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Travel Writing with Graeme Kemlo

Episode 1

Meet Graeme Kemlo, Australasian President of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association and broadcaster of the Travel Writers Radio Show in Australia. Listen in while Graeme talks us through his journey from Canberra Press Journalist to travel writer to broadcaster of his own travel radio show.

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Episode 1: Graeme Kemlo
Duration: [00:46:17]
Melinda: Alright, welcome to Writer on the Road where telling stories matter, writing them down is even better, and publishing them is the greatest goal of all. But it's important to remember through all the toilities and testing times (and there'll be plenty of those), it's the journey that matters and it's the journey that we're here to talk about. The who, where, what and why and how of storytelling.
During these podcasts I'll be sharing my journey of building and monetizing my writing business as well as inviting others from all stages of the
[00:00:30]
writing journey to share their stories.
For this, my first podcast, officially titled "Podcast Number 1," I've invited the master reencounter himself, Graeme Kemlo travel writer extraordinaire, Australasian president of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers Association, host to the ever-popular travel writers radio show, intellect, business writer, singer, and grandfather. Welcome Graeme, have I missed anything?
Graeme Kemlo: Well, thanks. How do I live to that intro? I thought you were talking about someone else.
Melinda: No, it's how I've come to know you and how I've come to think of you. As you and I were discussing earlier you are my go-to person whenever I need a little piece of advice or I guess, moral support. So I thank you for coming on and being my very first interviewee.
Graeme Kemlo: Well, it's been a pleasure to watch you develop as a writer and a
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storyteller Melinda. So I'm flattered that you should ask me to be your first guest.
Melinda: Well, look Graeme I've got to tell you in six months’ time if you're still saying that I'll be really, really pleased. But I promise I'll try not to...
Graeme Kemlo: Of course, yeah, I'm sure I will be. I'm sure I will be.
Melinda: Alright. Over to our first question. As I've said the purpose of my podcast is to follow people's
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journeys, follow people's stories. Now, I know what you do know, I know what you've been up to lately. But I'd like to take you right back to the very beginning. Everyone has a story to tell and I'd like to know what your story is and what your journey is been.
Graeme Kemlo: Well, I'm a journalist, I've been doing that for more than four decades and I actually consider myself to be very lucky. I've found myself in many
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instances in the right place in the right time.
I was just talking to, someone else interviewed me the other day on Jay Air, the radio station that we do Travel Writer's radio from, and I had forgotten some of this, but I was reminded that I was very lucky to be a journalist in Canberra on the very day that Gough got sacked. So I stood, I stood in front of him, you don't see me in pictures
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because I'm where all the photographers were, I'm holding up a recorder, a little tape recorder to take down what he was saying to the assembled crowd and maintain the rage and all the rest of it and at the time I was working for the Melbourne Harold, which was an afternoon newspaper. We were in fact we were the afternoon paper for, not only for Melbourne, but Canberra and also for Tasmania. So we kept reporting into the afternoon as
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the crowd built outside parliament house and Gough got sort of red with rage and all that. But earlier in the day I'd watched the governor general's private secretary David Smith stuff some bits of paper into the pigeon holes at parliament house. This is the old parliament house. I just picked it up pretty casually and sort of looked at it and wandered back to the office. And as I read it, as I was walking my pace quickened as I recognized what it was actually saying. I ran into the boss
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and asked, because I was young, one of the younger reporters sent to camp and said to him "Hey, we got a good story, Gough's being sacked. What's more there's no care-taker government. Malcolm's been given the job. He's actually been named as the prime minister."
That's highly unusual and of course my boss couldn't believe it, a guy called Tony Hill. Anyway, we sat about starting to write the story and so it was one of the days that I remember vividly
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in journalism and how the crowd sort of materialized virtual from nowhere and then all these media heavies came in from[00:04:40] unclear and one of them caused a bit of a fist fight down on the non-members bar, which is an area of the old parliament house we used to be able to overlook from our office window. So it was all a bit of fun. So, yeah I count myself very lucky to have been in Canberra. I subsequently wrote a thesis on the role of the media in the downfall of the Labor government
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that got me a bachelor, now I had primary in journalism as it was in those days, I later got a bachelor of arts in Journalism.
So I was lucky doing that. I was also lucky in one of the first areas that I started to write in after I left daily journalism was in technology. I was right there to witness the birth of the PC industry. So I've actually interviewed virtually all the heavies in the PC
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industry at that time. Since when you had access to the boss of IBM, the boss of Lotus 1, 2, 3, although that's probably not terribly well-known now. The other person I interviewed and you won't believe where, was I interviewed Bill Gates. I was at BIW actually at the time, I was the technology editor. I interviewed Bill Gates in his hotel room at the Los Vegas Hilton and he sat on the fluffy
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stool under the mirror and I sat on the end of the king sized bed. I was doing radio at the time too, I was working for 3AW, just one night a week doing a technology program.
So I had a recorder there to sort of take Bill down and to save me writing copious notes and Bill rocked backwards and forwards so badly, like a savant, that I couldn't keep the microphone in front of his mouth and he was oblivious to the fact
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that I was trying to record this. I got back to Australia and the actual recording wasn't good enough to put to air, but I was able to use it right my story.
So I could put up with the fact that he drifted off the mic and I could barely here what he had to say, but I had enough to write about my time interviewing Bill Gates. He invited me that night to the Chili Cook-off, which was a traditional thing in Vegas, which every year stage
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this big IT Expo called COMDEX, it's now dead. It became so big it cannibalized itself. So that was one of the other moments I supposed that I remember well. So there are a couple of things I've done in my life. Then I went and lived in the USA, something I'd always wanted to do and I was there, I was there for a year. I expected to be there a bit longer, but working for a Singapore based company and they decided to pull
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their horns in a bit, so I came back to Australia. Then I took up travel writing, this is back in '95. So I've been doing that now for over twenty years as well. So that's my kind of story in a nutshell Melinda.
Melinda: I didn't have any idea. All I knew was that you went on junkets to broom [?] and I think you were fishing up that way and I thought you were a
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travel journalist all along. I didn't realize you were as infamous as you are.
Graeme Kemlo: Oh, infamous, oh yeah that's really the right word actually. Look, in journalism you have to be prepared to do anything. One of the beauties of it is you turn up to work and you don't know who you're going to talk to or where you're going to be sent and Canberra’s a classic example. I went, I was flown to Canberra to fill in for someone who was off sick during a Parliamentary seating
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week and in those days we used to have to go and sit in the house and take down the proceedings, just like the hand side [00:08:41] [?]reporters except we didn't use their technology. We used whatever means we had and I had reasonably good short hand that was one of the things I was taught as a cadet. So I was sent for that reason.
I ended up staying there three months. Which turned into four years and the last year
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I was married. My wife was up, was here in Melbourne and I was in Canberra on my own and I'd sort of turn up back in Melbourne about every second weekend.
That was the one concession the company made, they'd fly me back every second weekend and if I was desperate enough I suppose I drove the other weekends. But you sort of left on a Friday and you got to Melbourne at midnight-ish or something and then you had Saturday and then half way through Sunday you had to turn around and drive back. So, that was I guess
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I was desperate, I did that a few times. But, yeah. So I've done a few interesting things Melinda.
Melinda: I can see how the transition to travel writing would have been quite a luxury after that hard-core, I guess, journalism would have been good to, keeping [00:09:53] [?] the five star luxury.
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, look in my days of journalism there weren't many junkets offered to
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to us as traditional daily newspaper reporters. We did have a travel editor, one of the very first travel writers in the country, guy called Eric Paige, who I think now's passed, but so I wasn't used to being put up in five star hotels or anything like that.
So travel writing seemed like a wonderful idea, and I started off actually working with Universal Press who published a magazine called Quorum. Now, that was a business-
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focused magazine and quorum obviously has to do with meetings. So I used to write about meetings and conferences and big expos and incentive trips and things. That's when I sort of started off.
Then Telstra bought the company, not because they wanted the magazine, because they wanted the digital mapping. So you would in Queensland know the UBD street directory that came from Universal Press in Sydney, with whom I was working.
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So Telstra bought the digital version of all the maps that Universal Press had been creating over many, many years. It was a family owned company at that stage. Having bought all the maps they used it to create their where is application, which was around before Google Maps, if you think about it.
Then they decided ultimately that magazines weren't core and that they would get rid of the. So they announced the closure of Quorum, a twenty-one
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year old title, and that must have been worth something. But they announced the closure one day and then two days later they announced they were going to try and sell it.
Well, that doesn't work. They'd just devaluated in on the first day and then two days later decided it had some value. So it didn't get sold, it just folded unfortunately. But I was picked up by a woman with whom I'd worked at Universal who had gone out, left them, gone out and set up their own magazine, Helen Batt-Rawden has a magazine
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group called BT Publishing and the magazine I write for still is called Mice Nation. Mice is the acronym we use in business travel or business tourism, it stands for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions or expos.
So I've been really focused on the business side of travel writing, but I do also do some leisure writing and of course the radio show is probably 90% leisure and 10% business focus.
Melinda: I was very interested, I was
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doing some research for this podcast last night and I saw an interview that you did in Kalgoorlie, it was business focused about holding conventions and conferences around the diggers and dealers conference.
Graeme Kemlo: Yes, I've known about this conference, but none of us at the magazine had written about it and it seemed that the conference weren't all that fussed in attracting media. They would be some
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financial reporters there because this conference attracts 2,000 people, a number of them are from overseas and they are the heavy hitters in the mining industry and all the name suggests it also attracts the finance industry who are out to fund exploration here in Australia and off shore. So it's held in Kalgoorlie because Kalgoorlie's got some big mines and are largely based around gold. They're owned by
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off-shore companies and Kalgoorlie's a great place. So given the chance to go and visit, I jumped at the idea.
I joined, I connected it with another trip to Perth, I regularly go to Perth and I report what happening in the meetings industry over there, working with the Perth convention bureau, they're the government, semi-government body that helps organizations in Perth bid for international conferences and events. So they
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flew me to Perth for their story and then I was flying to Kalgoorlie.
Now, I'd never been there, but I had a member of the family going way back, I didn't know him, but a fellow who'd come out from Scotland was involved in the mining over there, so I've always had a fascination about Kalgoorlie and it's a great, great, great city and I know in you're question you're asking, well the question you sent me you're asking about doing the research.
Well really for Kalgoorlie I did the research on the spot.
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I just listened hard as Laurie Ayers, who's a local identity and who runs a meeting planning company over there with his wife, Arianne. He was talking hard and I was listening hard and he knows everyone in town, he knows all that's going on, he's a publican as well. So he's the eyes and ears of the joint for me. Kalgoorlie got a lot of promise.
But right at this point they hold this one big event which absolutely
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stretches the resources such that the town mostly packs and goes to Bali and rents their house out to delegates to this conference, because I think there's something like 600 hotel rooms and there's 2,000 delegates. So there's obviously a shortage.
So lot of homes get rented out for serious money and the owners fly off to Bali and spend the money before they've earned it, having a rest over there and not only does it fill the biggest place in town, but they use the carpark next door
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to put about a half-acre marquee up and there's an overflow of delegates who sit in the marquee watching what's going on in the hall next door. So it really dominates the town.
So the Kalgoorlie people got together and decided listen we can do one big event, what if we had the chance to do a bunch of smaller ones, we could actually get this town rocking. It's a great place to visit Melinda, I commend it anybody. It'd be a good place for you to take
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yourself on the road because it's got some fantastic attractions up there including what they call the super pit. The huge big mining operation that Bondi actually put together and there's some great yarns up there, there's a police squad that deals specifically with gold stealers, and it's based in Kalgoorlie, I suppose for obvious reasons, not that the town's full of crooks. There's a two-up school, that they tolerate up there, it's out of town a little bit, it's made of corrigated iron
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and we went out and had a look at that, that was a bit of fun. There's some magnificent stories over there.
So I really enjoyed going to Kalgoorlie and I would just commend anybody whose interested in what the backbone of the mining industry looks like go and have a look at the place, it's tremendous. It's got a gold leafed dome on what is now the court house, I think it used to be the post office. So the local mining companies got together and they
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bought this gold leaf, I think there's quite a few thousand dollars’ worth of gold leaf and if someone went and got up there and stuck it down onto this prior to the gold, it might have been a copper dome or something. But it glints in the sunlight, it looks fantastic you can see it from all around the place.
It's actually one of the little quirks of Kalgoorlie which has got a good food and coffee culture and some great pubs and serves good meals and you can get fresh seafood, comes in everyday. So Kalgoorlie go for it.
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Melinda: I've got to tell you Graeme, I had a little smile while you were telling that story, as you talked about the Kalgoorlie gold stealers, what I lived with my husband at the time, who was the underground manager at Norseman...
Graeme Kemlo: Oh, right.
Melinda: ... at the mine down there. My novel, The Miner's Wife which I wrote as part of my PhD., was set in Norseman. So it....
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Graeme Kemlo: I had forgotten...
Melinda: everything you were telling me...
Graeme Kemlo: I had forgotten that.
Melinda: Yes.
Graeme Kemlo: You did tell me that, but I remember you'd written the novel, but I didn't remember the detail of it. That's a great story. You did obviously, you have other stories to tell.
Melinda: Well the one thing I will tell you now I guess is the gold stealing squad in Kalgoorlie were very, very interested in my novel when I was writing it because as you do with stories and as you pick up things as you travel around, I used to play golf at Northburn with the blokes
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on the golf course down there and they used to tell me yarns and they didn't know I was a writer. So I used to go home and recraft, I guess, their stories into my novel. Unbeknownst to me, the gold stealing yarn that I was writing, turned out to be true. So what they were telling me was true and what I was writing down was true and the guys who told me the story are now unfortunately in jail.
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So it became very, very interesting to me how truth in fiction can intermingle what I thought was yarns about buying tea tree farms in Port Stevens with ill-gotten gains panned out to be very, very true.
So when I published my novel I was very excited, I thought I'd go back to Norseman and say look I've got this great novel and it was actually not received very well by the locals of Norseman because it had prostitutes
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at the local railway hotel. It had drunken brawls and it had this wonderful gold stealing heist. It's not exactly how they saw themselves in Norseman.
Graeme Kemlo: No.
Melinda: I know find myself with the problem of, yeah I've got a great story and yeah it's based on truth and yeah it's got all these exciting things that really, really happened. But, the local don't want to know about it. I did try to gate-crash the Diggers and Dealers conference on a couple of occasions and,
[00:20:00]
oh are you there?
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah.
Melinda: Hello?
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, I'm listening.
Melinda: No, it's alright. My computer went off. It looks like I may be able to get into that conference and speak on some of the panels there and be able to get my story out in that way. So I'm also going across for a two month junket over Christmas this year and I'll get in touch with Laurie and hopefully we'll be able to tell some stories that way.
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Graeme Kemlo: Oh yeah, Laurie's a good guy. He really is so well connected. We walked down the main street and he cocks his finger and his hat, good day, that's, he says to me, that's the CEO of the town. We go a bit further along, well that's the mayor and Laurie's a councilor so he knows his way around and we went and have a lovely cup of coffee in a restaurant and three or four people come up to him. He's just one of those guys and he's a lovely fellow too, to boot. He knows everyone and they all know him and like him. So I don't know whether that's true
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of all publicans, maybe it is.
Melinda: It's, look I'm heading up to Maleny on a different story this weekend. I'm going up to the Blackall Ranges.
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, that's great.
Melinda: My first stop, yeah well my first stop is the local pub. It's been there for a hundred years, it had all the tree fellers back in the olden days.
Graeme Kemlo: The mighty tree fellers. What happened to the forth one?
Melinda: Yeah, okay. But that's where the stories happen, the story's always start at the local pub and then as a story teller
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it's usually one of my first stops.
Graeme Kemlo: I think it's a good tip. Yeah, look when we used to get sent off, I used to for the Harold stories on decentralization, it was a big issue and the regional towns of Victoria were mightily concerned that everybody was heading to the city and they were getting left behind and they didn't have the services that the city had and it was expensive to get freight up there and the telephone cost more and so they,
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so we would go to all these towns, myself and a photographer and do these stories.
My two ideas for getting a yarn were yeah go to the local pub and have a beer in the public and bar and yak to a few blokes and as long as they know you're not there to do an expose on them they'll talk to you.
The other thing we'd say, if you can find a taxi driver in the town, even though it may not be a big town there'll usually be a taxi driver. He or she, mostly he in those days
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would also know the ins and outs of everything and would be happy to share the information with you. So taxi drivers, publicans, they're all good fodder for stories that we like to tell.
Melinda: Okay, and I guess that's something that as I'm talking to you, and it's way off what we were going to talk about, but in order to get a story, talking to people will always give you an opening. If you're prepared
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to talk and you're prepared to listen, something always comes up.
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, that's true. That's true. I think if you want to tell stories you got to have good ears. You probably ought to be using the ears in proportion to the mouth, like twice as much as you use your mouth. I'm not a good example of that because I just can dribble on forever, but I think if you show a genuine interest in people they will tell you
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amazing things. If you, if they feel like they can talk to you with some ease, then you'll find that you build some sort of relationship, it may not be exactly trust at that point, but some sort of relationship and if you ask them about them most people are more than willing to tell you about them and their achievements, what they've done and... I was talking to a prospector who goes to the Diggers and Dealers Conference here in Kalgoorlie, Laurie introduced me to him. We were just chatting
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away and I was sort of sitting, oh you going to the conference, he said yeah. I said so you're just a little bloke out with a, waving one of those magnetic devices around. He said no, no, no, he said we all start like that but I was basically accumulating claims, accumulating lots that I could put together. I said oh, you're a bit like a real estate agent for mining. He said yeah, but he said you can stake a
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claim but you actually have to pay the government a certain amount of money and you've got to spend a bit on it, you can't just sit on it and do nothing.
Anyway, he accumulated a bunch of these in a particular location and he said to me, I was at the Diggers and Dealers Conference one day and over morning tea and a bloke came up to me and offered me 14.8 million for my blocks of land that I had the claim over and he said and I took it.
So that was a good story and
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it's true. It is true.
Melinda: When you live out in those places you hear those stories all the time, and doing historical research for my novel, the stories are there and some of those stories are in my novel, I'm really going to have to send that to you so you can, maybe you can talk about it for me and have you're like selling it denying.
The other thing is that I've picked up on when you were talking there is when you travel,
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people talk. Part of my market with my Writer on the Road is the caravanning market and the itinerant market as we travel around Australia, this great country of ours. On the side of my caravan I've got my books and my website. Without having to do anything people will come up and talk to you. They just want to know your story and you turn that back on them and their stories are far more interesting than anything
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I could ever come up with.
I guess part of the idea of this podcast and part of the idea of me traveling around is to encourage people to do something with the stories they've got to tell, whether it be to a magazine, whether it be for their family or whether to do put it into a book form. Because all of our stories are interesting and not enough of us are writing them down.
Graeme Kemlo: The other thing I tend to do a bit more now than I used to is
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is I always have my digital recorder, my digital field recorder with me, and I, you'll find that I think if sat outside your caravan with your recorder and invite people to sit down and talk to you for your podcast you'll get a queue, you'll have a line of people you want to tell you their story because it works for me.
Now, I just happen to have a radio station, a broadcast Our Stuff First, but a lot of our listeners are on
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sound cloud, and they just, they don't want to listen to the whole two hours of our show. They are interested in a ten minute segment usually. So we get quite big response from all over the world, unbelievable places like the former Soviet block countries. It's just unbelievable, Ukraine and Afghanistan and all these weird “stans”, that
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I didn't know there was so many "stans" in the world. They're all listening to, well I don't think all listening, but a number of our listeners come from those places. It's just weird.
Of course, we have all these Yanks and Canadians because they, the Travel Writer's Radio is a production of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association that I set up, the radio show I mean. So people like to think, oh I wouldn't mind hearing what the
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Travel writers are reporting on these days and that's where we get a lot of our audience from I think. But, as I take my recorder with me and lots of people are happy to give you ten minutes and tell their story and I try to do it in that amount of time if I can.
But there's a, I've been places like places like Broom and, where else do I see them, down in the Southwest of WA, we see them around Margaret River and all that area. I was up in the Kimberly and there were plenty
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of them up there on the road, and I've seen them in Gimpy, when I went to big, the Gimpy Muster a couple of year ago, we saw, I stayed in a tent there, it was freezing cold. But right next door, planed his trip of he and his wife in their van and their Toyota, they planed their trip around Australia to end at the Gimpy Muster and after that they were going to drive back home to central New South Wales where he's a professional seed grower.
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He has broad acres of crop which is just for seed and he sells the seed to somebody. So some group, Yates, or something. But, anyway he was a lovely fellow to chat to and... So you meet some wonderful people on the road and I'm just reminded of Macca on the ABC, he's made a career out of taking to people on the road, hasn't he?
Melinda: I was just to tell you about that bit. My inspiration is Australia Over All with Macca and someone said to me the other day that he's still going.
Graeme Kemlo: Oh yeah, he is. I heard him
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last weekend.
Melinda: Yeah, well that's what I'm basing my podcast on. That's why as I travel around and I'm two months that I went down to the South Coast, I was coming back up and we're heading back up through the New Castle, through the Hunter Valley there and everyone seemed to be in their vans and heading to the Tamworth Music Festival. They'd come from all over the place, so get out their rigs, then off they go to the Tamworth Music Festival. I was just outside there, it was a little place and
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I can't remember the name of it, but they had a pumpkin time festival at the same time and so we're trying to go to the Tamworth Music Festival but they'd all pop up for a day to throw their pumpkins. I thought it's really interesting what we've got going on in our own backyard, is that we're kind of in the city just don't know about. So I think if we come back, if we've achieved anything tonight, we've talked about the purpose of what I'm hoping to do and it's to bring those
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stories out and get people like you to come on and tell us your experiences and how you used those stories, how you record them and how you produce them at the other end.
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, well the radio show really gives us a great opportunity and, look the reason I set it up was that well the fellow who invited me to do it, I'd known a long, long time and he said come and you've done radio, come and do something on my station and he literally set up this station. I said look I don't know that I've really got much to say, and he said weren't you doing all that travel writing?
Then the penny dropped and I thought wow here's an opportunity for me to get the members of the association here in Australia of which I'm the chair, to give them another way to tell a story because some of them have been laid off by newspapers because Murdock's quite happy now to use technology to replace journalists.
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Also to engage in citizen journalism which I don't mind people reporting things and photographing stuff and sending it to TV stations, but it isn't really journalism that's got sufficient credibility for me to be honest because someone could say anything to anyone and most people think what happens on the internet is the gospel truth. Well, we all know that that's just not the case. So anyway I felt that here was an opportunity for journalists, professionally
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trained to have another way to tell their story. A lot of them had no experience at radio. Now, I was just lucky because there's a young reporter in Canberra I used to report into the McQuarrie network out of Cannbarra and five AD and Adelaide and 3DB in Melbourne as it was then. So basically I cut my teeth doing couple of minute reports live to air and sometimes to tape.
So
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I just through this is a good opportunity for the journalist to understand this old medium which is suddenly new again. Wireless takes on a totally different meaning these days, like we used to listen to the wireless, now with wireless is to do with Wi-Fi and the rest of it. In fact, when I first started listening I was on a Chrystal Set, that's putting my age out there isn't it?
But, so we we record, a lot of our stuff we record by phone if we, yeah, if we haven't
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been in actually face-to-face with our interview subjects we'll record the interviews by phone, we process them in the studio with equipment that helps improve the signal from a telephone.
Then we play, we put that to air, we compile a show, we run some music because people don't necessarily just hear talking heads for two hours, so we play two or three music tracks each hour, which break things up, to give me a chance to find some crazy,
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some crazy music that I might like or that suits the topic. For example, we had a story on the refugee center in Melbourne. So I just typed into Google I think it was, song about refugees and up came this song and you wouldn't believe it. So I played that. T
hen we had another story about, this is last night, we had a story about a travel company in Britain called Large Minority Travel. Now they specialize in adventure travel, a little bit like that
[00:34:00]
race around the world. But they'll send people off on adventures in Cambodia on tuk-tuks for example. So I thought well this is a good story and my reporter had a done a good job on it. So I get on the Google again, song about tuk-tuks. Sure enough up comes a song about tuk-tuks. I listened to it, make sure there's no profanity and yup, I played that.
Then I had a story, I had an interview with a guy who announced that by the end of this year, or later this year
[00:34:30]
we would be able to bid for vacant aircraft seats right up to the point of departure, virtually at the departure gate using an app on your mobile phone you'd be able to bid to sit in that seat in business class that's otherwise going to go empty. I thought this is a good story, so we interviewed him then I got on the Google again and I typed in song about cheap flights.
Up came this parody song from three British women about cheap flights. It might have been
[00:35:00]
the Ryanair Air song for all the complaining they do about what happened on board, how expensive it was and how their 50P fair suddenly had to every other little thing added to it and it became so outrageous, but they were so locked in they'd agreed to pay for so much so that for the last lot they had to pay for they just couldn't back out of so their 50P I think became 50 quid.
Anyway they were very, very funny and the girls in studio couldn't believe that
[00:35:30]
I'd found this song. But it's one of the crazy things we do, just to try and make radio a bit interesting and we don't take ourselves too seriously Melinda. We had you on the show.
Melinda: What a disaster that was. But I was just thinking you were talking about Googling in songs and things. I had my Year 12s today and I was Googled, I did exactly what you did. I was talking about job seeking because they're about to go out into the big, wide world. So I Googled in movies about getting a job and
[00:36:00]
up came The Wolf of Wall Street which had five hundred and four profanities. So I don't, R-rated, didn't no, didn't work for me at all.
Graeme Kemlo: Yeah, I bet it did. I haven't actually see that movie but feel like I know enough about it to maybe I'll get it when it's available on Netflix or something. Yeah, there's amazing job opportunities out there. There's lots of job opportunities for people in our business. In the
[00:36:30]
travel industry, in all sorts of areas that maybe people wouldn't necessarily expect.
So every now and again on the show I talk to someone who's got an interesting job in travel or food or wine and just to give some of these kinds an idea as to what opportunities might be out there that are sort of under their noses, but they don't recognize. So we try to cover the whole gambit if we can with the radio show. We even talk to people who have written books like
[00:37:00]
you.
Melinda: Don't worry, my novel will be mail to you tomorrow.
Graeme Kemlo: I look forward to reading it.
Melinda: Yeah, look Graeme, I've taken up more of your time than I've promised that I would, but as usual you're so very, very interesting, I could just let you talk all night. But I think we've covered most of our questions. I think researching stories before you start can be a good idea, as I said
[00:37:30]
I went on and had a look at your sound cloud last night and I did exactly what you said. I punched in the stories that interested me, so it was ten minutes here, ten minutes there and there was a lot of winery stories, there were destination stories, there were people stories that I thought oh wow, I'd like to go there and do that. I think we've covered the international Food, Wine, and Travel Writers thing.
[00:38:00]
We've covered the travel radio, we've covered your career. We've got in a bi of a plug about Kalgoorlie. I guess the only thing left that we have to do is should people be interested in travel writing as a way of telling their stories? How do you recommend that they go about it, how do you recommend that they start?
Graeme Kemlo: Lots of people do travel. So they're no worse or no better than those of us who are journalists who also travel
[00:38:30]
because we all have experiences and it's actually about your collected experience that is the critical part of travel writing. It's not a laundry list of what flight I went on, what the food was like and all that. It's more about what serendipitous thing happened to you that you think other people would find interesting, amusing, sad, what emotion could attach to an experience that you've had.
[00:39:00]
So I suppose the other thing one should mention is we don't do radio with pictures, I think they call that television. I did that, I tried that and didn't like it much so I left it. But if you're out there doing travel writing you want to have good pictures because you want people to see what you've done and even on our radio show we do run an image on sound cloud of the person or the destination or something that relates to the interview.
So collect your thoughts as to what it was that you did
[00:39:30]
that you think is really interesting. Now it might be really interesting to your next door neighbor, I don't know if that talking to the dog and getting him to bark counts as interesting. I think you need to talk to a human who can ask you questions, maybe some hard questions. So yeah, experience is what's it about.
I think they're the things to be looking out for and because if you look at or read some of the great travel writers, Thoreau and those sort of guys, they
[00:40:00]
writing about interesting experiences, what the man in the seat next to them on the Orient Express was wearing and how he combed his hair and what his nails looked like and what book he was reading and all of these, these are the word pictures that build up interesting situations and how you got to talk to the guy and how he turned out to be much, much more interesting than you thought he would be just looking at him at face value.
I suppose the other thing I would say along those lines is
[00:40:30]
do your research but don't pre-judge what a place might be like. Be open to, be drawn into an experience. You and I were amongst others in Hawaii, Melinda. We could have gone there expecting it to be all boogie boards and Hawaiian shoes and grassy skirts and all the rest of it. But, beyond that we had these incredible spiritual, I suppose I'd call them,
[00:41:00]
experiences there. That I didn't expect and that really put Hawaii in a totally new light for me. I've been going there for years.
So I'm interested in the ancient Hawaiians. I'm interested in the fact that it was the commercial interest in Hawaii that shut down that monarchy and now Americans are clamoring for a monarchy and they had one of all those years but people got a bit greedy and they sort of virtually locked the Queen up in her place, Iolani place there in Honolulu until she signed over
[00:41:30]
her rights to the commercial interests that are now involved in sugar cane and pineapple growing and all that sort of stuff. So I felt that trip was wonderful, a wonderful opportunity. You went to Maui didn't you? Oh no, the big island.
Melinda: No, I went, yeah I went to the big island and it was a pivotal moment in my writing life as well. I read a story called I never Promised You a Cowboy.
Graeme Kemlo: I remember that.
[00:42:00]
Melinda: It's about, well I can't remember the guys name but he was a native Hawaiian man and he was just the beautiful man. But what shocked me was I never expected a cattle story on the big island of Hawaii. Ever since then I find myself writing cow stories. Here was at an International Food, Wine, and Travel convention and I found
[00:42:30]
myself writing paddock stories instead of the five star stories and that's happened to me ever since, Graeme, I don't know if says anything about me.
Graeme Kemlo: No, I don't think so.
Melinda: But I'm going up to Maleny to write a cow story and I tell cow stories just because it's on the way.
Graeme Kemlo: No, that's true. It's the good old back to the earth scene. That's prominent now in the restaurant business, there's nose to tail eating and farm gate to fork. It's all about getting back to the basics and being
[00:43:00]
a conscious consumer, eating seasonal things, not, and there's a story on television last night about the Bluefin tuna stocks in Australia being quite low and Neil Perry of all people has agreed now not to sell Bluefin tuna in his restaurant because he now recognizes that it's a virtually endangered species.
But we're fishing it because everyone else is fishing it, every other country is fishing it so to speak. That's a pretty crummy reason I think to persist, but the industry obviously wants to make a quid and
[00:43:30]
I suppose they should be allowed to do it but what's the total cost going to be and when there's no more tuna, then I guess we're a poorer civilization for that.
Anyway, but people are interested in travel writing and maybe you are a travel writer, you've got a blog or you've been writing for the local rag or you've done a book, or you're interested in food or wine or travel and you're professional about writing,
[00:44:00]
you're welcome to send us a note and if you're interested in looking at the travel writer's association, that's www.ifwtw (IFWFW) .org. It's an American established organization, established there in 1981, but it's roots go right back to the '50s in Paris when a group of people got together and talked about what they'd eaten and what they'd drunk over the previous week.
[00:44:30]
So it started very culinary focused and then it sort of branched out into travel. It's a great organization and I'm proud to be part of it, and to be leading it here in Australia and you have to quality to be a member, so have a look at the website and you'll see what the requirements are and if you think you're interested and what to get in touch my details are on the website, the Australasian division. We'd be happy to help you.
[00:45:00]
Melinda: Alright, I think that that's an excellent place to end it for tonight. I'd like to thank you Graeme for being a true friend as always and for your very, very interesting anecdotes, I guess as we went through the really the last hour and I would say...
Graeme Kemlo: We've been going for an hour, yeah.
Melinda: that I'd take up half an hour. 47 minutes, 45 minutes.
Graeme Kemlo: Lucky my cars not on a meter.
Melinda: Yeah, so I thought...
Graeme Kemlo: Lucky I'm at home and the car's in the garage.
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Melinda: I'm hoping your wife doesn't come and strangle because it's 9:30 at night.
Graeme Kemlo: She's watching TV. No, it's a pleasure to talk to you Melinda. I've enjoyed watching your growth as a writer and as a person. I hope we catch up again soon.
Melinda: Well we definitely will. For anyone who wants transcript of our chat tonight, and maybe some details that Graeme's shared with us
[00:46:00]
they will be up on my website on www.melhammond.com as soon as I learn how to transcribe them which will hopefully be in the next couple of days. I'll be back with you next week with another episode of Writer on the Road.
Graeme Kemlo: Goodnight from me!

 

 

About the author, Melinda

I'm an authorpreneur, English teacher and podcaster who dreams of a life on the road full of adventures and handsome heroes, whilst making squizillions of dollars in book sales to pay for my chocolate fix. In the real world, I write novels and non-fiction, and offer my expert advice via online courses (as soon as I make them) and writing retreats (as soon as I organise them).

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