Celebrity traveller: Cate Blanchett

Like many young Australians, you went travelling before you began your studies – an acting degree at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). What did you learn from your first solo journey overseas?

Learn to love the unexpected. I remember years ago I climbed Ararat, the highest mountain in Turkey. I was 18, it was sunrise, and I could just see the light beginning to come in. I love that, standing on a precipice looking out on the horizon, or when you’re in the country and the hills just roll and roll and roll.

You’ve filmed in numerous destinations across the globe. Can you describe a standout memory? 

I was in a hotel in Cairo back when I was very young – a real fleapit, where they printed money and forged passports in the lobby! Some random Scottish guy came up to me wanting English-speaking extras for a film that was shooting nearby. I’d be paid five Egyptian pounds and a falafel. I went along and there was a guy with a megaphone like something straight out of a silent movie, but it was so hot I ended up leaving quite quickly.

Where has your role as Global Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency taken you?

I work with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), which deals with providing shelter, safe passage and education for refugees. I’ve been to Jordan, Lebanon, Syria; but it’s not just about the Middle East. There are forgotten communities of refugees – many of them children – in places like South Sudan, Central Africa and Nigeria that I hope to one day visit too.

How does travelling with children affect your travel choices? 

I have no desire to have someone else raise my children, so that sometimes prevents me from picking and choosing projects at will. Generally, we’re happy wherever we are as long as we’re together. My husband and kids are used to travelling and we can enjoy living in London, in Rome, in New York, or anywhere we might be working.

It’s the close feeling you have as a family that is the most important thing in life, not where you happen to reside. But as much as we love Sydney, and I wanted our kids to get to know their mother’s Australian culture, it’s always interesting to be exposed to other cultures.

What is your one luxury travel item?

When I’m travelling I try to protect my skin from dehydration as much as possible. I like to decant some SK-II Facial Treatment Essence into a little spray bottle and spritz my skin regularly when I fly.

Any destinations on the travel bucket list?

The Antarctic and Greenland are definitely on my bucket list, and I’d really like to live in Iceland; firstly, because I believe in fairytales, and secondly because I love the lava fields. But I would have to consult with my family – moving to Iceland is not the kind of decision you make on your own!

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