Julia Ashwood, founder of the gorgeous travel site, The Vista, is something of an expert when it comes to traveling with family in tow. Here, together with her partner Matterson and daughter Delilah Bee, the family journey to Strahan in Tasmania to celebrate Christmas in their signature style
When you look back, it must have been a daunting decision to shift from a career in television to a more low-key life in Byron Bay – what gave you the courage to take the leap?
“Shifting from full time work in TV and advertising and returning to my roots on the Northern Rivers was really the best thing I have done. Not only for myself but for my family. Matty gets a bit itchy in the big cities and needs some earth to dig in, and I wanted to give Delilah Bee the same upbringing my family gave me in this special part of the world.”
How has your journey changed your family’s way of life for the better?
“We did our best to immerse ourselves in nature whilst we lived in Sydney and abroad, however here it’s all around us. We are at the beach at sunrise, bushwalking to waterfalls and lakes at the weekends, and watching the cows make their way home at sunset. It’s a wonderful feeling to have your days aligned with your circadian rhythm. Both the lifestyle, friends, family and the food here are also a great draw card.”
What is your viewpoint on motherhood?
“It’s a wild ride and you must be both flexible and selfless. I often look at DeeDee and think: ‘gosh, I have never loved anybody or anything the way I love you.’ I also think, thank goddess mummy went to Burning Man [an annual festival in the Nevada desert] and got it all out of her system!”
Travel is obviously a great passion – tell us about your site The Vista; what is the philosophy behind it?
“In nearly four years we have covered a lot of places, however the common thread which binds The Vista together is really that feeling of transformative travel – travel for the soul. We seek destinations, stays and experiences, which will leave an impression on you and take you back to nature. Launching our interactive travel guides has also been a huge success for the business, meaning that you can buy a swimsuit, book a stay, a spa treatment or even a table for two with the click of a button.”
Do you have certain family rituals, particular to the Christmas season, that you look forward to most?
“Mum makes two traditional Christmas cakes every year, each weighing around five kilos. She cuts the first on her birthday, Christmas Eve, and this is always a fond memory of mine. This year, we will host Christmas at our farmhouse, and we are planning a Middle Eastern feast with a long table under our big old jacaranda tree. Matty is an amazing cook and cocktail maker.”
Tell us a little about your Tasmanian adventure, how did you fill your days and what did you love most?
“This was actually our sixth trip to this lovely little island. Its so raw and wild here, we adore the chance to escape for days without seeing a soul. Fishing, bushwalking, surfing, eating plenty of cheese and drinking pinot noir. On this particular trip, we headed straight for the north-western coast to a quaint fishing village named Strahan. Here, Sarah has refurbished a sweet fishing shack called Captain’s Rest, and it’s a stunning space filled with all of life's little luxuries. It’s right on the water too, so the sounds and the light are just beautiful.”
What are your top five tips for traveling with a little one in tow?
• Be prepared, I always pack snacks, extra nappies and water, as you can often get stuck in scenarios where it’s had to find the basics.
• Call in advance. I find it’s always a good idea to let your accommodation know that you are traveling with a little one. They may be able to arrange a better room or even a high chair in the restaurant. Those seemingly small things make life a lot easier.
• Make sure both you and the kids get some rest. It’s often worth booking a layover into your schedule if it requires long-haul flights. Or stay overnight at a hotel to break up a long drive.
• Playschool and David Attenborough – these are my go-to videos when you’re on the plane. We often download a few episodes before we go.
• Relax. If you’re relaxed I find it usually rubs off on the kids – most of the time.
What is your secret to creating idyllic family environments on the go?
“Organisation. Gone are the days of traveling on a whim, backpacking or suddenly changing itineraries. I find a detailed plan of action helps us most.”
How would you describe your style, what pieces are you drawn to?
“I love natural fabrics and earthy tones, that's probably where my wardrobe selections start. I will never stop wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, they are my staples. Also, long sleeve, oversized, button up shirts in cool fabrics are effortless, whether in summer or winter.”
Lastly, true happiness is …
“A good family squeeze from Matterson and Delilah. Matty is 6 foot 5, so those arms can wrap around all of us.”