Anna Meares: Five places that made me

NEW ZEALAND

With my father being born in Nelson, in my youth New Zealand was a place we travelled often to visit family. Even at a young age I was captivated by its tranquil beauty and endless green landscapes. Growing up in country Queensland, the green was quite a contrast to the red dirt area I called home. It was also in New Zealand that I first saw snow – I was 16 years old and travelling with my sister Tracey and her husband Richard.

SWITZERLAND

On my first senior cycling trip away for Australia, we had a camp in Aigle, Switzerland in preparation for the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002. I had never before laid my eyes on mountains as grand and beautiful as the Swiss Alps, which only added to my growing love of landscapes and the scenic beauty of Mother Nature. On my day off I took the train and hiked to try and reach the snow patches that covered the Alps only to realise they were much bigger than even my eyes could comprehend. I didn't touch any Swiss snow.

VANUATU

I took a cruise in 2008 with Vanuatu being one of the destinations. I hiked through some stunningly beautiful forests to a 50-metre waterfall which I abseiled down. To this day, this is still one of my most magical holiday experiences.

ENGLAND

On visiting London for the 2012 Olympics I had the opportunity to explore London both before and during the games. I felt like I was in a travel magazine - the iconic buildings, history and grandeur  – London certainly did not disappoint.

ULURU/DARWIN

Growing up in the country and having the opportunity to travel the world as an international cyclist, I always had the desire to get to know and see my own country. My first port of call was of course Uluru. There is something about the colour of the dirt and the enormity of our land that draws me in. A visit to the Olgas, Uluru and a hike around Kings Canyon left my mind with imprints of the beauty of our country that affected me so much, I just had to go back.  Post Rio I travelled further north to Darwin – the ability to learn more about the culture, understand the land and see the importance of animal care were true highlights for me. I have visited some incredible countries and cities around the world, but for me there really is still no place like home.

Anna Meares is heading to Thailand courtesy of Hoot Holidays February 21-27. See hootholidays.com.aufacebook.com/Anna-Meares-152119624818055/

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