Travelling with Marta Dusseldorp


A place for her kids to lay their heads, a good-quality pillow and an empty minibar: the Australian actor has simple, largely achievable travel needs.

Where was your last trip?

South America in December and January. We [husband Ben Winspear and daughters Grace and Maggie] went to Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru and the Amazon.

And how did that go?

It was chaotic, exhilarating, fanciful, epic, sumptuous, disastrous, hysterical, historical and momentous. Bolivia is out of this world; a completely different, alien environment, in a good way. We went to the birthplace of the Incas in Maukallacta, Peru, and slept on a reed island – I can still hear the kids squelching through the reeds on their way to the compost toilet. Buenos Aires is like Manhattan 100 years ago; Santiago has the most incredible food; we went horseriding through the Andes; and the Amazon was a dream come true.

Was this your first big overseas trip with the girls? 

To that extent, yes. We went for an entire month. But we’ve taken them to Japan four times. We’re Japanophiles; we love the art and culture, the completely different way of life – the simplicity and Zen quality of it.

SEE ALSO: See our full guide to Japan

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

I’m a pillow fanatic so I go straight over to the bed and choose my pillow. I quietly take my own most of the time, especially when we’re shooting A Place to Call Home, but I’m forbidden to take it overseas. If I can get it in the car, it will come with me, otherwise I have to make do. In Japan, we usually stay in ryokans [traditional Japanese inns], which have these rice-husk pillows so I do take my own when we go there. That’s my guilty pleasure.

What would you like to find in your minibar?

I hate minibars. They’re expensive and you can get it down the road. I’m a bit practical like that. In Japan, as we were leaving our room to check out, my daughter was like, “I really want a drink!” So I pulled a drink out but then she didn’t want it and I couldn’t get the minibar open again. The hotel had somehow remotely locked the door. I thought that was genius: the minibar that won’t let you change your mind [laughs].

Where is your home away from home?

Pittwater [on Sydney’s Northern Beaches]. That’s where I got married. Mum’s got a place there and it’s where we grew up. There’s a little shed up the back where I’m allowed to have a sleep-in while Mum manages the kids in the morning.

Is there a city you could have given a miss?

Manila, where we shot some of Jack Irish. We decided to go to this beautiful restaurant on the first night and we were in the taxi for four hours in gridlocked traffic. I could see the restaurant! Four hours later, we rolled up hungry and grumpy.

What was your typical childhood holiday? 

I used to love being at Thredbo [in NSW’s Snowy Mountains]. Everything was simpler then. You didn’t need an outfit; you just rented your skis and boots and up you’d go. Then I went overseas to ski and thought, “Oh, right! This is snow.” I didn’t know that snow wasn’t ice.

What has been your biggest travel mishap? 

In South America, we missed our flight from Cusco down to Puerto Maldonado. One of our kids had altitude sickness so we were pretty desperate. We hired a driver and it took us 11 hours. We broke down and hit a rainforest thunderstorm – lightning was cracking on top of the car and I was gripping Ben’s hand and screaming. We arrived at 1am without any accommodation. I saw a Western couple making out in a taxi so I knocked on their window and said, “Where are you staying? Can we follow you back to your hotel?” The guy at reception said, “No rooms.” And I said, “Whatever it takes. Please, however much. I just need to put these kids in a bed.” And he let us in. 

Do you wander the streets or check maps?

I’m a wanderer. When you don’t know where you are, you stumble and crash into great things. And I always get recommendations from people who have been there.

Which destination was a surprise to you?

Going to Hiroshima and seeing the paper cranes at the Peace Memorial Park just ripped my heart out. I remember thinking that it’s so important we stop all of this. But, then, my grandfather was a prisoner of war and if that bomb hadn’t been dropped he might not have survived. He just got out alive because the war ended. So you sort of have these weird mixed feelings – everyone lost; war is losing.

What’s the greatest road trip you’ve done?

Taking the kids around Tasmania in a campervan: Bruny Island, Cygnet, up to Cradle Mountain then across to Strahan on the West Coast and back over to Hobart. The caravan was like a home away from home and Tasmania is so surprising; each place is different. We went on some long walks and it was great to spend time together with no technology. We got to see native animals in the wild, like pademelons, wombats and platypuses.

Have you ever been fleeced?

I had my wallet and passport stolen in Christchurch [on New Zealand’s South Island]. You know how they say you should sleep on them? Obviously, these people were ahead of that curve and slipped them out from under my pillow. That was bad. 

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

I would love to go to Iceland. I think that there’s a purity there, something that I need to go and check out. I love the music, the writing and the authors that come out of that place. I’ve always been fascinated by it. But I don’t like the cold so it’s probably not a good choice!

Not ideal, Marta.

Rationality is not one of my finer points. 

Marta Dusseldorp stars in the fourth season of A Place to Call Home, which airs on Foxtel’s Showcase from September 11.

SEE ALSO: Travelling with Anthony Lapaglia

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