground” for researching locations for a book. I always pick up details that no guidebook, or Google Earth trawl, will turn up. Not only that, but I love to travel to new places…here or abroad. I just returned from a three week trip to Australia and New Zealand to research the as-yet-untitled sixth Fox & O’Hare book.

2016-03-26 13.45.37My travels this time took me first to Sydney (and Manly Beach and Bondi Beach), where everyone was too damn good looking. Even the old people looked like models. All the women seemed to be wearing black… my theory is that they were morning all the fat, imperfect friends and relatives that had been exiled from the city. After three days roaming Sydney, we headed off to Brisbane, where I was relieved to see not everybody was perfect. My wife desperately wanted to see some Koalas, so we went to a local reserve where we could hold the cuddly animals and get up-close-and-personal with kangaroos. We roamed the city on foot and by ferry, then rented a car and headed off to explore the Gold Coast one day and the Sunshine Coast the next. The two coasts couldn’t be more different. The Gold Coast highly developed, with skyscrapers, high-end stores, and endless beaches…while the Sunshine Coast is more laid-back, less developed, but also with long, flat seemingly endless beaches.

From Brisbane, we flew on Emirates to New Zealand. I’ve never been on an Emirates plane before and was amused by the wood-grain trim around the portholes and the faux-wood toilet seats in the unusually spacious lavatories. We were welcomed in both Auckland (and later in Wellington) by cousins of actress Alexia Barlier, who was one of the stars of my movie FAST TRACK: NO LIMITS.  We spent a day roaming around Auckland on foot, then the following day we took a boat out to Waiheke Island, rented a car, and explored the entire island. We managed to visit all of Waiheke’s beautiful beaches and even visit two wineries for meals and some wine-tasting.

My wife Valerie and me with a furry fan

My wife Valerie and me with a furry fan

We arrived in Wellington in time to enjoy the final day of Cuba Duba, a  vibrant street fair, and were met by more of Alexia’s cousins, who introduced us to the city and entertained us in their incredible, hillside home, where they have breathtaking views of the city. We also met up with Jeroen Ten Berge, the artist who designed the covers for my DEAD MAN books, WATCH ME DIE, KING CITY, McGRAVE, and many other titles. He showed us around and it was a real treat to see the city through his eyes. After that, we rented a car and explored the countryside and the coast on our own, catching some dramatic vistas along the way.

Then it was back  to Australia for a few days in Tasmania, where we explored the city of Hobart and followed the so-called Convict Trail, soaking up the dramatic history of the island…and its roots as a penal colony. We also visited the bizarre, controversial, stunning, and unforgettable MONA Museum…which was like visiting an art galley designed by SPECTRE.

The entire trip was a fascinating and inspiring experience. I’m looking forward now to delving into the history of Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, searching for those nuggest that will make the places, and the characters who live there, come alive in Nick and Kate’s next adventure. I took hundreds of photos that I can use to refresh my memory as I write. Here are just a few…

My wife Valerie and me on a beautiful beach on Waiheke Island

My wife Valerie and me on a beautiful beach on Waiheke Island

The Gold Coast in Australia.

The Gold Coast in Australia.

The ruins at Port Arthur in Tasmania

The ruins at Port Arthur in Tasmania

A machine/sculpture that eats, digests, and poops food at MONA in Hobart

A machine/sculpture that eats, digests, and poops food at MONA in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

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4 comments
  • David

    April 2, 2016, am30 6:10 AM
    01

    Hi Lee,
    Wish I had known you were coming down under, would have happily bought you a beer or two in Brisbane.
    I may be no help at all. but feel free to email me any questions about Australia that you may have, happy to give a laymans perspective. Glad you enjoyed your trip!
    cheers
    Dave

  • Matthew

    May 26, 2016, pm31 7:01 PM
    02

    Australian here. My one piece of knowledge that you all need to know is that Australia is bigger than you think.
    So often I see people wanting to see Perth and Cairns in 4 days, without realising they’re ~7 hours flight apart. No, you can’t drive there easily. We have a big brown land.
    Also – if you do decide that you want to drive around Australia (which, despite the above, I do encourage people to do, because country towns are really the best place to experience real Australia), don’t drive at dusk, at dawn, or at night without a Roo Bar or a Bull Bar. Kangaroos will ruin your car if/when you hit one.

  • Luke

    May 31, 2016, pm31 11:14 PM
    03

    Why didn’t you go to Melbourne?

    We are afterall the “World’s Most Liveable City”. You missed out on one of the best bits.

    Pleased you went to MONA though, it is one of Australia’s best kept secrets.

  • Kelly

    February 12, 2017, pm28 9:07 PM
    04

    I am so excited to hear that you visited Australia and New Zealand! I’m a kiwi living in Auckland and have visited Australia a few times (Darwin, Gold Coast, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne) so this news is huge for me and I cannot wait for the book to come out 😀 I absolutely love the Fox and O’Hare series and I am keen to discover more of your work. I think the research really shows in the details in the books you write.

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