Meet Lara and Terence, an Australian-born, Southeast Asia-based travel and food writer and photographer who have authored scores of guidebooks, produced countless travel and food stories, are currently developing a cookbook and guidebooks, and host culinary tours and writing and photography retreats in Southeast Asia.
Globetrotting couple Lara Dunston and Terence Carter started travelling and working together in the late 1980s — well before they made a romantic, low-budget road movie in Outback Australia and eloped to Las Vegas to get married in the Little White Chapel. They spent their honeymoon doing a Route 66 road trip.
Ever since, through their dedication to slow, local and experiential travel, Lara and Terence have been responsible for inspiring countless travellers around the world, including the millions who have visited Grantourismo, to make their journeys more meaningful and more memorable.
Since leaving their hometown of Sydney to move abroad in 1998, they’ve lived in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for 7.5 years, from where they wrote the very first guidebooks to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, the UAE, and Syria and Lebanon for Lonely Planet and Dorling Kindersley; they’ve lived out of their suitcases travelling the world for 7.5 years, 12 months of that period on the slow, local and experiential grand tour that launched Grantourismo; and they made their base Southeast Asia, initially in Bangkok in 2011, from where they began bouncing around the region.
Based in Cambodia‘s Siem Reap since 2013, and Vietnam and Thailand before that, their work focuses largely on Southeast Asia and Australia these days. Although they have no hesitation in hopping on a plane and flying halfway around the world for the chance to create stories that inspire people to travel.
Recent published work includes a 10-page feature on Bangkok’s new breed of chefs and a 12-page feature on the young Siem Reap chefs elevating Cambodian cuisine. Lara is also the Asia editor for Truth Love and Clean Cutlery, a new guide to the world’s good restaurants; founding editors include Alice Waters, Jill Dupleix and Giles Coren. (Read more here.)
The couple’s words and pictures have appeared in magazines and newspapers and on websites and blogs around the world. The long list of publications includes The Guardian, CNN Travel, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Delicious, Feast, Conde Nast Traveller China, DestinAsian, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, National Geographic Traveler (UK and US), The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Wanderlust, Get Lost, AFAR, International Traveller, Hemispheres, Lifestyle+Travel, Voyeur, Ritz-Carlton magazine, Four Seasons magazine, Raffles magazine, Bangkok Airways’ Fah Thai, Emirates’ Open Skies, Gulf Air’s Gulf Life, Jazeera Airways’ J magazine, Garuda’s Colours, Qatar Airway’s Oryx, Thai Airways’ Sawasdee, Silk Air magazine, Dusit Hotel’s Eight magazine, Business Traveller, Executive Traveller, Paperplane, Fibers, Connect, Voyageur, M Lifestyle, Ocean, Interval, Southeast Asian Globe, Cape+Kantary, Marriott Traveller, BBC History, The National, Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, Sunday Telegraph, USA Today, the Phnom Penh Post, and dozens of newspapers in the USA, from the Houston Chronicle to Chicago Tribune, where their work has been syndicated.
Together they’ve written, updated and contributed to, and Terence has also photographed, over 60 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Dorling Kindersley, Footprint, Rough Guides, AA Guides, Thomas Cook, Insight, Fodors, and Hedonist’s Guides. They have also contributed to inspirational coffee table books for Lonely Planet, including The Travel Book, The Asia Book, and Blue List, and Lara wrote for Rough Guides Clean Breaks. They currently have a handful of books underway, including a city guidebook, food guide, a cookbook, and Lara is currently writing a first edition Cambodia guidebook for Bradt Guides.
Although Lara and Terence began their travel and food writing careers writing guides, the first of which was The Sydneyside Guide, which they wrote for a Universal Press compact street directory way back in 1995, Terence’s publishing career began years earlier as a technical writer before he moved into book design, and throughout the 1990s he designed books, CD-ROMS and websites in Australia and the UAE. Lara began writing for Sydney University newspaper Honi Soit in 1986 on the arts and culture, and later wrote for film publications like Film News and Independent Filmmaker, before taking on a job as a media researcher for a member of parliament.
The couple made films in the 1990s, including their first feature film, called Come By Chance, and during that time Lara wrote on film, taught film and writing, had a teen fiction novel published by HarperCollins, and worked in media relations, including as a publicist for a photography gallery. Terence had his own indie-pop band, playing in venues around Sydney, but nearly changed careers to become a chef, working weekends at a friend’s Italian restaurant while Lara was in South America on a film festival tour for her Masters project on Latin American cinema.
It was initially Lara’s work that took the Sydney couple to the United Arab Emirates in 1998 to accept a university-level job teaching film, media production and writing to young Emirati women. There, they serendipitously fell back into travel writing after complaining about a guidebook they’d used. Lara’s detailed notes resulted in an invitation to write for Lonely Planet and soon after they were writing first edition guidebooks on Dubai, Syria and Lebanon. More book commissions quickly followed, including guides to the UAE, Paris, Milan, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Greece, Perth and Western Australia, Australia, and Buenos Aires, among other destinations.
While the couple loved how guidebook research enabled them to fully explore a city or country and really get beneath the skin of a place, they found they were just as delighted to fly into a destination for a couple of weeks on magazine assignments to interviews chefs, artists, musicians, designers, and writers.
Terence and Lara have a handful of creative degrees between them — Lara’s are in screen studies, filmmaking and writing; international studies; screenwriting; and the intersection of film and travel. Terry’s qualifications are in film, photography, digital media, and media studies. For many years the couple made films together, Terence produced multimedia, and Lara taught trans-media storytelling, so they find it natural to tell stories across all forms of media.
They’ve created content for many digital forms from writing interactive walking tours for the Sony PSP to presenting destination videos for Lonely Planet TV. The couple has also contributed to a long list of travel sites and over the years have found themselves blogging for Viator, writing hotel reviews for Mr and Mrs Smith, i-escape and Travel Intelligence, creating digital guides for Sherman’s Travel, World Travel Guide and Fodors, and features for Miss Citty Kitty, World Nomads, Bravofly, and Marriott Traveler. They were NineMSN Travel’s Dubai Insiders and destination experts for Triporati while Lara was the Dubai Travel Expert for The Telegraph, and local expert for Siem Reap and Dubai for AFAR.
Lara and Terence have written everything from profiles to long-form narratives and covered a wide range of topics over the years, including chefs and restaurants, food and culture, campervanning and road trips, hotels and spas. Whatever subject they write on, their passion for slow, local and experiential travel permeates their travels and creative work.
Countries they have experienced include (in alphabetical order) Andorra (seriously, it’s a country!), Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel & Palestinian Territories, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Scotland, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, USA, Uruguay, and Vietnam.
Lara and Terence would love to experience, write about, and photograph your country or city, too. If you’d like to commission or collaborate, send an email to tell them what you have in mind. They’re here to tell your story, to inspire people to explore in more enriching ways, and to help travellers make their trips more meaningful and more memorable.