It takes many months and many, many hands to turn a cover concept into the image you see on newsstands. There is talent and agents to work with, designers, location scouts, stylists, manicurists, editors…. Often, a piece of jewellery is accompanied by its very own security guard. The journey is long and often fraught, filled with early call times and late-night negotiations.
Call sheets are meticulously compiled yet there is always something. In the case of this issue’s cover, featuring the incredible Ajla Tomljanović at a private home in Toorak, Melbourne, it was a scorching day and a hot, hangry crew (with nothing but muesli bars and Champagne on hand, the lavish property came to resemble a “Survivor” challenge, with every man and woman fending for themselves). But Ajla, ever the professional, was not ruffled: she was funny, relaxed and managed to charm all on set while nailing every shot.
Then, three days later, just before the Australian Open, our cover star withdrew from the tournament. In the weeks that followed, she flew to Florida to undergo surgery on her knee, which will keep her off the court for several months. It’s not the tale of triumph we anticipated, and we had to face the possibility that there would be no story to tell.
But we needn’t have worried. When our writer Victoria Pearson interviewed Ajla, the country’s top female tennis player had plenty to say about the highs and lows of a sport that continues to test her spirit. Ajla spoke candidly about her mental health and the transformation she has undergone in the past three years. As it turned out, we couldn’t have chosen a better subject for T Australia’s Journeys issue.
It’s funny to think how things have changed since our first Journeys edition, published last February at a time when Australia had yet to reopen its borders to international visitors. We had three stars lined up for the cover — Idris Elba and Lime Cordiale’s Oli and Louis Leimbach — then all three got Covid. In the end, we got crafty and created a collage with photographs from three separate shoots.
This time, with the world once again at our feet, we’ve embraced a more literal interpretation of the theme. First up, T Australia’s columnist, Bri Lee, writes of a coastal caravan park where she and her new puppy, Judit, met with a heavy-metal fan bearing a large snake and an important life lesson (page 28).
Phoebe Hunt’s journey takes her to slightly more glamorous parts — Italy’s Lake Como — where she finds a storied shoreline in the midst of a renaissance, with a handful of new hotels to get excited about (page 82). And Kate Hennessy ventures to Greenland (page 74) where icebergs fizz and hiss, polar bears roam and the Inuit population is confronting the very visible effects of climate change.
As always, we have some captivating reads from the flagship T magazine. My pick of the issue is “We Are What We Eat” (page 88), a vivid account of Ligaya Mishan’s travels in Singapore. The writer immerses herself in the Peranakan community, which has come to define itself by rich, laboriously prepared dishes. Ligaya’s words have me dreaming of beef rendang, balmy nights
and hawker markets. I hope you also find escape and inspiration in these pages.