Trip­ping with...

Happy camper Mark Sey­mour talks tour­ing

Qantas - - Contents - ALI­SON BO­LEYN IN­TER­VIEW BY

Where did you go on your last trip?

I went to Kil­cunda, about 1.5 hours south­east of Mel­bourne on the edge of Woola­mai. I al­ways do it alone. It’s a beach­side town, very small, but back up be­hind it are these lit­tle dairy farms and wind­ing roads. I go up there on my push­bike and ab­so­lutely smash the hills and de­stroy my­self. You get these views of Won­thaggi and the coast stretch­ing all the way around to Phillip Is­land.

What was your typ­i­cal child­hood hol­i­day?

My par­ents were teach­ers so we grew up in coun­try towns around Vic­to­ria, mov­ing be­tween schools. We had car­a­van hol­i­days when I was a kid, at Port Fairy, Point Lons­dale and Wye River. As we be­came teenagers, the nov­elty started to wear off but early on I loved them. On the Wye River, the hill­side was fes­tooned with tiny hol­i­day cot­tages, the river wound be­tween a nar­row gorge that led down to the beach and the car­a­van park was kind of perched on a bend in the river.

Where would you most like to take your kids?

They’re too old now [Eva, 23, and Han­nah, 20] but we do go to Ar­row­town, an old

gold­min­ing town in New Zealand. My wife [artist Jo Vau­tier] and Eva were born in New Zealand so there’s a fam­ily con­nec­tion. My brother-in-law lives on a farm in Ar­row Junc­tion, north-east of Queen­stown. It’s in a val­ley with big open pas­ture and glacial lakes... We usu­ally camp out on his prop­erty for a cou­ple of weeks and the whole fam­ily gathers. I of­ten do a gig there at Christ­mas­time, fairly home­spun, in a tiny lit­tle bar. The lo­cals just show up – we don’t pro­mote it or any­thing – and the girls get up and sing as well.

Do you wan­der the streets or check maps?

I’m very GPS. I en­joy driv­ing and re­flect­ing and the GPS is a kind of com­pul­sive thing. Turn­ing it on and just fol­low­ing in­struc­tions con­nects some­thing in my sub­con­scious – but let’s not go there. For a while I had a TomTom and I down­loaded the voice of Ire­land. She used to say [in an Ir­ish ac­cent], “No! You’re not lis­ten­ing to me! You’re not turn­ing left!” That amused me but now I stick to Google Maps.

Have you ever been on a road trip?

My ca­reer is built on trav­el­ling be­tween towns so I’ve never made the con­scious de­ci­sion to drive as a spe­cific way of hol­i­day­ing. I’ve done the Nullar­bor Plain, east to west, from Mel­bourne to Perth in one go – which prob­a­bly isn’t le­gal. Lots of sleep­ing in way­side stops and take­away food. I wouldn’t do it again.

Do you pre­fer lux­ury or rus­tic travel?

The world is di­vided into campers and non-campers and my wife is def­i­nitely not a camper. When we travel, she does all the book­ing and has re­ally good taste. But if I’m alone, I sleep a lit­tle rougher. I like camp­ing.

Is there a place that was a cul­ture shock?

The United States is al­ways chal­leng­ing. I used to jog a lot; I’d point my­self in a di­rec­tion and find my­self in places that were quite con­fronting. I re­mem­ber jog­ging through the south of Dal­las... and see­ing all that poverty.

When you walk into a ho­tel room, what’s the first thing you do?

I have a set rou­tine. First, I pop­u­late the bath­room. Then I get out all my note­books, which I carry wher­ever I go, and put them on the table. I just throw things ev­ery­where like I’m liv­ing there. Mo­tel rooms can be bleak and I’m mov­ing in and out of them a lot. I’ve stayed in some ab­so­lute fleapits.

What do you like to find in the mini­bar?

Just beer, re­ally. I like Coop­ers Pale Ale.

Is there a city you could have given a miss?

Dare I say Lon­don? I know it’s prob­a­bly changed but I lived there for al­most a year in the early ’80s, when Eng­land’s econ­omy was on the bones of its arse and the IRA was ac­tive. The band [Hunters & Col­lec­tors] went through this dread­ful pe­riod, a cri­sis of iden­tity, and we didn’t have a lot of money. I re­mem­ber do­ing these labour­ing jobs in Lon­don, work­ing il­le­gally es­sen­tially.

Which des­ti­na­tion was a sur­prise to you?

At my first gig in Cairns, I wasn’t ex­pect­ing much – I toured Queens­land a hell of a lot and thought it was just an­other town on the coast – but those gigs are al­ways in­ter­est­ing. They’re a dy­namic, di­verse crowd... and an at­ten­tive au­di­ence.

If you could be any­where else in the world right now, where would you be?

Stock­holm, prob­a­bly; I love Swe­den. Hunters & Col­lec­tors toured and had some pretty de­cent chart ac­tion there for a while. Stock­holm is beau­ti­ful and old and has an enor­mous amount of style. The Swedes are in­tel­li­gent and re­spect­ful and don’t think twice about break­ing into your lan­guage, which I find in­cred­i­bly hum­bling.

Are you over the con­stant trav­el­ling?

No, I en­joy trav­el­ling; I grew up do­ing it. I like mov­ing around and I love driv­ing. Oth­er­wise I’d have stopped do­ing what I’m do­ing. Travel is such a big part of the job. Mark Sey­mour per­forms Hunters & Col­lec­tors clas­sics and solo hits na­tion­ally from June 24 with The Un­der­tow (fron­tier­tour­ing.com). Their al­bum, Roll Back the Stone 1985-2016, is out now.

Mark Sey­mour loves the beau­ti­ful old streetscapes of Stock­holm, Swe­den

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