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Writer reveals how she goes on vacation to Australia’s hidden gems for FREE, despite the limitations of the coronavirus

A woman who has sat around the world says the ticket to a free vacation during coronavirus restrictions is to stay in your country.

Madolline Gourley, 29, of Brisbane, has vacationed for free in 12 different states in the US for the past eight years by offering cat sitting services.

The writer receives free shelter, food, and transportation in exchange for taking care of a home and pet while the owner is away.

Madolline Gourley, 29, from Brisbane, pictured with Jaspurr for whom she was with a couple in West End, Brisbane last Christmas. Mrs. Gourley sat in front of them again a few weeks ago

Madolline Gourley, 29, from Brisbane, pictured with Jaspurr for whom she was with a couple in West End, Brisbane last Christmas. Mrs. Gourley sat in front of them again a few weeks ago

With the coronavirus restrictions open, Madolline scored a free home in Darwin for Christmas. One thing she will definitely do is the crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River

With the coronavirus restrictions open, Madolline scored a free home in Darwin for Christmas. One thing she will definitely do is the crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River

With the coronavirus restrictions open, Madolline scored a free home in Darwin for Christmas. One thing she will definitely do is the crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River

Traveling in your own state is not a drama even when the state lines close again - but Ms Gourley is going from Brisbane to Darwin so she can see the beautiful waterfalls like this one in Kakadu (pictured) which will be giant streams in the wet season

Traveling in your own state is not a drama even when the state lines close again - but Ms Gourley is going from Brisbane to Darwin so she can see the beautiful waterfalls like this one in Kakadu (pictured) which will be giant streams in the wet season

Traveling in your own state is not a drama even when the state lines close again – but Ms Gourley is going from Brisbane to Darwin so she can see the beautiful waterfalls like this one in Kakadu (pictured) which will be giant streams in the wet season

Madolline pictured in November 2019 when she spent 10 days with two cats in Launceston, Tasmania. She took a day trip to Cradle Mountain National Park (pictured) and loved it

Madolline pictured in November 2019 when she spent 10 days with two cats in Launceston, Tasmania. She took a day trip to Cradle Mountain National Park (pictured) and loved it

Madolline pictured in November 2019 when she spent 10 days with two cats in Launceston, Tasmania. She took a day trip to Cradle Mountain National Park (pictured) and loved it

With the coronavirus ending travel abroad and limiting travel between states, you may think there are no houses to live in Australia and the possibilities have dried up.

That’s not the case, says Ms. Gourley, who just got a house-sit in Darwin at Christmas.

Tropical Darwin finds itself in the wet season in December, a time of crackling thunderstorms, possible cyclones and steaming hot weather.

Madolline will not swim at Christmas. Every river in the Northern Territory is ravaged by saltwater crocodiles, like this monster that bit while catching a barramundi at Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu National Park. Great for nature photos

Madolline will not swim at Christmas. Every river in the Northern Territory is ravaged by saltwater crocodiles, like this monster that bit while catching a barramundi at Cahill's Crossing in Kakadu National Park. Great for nature photos

Madolline will not swim at Christmas. Every river in the Northern Territory is ravaged by saltwater crocodiles, like this monster that bit while catching a barramundi at Cahill’s Crossing in Kakadu National Park. Great for nature photos

It’s the low season for tourists, making it a paradise for off-season adventure travel – if you can stand the heat.

The leaping crocodile cruises are on and normally calming waterfalls in Kakadu swell to a violent size, hurling boulders and logs across the slope.

“The house sitting market is certainly quieter than usual at the moment, but I’ve seen a lot of ads on Aussie House Sitters in recent weeks,” she told Daily Mail Australia.

“This is where I landed the Darwin sit for Christmas.”

Ms. Gourley had to verify that the NT had lifted her coronavirus requirement for 14 days of self-funded hotel quarantine before responding to the ad.

She now keeps an eye on boundary updates in case there are any changes.

“Let’s hope COVID transmission rates remain low in Brisbane and the NT does not re-enact the ‘No people from Brisbane allowed’ rule,” she said.

The way to guarantee no drama is to vacation in your home state.

The gradual lifting of coronavirus restrictions means that people are now exploring the hidden gems in their own state that they may never have considered visiting before – and posting ads for house sitters.

Ms. Gourley said she had certainly seen an increase in house sitters in recent weeks.

“A few months ago, there were maybe 20 advertisements all over Australia,” she said.

Madolline saw cat sitter Jasper in Charleston, South Carolina, US in February of this year - more free accommodation just before the coronavirus pandemic started

Madolline saw cat sitter Jasper in Charleston, South Carolina, US in February of this year - more free accommodation just before the coronavirus pandemic started

Madolline saw cat sitter Jasper in Charleston, South Carolina, US in February of this year – more free accommodation just before the coronavirus pandemic started

An Aboriginal artist at work in Kakadu National Park, painting a saltwater crocodile. Madolline has scored free accommodation in Darwin's wet season, when there are no tourists around

An Aboriginal artist at work in Kakadu National Park, painting a saltwater crocodile. Madolline has scored free accommodation in Darwin's wet season, when there are no tourists around

An Aboriginal artist at work in Kakadu National Park, painting a saltwater crocodile. Madolline has scored free accommodation in Darwin’s wet season, when there are no tourists around

Now there are probably more than 20 ads by state and territory, and more are added every day.

“With restrictions easing and we approaching the end of the year when most people take time off from work, I think there will be more pet and pet sitter ads coming up.”

The coronavirus put an end to Ms. Gourley’s international cat sitter for now, but now she’s ticking Australian destinations off her bucket list.

‘Perth, Darwin and Adelaide are on my list, and I’m ticking off Darwin in December. I would also like to return to Tasmania, but Tasmania is still off limits to non-residents.

‘I’m also cat sitter for a local (Brisbane) couple in October … they were planning a trip abroad, but the coronavirus put an end to that. So they opted to get away on the weekends instead, to places like Warwick and close to Girraween National Park. ‘

Mrs. Gourley had a very important word of advice for future sitters: Love pets.

“My advice to anyone considering this is to think twice about whether or not you like animals,” she said.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR LANDING A FREE RESIDENCE

1. You have to love animals. Upload photos of yourself with pets when you create a profile

2. Be flexible. You want to go on holiday, but you cannot specify the dates on which you want to take this holiday if you are a house and pet sitter. Work with the available data.

3. Be accessible. Always keep your phone with you and check your emails. Some people give the sit to the first person to respond to their ad.

4. Talk about all the skills you can bring in. If you love gardening and they have a large yard, this skill may just win you over.

5. Emphasize characteristics such as being organized, reliable, responsible, being calm under pressure, because sometimes things can go wrong when sitting on a house

6. Tell the owner why you want to sit in front of them and personalize the application just as you would when applying.

7. If you are traveling from outside the owner’s town / municipality, let him know where you are and you will travel from there (own expense).

8. If you are concerned about the coronavirus, this may not be the time to sit at home

9. Ask questions. Some lists are very extensive. Others are not. If you are unsure about something, please mark it in your application.

10. Let the person know who is sitting down: is it alone, is it you and your partner, is it your whole family? Many entries say no children

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