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{No, no that is not me… photo from Tourism Queensland}

So, I arrived in Sydney yesterday a few hours later than expected, (due to the Virgin check-in system going on the blink, which pushed back all the flights for the day). Thankfully I skipped the insane line as I had checked in via web from home – win!

I caught the train from the airport to Kings Cross station – the closest station to where I’m staying in Potts Point. I had just dumped all my stuff in my room when I checked my phone and saw a DM from Darren (a.k.a. Problogger). He told me to check my email… and I have to admit, I had NO idea why!! I thought it might be something related to the Problogger conference I’m going to in October, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I opened up my email and noticed one from Tourism Queensland. At this point, my heart started to race!

You see, I had entered this competition earlier in the year, but as the winners had been chosen a while back, I hadn’t given it any more thought.

Well, turns out one of the international winners had to pull out at the last minute… and I just happened to be next on the list!

The gist of the email was ‘we’d love you to come aboard for this trip to North Queensland… and by the way, we leave next Tuesday!’

You know, I am thankful every single day that I’m self-employed. I love waking up in the morning and knowing my day is completely mine to plan – that whatever I accomplish is down to me and me alone.

Yesterday, I was more thankful than ever that I didn’t have a boss to ask for time off! Although, I could have just looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘hey, boss, so, I’ve been invited to go on this trip to  North Queensland with 9 other bloggers from around the world. We’re getting to have 2 days of workshops with one of the world’s top bloggers, and we also get to experience some of the amazing natural wonders – like the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree. I know I’m a Queenslander, but I’ve never been to the Daintree, and I haven’t seen the reef since I was a kid! Of course, it’s next week, so… can I have the week off?’

To which mirror-boss would have replied ‘HELL YES YOU CAN!!’.

So, I just skipped that whole conversation and jumped around the room a few times trying not to scream in excitement. Then I called Nick to make sure it was cool for me to disappear again for a week (I’ve already left him alone with the new furbaby until  Sunday…).

Predictably, because he is the best husband ON THE PLANET he excitedly told me to go for it… and to ring him back when I was more coherent and explain exactly what it was I was going to be doing on this trip.

So, in short, I’ll be heading to North Queensland next Tuesday for 5 days and nights of exploration with these other fabulous bloggers from around the world!

Of course, I will be sharing the highlights of the trip with you all – and no doubt sharing some juicy blogging advice from the 2 days of workshops we have with Darren. I am so incredibly excited to share the beauty of my home state with you all – I’ve lived here all my life and I truly think it’s the best place in the world!

To follow my journey as-it-happens, make sure to follow me on twitter (I’m @JessVanDen)  and instagram (I’m JessVanDen on there, too), I’ll be snapping photos like crazy! To follow all of us and see what we’re up to – just check out the #QldBlog hashtag on twitter.

I’m still on Cloud 9 over here… but enough chatter, I’ve got some tog-shopping to do (togs=swimwear for you non-Aussies – I shall educate you in some of our slang along the way)!!


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