My life in travel: Mark Webber
'I remember long days on the beach, with seafood, surf and family time'
Friday 20 September 2013
Mark Webber is an Australian F1 driver. He organises the
Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, a multi-sport adventure race around the island
from 27 November to 1 December (markwebberchallenge.com).
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 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. Everything I need is here.
Fiji. The boss of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, has a private island called 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, so we really enjoyed doing that together.
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.
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 peoples' experience. 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.
Where has seduced you?
The West Coast of America, especially Carmel and the San Francisco area. The coastlines are pretty stunning around there. It's such a long time ago now, but it's still in my memory that 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 too – which is fine, you're happy to take a bit of stuff on the chin – but the hotel just didn't match up to the brochure. Annie and I laughed about it in the end, but we're not in a hurry to go back.
The Four Seasons' hotels are pretty exceptional. They've got a really great knack for knowning what the 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.
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 runs along, with the ocean scenery on one side and sandy trails branching on the other, with a bit of wildlife if you're lucky.
London. You've got everything you need. Some of the parks are just beautiful, there's a huge amount of character and it never seems to stop. I enjoy visiting when I've got time off.
I'm off to Tasmania in November for the Challenge. It's a week-long charity adventure race, which includes mountain-biking, kayaking, running, some rope work and military disciplines too. There are 40 teams of two people, 80 competitors in all, which is the limit because it travels through some quite remote places. We take in all of the signature locations in Tasmania: some of the most dramatic backdrops and breath-taking scenery. They're always blown away by how special Tasmania is.
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