Travels_AustraliaAfter a full three months of travel, I’m back home in good old Germany and settled back into my own place.

For fun, I’ve created two little maps showing my itinerary with Pär Lindström’s excellent “Modern Journeys” style, published in the Cartographer’s Annual Vol 8 (2014), garnished with my own photos from the trip. This style is just brilliant to show overviews of travel itineraries.

The first part of the journey brought me to Australia, where I mainly traveled around the southeast and Tasmania. In Sydney I had the great pleasure to finally meet Joe Sweeney in person, the guy who creates all these lovely video tutorials for our software. One of the absolute highlights was hiking (or bushwalking as they say there) the Overland Track in Tasmania, one of the most beautiful multi-day hikes in the world. At the end of my stay I took a trip over to the other side of the country, staying a few days in Perth with Lindsay, our editor for all the mapping guides in the Annuals, and her husband. Again it was wonderful to meet people in person you only know via the Internet. Thanks for all the hospitality!

aboriginalCartography-wise I found this map of language families in Australia especially interesting, because it dispelled a lot of preconceptions of a monolithic aboriginal culture for me, which we tend to encounter in fiction and documentaries a lot.

Originally my plans were to travel to New Zealand only, but I am now very glad that I decided to include five weeks in Australia. While I saw only a little section of this vast country, both landscape and people were absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t want to miss a single day of my visit. Having only seen the southeast, Tasmania and Perth I now have more than enough reason to return and explore the rest of the continent.


New ZealandNew Zealand! It’s the dream destination of so many Germans – me included. Of course it is a very beautiful country, but our fascination with it seems to go beyond that. The popularity of the Lord of the Rings movies only added to an existing love for New Zealand – perhaps because it is pretty much the farthest away you can get from our home country on this blue planet. “Wanderlust” is a German word after all, and we have another one that described the longing to travel even better: “Fernweh”.

I did not really plan my itinerary to visit any filming locations of Peter Jackson’s movies, but there are so many of them on the islands that you often only need to take a little step off the path to see one. I’ve written a little piece about traveling through Middle-earth in another place. It’s in German, but if you read that language or want to brave a Google translation check the links.

NauticalI traveled the length of the country, from busy Auckland in the north down to remote Stewart Island south of the South Island. Some of the top highlights were walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, swimming in the crystal blue waters of Able Tasman Bay, looking out across Lake Wanaka from Roys Peak, and reaching my southernmost point ever on Ulva Island.

Map-wise I was especially fascinated with the many navigational charts I encountered and I’m planning to create a Cartographer’s Annual issue around these.

As long as my trip may have been, it was still over much too soon. It was the weirdest feeling coming back: It felt like everything should have changed a lot after being away for such a long time, but in reality nothing much did. Everything was still the familiar old – which is a good thing. Did I take away something beyond a wonderful set of memories from this journey? Yes, I guess it would be: Do It! If you get the opportunity for a time-out away from everything, be it a month, three of them, or a year, grab it by the throat! You’ll never know when the opportunity presents itself again.

Just make sure you have a good map for your journey!

Old-time map This is a bit of a personal announcement by me (Ralf), meant to clear up any confusion that may arise in the coming weeks: I’m taking some time off to travel and realize my life-long dream to see Australia and New Zealand. I’ll be away for three months (from November to end of January) and my duties at ProFantasy will be taken over by Simon, Mark and – welcome to the club – Jeff Salus (Dogtag on the forum). You are in good hands!

The Cartographer’s Annual will be appearing as normal; everything is prepared for the time that I am away and should be running smoothly. In fact, you can preview the November and the December issues now, as well as the 2017 Annual. Jeff will be handling tech support and the community forum is always there with many helpful voices.

I am very much looking for my first time in the southern hemisphere and hope to bring back many inspirations for future maps. See you in February next year!