Freelance Journalist Interview with Marie Barbieri
UK-born travel writer and photographer, Marie Barbieri, has been planting her footsteps across the globe for over 20 years. She freelances for various in-flight titles, international travel publications and several health magazines. She’s soon off to explore the Polynesian splendor of the Cook Islands, and will be hiking in the mountainous jungle of Rarotonga before island-hopping to the lagoon resort of coral-infested Aitutaki; itself, surrounded by islets.
Marie is now welcoming words / pictures package commissions on the Cook Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Read on to find out more about her current ventures and projects.
What do you write about?
Outdoor travel, wildlife and nature are the subjects I am most passionate about. They get me out on all-weather rambles through national and conservation parks such as surf-bashed Kangaroo Island and the concertinaed folds of the Flinders Ranges. I often write regional guides as well as short and long walks features. I also write on destinations that allow the two wheels of a bike to be my guide, such as when I explored the wilder side to the Gold Coast when pedalling the 36 km-long Gold Coast Oceanway and the 32 km-long Coast to Vines Rail Trail.
I was lucky enough to tour through the outback to Lake Eyre a while back and see this giant sink the size of Holland almost full of Queensland’s floodwater. From the air it leaves the most seasoned of aerial traveller utterly spellbound as flocks of pelicans trail beneath the aircraft.
Other recent travels have had me wallow in an iron-rich thermal lake in the Azores, taste my way through the Barossa Valley, get sporty in Hamilton Island, find Italy’s most majestic castles and hike the serrated ramparts of the island of Capri and lush Lake Garda. The most enthralling long hike I’ve had the privilege to leave my footprints along was in Tasmania’s otherworldly Bay of Fires region. Outstretched blankets of sheet-white loneliness extend beyond vision. Only burnished-orange boulders that burst out from the headlands break up the 35 kms of quartz-rich beaches. It’s such an isolated wilderness, that the only other souls you are likely to meet are pied oystercatchers, albatrosses and forester kangaroos.
Where are we likely to see your work?
I like to spread my wings, and have been lucky along my journey to strike up excellent and lasting relationships with the editors I work with. Publications I have featured in include inflight magazines such as: Jetstar, Going Places, Islands, Paradise, Yeahbaby and Baltic Outlook. I contributed to a South Australia supplement for Wanderlust Magazine and write regularly for Australia & New Zealand Magazine. I have also written for: Italia!, Luxury Travel & Style, Holidays for Couples, Arrivals + Departures, Style Tropical North Queensland, Australian Coast & Country, Great Walks, Asian Geographic Passport and Stamford Life (the in-room publication of the Stamford Hotel group).
Having come from a complementary therapy background, I have been published in health magazines such as: Australian Natural Health, Fitness First, Nature & Health, Yoga Magazine and Massage Magazine. I am also a complementary health columnist for Bicycling Australia.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done
I was writing in the field of health before I ventured into travel, and the latter came about after I won a national travel-writing competition in the UK. I have to admit, it is still that winning piece that I hold closest to my heart, as the article was written in the first person about a sentimental travel experience during a Greek Island summer.
In terms of memorable locations, I love exploring Australia’s outback, particularly when the Red Centre explodes in spring flowers and wildlife is on the move. Sadly, people think the outback is all about climbing Uluru, and whilst Uluru itself is my most loved natural monolith, it’s what lies at the foot of its cracks and crevices that enthrals the unexpected traveller most. I never knew, for example, that frogs live in rock-pools after cascading waterfalls from the rock. It’s a truly magical pocket of Australia.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I keep planning it in, then another commission arrives (never a bad thing of course!), but I am eager to explore the north-west of Australia, particularly Broome and the Kimberley region. Those images of riding camels during sunset on Cable Beach always have me melt a little inside. Also, I want to see these stromatolites that Bill Bryson (my favourite author) raves so highly about!
There is still much of New Zealand I plan to explore, from skiing to mud pool dunking. I’m off to the Cook Islands next month, which will fulfil one of my long-held dreams, but my ultimate dream destination would be island-hopping in Tahiti. Having spent a decade island-hopping in Greece, I adore islands and atolls; anywhere that gets me beneath the waves to explore our diverse and fragile aquatic world.
The other destination I have always been fascinated with is the Dead Sea. I would love to experience this mineral-rich natural world where Cleopatra bathed regularly, as the impressive findings from scientific research into the health benefits of bathing in the Dead Sea have had me push this almost to the top of my travel bucket list.
Next year, I am planning to carve my way through the Eyre Peninsula and also the south-west of Australia, mainly to write and photograph for nature-based pieces and regional guides. Being a photographer, I have an insatiable appetite for great shots on each of my journeys for words/pictures packages or pictures-only commissions.
In terms of interviews, I’d love to meet Cliff Richard, Rolf Harris, Jason Donovan, Brooke Shields and Clive James: a strange combination I know – perhaps for another time!
Where do you source ideas for articles?
I would probably be slated for saying this, but most of my ideas simply come from my burning passion to explore as much of our world as possible. As a child, I had an unrealistic list of places to visit or work in, and I don’t even think I’ll live long enough to exhaust all I plan to do. The more I travel, the more I find that I need to write about, or return to a place to explore an alternative idea I’ve found on location. And of course, on journeys, you meet so many people along the way, that you take inspiration from their own travel stories. The more you explore the planet, the larger it gets: it’s never become a smaller world for me.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Being a freelancer working as a sole trader, I often rely on PRs to update me with latest news. As costly as it is, I usually fund my own travels, as often this is the only authentic way to understand a destination as a visitor. This independence allows me to truly convey the raw flavours and atmosphere of a destination or experience to the readers. However, where appropriate, I am happy to visit sites/locations/hotels/restaurants etc. on a famil basis in order to gain a deeper understanding of what is on offer that sometimes you can miss by visiting anonymously. So latest news on famous sites, as well as new slants on old ideas are valued as magazines cannot invest in a writer offering shallow editorial without a unique hook for their readership.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I always wanted to be a dancer and actress. I have a HND in Performing Arts and a Degree in Drama, so if anyone knows any contacts in Home & Away – please contact me urgently. That call is not actually spoken in jest!
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I would invest it into ecotourism or voluntourism. I am determined to help save native wildlife; I hope by the time I exit this world, there will be a wildlife reserve left in my name.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
That’s probably prompted a rather bewildering answer. At the moment, I have an Elvis Presley biography, a travel guide on the Cook Islands for my upcoming trip, my new subscription to National Geographic Traveller, a pile of inflight magazines I keep meaning to analyse to create pitches for… and a space for my scripts for that Home & Away part!!!