At Home With Nina Karnikowski
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Reading through the blog ‘Travels With Nina’ sparks an immediate craving for adventure; usually followed by a quick look at flights or at least a peek of a world map. While the pages in her passport are taking a rest, Australian travel writer and author of ‘Make A Living Living’, Nina Karnikowski, is using the downtime to her utmost advantage.

Like any experienced traveller, Nina has adapted and she is paving the way for a better, more sustainable future when it comes to world travel. 

Nina shares some of the valuable lessons she’s learned during the pandemic, as well as tips for more mindful living and travelling, as she takes us through her tranquil Byron Bay home. 



Where is home for you currently?

Me, my husband [winemaker and art director Peter Windrim] and our maremma sheepdog Milka live in Bangalow, in the hinterland above Byron Bay. Koalas in the trees of our street, dolphins and whales in the ocean down the road, waterfalls in the rainforest nearby, famers markets almost every day of the week and a resident echidna named Kiki in the garden. It’s pretty blissful.


With travel restrictions in place this year, how have you adapted to life at home?

I’ve tried to do it gracefully, but that hasn’t always been easy! As someone who was travelling overseas about 10 times a year to write stories about places as diverse as the Canadian Arctic and India, Ethiopia and Nepal, I have been feeling the ‘fernweh’ (a German word meaning ‘distance sickening’, a deep ache for the world) acutely. But the way we were travelling – mindlessly, much of the time, and far too quickly – was broken. We realise that now that our skies have cleared during lockdown, now that we can finally hear birdsong in our cities. So I have adapted by burrowing deep into how we can travel in a much healthier way once we finally can again, and by avidly exploring the beautiful part of Australia I live in. Bringing the fresh, curious eyes of a traveller to our home towns – that’s what we need now.



What are some good ways to create an escape at home?

There are so many ways we can usher the world into our homes. During lockdown my husband and I started doing globally-themed date-night dinner parties in our home every Friday night, complete with accompanying playlists, outfits, drinks and post-dinner films. One week we travelled to Japan that way, the next to Greece, the next to Mexico. There’s nowhere your mind can’t take you with the right amount of candles and incense burning, the right music playing, and the right travel film or book.


Do you have a cure (or at least a suppressant!) for itchy feet?

Immersing yourself in travel films, books and art, and taking mini adventures whenever you can. We have been loving our staycations, getting away for a few days at a time to locally-owned boutique stays down in Byron (28 Degrees was a recent favourite), glamping spots (The Camp Earth in the Byron hinterland is so special), and wilderness camping spots. We recently travelled nine hours southwest in a campervan to visit the Warrumbungles, a collection of otherworldly rock formations created by volcanic activity 13 million years ago. We hiked all day, then lay out under the most astonishing stars at night. We don’t need to burn masses of carbon in order to be awed. With the right eyes, we can be as floored by the beauty in our own backyards as we can anywhere on Earth.


With the right eyes, we can be as floored by the beauty in our own backyards as we can anywhere on Earth.



 Can you tell us about the book you’ve just published?

It’s called Make a Living Living, and it's about how to be successful doing what you love. It's built around 26 short profiles of self-made creatives from all over the world - from a photographer in Tanzania, a painter in Armenia and a sustainable fashion couple in Berlin, to a weaver in the US, a tiny home builder in Japan and a vegan chocolatier in Australia - whose stories, and a series of exercises, help inspire the reader to chase their dream creative career and a more simple, relaxed lifestyle.



How important is it for you to have natural, sustainably-made homewares in your home?

It's very important. I’m a very mindful consumer. In fact, I’ve just finished a year of not buying anything – no clothes, homewares, or anything ‘non-essential’. So when I do buy something, it has to be made ethically and sustainably, and last for a lifetime.

We need to be consuming less if we’re going to cut emissions in half by 2030 (which scientists say we must to give ourselves at least a 50 percent chance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celcius), so anything we invest in need to be made well and with great care. We also need to develop a relationship with the things we own, caring for them and loving them so that they become part of us and so we can pass them down to the next generation, not just throwing them away when the next trend comes along. Because as we all know now, there is no away. The better something is made, the more you will treasure it.

Photography by Peter Windrim, @ptrfto



4 years ago