From scaling palm trees to dipping beneath waterfalls, Bondi Lifeguard Trent 'Maxi' Maxwell didn't take the October long weekend for granted. As one of five 'travel correspondents' for Flight Centre, Trent spent two bliss-filled days in Queensland's Far North.
One year earlier, Trent and fellow lifeguard Jesse Polock called in on Palm Cove as part of a jet-ski journey from Sydney to Cairns – a 2,500 kilometre voyage raising awareness and funds for mental health foundation Headspace.
"Good part of the world up in Cairns," enthuses Trent. "Tahlia loved it – she wished we could stay there for a week!"
Until now, the long-term lifeguard had only spent all of 15 minutes in Palm Cove, refuelling the jet skis before continuing on to Ellis Beach. He and Tahlia made up for this brief introduction, with two days of sun-drenched serenity.
"We walked up and down the beach, checking out the nice cafes along the way. One memorable one was the Chill Cafe right on the corner of the Esplanade," says Trent. "They had the best breakfast ever. I like basil and pesto and stuff, but whatever they did was amazing. I'm from Bondi and I still think it was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had!"
Cairns left a lasting impression on Trent when he visited last year, which is why he chose to go back for seconds – this time as a Flight Centre 'travel correspondent'. So, what was it about this far-flung corner of the country that grabbed Trent's attention?
"I thought it was a really cool little hip town; very touristy. It reminded me of Bondi a little bit because of all the different cultures. Everyone you chat to is from a different part of the world," says Trent. "It's a good experience to get out of Sydney and get up there."
Trent discovered Cairns' tagline "Where The Rainforest Meets The Reef" firsthand when he and Tahlia ventured inland to the ethereally named Crystal Cascades. The Cascades are a favourite local haunt, especially when the humidity picks up, thanks to its freshwater swimming holes and gently cascading waterfalls, hugged by tropical rainforest.
"We went to Crystal Cascades at Redlynch, which was beautiful," recalls Trent. "But there were a few things we didn't get to do. I've never ridden a horse before so that's on the list, and also the Coral Reef. I saw a bit of it when I did the jet ski ride, but I never got to snorkel or dive out there. I'm definitely keen to do that."
It might be more than just a fleeting love affair with the Far North, with Trent going on to reveal some long-term plans in the pipeline.
"I couldn't believe how cheap the houses are up there! In the next five years I'm hopefully going to buy somewhere and I might change my mind from Sydney to Cairns," he admits. "I couldn't live up there because there's no surf, but I'd definitely go up for a week every couple of months just to relax. It's very, very nice up there."
For now, Trent plans to revisit Palm Cove and Cairns on another charitable endeavour. "Me and the other lifeguard are planning another trip in the next year or so, so hopefully we'll get up there again soon. It probably won't be jet skis this time, but it will be something pretty close. We don't know just yet."
How would Trent sum up his trip in three words? "Relaxing, beautiful, great lifestyle." We know that's four, but we're not going to disagree! Now, let's watch Trent trying to climb a palm tree in Palm Cove...
We've already caught up with athlete Richard Colman and Katina Vangopoulos, but there are still two more blog wrap-ups from our October long weekend travel correspondents to come. Can't wait until then? Search #travelcorrespondent on Twitter and Instagram.