‘I need adrenalin to feel alive’

Aus­tralian rac­ing driver Mark Web­ber or­gan­ises Tas­ma­nia’s ad­ven­ture race travel2013

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2013 - LAURA HOLT

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.

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