At the age of 16 Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world. Watson was named the 2011 Young Australian of the Year before being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia the following year. Now an ambassador for Mobile Travel Agents, Watson spoke to travelbulletin while attending the MTA Power of Community conference on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
What is your favourite holiday spot?
A lake just inland from Noosa called Lake Cootharaba. It’s just gorgeous, with its warm tea-tree water and we go there every year for family Christmas. We normally camp and it’s super casual, you don’t have to wear shoes for a couple of days and I just have fun lying in the hot lake and having a couple of drinks with my sister.
Who is one person you wish you could sit next to on a plane?
I kind of like the pot luck element. I’ve had the most amazing conversations with people you would never otherwise talk to.
How would you spend a day at sea aboard a cruise ship?
The one thing I would love to do any day of the year is sit there on the balcony and read. There’s nothing like having the water there, it’s so calming.
What is one of the most exotic destinations you have travelled to?
Sailing does take you off the beaten track. One would be the Campbell Islands south of New Zealand. I went there with the New Zealand Met team who were going down to service their equipment there on a small sailing ship as part of the crew. We got to walk and see albatross chicks and huge elephant seals.
What is one thing you cannot leave home without when you travel?
I can’t leave home without my little travel on suitcase. I basically live out of it as I’m domestic travelling all the time. It’s a little Victorinox one with a little flap that opens at the front for your laptop.
Do you have an embarrassing travel story that you can share with us?
Yes, it was the first time I went overseas by myself on a sailing trip when I was 14. At the time I was trying to convince my parents to let me sail around the world so I booked all my flights on my own to show I was responsible and grown up and when I got to the airport I realised I’d somehow booked myself as Miss Mooloolaba – the suburb where I was living, instead of Miss Watson. The whole booking was completely wrong but luckily they were able to sort it out. My brother spent the next few years calling me Miss Mooloolaba.