Last year Tourism Queensland, Qantas, Big Earth and The Independent teamed up to offer one aspiring travel writer the kick start to your gap year and career, And from hundreds of excellent entries the winner was chosen as

Paul Duffield from London

Paul will enjoy a holiday for two to Queensland, Australia, including two Economy Class tickets from London to Brisbane, returning Cairns to London with Qantas and 10 days Britz Bushcamper 4WD hire. He also won the chance for a travel article, based on his holiday to Queensland, to be published on, and in print (subject to editorial approval).

Read Paul's winning entry below:


I’m woken by an American wearing a Stetson. He’s kicking me gently in the ribs.

'Is your buddy dead?’

He’s whispering at Tony who’s stood next to him. I open my eyes, stare up at the American then close them again. I feel dead. It's noon in a Pamplona town square. Above me, a fierce sun hovers calmly in the cobalt-blue sky and stabs violently at my brain. We've missed our bus, we’re missing sixteen mates and we’re dressed as bullfighters - our once white costumes long since annihilated by the brutal hedonism of the fiesta.

Around us, there are lots of people in disrepair – hundreds of men, women and children in varying states of dishevelment. Some sleep face down in the dust, some lie in the arms of friends or lovers. Others stand and smoke in silence, shaking their heads. Most are filthy, their costumes caked in dirt and Calimocho. There’s a humdrum hush amongst the crowds.

On our way to the bus station - crossing streets littered with beer cans and abandoned red sashes - we bump into the Croatian Eric Cantona lookalike who we drank and sang with during the early part of the fiesta before it exploded out of control. He tells us there are rumours circulating that a bull went berserk and killed a man.

On the bus, Tony and I try to call the others but all we get are a series of answerphone messages and unfamiliar tones. By the time we arrive in San Sebastian we still haven’t contacted any of our friends so we head for the beach, limping past boutique clothes shops and outdoor restaurants - our battered outfits barely attracting a second glance from stylish, composed locals who’ve seen it all before.