fluffy towes

Carmen Jenner is a copywriter, journalist, travel writer, communications consultant and the founder of travel blog Fluffy Towel. She specialises in many industries including tourism, hospitality, aged care, health, real estate, property, business, charities and not-for-profits. Carmen is also the editor of Menu Magazine, catering to the Western Australian hospitality industry and hungry foodies.


where in the
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Perth, Australia

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Why You Should Visit Lovely Lombok

filed02 Feb 2020 from

Sendang Gila Waterfall

A lean man in speedos staggers towards me, heaving. Sweat clings to his olive skin as he puffs, “Whatever you do…don’t go to the second waterfall…it’s not worth it…it’s dangerous…I almost didn’t make it.” The man is accompanied by a dwarf, presumably his tour guide who rolls his eyes and marches ahead leaving the shattered man to his misery.

Although we had done our research, I was getting the impression that perhaps the trail to the waterfalls wasn’t as easy as all those travel vloggers had made out. Only last week we had watched one family of YouTubers strap babies onto their chests and casually saunter down. We had been warned to not use the guides at the entrance who claim you’ll get lost in the jungle, even though there’s just one path, albeit a steep one.

The path to the waterfalls

I didn’t count how many steps down to the first waterfall, Sendang Gila Waterfall, all I kept thinking was it had better be worth the climb back up in 90% humidity. As you descend, Tiu Kelep Waterfall is to the right and according the man we met earlier, might be avoided until the path has been fixed since the earthquake in August 2018.

Turns out, it was worth it. The power of the gushing water seemed to possess some kind of healing quality – all those positive ions swirling around against the lush backdrop almost turned the wanna-be Instagram models (who were determined to photobomb every photo, my daughter excluded of course in the photo above) and an opportunistic monkey into oblivion.

Well almost, until one curvy lass wearing a flesh coloured dress appeared to be naked in the background. It wouldn’t have been the first time we’d been exposed to public nudity on this trip as one woman stripped down to nothing at an iconic sunset spot on Gili Air. Why worry about 80% of the conservative population being Muslim?

Did I mention its hot? So hot I’m renaming Lombok and the outlying Gili Islands to the Bikram Islands. About halfway back up from the waterfall I spy something out the corner of my eye, and suddenly hear a shriek very close to my ear. I turn around to see a monkey perched on the handrail baring his teeth at me. I suddenly find the energy to up the pace – at least until the next steep staircase, where I move aside to let the dwarf come back down with another unassuming victim.

Delicious Beef Redang at Rinjani Lodge

Emerging out onto the road at the top we retreat to Rinjani Lodge, named after Rinjani Volcano, which dominates Lombok’s landscape resembling a scene out of Jurassic Park, minus the dinosaurs. Nearby Komodo Island is where you’ll find these. Here we bump into the man in the speedos again except now he’s more respectably dressed and has almost recovered from his ordeal at the waterfalls – well almost.

The lunch and views were spectacular and span over rice paddies all the way to the coast. We head to even more spectacular views of paddies of rice, chilli, carrots, cabbage, onions and gardens from Sembalun Village, about 30 minutes away.

Sembalun Village

I can’t recommend this enough, and not just because its cooler, although very welcome. Sembalun lies at the base of Rinjani Volcano and is known for its fertile soil and agriculture. The breathtaking chequered views are easily reached by a small trek up a hill (honestly it really is small) and there is a small fee for which you get a guide, who in our case was accompanied by a chatty and pregnant cat. Be vigilant though, as there are two paths and the first one to right leading up the Instagram-able star platform, which was broken, was overrun by aggressive monkeys jumping along the path and mountainside – word must have got out among the monkey community that a vulnerable and sweaty white woman was in the vicinity.

The village is traditional and very welcoming. There are ways to participate in planting and harvesting and although I didn’t have the opportunity to explore, perhaps the tourist board or your hotel can point you in the right direction.

The region borders Mt Rinjani National Park and offers organic farm stays and tours, including strawberry and coffee plantations, and this is something I’d love to do on my next trip to Lombok.

Pikey Coffee

But for now, we stop off for coffee at Pikey Coffee Plantation before passing through villages and coastal bays twinkling in turquoise for the three-hour journey back to the Chandi Hotel in Sengiggi. I loved this boutique hotel for its low-key luxe vibe, spacious villas and cool sea breezes dancing through the palm trees.

Lombok isn’t as well known as its Bali neighbour and there are still many signs of devastation from the August 2018 earthquake. Over 500 lives were lost, thousands injured and complete villages flattened leaving over 20,000 people homeless and displaced. They’re still recovering and rebuilding their lives and I’ll never forget the image of an elderly lady huddled over her market stall in front of a pile of rubble that was once her home.

Chandi Boutique Resort

Or of the waitress who enquired about the fires raging through Australia even though she had lost her entire village in the earthquake. It took months for the electricity and water to be reconnected and even now many are still living in temporary and unsafe and unsanitary shelters.

Then there were the little girls at Mawun Beach near Kuta (nothing like the overdeveloped Kuta on Bali) who hassled us to buy bracelets – I relented and was soon surrounded by girls arguing over who should have the sale. I had already promised one girl who had impressed me with her personable sales technique but I ended up buying something from all of them, no doubt at an inflated price. It’s hard to haggle when a few dollars can make such a difference.

Mawun Beach

Although Bali’s Mt Agung hovers nearby, the two islands are very different. Lombok’s untamed mountains appear to roll into the pristine sea only briefly pausing for powder white or volcanic black sand. The culture is conservative and being predominantly Muslim there’s very little evidence of the excesses that tourism has brought to Bali. Beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping scenery, treks, water sports, fantastic food, stunning sunset and relaxing are the main attractions on Lombok – it’s the epitome of slow travel.

There are spectacular sunsets all over Lombok

There are direct four-hour flights from Perth to Lombok with Air Asia and you can also take a ferry from Bali. My trip was self-funded and I stayed at the Chandi Boutique Hotel Lombok and Sunrise Gili Air Resort, Beachclub and Bar – this tiny island is carless and utterly charming. I highly recommend both hotels and to hire your own driver on Lombok from Grab (but check the driver’s reviews before committing) and create your own tour and unforgettable experience.

Put down the bison

filed18 May 2016 from

Bison Eyes-ID10737-1920x1280

The other day as I popped into the shops I noticed a toddler locked in a car alone. I paused wondering if I should intervene. The window was ajar and it wasn’t a hot day anyway and the little girl seemed pretty content with her doll. Who’s to say her mum wasn’t simply returning the trolley or just a short distance away keeping a watchful eye. I decided to not interfere, especially as I had made it through my childhood …

Kimberley cravings: celebrating Shinju, the annual pearl festival

filed05 Jan 2016 from

Schmicko Pedicab

It’s easy to spot my ride when I land at Broome’s International Airport. The pedicab and Schmicko’s appropriately tropical shirt gives it away. His name derives from his former life as a tradie (hence the “o”) and because he always does a good job. He’s full of tales about his beloved town as we whizz past old homesteads with lattice windows in Brunswick red and green.

Japanese cemetryWe make a pit-stop at the Japanese Cemetery, one of the largest Japanese cemeteries …

Skydive the Beach and Beyond

filed16 Jul 2015 from

Win a jump with Skydive the Beach and Beyond by signing up to the Fluffy Towel newsletter and answering this simple question in the comments below:

Who do would you like to see jump from a plane and why?

Click here to find out who won

Lee-Anne thumbs up flying

My friend flies through the air 14,000 feet above me and the turquoise coastline of Rockingham. Even from the ground I can hear her screaming. Screams of delight, she later assures me.

I suspect …

Why you should visit Launceston

filed12 Jul 2015 from

Hollybanks Reserve

As Big Ben chimes in the background and the autumn colours adorn Launceston, you can almost pretend you’re in the UK. Teeming with art and architecture, some of the freshest produce I ever tasted and the kind of scenery which will turn even the most cynical of travellers snap happy, I can write with complete sincerity that Launceston should be added to many a travel list. And I haven’t even mentioned the locals. Everywhere I went I was given advice …

ANZAC centenary Western Australia’s Great Southern Drive

filed22 Apr 2015 from

The approach into Western Australia’s Great Southern region is a mix of weathered scrub bordered by the rugged peaks of the Stirling Ranges hovering in the distance. This idyllic scene has been a fixture on the landscape for over one million years, but is a world away from how our ANZAC troops left the region to fight for Australia’s future.

The 25th April 2015 marks the ANZAC centenary and the 1st November 2014 marks 100 years since the first …

Wagin: An outback gem

filed06 Mar 2015 from

paddock art

Almost exactly halfway between Perth and Albany, the dusty outback town of Wagin toils away beneath a vast expanse of nothingness except for clouds swirling on a background of blue.

Wagin Little GemAs the outback scrub gives away to hills of faded gold, the Southern Wheatbelt region is dotted with cattle languidly grazing in paddocks while lorikeets and galas nibble on roadside picnics of seeds. The quintessential outback town of Wagin is at the crossroads of the Great Southern region; with Albany …

What Melbourne Cup race?

filed04 Nov 2014 from


I had lasted 11 hours in my silly shoes, but there was no way I could wear them for the twenty-minute hike back to the car. As my sandals dangled from my hands, the cool tarmac had taken a velvety texture beneath my bleeding feet.

The brisk air itched my sunburnt shoulders and ached every muscle as my hangover kicked in. However, I was healthier than many of the other punters we passed along the way. Some were in vomiting …

Uncovering the Peel region of Western Australia

filed27 Oct 2014 from

Just an hour’s drive from Perth and you can lose yourself in amongst the rugged scrub, a stunning coastline, rolling farmlands, majestic native forests, the languid Murray River, one of the world’s longest walking and cycling trails, waterfalls and Lane Poole Reserve; one of those special spots the locals would prefer you didn’t know about.

Uncover more here Uncovering the Peel region as published in Horizons Magazine August/September 2014


24 hours in Brisbane

filed08 Sep 2014 from

do not disturb

The Brisbane River weaves around the city’s peninsulas as freely as the friendly vibes float along the undulating streets. Brisbane is one of those cities which embraces its visitors immediately on arrival. Ask any local for recommendations and they’ll probably be able to list enough activities to keep you entertained for much longer than your intended stay; which in my case is just 24 hours.

I flew out of Perth early with Virgin Australia ensuring I have the maximum amount …

Stay fit and travel

filed22 Aug 2014 from

Staying in shape while on vacation can be difficult especially with the changes (and temptations) in your eating habits, environment and sleeping schedules throwing your usual routine out the window. Although a departure from the norm is kind of the point of travel, you can still stay healthy. Work-out sessions can be difficult to squeeze in while on the road, high seas, mountain ranges, hot air balloon or exotic waves, but these tips by guest blogger Gavin Apter, innovator of …

5Pointz(less) act of destruction

filed20 Nov 2013 from

In what is deemed as a spiteful act on the owners part, 20 years of graffiti art has been wiped clean at 5Pointz. The sprawling warehouse in Queens has been a graffiti mecca for artists all over the world. The dilapidated building complex has been earmarked for demolition for the end of 2013 to make way for luxury apartments. Perhaps the whitewashing of the artwork is a humane approach to the art-clad walls being pulled down, but I’m in …

Bunker Bay, takes my breath away

filed13 Nov 2013 from

bunker bay


I recently had a glorious stay at Pullman Resort Bunker Bay and all the words and photos in the world can’t do this part of the world enough justice. No wonder all Western Australian’s get a dreamy look on their faces whenever you mention the Margaret River region. Read the full article published in Qatar Airlines inflight magazine here Pullman Resort Bunker Bay



Finding Perth

filed29 Oct 2013 from

I’ve landed a great gig writing for Findery where I get to “find” cool stuff in my hometown Perth, Western Australia.I’ve seen dead animals at the Natural History Museum in Guildford, got my girls out with a Breastique Art workshop, braved a storm in a campervan in Denmark, discovered some great coffee at Love Thy Neighbour, unearthed why honeymooners once flocked to Ngilgi cave in Yallingup and even did some of my research in the horizontal position at Hidden Valley …

Feeling porky

filed29 Aug 2013 from

Some of you Perth-ites might have attended the Butcher’s picnic back in March. My husband competed in the Home Cook Competition and although he didn’t win, his pork chops were a hit with the crowd and so popular the West Australian published his Crumbed Pork with Corn and Sage Pancakes recipe.…

Truffle Time

filed29 Jul 2013 from

On the 28th July in 2003 the first ever (well, the first documented one) truffle was found in Western Australia’s Manjimup. Ten years on, the Wine and Truffle Co. is so successful they now export to the US, Germany and France.

I went on a truffle hunt last week and I can still smell that earthy aroma. And as you can see below hunting for truffles is a very simple process…once you’ve selected the right plot of land, inoculated the …

BBQ-ing US style

filed07 Jun 2013 from

After the sun had long disappeared I pondered on how I ended up in a field in Lexington’s North Carolina passively smoking a beef brisket and drinking the local moonshine. RV’s with palatial proportions steamed into town for the BBQ-ing version of Woodstock at the Annual Capital BBQ Cook-off 28th-29th April 2012.  Heaving with 50 competing teams vying for the $15,900 prize money, many of the competitors were probably conceived at such an event, except for the …

Sri Lanka’s wet ‘n wild south

filed28 Jul 2011 from

Some of the finest, least populated beaches anywhere can be found on the newly peaceful island of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean.

beach swirls

Foreigners, burquas, and children bob along to the rhythm of boats along the curvaceous bay of Unawatuna. The scents of coconut oil, incense, diesel, sunscreen, salt, and curry flirt with abandon in the gentle breeze. The idyllic scene is complete with swaying palm trees and sauntering bikini-clad bodies glistening in the humidity. Yet, the very sea that …

Buskers of Fremantle: The Freo All-Stars

filed28 Dec 2010 from


Fedora tipped over blue

Seductive plucking of tune

Street-side superstar

Freo presents Ivan Zar

Travel Photography Workshop 068b_edited-2

In amongst the throng of bohemians languishing along Fremantle’s capuccino strip, I’m immediately drawn to the man sporting a suit and fedora in mid-night blue. Oozing 1960’s glamour evocative of the Cuban time warp, I learn his name is Ivan Zar. A master of blues, the haromonica, and his unique metallic slide guitar, his style is gutsy yet unassuming. Influenced by …

The hills are alive: getting back to nature

filed18 Nov 2010 from

“Beep, beep, beep,” drones the forklift. It reverses up and down the salvage yard next door, just a few metres from our lounge room. A grunting semi-trailer pulls up with a delivery of wood to be unloaded throughout the entire afternoon. Soon, the rubbish truck will arrive to empty the enormous bins with its noisy hydraulic lifts. A plane thunders above and if I run outside I can wave to the passengers. A train “toots”. On the other side of …

Broome Vroom

filed11 Nov 2010 from

Broome Vroom was a finalist in The Purple Passport travel writing competition. If you liked my story please vote http://diary.thepurplepassport.com/global/other-global-cities/cast-your-vote

“My name is Roger and I’ll be your guide today. Welcome to the Mango Tango Tour,” drawls our driver as he caresses his white Harley-Davidson trike, our mode of transport. We climb aboard the curvaceous blonde and hit the highway to sip wine at a mango plantation.

This is our second trip to Broome and I can see why so …