Travel writing has led me to meet many wonderful and interesting people. I had the pleasure of bumping into Cam Cope at the Melbourne Writers MeetUp and I was so impressed with his travel tales.
Cam has recently launched his amazing exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Victoria, Boorun’s Canoe. This is a must see in Melbourne as a beautiful representation of Aboriginal Cutture and a modern appreciation of a great history.
I loved reading Cam’s interpretation of his Australia. Some great info and advice here so travellers read up!
- Name: Cam Cope
- Occupation: Photographer and travel writer
- Country of Residence: Australia
- Country of Origin: Australia
- email/contact/ website: firstname.lastname@example.org / www.camcope.com / camcope.wordpress.com / www.facebook.com/camcopephotography / www.twitter.com/camcopephoto
- Why do you love Travel?
My Dad (Andrew Cope) really inspired in my siblings and myself a sense of curiosity about the world and a strong sense of adventure. He was an outdoor education lecturer at Monash University so we all grew up surfing, skiing, hiking, kayaking, camping, abseiling etc. But Dad was the kind of person who would also stay up late reading Greek mythology or books about Aboriginal culture. His sense of wonder for the world was a great gift that I’m still thanking him for. For me travel is a vehicle to keep inspired by exploring what I value most: the world’s natural and cultural diversity. That’s why I love travel and I definitely consider myself lucky to be able to share my passion from behind the lens and in writing.
- Favourite place in your home country and why?
Wilsons Promontory National Park in South Gippsland, Victoria. It’s in my home region and it’s where I discovered a love for the natural world, hiking and surfing. So there’s a touch of local pride in my choice but I reckon it’s got the best beaches in the country. You can even trick people into thinking it’s tropical with it’s white sand and turquoise waters (in photos that is). The best beaches there are also a bit harder to get to, you have to hike in (unlike the coastal asphalt that most tourists experience when they visit the Great Ocean Road on the other side of Melbourne). There are no busloads either and the surfing is uncrowded so I hope I don’t send too many people down that way.
- Best place for tourists to visit in your country?
I think what is truly unique about Australia is Aboriginal Culture and the epic sense of space you feel in the landscape. Our cities are great too, but they are not what make our country truly unique. I think this is part of the reason why our identity is so linked with the coast and the outback, despite being one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. So I always recommend people to get away from the cities and experience the low-key places, the enormous national parks, the bush, the rainforest, the desert, of course the beaches but also the mountains that are usually overlooked. I also say to visit local Aboriginal Cultural centres and look up local guides. You don’t have to go to the desert to experience it (not that you can really miss central Australia, it is amazing) but there is incredible diversity in Aboriginal culture all over the country.
- What other country would you live in if you had to leave your country?
If I had to go anywhere else it would probably be Brazil. The relaxed atmosphere, beaches and friendly people remind me of home, but where our culture becomes a bit stiff (music and dancing) they become even more relaxed and somehow go nuts at the same time.
- Best travelling experience anecdote in your own country?
I think the most amazing travel experience I’ve had here in Australia was sailing for five weeks from the Gold Coast to the Whitsunday Islands in 2009. We were able to visit so many amazing places that are way off the tourist trail and totally out of reach unless you have a boat. It’s a reflection of Australia in general I think, the further you get from the beaten track the more you can experience how epic this country really is.
- Favourite activity when around your city?
When I’m back in Melbourne (where I’m based at the moment) I like to explore the many bars and restaurants. There is so much variety you can just about eat any kind of world food if you look for it. I love when I find a new favourite place, and they always seem to be opening up, which is usually bad news for my wallet. I also can’t help keeping tabs on every footy (world’s greatest game) no matter what I’m doing.
- Do you feel you know your country well, or is more exploring of your homeland needed?
I think I know it quite well, hosting visitors has given me great excuse to explore over the years. However there are still some big gaps, Tasmania and Western Australia are next on the list.
- Any warnings for travellers visiting in your country?
Australians don’t like whingers. If you’re bothered by the insects put some repellent on and then practice some Zen. We don’t want to hear about it. Don’t complain too much about the price of living here (unless it’s alcohol in which case fair enough) or the price of getting here. Or the heat, or the sun, or the crappy ads on TV (warranted), or that it gets cold in Melbourne in the winter (you can google our climate before coming) we’ve heard it all before. Understand that you are in an isolated place and that it’s expensive for us to travel away from here too. The current high value of the Australian dollar is a modern phenomenon, we are well travelled and have visited places like Europe and North America when it was in the doldrums, so understand the coin can fall both ways (pun intended). Besides, if Australia were cheap and easy you probably wouldn’t want to wake up next to it in the morning.
- Must see movie featuring your country and Why?
For Aboriginal culture check out Ten Canoes. For an insight into the cultural differences between our cities check out He Died with a Felafel in his Hand. For a sense of our humour check out The Castle. For a brutal but realistic depiction of the Australian frontier check out The Proposition. For a shocking, hilarious and existential masterpiece (everything an Australian movie should be) check out Bad Boy Bubby.
- The best book to read before visiting your country?
I recommend the same book to Australians and foreigners alike. It’s called Why Weren’t We Told by Henry Reynolds and gives incredible insight into the colonial history of Australia and contemporary race politics.
- The must eat dish or delicacy of your country?
Being a recent migrant nation Australia is still searching to define its cuisine. You will find amazing variety and quality of all food styles here (in urban centres at least). Where we are starting to find identity is in native ingredients. Don’t be squeamish, eat kangaroo, it’s lean, delicious, high in iron, low in cholesterol and a better alternative for the local environment than beef. -Our wattle seed tea is another unknown gem.
- The top three sayings to make travellers stay in your country easier? E.g. How much? Too expensive or Hello.
Master these three and the rest will follow:
- G’day mate.
- No worries mate.
- Cheers mate.
- Best time of year to visit?
Being a continent of many climes it all depends on where you go and what you’re after. If you want beaches and sunshine, avoid the south in winter (yes our winter, commenting on how amazing it is that the seasons are reversed in the Southern hemisphere will set Aussie eyes rolling faster than mentioning shrimp and barbecues in the same sentence). But a safe bet anywhere is always summer, we’ll be on holiday and disposed towards having a good time and including you in it.
- The 4 words that best describe your country:
Ancient, relaxed, remote, irreverent.