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It takes quite a lot to leave my speechless. To stop the words forming, flowing and crafting them out of my mind. Yet today something happened that did leave me speechless. A thing that shook me to the core and left me crying. The world lost one bright red headed beauty – Paula from Contented Traveller. A woman who truly embodied the term influencer in a positive way and was a sassy, heart warming and fantastically fun & fierce woman. The travel community around the world is shaken at this loss and many of us send our love to Gordon and their families. 

Rather then wallow in self pity at the loss of a great friend I wanted to pay tribute to Paula.

Who even was Paula?

Other then amazing? If you didn’t get to meet Paula in real life then I’m sadden for your lose and that you’ll never get to experience that joy. Paula was a great friend to so many of us within the content creation community. However she was foremost a phenomenal business woman who took the time to share her knowledge and craft her skills across the community. No matter where in the world someone was from. She was a no bulldust kinda lady, who called it how she saw it. Which it intimidated a lot of people and I loved her for it. 

I couldn’t even tell you how old Paula was, as age was no barrier to the things her and Gordon did. It was something that she was proud of as a woman. The years of experiences, the years of friendship and the ability to enjoy both. If you ever met Paula at a conference or an event then you’ll know that she was most likely out drinking the younger folks and dancing the night away. Yet there she was at 9am ready to roll again and start the working day. Always the professional.

Contented Traveller is Paula and Gordon, it is us…and we are nice. Seriously we are. We are consummate professionals because we are passionate about what we do. 

The things that Paula taught me.

I had been friends with Paula & Gordy, as you don’t get one without the other, for what seems like forever. At first we were internet friends thanks to the joy of Twitter and then when we all ended up on a press trip to Raja Ampat Paula literally saved me from being a lost soul and helped me find the group, as the tourism board had forgotten to tell me where to meet people at the airport when I arrived. There’s no way I would’ve considered leaving the airport and going to the local fried chicken takeaway. And so our real life friendship began.

Over the years we had kept in contact no matter where in the world we both were. Again the positive side of the internet made keeping on contact really easy. And there were many tough travel days, awful & emotionally draining family situations that we spoke about, drank through and enjoyed laughing about. Then there was the many, many professional minded conversations about jerk PR companies that wanted us to work for free. Though nothing would ever tops sitting back and watching a Paula & Gordy conversation as they actively disagreed over a ridiculous topic, resulting in laughter and Paula telling Gordy that she was right and he just had to accept that.

Age is no barrier to travel

Like I mentioned I have no idea what age Paula was when we first met. Age was no barrier to the fantastic things that they did. Or the people that she partied with or the business deals that she did. Paula did hate being called a seniorprenuer or a grey nomad. If you ever saw her bright red hair on the dancefloor you’ll know what I mean. There was nothing grey or senior about Paula.

Know you’re worth

And don’t be afraid to charge for it! Champagne doesn’t come for free y’all and after years of being me I’m worth paying for. Paula was constantly telling me, and other content creators, that we are valuable. That we shouldn’t be afraid to charge for the service we provide. BUT that we needed to provide a fan-friggen-tastic service. Under commit, over deliver and offer a service that your client will never forget. 

Now is the best time to drink that bottle of champagne

Life is short. Too short for bad wine. Stuff the haters, drink the champagne and love it. Which is a motto I live by a lot. 

Generosity knows no boundaries

Paula (and Gordy) were so unbelievably generous. There was that one time, when I flew Tigerair, that my flight home was cancelled. From a Friday afternoon to the Sunday afternoon. I’d barely been home in Australia for 3 days before I had flown to Sydney for a Travel Massive event. And now I was stranded, with a dog about to go into hospital and a very bare bones bank account. Before I knew it Paula had messaged me, given me the train time table and there I was on the train to their home. Where they hosted me for 24 hours, showed me the sites and best cafes. Which was performed far better then any press trip or 5 star hotel I’ve ever stayed with. 

Friendship knows no boundaries

Age, distance, coffee styles. Paula showed me and oh so many people that great friendship knows no physical boundaries. There’s quite a few of you in my life who I regularly chat to even though we are on different continents, time zones and sometimes even food requirements. Olives are the devil.


Knowledge is best shared between friends

When Paula could help someone she did. She was the admin of more Facebook groups then I can fathom and if she didn’t know the answer she had no fear in asking. I can’t remember how many times I’d post something in a Facebook group and moments later a private message would pop up with Paula asking for a better explanation. Or challenging my thought process and demanding a better level of content from me.  She wasn’t afraid to call me, and other people, out for their poor behaviour or if she disagreed with you.

Boundaries and rules are meant to be broken.

Never one content with the status quo, Paula was always one to test the boundaries. To push the limits. A kindred soul, we both had issues with authority and none more so evident then on our trip to Raja Ampat. Where we snuck off the boat, down the world’s longest wooden jetty and snuck into a village. Have you ever truly lived life unless you have been chased by a government official on a tropical island paradise?

I could go on for another million words on what my friendship with Paula meant to me. How she influenced those around her to be better people, better writers and make the world a better place one post at a time. To explore the world, locally and far away, to just do things and not be stagnant. This is just a snippet into the world that was our oddly bizarre and beautiful friendship. I’ll never forget what we experienced together and will always carry you in my heart. No matter where in the world I am. 

To her most beautiful husband Gordon, and the family that she leaves behind. My heart breaks for you and just know that there is an entire community out there who benefitted from knowing this beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing her with us. 

The one thing I wish everyone would learn from Paula its the true meaning of life;

It is all about serendipity and embracing the travel experiences.

Contented Traveller photo


Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker

Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.


  1. I never got to meet Paula either but she was an inspiration, especially in my early days of blogging. Thank you for writing such a fitting tribute.

  2. I am one of the many who never met Paula in real life (IRL), but who felt her vivacity and kindness in the virtual world she tended. I was hoping to meet her this fall on a trip to Oz and I’m sad that will never happen. Her light lives on in all of us who she touched.

  3. Jean, Thank you for writing such a glowing tribute to a woman, a blogger, a friend that many of us knew and loved so well. Gordon, you have been in my thoughts continually since I read the news on Saturday morning. I do believe that Paula would want us all to take her passing as one more lesson to be learned…quality of life is the key. Live life fully! I raise my glass to my good friend. You are missed.

  4. What a sad day for all of us and what a blow for the travel blogging community! Paula was such a good friend to all of us and her sense of humor always cracked me up. She will always be remembered as a wonderful woman and a great travel blogger.

  5. I am new to blogging and did not know Paula. My loss indeed. This is a lovely tribute.

  6. Paula was amazeballs. My heart goes out to Gordy and everyone else who knew her.

    To know Paula, was to love her.

    May her memory be a blessing to us all.

  7. Lovely to read this today, well done for putting into words so well what this wonderful woman meant to you.

  8. Jean, thank you for sharing your memorial to Paula. Like many here, I connected with Paula early in my travel blogging career, and she was always such a great supporter to help new bloggers get started. I met her a few times at our Sydney blogger lunches, and really enjoyed getting to know her in person. I was shocked and really sad to hear that she had passed away last night, as I had no known that she had been unwell. Gordon, take care, and know that you have our deepest sympathies.

  9. This is a beautiful tribute that gave those of us that didn’t know her personally but need did know her from her wonderful online support some lovely background on her – thank you for writing it and condolences for your great loss.

  10. Thank you for such a heartfelt tribute to a most amazing woman. Paula will be missed by so many for a multitude of reasons. My very fond memories of Paula echo your beautifully erudite thoughts. Thinking of Gordon and her family today and may they take some solace from your lovely words.

  11. I can’t ever forget Paula. Our stories were linked online only, but she made such an impact. When I was at a crossroads with my blogging, she helped me take the higher road.
    I even wrote a story about it on my blog. And the moment she read it, she still took the time to reply and tell me that my decision was right which meant to so much to me.
    She will be missed. I’m deeply saddened to wake up to such terrible news today. And like you said, I feel like I missed out…because I never got the chance to meet her in real life.

  12. Paula was the first of the Aussie travel bloggers I met – mostly because she told me to look for her hair at an event – and she made me feel so welcome. I was new to Sydney, new to travel blogging and she was just fantastic.
    Her stories of being chased out of Thai ping pong clubs and hiding in her bathroom while monkeys got into the hotel room were the stuff of legend and I’m so sad that such a fantastic woman has gone too soon.
    Thanks for writing this.

  13. Thank you for this post! You’ve captured her so well.

    Paula was so very generous, always the life of the party, and never one to shy away from hard work and justice!

    Here in Sydney she was a critical friend to many travel bloggers just starting up, keen to help, letting us know we were worthy and need not work for free (ie. don’t be seduced by the “free” night) and always helpful.

    I wish I had had more chances to really appreciate all the lessons s, to absorb all her teachings.

    I’ll be thinking of her next time I’m out eating at Barangaroo!

  14. We only had the pleasure of meeting Paula a few times but she certainly made a massive and lasting impression. Could not agree more with you about her generosity and no BS outlook.
    Our blogger get-togethers will be a little less fun from now on.

  15. Jean thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute to our friend.

    Fan fuxking tastic was the minimum with Paula. She was larger than life and the first one to tell us all to realise our worth and potential. She provided so much motivation to me and I will miss her wisdom and honesty more than anything. Xxx

  16. I’m so sad about this news today. Paula will be as missed as much as she was loved. A great loss for our community.

  17. I was never lucky enough to meet Paula, but her commitment to helping us travel writers connect with each other and reach opportunities was inspiring. She facilitated me meeting some great people in the field and having wonderful experiences, and I’m so saddened to hear of her passing. She leaves a beautiful legacy.

  18. Paula never was a grey nomad! She embraced her red hair and lived her life accordingly! So sad for her loss

  19. Thoughts for anyone close to her. Sorry we lost such a beautiful soul in the travel community.

  20. I was stunned when Mark told me this morning. I will forever be sad I never got to see that hair in person.
    She was amazing wonderful, my inter-mum and I will miss being scared but hapoy to see her profile picture pop up for a chat.
    Much love to you Jean


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