In case you missed it, Zoë Foster Blake and Hamish Blake are Tourism Australia’s newest ambassadors.
What this means — aside from filling our feeds with endless travel inspiration, enviable scenes of glittering skylines, and turtles frolicking in crystal clear water — is that Australia’s favourite couple has embarked on a mission to explore our country’s most beautiful, memorable, and iconic destinations.
In other words, and according to Tourism Australia‘s catchphrase, Zoë and Hamish are encouraging us to Holiday Here This Year, following a trying year for Australian tourism. In a way, Hamish and Zoë are rewriting the lousy family holiday, and they’re thankful to be doing it right here in Aus.
Looking back on their own memories of travelling Australia with their respective families, Hamish and Zoë recognise things look a little different their own children, compared to the holidays they took as kids. “I often find myself thinking, ‘Gee, I didn’t do this as a kid!'”
Recalling a story that will, quite frankly, evoke wanderlust of the highest degree, Hamish continues: “The other night we were away on Lord Howe Island, where a lot of places on the island have an outside bath — because it’s so private there.
“We’re giving the kids a bath outside; it’s magic in the rainforest, but they were starving. Now, I’m very very conscious not spoiling them, because we want them to have those ‘roughing it’ experiences, but I was sitting there, feeding my three-year-old daughter hot chips in the bath and thinking to myself… ‘I don’t remember this happening to me’.
When they were kids, Hamish and Zoë remember family holidays spent driving past Australia’s Big Things, embarking on hours-long trips in the backseat of the car on the way to the Brisbane Expo ’88 (“It was like the Olympics!”), and driving through country towns where a boiled sweet shop was the main attraction.
On more than one occasion, the travel itch was satisfied by the souvenir from Hamish’s grandparents of a Qantas kids’ pack featuring ‘Max Altitude’. “That was our present from their trip and we were stoked. I still can remember the Captain finger puppets — we played with those for years. Never went on the trip, but we were familiar with plane paraphernalia, all because of my grandparents’ holidays.”
They look back on these memories fondly and hope to recreate them with their own kids now. Only, as Tourism Australia’s newest ambassadors, Zoë and Hamish are preparing to travel the far-reaching corners of our Great Southern Land, to see the most beautiful sights, delight in unique experiences, and encourage us all to Holiday Here This Year.
So far, they’ve explored a number of Australian cities and most recently visited NSW’s Lord Howe Island. They’re soon to head off on a much bigger road trip across the NT and WA, and of course, they’re bringing Sonny, 6, and Rudy, 3, along for the ride.
A challenge at times, the seasoned travellers are learning to approach their plans with an easy-going attitude. As anyone with children would know, travelling with kids doesn’t always go entirely to plan.
“We go in with strong ideas loosely held,” says Zoë. “We’ll plan the framework of the holiday. but we keep it loose on the day-to-day.”
“It’s a juggle,” adds Hamish. “I think a big part of parenting is being led by your kid’s curiosity. They become your little tour guides, and you do end up doing lots of stuff that you wouldn’t normally do. Suddenly your holiday is about finding a specific type of flower, and despite the plans you had made, you go along with it because to a large extent, you there for them.”
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Australia is changing. We need only look at the bushfire events of 2019/2020, and it’s likely we can all recognise changing landscapes since our own travels as kids — whether it’s dryer weather, scorched bushland, or less frequent turtle sightings.
Both Zoë and Hamish are cognizant of this, and are acting considerately towards the environments in which they travel, making sure to pass on messages of consideration, appreciation, and sustainability to their own children.
“A lesson that I like to teach the kids is to take nothing, and to try and just enjoy things while they’re there, leaving nature be. Our big themes for them would be to try and explain leaving no footprint, and how lucky we are to be in nature; something that’s free. Those are big messages, and you find a lot of different ways to teach them,” Hamish says.
Zoë adds: “In Lord Howe Island, we were able to show our six-year-old a first-hand experience of snorkelling with sharks and turtles. We wanted to show him these things so that he has a personal connection to them. When he does learn about how we’re overfishing sharks and the reefs dying, he can understand it, relate to it, and ultimately realise that we need to protect it.”
Hamish says the best thing parents can do to teach their children of sustainability and preservation is to instil a sense of wonder, appreciation and respect.
“As they get older, those qualities will serve as the foundation for them to care about the planet. For us, it’s really about teaching our kids to understand that all of this was here before us and that we are a guest; we’re lucky to be here. It’s not ours to take or mess with, and these beautiful environments are here for us to observe and protect.”