Tim Ross: What travel taught me


In 1980, we lived in Fiji while my doctor mum worked in a small hospital in Ba on the north coast of the main island. One of the staff at the hospital had our family over to dinner at their house, which wasn't more than a rudimentary tin shed with three rooms. They killed their solitary goat for us and made a delicious curry. They led a simple life but they were the happiest people I had ever met.


Whether it has been zig-zagging around London looking at brutalist buildings or dragging my wife hundreds of kilometres out of our way to visit a Le Corbusier apartment complex in France, I've always made architecture part of travel. This passion is so fulfilling and inspiring. My nerdy heart flutters at the thought of seeing the great buildings of the world.


For the past seven years, I've travelled with my best friend Kit [Warhurst] touring our show Man About the House, which we perform in architecturally significant houses and buildings. It's taken us across Australia and New Zealand and then further afield to the United States. For the past four years, we have taken an annual trip to London for its festival of architecture. Getting to share in these experiences with a bloke I met in our first year at university has been an extraordinary experience and we've met incredible people along the way. We look forward to catching up with friends near and far on these trips as much as we look forward to the performances. I feel beyond lucky to make these connections.


On a trip to Copenhagen, I began beating myself up for having a couple of beers at lunch at a bistro near our hotel. It was a mistake. If there's anything more stupid than holding back on the good stuff on holidays, I happily await your call. Life is too short not to go mad at breakfast or to knock back a carafe of house red at lunch. The treadmill is always at home. The experiences are not.


On a trip back from the Bali Zoo my then two-and-a-half-year-old needed a bathroom, quick. We stopped at a supermarket and there was only a squat toilet. With a disaster imminent, there was no time for cultural insights or quick lessons. I had no choice but to use my leg as a makeshift toilet seat. No further information need be shared.

MOTEL is the latest live show by Tim Ross and Kit Warhurst – a nostalgic, thought-provoking and funny exploration of Australian holidays of the past. After premiering in Sydney to rave reviews, the show is touring nationally. Ross has published a companion picture-book: Motel: Images of Australia on Holidays (Modernister Books, $34.95), drawing from the National Archives of Australia.

See modernisterbooks.com ; themanaboutthehouse.net