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Celebrity Travel with Susie O'neill

Tricia Welsh

Susie O'NeillBorn in sunny Queensland in 1973, Susie has had one of the most successful swimming careers in Australia’s history. During her 10 years of competitive swimming, Susie claimed 35 Australian titles and eight Olympic medals.

She shone at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, winning gold, silver and bronze medals, becoming Australia’s most successful Olympian since Shane Gould in 1972. Susie continued her winning streak at the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games in 1998, with a record eight medals, including six gold.

And it wasn’t just medals that Susie won; she also won the hearts of sports lovers the world over with her shy, infectious smile and gracious manner, both in and out of the pool.

In 1998, Susie married Brisbane ophthalmologist Cliff Fairley, then retired from swimming after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was an International Olympic Committee delegate for several years until her young family became her priority. She is now the proud and busy mother of two-year-old Alix and seven-month-old William, as well as being the ‘face’ of Farm Pride Eggs and So Good.

Where do you love to take your family and why?
Our family holidays are usually a trip down the coast from Brisbane to the beach. Both Cliff and I love the beach and getting away from the city, so the south coast of Queensland is the perfect spot. It’s also not too far from home, which makes it a bit easier.

What do you look for in a holiday?

Somewhere that’s easy to get to, has plenty of space for kids to run around and, of course, good weather. I like to spend a lot of time outside, going for walks or down at the beach.

Do you take the kids to places you went to as a child?
Not really, not yet anyway. They are still quite young. As they start to get older, I’m sure we’ll have the opportunity to get to some of the places that Cliff and I went as kids. 
Susie and William
What sort of things do you like to do with the kids on holiday?

Mainly lots of fun activities outside. Alix really enjoys the water, lots of walks, playing in the park, swimming and playing down at the beach. William is a bit young at the moment to get involved in too many activities, but he enjoys long walks in the pram.

Any tips on how to make a holiday with kids better?

I think that one of the most important things to consider is the place you are staying. I find it much easier to stay in self-contained apartments with all the facilities you need readily available, rather than in a hotel. They also have a bit more space, which is important when you’re holidaying with kids. I also like to go somewhere that doesn’t involve too much travelling. It can be very hard with young kids to go on long flights or drives, as they can get very restless. 

Is there anywhere on your holiday wish list that you haven’t been, or somewhere that you’ve been that you’d love to take the kids to?
When they get a bit older, I would really like to take them up to the Great Barrier Reef. This was somewhere I went as a kid and really loved it. I think it would be great for them to go snorkelling around the reef and see what an amazing place it really is.


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