Inside India and Bhutan travel with George Negus
THE public voice of hard-hitting news in Australia for almost 40 years still rings out strongly in George Negus, but it's now being enjoyed in a more private arena.
While criss-crossing the world to capture another major story, taking risks and digging for the whole story was his past job, Negus' inquisitive brain is still switched on and full steam ahead.
He's still is working hard, maybe harder than Negus should at the age of 77.
"Retiring is one of the few words that's never been used to describe me," he said. "I am trying to do less, but failing. I am still doing a lot, but just not the same as before, just a different version of it."
"I don't feel my age," he added. "Just because somebody says you are getting older doesn't mean that you are changing in such a way that you are unrecognisable as a normal human being with the normal strengths, traits and weaknesses that go with that."
Negus has visited over 100 countries and has no intention of stopping. "There is no such thing in the world as the greatest country as all 200 of them have qualities," Negus said.
"I have been a professional traveller for most of my adult life. I became a journalist at 29." At the time he was a school teacher from Brisbane. "One way or another very quickly after that the world became my oyster. It's become part and parcel of the way I think. It's where I get my value judgements from."
One of his current projects is to host a group of Australian tourists on an extraordinary Travelrite International journey through India and Bhutan.
Negus has visited India twice, but both times for short visits while working.
Once was to interview Indira Gandi when she was leader.
The other time was to visit Mother Theresa which he described as one of his most traumatic experiences.
"It was in her House of Dying in Calcutta. That was one of the strangest places I have ever been in my life because these were people who went somewhere to die because they had nowhere to live. They lived on the footpath, they lived anywhere they could lie down in cardboard boxes. Disgraceful stuff that you could never imagine you were ever going to get to see."
He has wanted to return there to discover more about this complex country.
Bhutan has also captured his interest. "Who wouldn't want to go to a country that says being happy and content with your existence is much better than worrying about the economy, finances and conflict," Negus said. "They have genuinely set out to be a totally different kind of country. That attracts my attention immediately."
Negus and his partner Kristy prepare for tours in a similar way to when they researched for a television program by researching material and finding people who know more about the place than they do including locals.
It's an experience far removed from the days when Australians sat in their living room watching Negus deliver his ground-breaking reports. "It's a lot like doing television without a camera," he said. "Instead of my staring into a camera, I am talking to real people. That means I am talking to a lot of people of various ages, types and belief systems; it's a much smaller audience than the tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands that I have talked to as a television journalist."
He finds the one-on-one conversations give him a chance to enlighten his tour members on subjects they may not be sure about or places they haven't heard about the avid communicator said.
Info: travelrite.com.au or phone 1800 630343.