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Kate Upton: Making Monday (Monday) so good to you

IT WAS hardly a surprise to any of us when Kate Upton, after only a year with our humble franchise, delivered the obvious cover choice for our 2012 SI Swimsuit Issue. The year before, the rookie appeared on the cover in a miniature fashion, and below her the freshly-earned nickname "Kate the Great!" (Psychic abilities: we haz them.) Recently, in a fit of nostalgia, I came across a file of images from that cover shoot in way down in Australia*. Twas on this fabled journey that Kate wove herself into the fabric of America (or so we like to tell ourselves). Not the type to keep such a glorious secret under wraps, here are some of the best from the trip, plus—as we always do—some extra footage you may not have seen yet.

Mondays rule.

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*By the way, you can thank Troy Robertson—longtime assistant to Walter Iooss, a photographer in his own right and perhaps one of the luckiest guys on the planet—for seven years worth of stunning behind-the-scenes shots.

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GALLERY: Behind—and in front of— the scenes in Australia (FULL SIZE)

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VIDEO: "Our Little Mermaid" makes waves on set