Original article from The Daily Mail UK.
Natalie Otto won an incredible $25,000 trip travelling around Australia – with skydiving over Byron Bay, snorkelling in the Great Barrier reef and abseiling off cliffs in Brisbane all included in the itinerary.
The catch? She had to go on the adventure with a complete stranger, Tom Cunningham, moving between states in a Jucy camper-van and spending and five weeks alongside him.
Making things even more difficult was Miss Otto, 25, had to leave her boyfriend Callum Hulst in Melbourne to go on the assignment, but insists he was always going to let her follow her dreams.
‘My poor boyfriend has got a little bit of flack about this whole thing. All of my friends have asked how he feels about me travelling the country with another boy but he’s super supportive,’ she told the Today show before they set off in October.
In a Facebook post from that time, Mr Hulst addressed the peculiar circumstances and said he was ‘very proud’ of his girlfriend.
‘So proud that Natalie Otto has got the opportunity of a lifetime to travel the whole of Australia and promote everything adventure and tourism our land Down Under has to offer,’ he wrote.
‘You’ve got a talent and a heart of gold and I cant wait to see what you capture from this trip of a lifetime. CRIKEY you’ll do it all whilst being the cover girl of Travello.’
Miss Otto’s travelling partner Mr Cunningham said he was ‘very lucky’ to be chosen to travel alongside her, and the pair began uploading a number of cheeky snaps together enjoying the great outdoors.
They could be seen sharing a beer on the back of a boat, learning how to surf, snorkelling along the coastal reef and even meeting the Irwin family at Australia Zoo.
After five weeks of travel Mr Cunningham was asked whether anything vaguely romantic had struck up between the two, but he said they were ‘just best mates’.
However, things might have been different had she not been tied down.
‘Nothing happened, and the only romantic elements were the locations we stayed in. But what I will say, is if she was single, I would ask her out in a heartbeat after this trip,’ he commented.
Mr Cunningham, who is originally from Sydney, described the experience as a ‘great way of seeing my backyard’ and was indebted to Miss Otto for the good memories.
‘What a great way to see my backyard of Australia and what a great way to make a friend for life. Nat was amazing to road trip with and I consider myself very lucky for having her there to share it all with. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t laugh because of her,’ he wrote on Instagram alongside photos of them together.
When Miss Otto flew to Adelaide to do another week of sightseeing without Mr Cunningham, she commented that it was ‘super weird being there without him’.
The pair are now back in their respective states and preparing to enjoy the silly season ahead – with Miss Otto’s boyfriend no doubt glad to have her back.