THEY say life throws you curve balls when you least expect it and last year was no exception. My mum lost her battle with pancreatic cancer last June and it hit all of us hard.
This cruel blow made my dad realise that we needed to stop putting things off. One of the things he's always wanted to do was go around Australia - so that's exactly what we did.
My dad, sister and I left Brisbane on November 21 as we attempted to see all of Australia in 15 days. We tackled seven cities on this trip: Cairns, Darwin, Alice Springs, Perth, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney.
We spent two days in every city except Perth and Hobart, where we spent three, so we could cover more ground outside of the cities.
It's amazing that in one country you can go from deserts to beautiful beaches, from cultural cities to outback towns - we saw it all.
To explore each city we made the most of explorer buses. These take you on a tour of the main sites and give you the option to hop on and hop off whenever you please. It makes sightseeing so much easier knowing that the bus will come around every half an hour.
If you're considering this trip be prepared for the crazy weather changes. We went from Darwin, where it was so humid outside that my glasses fogged up and it felt like you were walking through a waterfall, to Melbourne, where you needed a full overcoat to deal with the freezing wind and the cold.
If someone asked me would I do this trip over again, I would in a heartbeat.
I might have added an extra day here and there and I might have wanted to do a few other things but overall it was the perfect amount of time. I loved being able to spend the time with my dad and sister seeing all these incredible places. I would recommend doing this trip to anyone, just be warned you will be tired by the end.
But you'll look back and say did I really go around Australia in 15 days?
Seven must-do experiences:
Fremantle Prison, Fremantle - This prison was a working prison until 1991 but when you walk inside you swear you are entering the 1800s. The "doing time" tour gives you a great overview of the prison. The tour runs for an hour and 15 minutes and departs every 30 minutes between 10am and 5pm.
Crocosaurus Cove - Darwin is known for crocodiles so it's no surprise this made my top seven attractions. But I wasn't expecting it to be right in the main street of Darwin, next to a supermarket. There's a mix of reptiles, crocodiles and fish as well as keeper shows.
Kinky Boots the Musical - One of the things I really wanted to do on this trip was to see a musical. This musical is one of my favourites now, full of catchy songs, lots of colour and a brilliant and important story. Kinky Boots is playing at Her Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne until March 26 then Sydney's Capitol Theatre from April 12. Tickets available from Ticketek and Ticketmaster.
Helicopter flight over Alice Springs - This experience really gives you a perspective of just how far away Alice Springs is from anything. The views you get from the chopper are incredible and it makes you appreciate how beautiful our country really is. Scenic flights leave from Alice Springs Airport Precinct and vary in price and time.
Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre - This school uses computers to broadcast lessons to students who may live up to 2000km from Alice Springs. We looked at the classrooms the teachers use and also got to watch a recorded class with some cute prep children. It is about a 40-minute walk from the town centre.
Port Arthur - It was interesting to learn about the lives of the convicts who were housed here as well as visit the memorial for the 1996 massacre. Port Arthur is a 90-minute drive south-east of Hobart.
Freycinet Peninsula/Lodge - On the eastern side of Tasmania, this peninsula is absolutely stunning. The lodge is nestled among the trees, resulting in amazing views when you wake if you're lucky enough to have a cabin with a view. A peninsula cruise is also recommended to take in the coastline.