‘I need adrenalin to feel alive’
Australian racing driver Mark Webber organises Tasmania’s adventure race travel2013
MARK Webber is an Australian F1 driver. He organises the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, a multi- sport adventure race around the island from November 27 to December 1. First holiday memory? Beach holidays on the south coast of Australia, towards Bateman’s Bay and Ulladalla. My parents used to take me up there for the surf. I remember long days on the beach, family time, getting sunburnt, lots of seafood and the odd sting from blue-bottle jellyfish.
Favourite place in the British Isles?
Buckinghamshire, because there’s no place like home. I’ve lived here for about 17 years. It’s close to all the airports and not too far away from Red Bull Racing, my current team. It’s also good for mountain-biking and generally mucking around outside of the city. Best holiday? Fiji. The boss of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, has a private island, Laucala. It’s the most stunning location: very quiet and private but it has pretty much everything you need. I was there with some of my best friends, with loads of toys – surf boards, jet skis and scuba gear – so we had a great time. Ideal travelling companion? Annie, my partner. If it’s somewhere special, I’d like to share it with her. We’ve been to New Zealand together. She loves rugged terrain and changeable weather.
Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?
I need some adrenalin in my life. Doing something a little bit on the edge keeps you learning about yourself. Whether it’s flying helicopters, which I’m doing at the moment, or messing around in the ocean in Australia, it makes you feel more alive. Holiday reading? At the moment, aviation books because I need to pass my theory for my helicopter licence. Aside from that, it’s got to have happened.
I like reading sports books, autobiographies and learning from other people’s experiences. Andre Agassi’s book was good, Roy Keane’s too. I also like reading about captains of industry, and people like Alex Ferguson who have done exceptional things. What place has seduced you? The west coast of the US, especially Carmel and the San Francisco area. The coastlines are stunning around there. It’s a long time ago but … I’d like to go back. Worst travel experience? Bora Bora. We built our expectations up, but when we got there, we were disappointed. It’s a long way to travel to … but the hotel just didn’t match up to the brochure. Annie and I laughed eventually about it in the end, but we’re not in a hurry to go back. Best hotel? The Four Seasons hotels are pretty exceptional. They’ve got a great knack for knowing what guests want. They’re not over the top, they’re not ringing your doorbell every two seconds to give you a grape and a bit of chocolate, they’re just friendly. The one in Budapest is very good. It’s got fantastic food and a nice view over the Danube, too. Favourite walk? Noosa Heads in Queensland. The coastal track there is sensational. It’s in a national park that’s right on the edge of a cliff. The path has ocean scenery on one side and sandy trails branching on the other, with a bit of wildlife if you’re lucky. Favourite city? London. You’ve got everything you need. The parks are just beautiful, there’s a huge amount of character and it never seems to stop. Where next? I’m off to Tasmania for the Challenge. We take in all the signature locations: some dramatic backdrops and breathtaking scenery. – The Independent
ONE NIGHT I was channel-hopping when I happened upon an old episode of Poirot. It brought about a sense of nostalgia – in the 1990s, I spent many Sunday evenings snuggled up on the sofa at my grandparents’ house watching Agatha Christie’s detective.
I didn’t imagine that a few months later I’d be playing a sleuth myself on a “murder mystery” trip on the British Pullman – sister train to the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.
I persuade three friends to join me and we get into the vibe by hiring 1920s outfits.
On the platform at London’s Victoria Station, actors in character mingle with the passengers. After admiring our outfits, one woman starts talking about “dear Lord Deville” before revealing: “Well, you know, he was found face-down in the semolina.” We have our victim.
Stepping aboard our carriage is like going back in time. Our fourseater compartment is beautiful – polished wood, Art Deco marquetry and brass luggage racks.
Our table features crystal-cut glasses and gleaming silver cutlery – and a sheet of paper.
This “solicitor’s letter” explains that Lord Deville had recently changed his will, and that seven people are suspected over his death.
LIVING ON THE EDGE: Formula One driver Mark Webber handles a falcon while on a dune safari in Abu Dhabi.
STEP BACK IN TIME: A purser welcomes travellers on the British Pullman.