November 8, 2021
Aussie experience designer Amanda Fisher on how creating meaningful connections is key to understand and protect Australia's beauty.
I was born in Perth, Western Australia and, whilst I am totally happy living here now, it was a long road I travelled to get back home!
For almost 30 years I explored the world and lived in several places along the way - Rome, New Delhi, Victoria Falls, Dubai and Sydney. Through all of this I worked in various aspects of the travel industry including with airlines, as a retail travel specialist, a hotelier, in lodge building and in marketing. These days I am incredibly lucky that my work revolves around my great passions – family, travel, stories and people.
Long hours at my desk fly-by when I am creating a journey, I love to reveal the destinations and the experiences one-by-one. A journey is like a stage-play and each act must be more intriguing, more captivating than the last; but I don’t want my travelers to merely be spectators at that show. They must be a part of the action! When the time comes for them to leave Australia they should do so with magic memories and a warm understanding of our people and our country.
My very first full-time job was with Air India, here in Perth. It was a manual airline reservations system in those days and each afternoon we had to send massively long telex messages to Mumbai. I visited India in my second year - I stayed on a houseboat in Kashmir, visited the Taj Mahal, marveled at Lutyens Delhi, haggled over the price of treasures, and came home HOOKED! I had to stay working in the travel industry, just to feed my habit.\
I truly do love to travel, and I love it for the people I meet along the way, the stories I hear and the things I learn. When I am at home I love to read and to cook – and I guess it is because these things are just extensions of my travels as both can transport me to other places, known and yet to be explored.
My Dad is my greatest source of inspiration. It sounds corny I know but he was a great adventurer long before I was born and I think I inherited his curiosity, love of learning and my spirit of adventure from him. He spent 15 months mapping mountain ranges in the Antarctic from 1958-59 and I think his love of the wilderness and wildlife seeped into my genes too.
Australia, the place I call Home, is known by many of us as ‘The Lucky Country’, and really no nickname could suit it better! We have a huge array of landscapes from the world’s oldest rainforest to the vast outback and pristine coastline; we have a truly unique flora and fauna; we are home to the world’s oldest continuous culture and yet at the same time we are a melting pot of people from all over the world; we have great open spaces, vibrant cities, a delicious food scene and a very relaxed and welcoming lifestyle.
The West Coast in particular is a treasure chest of hidden gems.
Its hugely varied from thick forests, wine regions and surf beaches in the south, to one of the world’s longest and most pristine fringing coral reefs at Ningaloo and then the vast landscapes of the Kimberley in the north. For endless stretches of this 12,000 kms of coastline there is scarcely a person, the landscapes are wildly beautiful, the air is clean, and the colours are so vibrant. It is truly a privilege to be in such remote and pristine country.
In fact, Australia is one of the most important nations on Earth for biodiversity - most of Australia’s wildlife is found nowhere else in the world, making its conservation even more important. From bilbys to wombats, to koalas and platypus – all living things deserve our protection and in doing so we will protect our diverse habitats. Here in Australia, living things extend a long way offshore too as we are blessed with extensive coral reef systems - the Great Barrier Reef on the East Coast and Ningaloo Reef on the West Coast.
I always try to include an unstructured time with an Aboriginal guide. Aboriginal Australians are the ultimate sustainability advocates, they say we must respect our country, since we are part of it. Through explaining the Aboriginal concept of connection to country we may enhance the travelers understanding and awareness of their personal connection to their own country, no matter where they’re from.
I believe that unforgettable experiences are best made through meaningful connections between travellers and local people who are passionate about their patch. I think travellers love learning, they love hearing real-life stories (not tour guide spiel learnt from a book) and exploring the world through local eyes; it could be a chat with a chef who is documenting Australia’s indigenous ingredients; hearing the story of crocodile conservation in Kakadu; a ramble with an historian around Hobart...
People that are passionate connect us to the place.
Facilitating such connections is without a doubt the most rewarding part of my work: when they happen, I can hear my guests GLOW as they share their travel memories, and that is always a sign that my partners and I have succeeded in sharing our genuine passion for Australia.
To get a taste of the local lifestyle, nothing can beat a morning surf at Australia’s most iconic beach – Bondi! If my guests can’t surf, I usually arrange a lesson with one of the local guys - they know the action so well that they will have you up and standing within the hour. And when guests don’t feel like getting wet, the next best thing is the coastal walk from Bronte to Bondi Beach, stopping at Ice-bergs Kiosk for a toastie and a latte overlooking the surfers riding the waves. These things are Sydney institutions!
When it comes to wildlife experiences, one that I consider an absolute Must is the Quoll Patrol in northern Tasmania. There, legendary guide and campfire-cook extraordinaire, Craig “Bushie” Williams, hosts intimate fireside dinners. And as the stars come out so do the locals — the brush-tailed possums, pademelons, wombats, quolls and other nocturnal creatures all arrive to share the evening and Bushie’s fireside yarns with you.
Yet, when my guests ask me about the most unique experience in Australia, my answer is: the one that goes above and beyond your expectations. An inspiring African woman has said “give them what they didn’t know they wanted!” and that is my motivation. The most unique experience I can offer is something that surprises, delights, thrills and wows someone because it goes so far beyond what he/she was expecting.
All consumers have power in their pockets, and they wield that power every time they decide to spend. By knowing Australia’s tourism operators intimately and personally I can help travellers use their power for good wherever possible. This means supporting suppliers that are doing the right thing by the environment and by the community – championing those who truly care and place conservation at the core of their business.
My guiding principle is very simple: we protect what we know and what we love.
By introducing travelers to Australia’s pristine wilderness, unique flora, fauna and friendly people, we are really building an army of guardians!
All in all, if there's one thing that I hope to pass to every traveller, that is love and respect for our natural world and an understanding of the importance of biodiversity. If future generations will retain a connection to the land and a passion for individual cultures and for storytelling, then I think we still have a chance to see our fragile ecosystems thrive again.
Amanda is Senior Travel Designer at The Tailor, and Earthtones' local expert in Australia.