Websites and Blogs
My online journey to date…
It started in 1996 when I was writing the radio version of the Nine Network’s travel show, Getaway. The Internet had arrived and it seemed logical that travel and the online world would make good bedfellows so, with a colleague, Jamie Bishop, I created a website for the brand. It worked a treat and we broke new ground. Catriona Rowntree presented the first Australian on-line chat room and we produced the first video steamed segment with Lochie Daddo presenting. In 1997 the site was nominated for Best Travel/Leisure Site at the Telstra Financial Review Internet Awards. Around this time another internet travel entity called Travel Online was gaining traction.
In 1998 Kerry Packer and Bill Gates formed Nine MSN and noticed that one of the TV shows already had a website and they kindly bought the Getaway website from us. Shortly after, I received a call from Graeme Archer, the owner and CEO of Travel Online. We met up, hit it off and I became his Executive Producer from 1999 to 2001, creating myriad travel websites relating to Australia and the Pacific. This business had a major stumble after the September 11 terrorism attacks in the United States.
I was living in Vanuatu at the time, writing and occasionally commuting to Travel Online’s head office in Brisbane. Graeme and I were both out of work – he moved to the UK in 2002 to set up a couple of entities there and I created websites for those – Ancestor Travel and the Great Britain and Ireland Visitors’ Bureau.
Still in Vanuatu, I wrote a travel book on Australia called The Small Guide to a Big Country. It was published in 2003 and I decided to set up my own travel agency, Small Guide Travel, to specialise in arranging travel within Australia and to Vanuatu. This led to a website on travel in Australia, using romance as a niche via the websites Resort Weddings and Tropical Honeymoons and a few to specialise in travel to Vanuatu, namely Honeymoon Vanuatu, Weddings Vanuatu, Go Vanuatu, Cruise Vanuatu, Study Vanuatu and Vanuatu A to Z.
The Vanuatu branch of the agency was becoming far more successful than the Australian side so I made a few trips and extended the venture to include Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands. The focus for Resort Weddings and Tropical Honeymoons changed to the Pacific and new websites were created, including Fiji A to Z, Samoa A to Z, Cook Islands A to Z along with Honeymoon Pacific, South Pacific Cruising and South Pacific Weddings.
Following my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in 2010 I created a website to specialise in arranging travel for people with disabilities called Cane and Able Travel, which won the inaugural Business DisABILITY Award for Business Innovation in 2012. Because my mobility was becoming more limited, I found myself behind a computer more and developed a semi-hobby website called Wedding Writer. This was to assist people with wedding speeches with the subtext of spending a few hours a week on those so I could pay someone to mow my lawns, tend the garden and do things I could no longer do, like cleaning out the gutters.
Also, in 2012, I was approached by the Rydges Hotel group to create a blog for over 30 of their accommodation properties across Australia, in New Zealand, Dubai and London. As well as hotel news it was a guide to events like theatre, concerts and sporting fixtures in the area. This continued through 2013, 2014 and 2015. The last website created was Forever Free.
In 2015, some issues with MS contributed to making the day-to-day running of the travel business difficult so I closed Small Guide Travel and sold my websites to a company called Tropical Holiday Deals. THD also secured my services as a consultant and blogger, which was going swimmingly until Covid-19 put a stop to travel to the Pacific from Australia and New Zealand.
Fingers crossed vaccination take-up allows for international travel to return!