Our Gold Coast Competition Winner
An interview with Frances Roach
Frances Roach was one of the lucky winners in our Gold Coast Competition and won an amazing trip to Australia. She's now back at home and planning her next adventure so we caught up with her to find out how she got on.
Can you tell us a little about the trip you won?
I won a 16 day ultimate backpacker's trip to the Gold Coast, situated in Queensland, Australia. It included many activities such as a one day surf camp, a 2 day 4WD Eco Tour of Fraser Island, jet boating, a tour of the Hinterland, private hire of an electric boat, entry to the wildlife sanctuary and a tandem skydive on the beach!
How did you feel when you realised you'd won the trip?
It was all so surreal! I originally missed the first call since I was in a lecture and as soon as I called back and heard the news I didn't believe it at first! It was only when my winning story was posted on gapyear.com that it began to sink in. I couldn't wait to graduate and take this prize!
What was the highlight from your trip to the Gold Coast?
Probably my tandem sky dive with Gold Coast Sky Dive. We flew from the nearby Gold Coast Airport and I jumped out of a small plane from 12,000 ft in the sky. It was insane! If you told me a few years ago that I would skydive, I would not have believed you! It was such an incredible adrenaline rush and I would encourage anyone considering skydiving for the first time to dive along the coast as the views were unreal. We were dangling over the ocean and landed on Kirra Beach, one of the best surfing beaches in the world.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about visiting the Gold Coast?
I would definitely go for it! I already miss the sun and sand and cannot wait to go back.
I decided to extend my trip to Australia and after my 16 days on the Gold Coast, I went travelling to the major cities- Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. I love cities and these particular cities were amazing and full of culture and vibrancy, however nothing could beat the Gold Coast for me, it really is a surfer's paradise!
With miles and miles of beautiful beaches, boredom is never a problem. There are so many activities to be involved with, as I experienced. If you are looking for work, there are many opportunities on the Gold Coast, I saw posters everywhere advertising jobs for hostels, restaurants and sports activities.
Did you discover any hidden gems while you were away?
Something to note especially for Brits: food and drink in general are relatively expensive in Australia so it's best to be aware of this when deciding your budget! There was a cool bar in the centre of Surfers Paradise called Beer Garden where there is a different genre of music and live bands each night.
Whilst I was in Aquarius Backpackers in Southport, just a few minutes north of Surfers Paradise, they have a Big Backpackers Night out every Wednesday and Saturday which includes entry in to 4 major bars and 4 free drinks as well as discounts on drinks all night. This was a good way to meet backpackers from other hostels as 7 hostels take part!
Another place I would definitely check out whilst in the area is Byron Bay, home of some of the best surfing beaches and you can stand by the most easterly point of Australia. It's a really quirky and chilled beach town.
Can you share the photo that you're most proud of taking from the Gold Coast and tell us a little about it?
This was taken on the second day of my trip as I just could not wait any longer to meet the koalas. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted that very famous side view photo holding a koala bear and it finally happened. I had a free day entry pass to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where I got to feed some kangaroos, see some huge crocodiles as well as dingos and Tasmanian devils as well as checking out the incredible landscape vies from the top of the rainforest. However, the best thing by far was hanging out with those fuzzy grey bears, whom are surprisingly pretty heavy. I wanted to smuggle one home with me!
Now that you've had the taste for travel, are you planning on travelling more or taking a gap year in the future and if so, where would you go?
I've always wanted to visit Australia however winning this prize package gave me the ultimate experience of the land down under. Last year I studied in New Jersey in the States for a semester and after this Aussie trip, the travelling bug is definitely back in full force.
I am considering going back to Australia within the next few years on a working holiday visa. The majority of people I met on the tours and in the hostels were working there and it looked like so much fun. The international work experience would be very beneficial in today's job market and on your days off, you can just head straight to the beach.
Did you find any great Australian food while you were away?
Being vegetarian, I wasn't too adventurous in my food choices and stayed far away from the kangaroo! There are numerous cafes and awesome milkshakes and cocktails along the waterfront and if all else failed, there was always a Nando's nearby.
What would you say to anyone thinking about entering a gapyear.com competition?
Definitely go for it. You always think it is never going to be you, but it just might well be. You've got to be in it to win it and I am so glad that I gave myself that chance!
If you're thinking about heading out to Australia, check out our Australia country section and don't forget to download our Australia Planner before you go. You should also take a look at Tourism Australia's new Guide to Adventure too.
If you'd like to see more than the cosmopolitan cities that Australia has to offer, take a look at The Green Behind the Gold to see how you can get your fix of the countryside of the beach while you're Down Under.
And if you'd like to enter our latest gapyear.com competition, head over to our Facebook page for our 12 Days of Competition with a new prize every day!
You can see more from Frances' trip to the Gold Coast on her blog francesisgoingtoaustralia.tumblr.com.
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