Jane Hutcheon, one of Australia’s most-respected broadcast journalists, joined us to chat about her life and world travels - first as a foreign correspondent and more recently as a tour guide to some of the world’s most exotic locations. Jane has interviewed world leaders and celebrities and worked as a foreign correspondent in China, Europe and the Middle East but her own story is a fascinating one.
She tells us about growing up in Hong Kong and starting her career as a reporter as the British colony was preparing to return to Chinese rule. Her work then took her around Australia and eventually the world.
Jane is a born story teller and adventurer. In fact, she says being a foreign correspondent in the early 1990s in China was like being an explorer because there were places where foreigners hadn’t been before and certainly nobody had reported from them.
These days Jane brings her globe-trotting experience to her new role leading tours with Renaissance Tours, an Australian company that specialises in cultural tours and cruises in the fields of opera, music, ballet, art, architecture and gardens. She especially enjoys sharing stories of the Middle East where she reported from for several years. She shares with her guests a very personal and in-depth view of the places they visit, such as the Palestinian Territories and Israel where she lived for two years.
She says Ethiopia, a landlocked tropical nation on the horn of Africa where she leads tours, is the very definition of exotic with an incredible history, wonderful people and phenomenal landscapes where a great deal of Christian history took place.
One of her favourite Ethiopian destinations is the Unesco World Heritage site of Lalibela where 11 monolithic churches were built in the late 12th to early 13th century (pictured above). The churches were hewn out of solid rock, below ground level. “This is a living church compound today - not just a relic that you see from behind a barricade," Jane says. The country has been opening up to visitors in the last decade and Jane hopes to be there again in 2021.
The Sultanate of Oman, on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, is another of her tour destinations that is certainly off the beaten track. She says it's landscape forms an amazing backdrop to the tour, billed The Frankincense Route, that she leads there.
Food is on the agenda too, of course, and Jane shared with us some of her food discoveries from her times in the Middle East including a recipe for her favourite cake as well as a tip for making the best, most authentic hummus ever. See our blog for the recipes.
We were very inspired to seek out new destinations after talking to Jane and hope you will be too. If you’re interested in her tours, you’ll find details online at renaissancetours.com.au, and you can follow her adventures on Facebook and at her website janehutcheon.com.
You may also be interested in Jane’s books. The first is From Rice to Riches, a memoir of Jane’s family heritage and her days reporting from China in the 1990s, and China Baby Love: An Australian Grandmother's life-changing mission to help China's orphans. You can buy both from all good book stores, or via a link on her website: janehutcheon.com.