Today I have one of the authors of The International Kissing Club here to talk about Australia. Be sure to look at the led for an awesome contest!
Around the World in 80 Kisses: Smooch Stop #4
The International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams is the story of four best friends: Piper, Cassidy, Mei, and Izzy--the misfits of Paris, Texas. Their whole lives, they’ve dreamed of escaping small-town life and seeing the world. So when Piper is the victim of an embarrassing prank that goes viral online, she gets the idea that the girls should escape via the school’s international exchange program, in search of fun, love and internet redemption.
Shellee Roberts along with writing partners Emily McKay and Tracy Deebs writes under the pseudonym Ivy Adams. They shop, gossip and watch movies in Austin, Texas.
The Land Down Under
When I was eight years old, HBO ran a mini-series called All the Rivers Run. It’s about a feisty English girl, Philadelphia “Delie” Gordon, who loses her parents when their ship sinks on their way to start a new life in turn-of-the-20th-century Melbourne, Australia. She’s taken in by her cruel aunt and loveable uncle who live in a small town in the south of the country, meets a dashing riverboat captain, and finds love and adventure aboard a paddle-steamer on the Murray River.
I loved it. The romance, the costumes, the accents, the hardscrabble brown landscape of the Australian countryside--this movie began both my lifelong love of historical fiction and my dream to travel to see these places.
Fast-forward almost three decades to March, 2010, and I’m on a Boeing A380, the largest airliner in the world, with my husband and six-year old daughter bound for two weeks in Oz (Australia’s nickname). (Note: if you hate to fly like I do, this is a tough one—17 hours from L.A. That’s right. 17!!). We flew to Melbourne, which though intellectually I knew would be a big modern city, I still wished for cobblestones and carriages like in the movie. Anyway, we walked everywhere (I love a walkable city, because I have to drive anywhere I want to go at home), went to a big outdoor festival where we were treated to a free performance by Men At Work alum Colin Hay (awesome!), ambled in the elegant Royal Botanic Gardens along the Yarra River and discovered quirky Fitzroy, with it’s vintage shops and hipster restaurants. I snagged some beautiful handcrafted opal earrings here.
It was all very lovely, but I was determined to see the Australia I’d seen in the movie. Since, we didn’t have time to drive to the actual little town where it was filmed, I made my hubby rent us a car and we drove out the Great Ocean Road to see the spectacular cliffs along the Southern Ocean which Delie climbed after surviving the shipwreck. And though we almost died twice—my husband had a hard time remembering to drive on the left—it was so worth it. Along the way we also stopped at Bells Beach, which for lovers of B-movie cinema is where Agent Utah catches Bodhi during the Storm of the Century at the end of Point Break (“He’s not coming back…”). Oh, and the ‘roos. We saw wild kangaroos in the fields along the side of the highway. Talk about surreal.
It’s an hour flight north from Melbourne to Sydney. Sydney is breathtaking. It’s kind of like NYC, crowded and bustling, but way better. Defined by it’s iconic harbour, it lives and breathes the water. Yes, we did all the touristy things: we climbed the steps of the Opera House, took pictures of the Harbour Bridge. But mostly we rode the ferries to the beaches. Even though we were there in the early Australian fall, it felt like we were about a mile from the sun, and we were ready to hit the water.
Sydney is famous for its beaches. Bondi Beach is where everyone goes to see and be seen—it’s kind of like South Beach in Miami. All the Aussie celebrities have magnificent houses overlooking its blue waters and it gets packed with bronzed bodies. Our favorite, though, was Manly, a laid-back beach town across the harbour on the Tasman Sea. We went there three times during our stay to shop along the corso, swim, relax on the lawn and watch the surfers. It was Manly that I decided Cassidy, my character in The International Kissing Club, would visit during her trip Down Under and meet Lucas, the cute surfer boy determined to steal her heart.
Like Cassidy, traveling to Australia was a dream-of-a-lifetime opportunity for me. To see the places I’d only seen on film before was magical. Now, my family is on high alert, because my other favorite period movie is Out of Africa. Kenya, here we come!
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Next Smooch Stop: Friday, December 2nd at A Good Addiction