Last word

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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.

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