Traveling with the Stars: Toni Collette
Australian actress Toni Collette won an Emmy (outstanding lead actress in a comedy series) in 2009 and a 2010 Golden Globe (best actress in a TV comedy series) for her portrayal of Tara Gregson on Showtime’s United States of Tara. Tara juggles a husband, two kids, career and multiple personalities on the show, whose second season starts March 22. Collette, who also has been nominated for an Academy Award and Tony Award, lives in Australia with musician husband Dave Galafassi. She shared her travel highlights and tips with Kelly Carter for USA TODAY.
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you walk into a hotel room after checking in?
A: I tend to check out the bathroom and the bed. I love baths and sleeping. Both imperative. Good linen and a deep bath makes everything dandy.
Q: Where have you been recently?
A: Our last trip for pleasure was to France. We rented a beautiful apartment in Paris. Walking the streets and soaking up the history and architecture filled our days. Then we meandered our way down to Provence and stayed in exquisite ancient castles along the way. It was foodie heaven and we ate and drank ourselves silly. Good times.
Q: What’s the sexiest place you’ve ever visited?
A: Bedarra Island. It’s off the coast of Queensland, Australia. There are only a handful of villas. It was humid, which I find sexy. The produce was fresh and delicious. The wine list was perfect. They’d pack us picnic baskets with lobster, French Champagne, fruit and cheese, and we’d take our very own manageable boat to a private beach on the other side of the island for the day. Any place where you can swim in the sea is for me.
Q: What’s the most surprising/unexpected place you’re ever visited?
A: Tibet in 1997. It was a last-minute trip with friends that I tagged onto. Profound and life changing. I was there for a few weeks. We started in Lhasa after a spell in Nepal. The Chinese occupation was just so prevalent. A propaganda truck bleated through the streets at the crack of dawn and the Chinese military, with their guns, was everywhere. But the most profound part of the trip was that the Tibetan people were so lovely. Not apathetic, but not obviously outraged. Their beliefs are so much a part of who they are – a very peaceful people. I once received a secret note from a monk asking to spread the word about what was happening to their country. Had he been caught, he’d be in real danger. I met a Yogini, an extremely revered reincarnation of the consort to an influential lama. She had lived in a cave in the mountains for over 50 years, and we climbed to over 18,000 feet to see her. She rarely emerged to greet the local nuns, but she embraced my gaggle of friends. She had never seen a camera and was ultimately hoping that one of us had been a doctor who could heal her eye. She was old and beautiful. And when questioned about the state of her country, she was quick to point out that if the Chinese hadn’t taken over, perhaps we wouldn’t have been inclined to visit Tibet. And then she wouldn’t have had the pleasure of meeting us and spending time with us. This blew me away.
vQ: What’s your favorite vacation spot?
A: Because I work away from home most of the time, I tend to go home to relax in my breaks. I love Sydney. Family, friends and my own bed.
Q: Can you offer an insider tip or recommendation for your favorite vacation place?
A: Seans’s Panaroma is my favorite restaurant in Sydney. It’s opposite gorgeous North Bondi Beach. The food is grown on Sean’s farm or sourced locally and is organic. It’s small, relaxed and special.