Places in the heart: Catriona Rowntree

As the youngest of four children, TV presenter Catriona Rowntree has fond memories of driving holidays to the Gold Coast — except for the car sickness, of course.

Gold Coast family holidays were pure joy. I was always trying to keep up with my brother and sisters and I adore this beach photo because we are all together and just loving it. That's me on the right, aged about three, with my brother Andrew and my sisters Lucinda and Marisa. To me, it's the quintessential fun, family photo.

Holidays were really a tribute to my parents and what they endured on our very noisy car trips. We kids, Mum, Dad and Nan would pile into our big station wagon and munch on snake lollies, and my sister and I would wave at the cars behind us. I suffered from terrible car sickness and we had to stop all the time so I could throw up. To this day I cannot eat snakes!

I feel I know the drive from Sydney to the Gold Coast – especially the Big Banana and Big Pineapple — like the back of my hand.

We stayed at my Mum's godmother's home, which was a mansion right on the beach at the end of Cavill Avenue. In those days there were no wind tunnels or beach shadows from high-rise buildings.

I remember waking up one morning after a huge tropical storm, which had whipped up a massive cloud of sea foam.

I thought we were in a huge bubble bath and we had the time of our lives playing in it on the beach. I also fondly remember feeding the seals at Sea World. I was so small they had to lift me up to reach the seal's mouth.

To me, you don't need to spend a fortune to have a great family holiday. It's all about spending time together and making the most of the drive there.

Now that I'm a parent, I understand it's about the journey as much as the destination.

- Interview: Mal Chenu.

This series of articles produced with support from Tourism Australia.

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