The Place That Surprised Toni Collette


She’s been sleepless in Seattle, amorous in Albuquerque and invigorated in India but the Aussie actor still hankers for home.

Where are you right now?

In bed at home in Los Angeles. 

And where did you go on your last trip?

I was in Manchester for five months filming a brilliant new BBC and Netflix show called Wanderlust. 

What was your typical childhood holiday?

Caravan, beach, zinc on the nose, sunburn, fish and chips, boogie boards, family.

Is there a destination you keep returning to?

Thailand. Bangkok is one of my favourite cities; the people are lovely, the food is exquisite and the islands are just gorgeous.

Have you ever taken a really great road trip?

My first non-family holiday was a road trip with some girlfriends when I was 18 years old. It was Boxing Day and a last-minute seat in the car became available after someone dropped out. My parents were out visiting my aunty so I quickly packed a bag and left them a note on the kitchen table. We drove from Sydney to Queensland for a folk festival, camping along the way and sleeping on beaches. We stopped off at Byron Bay, too. So many drum circles! So many dreadlocks! That trip felt like freedom itself.

Is there a place that was a culture shock?

India, where I travelled in 1997. It’s both frightening and exhilarating to look around and see absolutely nothing familiar. Travelling to places where the culture is vastly different to our own is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It wakes you up and reminds you to make the most of your time on this gorgeous planet. 

Have you ever been lost on your travels?

I rarely feel lost. Life’s an adventure and you always land the right way up.

When you go away, what are you most likely to bring home?

Sometimes it’s jewellery and sometimes it’s tea towels.

Where would you like to take your children?

They [daughter Sage, 10, and son Arlo, seven] are pretty well-travelled but we’ve been talking about visiting Japan during cherry blossom season. We’re also about to go on a family road trip across the southern United States. I’m most excited about seeing Nashville and New Orleans.

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

Use the loo. Then I make sure there’s a bath, turn the television and any music off, open the windows if possible and flop on the bed.

What do you most like to find in your hotel minibar?

Water at room temperature in glass bottles, never in plastic.

Where is your home away from home?

London. I spent a lot of time working there in my 20s so I know it very well and have lots of good friends there. 

Which destination was a surprise to you?

Seattle. I made a film there [Lucky Them] in 2013 and it had such a good energy, even in the dead of winter. In most American cities, there seems to be a love of the arts but it’s quite limited, whereas I found Seattle to be the reverse: predominantly alternative. I could live there, I think. 

Is there a city you could have given a miss?

Albuquerque [in New Mexico], although I guess I found something to do because my son was conceived there! I have to say the sunsets were quite spectacular.

Have you ever been fleeced?

Not so much fleeced as robbed. I was with a friend at a packed café in St Kilda [in Melbourne] and this woman was roaming under tables and around chair legs, stealing people’s stuff. Other diners alerted me to her just as she was slowly dragging my bag out from under my chair. She was kicked off the premises immediately but my friend’s bag had already been nicked. It sucked.

Can you share a particularly memorable dining experience from your travels?

A seemingly endless feast surrounded by belly dancers and rose petals in Morocco.

What’s your No. 1 travel bugbear?

Smoking. Some countries still revel in it. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re not breathing fresh air.

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

Sydney, because I miss home. 

SEE ALSO: Why Jennifer Hawkins Loves a Road Trip




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