Southbanker launches travel memoir after being swept up in the chaos of COVID 

Southbanker launches travel memoir after being swept up in the chaos of COVID 
Brendan Rees

Janine Phillips was enjoying a dream trip to Europe when the world went into COVID lockdown. The result: a life-changing experience that would turn into a travel memoir.

At the end of 2019, Janine Phillips packed up her life to travel abroad for an extended period. She had been an avid traveller all her life and this was another experience she couldn’t wait to explore, while also being a gift to herself to celebrate her 50th birthday.   

But when the full catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, including global lockdowns, rising infections and mask wearing, Janine suddenly found herself ill and isolated.

She was only the second person in Lapland, Finland to get COVID, which was so novel at the time that Channel 10’s The Project interviewed her while she was isolated in a cabin in a tiny snow-bound town in Lapland.

Returning to Australia was equally unique, with an “endless number of nail-biting flight cancellations and diversions”, Janine told Southbank News. 

She eventually settled in Southbank in 2020 where she penned Wanderlust and Misadventures to explore our collective experience of COVID, the Melbourne lockdowns, and its renewed hope for the future.

The self-published memoir was not something she had always planned but on reflection she said the rewards were “lifechanging and therapeutic”. 

“I started writing in my travel diary when I started the trip in December 2019. As I travelled, I continued to write in my diary, explaining what I was seeing, and feeling, at the time,” she said.

“By the time I was in the chaos of COVID I had to write my feelings out on paper as a way of dealing with it. By the time I returned to Melbourne, I was feeling really down and incredibly lost.”


“Writing became part of my healing. Eventually, I found a writing coach who helped me transfer my diary into a memoir. Then a few editors who supported me as I crafted each chapter. All up it took me almost three years to write and self-publish.”


Janine said the book captured the panic during the early days of COVID as well as the shock of realising the “old ways of travelling and living so freely were being closed off to us”.

“Because the story is focused over 2020 and 2021, I also explain how I felt living in Melbourne during so many lockdowns. It’s a roller-coaster ride with some light and hope in there too,” she said. 

“It’s also a bigger story about how women navigating their 40s and 50s can create a new kind of community to support them in this next phase of life.”

Of course, the book also tells of Janine’s time moving to Southbank, getting her cheeky toy poodle, Foxy (which they are regulars at Gordon Espresso café) and making new local friends, which “were key to me surviving the challenges of the time”.

Wanderlust and Misadventures is on sale now via Janine’s website. 

As part of Janine’s philosophy to make a meaningful difference, $1 from each book will be donated to StreetSmart streetsmartaustralia. • org to help those in need.

For more information:


Caption: Janine Phillips with her new book Wanderlust and Misadventures.

Join our Facebook Group