Freelance and Travel Writing Workshop: Cairns, Australia

Are you a wannabe freelance journalist or an aspiring travel writer with itchy feet? Do you want to spend a month in the Australian tropics being mentored by working editors and journalists and getting real-world writing experience?

Nestled between the reef, rainforest and sunburnt country towns, Cairns is a laidback coastal city on Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Country that throbs with a vibrant mosiac of different cultures. Winters up there are bloody delightful, so we’re on the hunt for a team of pen wizards to join us in the Queensland tropics for a month of creativity, purpose, adventure and connection in mid-2022.

For a period of four weeks, you’ll be living in a beautiful eco-hostel in the centre of town with a bunch of other aspiring writers as you learn the ropes of freelance copywriting and journalism. Each weekday, you’ll be attending interactive writing workshops with a particular focus on copywriting, creative non-fiction, investigative features, editing, decolonising travel writing, pitching to editors and starting your own publication. In your free time, you’ll be frolicking around Tropical North Queensland, hiking through ancient rainforest, swimming under waterfalls, dining at classic old pubs and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef.

While you’re there, you’ll be working on multiple projects: two articles to be pitched to the publications of your choice, and a travel guide to Cairns, which will be published as an eBook on the platform of your choosing. Leading the program will be Gemma Clarke: the founding editor of Global Hobo and Anaerkillik, the former deputy editor of the triple j Annual, breakfast radio host, freelance journalist and copywriter. She will be joined by a team of other writers who will be finalised shortly.

Learn what you don’t get taught at uni

This intensive course provides practical, real-world experience, and has been designed to be a bridge between writing privately and entering the workforce as a freelance writer. Applicants vary in levels of experience — some are fresh out of high school, others are in the throes of a journalism degree, some are studying something super random and others have never been to uni. Maybe you’ve filled eight travel journals over the last five years; perhaps the only writing you’ve ever done is graffiti on the back of a toilet door. We cater to all ability levels, and though experience helps, it’s not at all necessary — we’ll teach you everything you need to know, and guarantee that you’ll have a wealth of new skills and confidence (plus a fantastic story worth pitching) by the end of the week.

What You Get:

  • Daily writing, editing and pitching workshops. Think travel-narrative writing, pitching to editors, building a brand and working as a freelancer on the road in exchange for sweet, sweet cash. Click here for a subject breakdown.
  • Airport pickup (or you can drive your own vehicle up, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous — we can help organise a carpool roadtrip group).
  • One month’s accommodation in a hostel in the centre of town, complete with a pool, kitchens and WiFi
  • Potential university credit via the WIL program
  • 24-hour support, care and mentoring


  • $2550AUD for a triple or four-share room
  • $2750 for a twin-share room
  • $3550 for a private room

Once you get in to the program, a $500 deposit will be required to confirm your place, and the rest will be due six weeks before the program starts. If we have to cancel, the program is fully refundable. If you have to cancel, the program is fully refundable less the deposit until four weeks before.

Dates and Availability:

  • Winter 2022

The course has been expertly designed to be a bridge between writing for yourself or your own blog and entering the workforce as a freelancer or starting your own publication. If you’re a high-school leaver, this program is the perfect mini exchange to squeeze in before you hit the books again next year. If you’re already in the throes of university and studying something like journalism or communications, you may even be eligible for a full subject’s credit through your school’s work-integrated learning program. And if you’re not studying and you’re just on the hunt for a sweet project that combines travel and writing, we’ll teach you everything you need to know. We cater to all ability levels, and though experience helps, it’s not at all necessary.

What’s more, if you’re a journalism, media or communications student, enrollment in the program gives you the potential to receive a full subject’s worth of university credit as part of your institution’s Work Integrated Learning Program; however, this will need to be determined on a case-by-case basis upon discussion with your head of department. So far, we’ve had students from RMIT, Wollongong University, Charles Sturt University, Griffith University, La Trobe University, UNSW, QUT, the University of Queensland, Curtin University and more receive credit, as well as those attending schools in New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

Successful applicants will be open-minded creatives who are keen to step outside their comfort zone, gain some real-world journalism experience and taste life in the Australian tropics. The ability to work well in a group is essential. Do note though that the course is just that: a course. You don’t need to already have a foot in the door of the media industry to apply, nor do you already need to be the best writer. All the skills you’ll need to start sculpting your words like a pro and getting published will be taught as part of the curriculum. In fact, many students often keep writing for Global Hobo on a freelance basis once the course is over.

We’re determined to encourage a culturally relative approach to travel: supporting locally-owned businesses, partaking in cultural activities and actively giving thanks to the Gimuy-walubarra yidi people, who are the Traditional Owners of the country we will be on. We’re also fiercely committed to social justice and supporting diversity in the work we publish, giving space to voices that have been traditionally excluded from mainstream media and building an accessible community around storytelling.


  • I’m still not convinced — what makes Global Hobo different from everyone else?
    • Read about our commitments to diversity, accessibility, sustainability and more.
  • This looks kind of scammy — I’d like to read some reviews of the program from previous hobos!
  • I want to know some more information about the program!
  • What do some of the previous guidebooks look like?
    • Check out some gold whipped up by our former spunky interns here.
  • What are your terms and conditions?

To Apply

Age is just a number -- but you've gotta be at least 18.
No pressure - beginners are still welcome to apply.

Would you prefer to condense this course into a week and not travel as far north? Join one of our week-long Freelance and Travel Writing retreats in Byron Bay instead!

Learn More

Are you already a capable writer, but want to get deeper with your long-form reporting? Come hang with us on North Stradbroke Island for our Investigative Journalism Workshop.

Learn More

Global Hobo is run by a team of writers who mostly live and work on Bundjalung land in the Byron Shire. We would like to acknowledge, pay our respects and give thanks to the Arakwal people, the Widjabal people and the Minjungbal people of the Bundjalung nation: the traditional and ongoing custodians of the land. We pay respect to their elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge that their land was stolen, and never ceded. We also acknowledge that First-Nations people in Australia continue to suffer from colonialism, and that all settlers in Australia continue to benefit from this oppressive system.

Most photos by our pal Shades of Love