I've been everywhere – Mandy!
"I've been to Alice Springs, Esperance, Coober Pedy, Derby, Kakadu, Tamworth, Bendigo, Moree ..."
Amanda and her mum and dad, from Lemon Tree Passage, Port Stephens, have been taking to the highways and byways around and across Australia since July 2004, and they've no intention of stopping – their next trip is already planned. Just check the map – the seven different colours of pins represent the family's different journeys.
Amanda was one of the very first NSW residents to sign up to the Companion Card scheme, and she makes full use of her card to get free entry for her mum or dad at every venue that will take it. "And if Mandy doesn't see the Companion Card logo displayed somewhere, she always asks the person at the desk if they accept it," says dad Howard.
Everywhere the family goes – towing their caravan behind their four-wheel-drive – they take hundreds of photos that are kept either in old-fashioned albums or on Mandy's iPad, and Mandy also collects postcards, brochures, tickets, labels and flyers for her ever-growing pile of travel scrapbooks. Every one of these volumes is a treasured record of yet another memorable trip, and Mandy's joy in her creations is obvious as she turns the pages and recalls happily what she saw, said and did on that particular occasion.
Especially memorable places where Mandy has used her Companion Card recently are the Pichi Richi Railway, a heritage steam route at Quorn in South Australia's Flinders Ranges ("Tickets cost about $80," notes her mum); the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, central western Queensland; the nearby Min Min Encounter centre in Boulia; the boat service out to Hamilton and Daydream islands; a cruise and the Skyrail rainforest cableway in Cairns; and the Mount Morgan mining museum in Rockhampton, Queensland.
Asked if she could choose just one place to return to, Mandy's eyes light up and she says immediately: "Monkey Mia!"
Keep watching for details of Mandy and her family's next trip!