Julia Ashwood’s ‘The Vista’ Journey Leads Her Family to Their Biggest Project Yet


She built her brand The Vista with a passion for travel and a little bit of help from Goop extraordinaire, Gwyneth Paltrow (more on that later), but after jetting around the world with two vivacious young children in tow, Ashwood is planning on keeping two feet (or more accurately, her family’s eight feet) on the ground for the first time in a while as she embarks on her biggest and most exciting project yet.

We sat down with Julia Ashwood to find out more about her Follow the Vista journey until this point, and how each day spent visiting the world’s most beautiful and unique destinations will help her in these exciting next steps.

Where did The Vista journey begin?

Oh gosh, 2002 feels like a long time ago now I was footloose and fancy-free, still yet to meet my now-husband Matt and certainly without my two children (aged one and three).

When I created my platform I was the cliche nomad, travelling as much as I could with friends and on my own, too. On these adventures, I always wished I had a treasure map or insider’s guide to the cities and places I was exploring with information on the best nooks to play, eat, stay and meet, and so I had an idea.

At that time, these travel guides didn’t exist or at least not in the digestible way my friends and I wanted so I began creating guides and sharing them with people around me. Shortly after this, The Vista was born.

How has your platform changed with a young family?

While it used to be me and my friends visiting beautiful corners of the world, we now say “travelling with kids the good the bad and the awesome!” And really, that sums it right up.

Some days travelling with kids is blissful; you experience wonderful new adventures together and make lifetime memories. Other days, it feels like pulling teeth.

I’m talking about exploding nappies in airport queues, sleepless nights, and food tantrums in restaurants. Truly, though, at the end of the day, I still believe it is well worth the journey.

Many think travelling with kids is a daunting task, but how have you managed to make the process so doable?

We laugh! And honestly, sometimes you just have to. When a situation is out of your control and you have your patience tested, sometimes the only thing left to do is throw your arms in the air and give in to the hilarity of the situation.

We also try to remain as flexible as possible because we know travelling can be tough on the kids. It’s a lovely way of slowing things right now and enjoying the moments in-between, too.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a parent hoping to travel with young children?

Organisation is key. I would always suggest putting in the time and effort to make things as simple as possible for when you arrive.

It’s a little different to the way we used to travel before kids, but now we’ll spend time pre-planning flights, booking transfers, pop-up cots, high-chairs, and car seats ahead of time. This prep can be a savoir on the road.

What is one hilarious and chaotic story about travelling with kids you can share with us, and what lesson did you learn from that experience?

Delilah turned two on a recent trip to Japan. As anyone who’s been to Japan would know, the hospitality is some of the kindest, most generous and thoughtful of all. We were staying at the luxurious Hoshinoya Tokyo hotel, and when we arrived the hotel staff presented DeeDee with an incredible cake and sung her Happy Birthday. It was so special and so kind.

But she cottoned on to this quickly and, and at every single dinner sitting for the rest of the trip, she requested/demanded a cake and birthday surprise eight more times to be exact. It was equal parts hilarious and totally embarrassing.

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This next ones for you baby! ? Today’s environmentalists say we really have 10 years to do what we can… (not 100, not 50 – a decade, just like the one that has just passed us by) to preserve what we have left our land our animals, the bush, our precious water and air… to act consciously with our everyday choices and to do the best we can to make a more positive future for our children. The good folk at @bushheritageaus are creating some great awareness via #MyBushPledge campaign which is all about connecting us back to the bush ~ through education and preservation & hope ? So today #mybushpledge is to do the best I can to ensure I teach my little ones the importance of this sacred land and to continue to support country tourism and visit those small towns which are the beating heart of our country. ?What kind of world do we want our babies to experience next? What does it all look like in 10? Take a peak at the mindful video in my stories today. What’s your #mybushpledge ? ✨?? #australia #35mm

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Travelling has a large impact on the environment and we know sustainability is important to you. What do you plan to teach your kids about protecting the earth while at home and travelling?

For the most part, I would love to teach them to respect and understand nature. Delilah has started picking up plastic wherever we go, and she empties the compost bin and grows veggies with her dad

These are just small moments that we not so much reinforce, yet suggest and she really enjoys helping in these small ways. She adores nature and now pulls me outside to see the full moon or the pink sunset most nights.

Your range of kids T-shirts were featured on Goop. How real is the ‘Goop Effect’ and what impact did this feature have on your brand?

I mean, it’s Gwyneth! She’s the queen of LA cool. When she selected our Jonathan Zawaba X The Vista travel tees for her ‘best Christmas presents for your kids’ list we were over the moon.

We have global stockists and plan to release more shirts in 2020, and due to the success of the kids range, we were able to create womens sizes, too.

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WE JUST GOT GOOP-ED!! ❤️ You know @goop !?!!!!!!!!!! Our kids travel tees have been given the nod of Hollywood cool by the queen herself Ms Gwyneth Paltrow ~ and have been selected for the #Goop Xmas list! ❤️ So, for a limited time only you can also shop our tees at @goop globally ? ❤️ While you’re here… notice anything else in this pic? YES! You asked for them and we’ve made them – finally BIG KIDS travel tees (in very small numbers) are coming in hot for the holidays as well as a restock on your favourite kids designs ? ?? We dreamed big with this fun @johnzabawa X The Vista collaboration and it has been so awesome to have your support ⚡️ Tag yourself below, join our mailing list or email me [email protected] so as I can let you know the day they drop in store for Xmas (approx Dec 8th). ?? #repurposedcotton #tshirt #vintagefeel #travelwithkids #love #souvenir #japan #byronbay #california #goopgift #35mm #headoverheels

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And now your next venture… You bought a pub! What made you decide to take this next step in Byron Bay?

This latest adventure was a true surprise. Here I was thinking this was just another one of my husbands “big ideas”, but it wasn’t until we were at the local bank that the penny literally dropped we decided to buy a pub! She’s not just any old pub, though. The Eltham is a gorgeous piece of Australian history at 130 years old.

Matt and Luke (our lovely business partners) are hands-on with everything from pouring a beer to managing staff and driving the booze bus. Evidently, the kids haven’t seen much of their dad in the last three months, and my job lies in refurbishing the five hotel rooms upstairs. Its been an absolute hoot so far!

What are your plans for the space and what do you want the new and improved pub to be for the community?

Its a bit of a secret for now (and we’ll be revealing much more here on TheLatch— soon) but what I can promise you it that the rooms will be completely unexpected and a good dose of storytelling.

Most importantly, though, this is a pub for the people open every day with good food, great music and a wonderful energy. The locals have been so supportive and its wonderful to see people coming from far and wide to join us for a cold beer and stay for a meal.

And even though it’s just 30 minutes from the heart of Byron, you definitely feel like you’re away from it all, taking in the sweet country air.

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HOLY SH%T WE BOUGHT A PUB! @elthamhotelnsw ? We can’t keep this one under our hat any longer! Today we take over this gorgeous old hotel tucked away in the #Byron Bay hinterland ~ just 15mins from #Bangalow. A pure “pinch me silly” moment in our lives. Built in 1902, we now begin the gentle and thoughtful process of bringing this old girl back to her former glory. We’d love you to come by and say hi ?? Come for the beer, stay for the food and then sleep with us. Yes! The 5 old rooms upstairs in this beauty will become our very first ‘VISTA STAY’. (To be honest I always thought it would be a remote shack on a quiet bay in Tassie but hey, 5 lovely rooms and a generous wine cellar suits me just fine). Give us a little time and we promise it will be well worth the wait… I personally can’t wait to take you along for the journey from the bar to the beds! ~ for now, please join Luke, Nicola, Matty & I in creating a pub for the people @elthamhotelnsw #elthampub #vistastays #byronbay #hinterland #pub #pubspo #herewego #openforbusiness #undernewmanagement ?

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What has been done so far to revive the historic pub?

We are working with local landscapers to create usable, friendly spaces considering the whole one-acre block, complete with internal and external beer gardens and veggie patches for the kitchen.

On day one, as soon as we received the keys, we happily pulled out the pokies and with it the darkroom they existed in. This is now a lovely light, airy country-style dining room with great food to match.

Oh, and we also just acquired eight new chickens who have been happily laying eggs since the day they arrived.

What does life look like now for your family?

I always dreamed of owning a ‘Vista Stay’, although I definitely thought it looked more like a remote, quiet shack by the water in Tasmania or an A-frame cabin overlooking the bay in New Zealand. Five rooms above a pub is certainly a lot more vibrant!

I have been lucky enough to stay in hundreds of lovely hotels across the world, and although I have never entered into the realm of interior styling, I am certainly throwing myself into it now at full speed and taking all of my travel memories and inspiration into account in the process.

I work on my business day-to-day (around the kids’ nap times) and if I can drag Matt away long enough, then we will try to make some trips to Tasmania, New Zealand and Europe before the year is out.

With a pub to renovate and two kids in tow, I’m aware that some of these trips may turn into girls’ trips, and I’m A-OK with that too. Parents need a holiday too, right?!

Interested to see how The Eltham transforms under the direction of Ashwood and her pals? Stay tuned for Julia Ashwood’s regular column with TheLatch— in which she’ll be providing progress updates on the pub and epic before and after pics.