Travel News

Jessica Mauboy: how I travel

Rather than places unknown, the singer and actor dreams of a tropical homecoming.

Jessica Mauboy

Peter Brew-Bevan

Just back from: Fiji, singing at community events.

Next up: Perth, singing at charity events.

Travelling has always been about family. Every Christmas the tradition was for all of us – Mum, Dad and the five girls – to travel to Dad’s hometown of Kupang in West Timor. I was very young, but I have the most vivid memories of getting on the plane for the first time, eating fried chicken from a little tray, using those wet paper towels. And then the heat when we landed, and the colours of the fish market and the noise of the vegetable market. Those memories are hard-wired.

I grew up in Darwin, and my family still lives there. My first driving trip was from Darwin to Alice Springs when I was a kid. I was scrolling through my iPod and I became obsessed with a song by Yothu Yindi called “World Turning”. I’ve been looking for you, Searching for something new, You keep my feet on the ground, As you make my world turn around… It felt like those lyrics were a mirror of my conversation with the land – they seemed to resonate with the long drive, the colours, the landscape. It made me feel really alive and proud and almost patriotic. It represented what I love about this country. I was smiling the whole trip! I was only young, but I knew that moment would make me hear more and travel more.

These days I mostly travel alone, and for work. I do a lot of writing on the road – I think it gives me the freedom to think. I like to scribble, so I always take a notebook and pen, and I store ideas and voice recordings on a simple digital recorder.

For long trips I make playlists. I listen to a bit of everything, but I do love my ’90s music. I also like the poetry of rap. I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar. He’s quite political. I like his stories about where he grew up and people’s struggles.

When I think of freedom, I think of playing Billie Carter in [the television drama series] The Secret Daughter. Developing and playing a character so different from me was a real getaway – she’s a part-time country-pub singer, a bit wild, a bit rough around the edges, rolling with whatever life throws her. She’s great fun.

If I had the chance to escape anywhere in the world, I’d go back to Darwin. It’s an entirely different kind of life. I’d go fishing, find mud crabs, catch barramundi, and then I’d put them on the table for the family, have a good laugh and tell stories. And I’d walk – I’d let my feet take me through the tropical bush.

Jessica Mauboy’s latest album, The Secret Daughter Season Two (Songs From The Original 7 Series), is out now on Sony.

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