Ok so this year started with us sitting in the Urunga Waters Caravan Park and guess what …. we ended it in exactly the same place! Yes we are back here again over the Christmas/New Year break. We started 2017 off with us at Urunga, near Coffs Harbour on the mid north coast of NSW. We spent the Christmas/New Year period here with friends last year and celebrated New Year’s Eve with complete random strangers who had camped next to us. We invited them to our campsite to celebrate NYE and we had a great time, that’s what camping is all about.
Well now we are back here again and this time we celebrated with our friends, Lauren and Liam and their kids and niece, our mate Stewy and his daughter and other friends Michelle & Matt and their son. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to start the New Year than with our beautiful friends.
So again, this has been an incredibly busy year for us. It’s been a year of ups and downs in many ways, we’ve had the stress of renovating, a change of jobs, medical issues and operations and numerous other obstacles, but we’ve also had many great times as well.
Let’s look back on 2017 …..
World Record Attempt
Always ready to try something new, this year on Saturday 4th February, we took part in the world record attempt for the World’s Biggest Haka, which took place on Waitangi Day 2017.
The Haka that we learnt and performed was the famous ‘Kamate’ as performed by the NZ All Blacks and Kiwi Rugby League Teams.
Unfortunately the record was not broken, but we had a fun day and also tried our first Māori hangi … amazing!
Little Levi turned 1
On 6th March our little nephew turned 1! We are all in love with him and he is truly the cutest little boy around! It’s awesome watching his little personality grow and beginning to interact with us more. He’s one headstrong boy, needs to do everything himself and he has no fear! He loves dogs and will happily share his food with them! He loves feeding our two and they are so gentle with him (so much for big scary, dangerous staffys!)
Min returned from the UK
After 2 years working in the UK as a Sous Chef, George’s daughter returned back home in August. She’s settled back in to life in Australia (even having a job lined up before she even landed in the country!). Not sure how long she’ll hang around for though, we have a feeling she’ll be off exploring again very soon.
Spreading the word
This year we were nominated for the Travel Blog Awards with Mr Promocode. We didn’t win, but we were grateful just to be nominated. We’ve gained quite a following on social media over the past years and we love sharing our adventures with everyone. We’ve been approached by news readers and government bodies to use our photos over the past couple of years, as well as most recently by Cub Campers, so social media is certainly the way of the future for advertising and spreading the word.
We are also now in the Top 3% of TripAdviser Reviewers, making us a Level 6 Top Contributor and one of the most popular reviewers in Sydney, with over 45,000 readers.
This was the year to knock off a few of the home renovations we had been talking about for so long. We understand why people stress with renovations, we had lots of arguments and lots of tears, but we are both very happy with the results.
The kitchen started off as maybe just replacing cupboard doors and bench top and ended up turning into a complete rebuild. We have a huge kitchen and it’s one of the reasons Shelly wanted to buy the house, so this rebuild was important to get it right. We both love the end result, just a few little finishing touches still to go and it’s done! (yes George, the plantation shutters aren’t installed yet, apparently this is all Shelly’s fault!)
The front door has made a huge difference and we love it. It’s the first thing people see so we are getting lots of compliments about this one! Wasn’t hard to be better than the old entrance way!
Lastly we redid the powder room and it finally matches the bathroom (only took us about 9 years!).
We had two new babies born this year (well one late December last year, but we will include her too!). George’s cousin welcomed little baby Alexander and Shelly’s cousin welcome miss Chloé.
One of Shelly’s cousins turned 50 this year and all the family made the trip out to Lucknow, in the central west region of NSW, to surprise her. It was a great get-together and a good excuse for a weekend away! Shelly’s boss and his wife also both had their 50th birthday and we celebrated with them at their joint party,
Another cousin had their 21st birthday early in the year, and we partied away with another at his 40th. We also joined another friend to celebrate his 40th birthday with a weekend cruise.
George’s dad turned 70 this year and the family gathered to help celebrate with a beautiful lunch. Of course there was also Levi’s 1st birthday and a couple of weddings thrown in as well! We also attended a 1st birthday party and naming day, which turned into a marriage proposal too! It was certainly a day of memories and celebrations for that family!
Shelly’s sister, Kylie, and her husband, purchased their first family home this year in the Hawkesbury. It’s a beautiful area, with the house backing onto the national park. The whole family, including Levi and his little furry 4 legged sister, Gucci, are loving their new home.
Scenic Flight over Fraser Island
Over the years we’ve been on quite a few scenic flights, we’ve been on little Cessna’s (George has even flown and landed one), we’ve been on seaplanes and a helicopter, but the one thing we had never done in all our visits to Fraser Island was to take a scenic flight over the island. This October, driving back to camp one afternoon we saw the Air Fraser Island pilots and planes on the beach and pulled over to discuss taking a joy flight. As it turned out, they had a bit of time right then, so we handed over some money and jumped in the plane for a scenic flight over the island. Wow, it was a great flight and amazing to see the island from above. For years we’ve been exploring Fraser Island on foot and by 4WD, but to see it from above was a totally different experience. Highly recommend this for your next visit to Fraser Island.
The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer
Not too many mods this year, but we did get a second battery installed in the camper trailer to give us a little extra battery life when we are free camping. We also painted the rims black (properly this time!) and they look great.
As for the old Prado, she got a full new set of shocks and springs.
The 150 series Prado got a new ARB Winch Bar, Brush Bars and Side steps AND a new Winch! This is turning into one expensive little Prado!
Everyone always says to us ‘you two are always on holidays’! It doesn’t feel like that to us, but to be honest we did have a few this year, some were just a weekend away and others a bit longer!
- January was our week in Urunga
- February we spent a weekend at Forster with George’s parents
- March we packed up the camper and headed down to Kiama for the weekend for the Red Hot Summer Tour …… John Farnham was the headline act!
- April it was time for our annual visit to Fraser Island and this time we even fitted in a few days on Moreton Island aswell, our first ever visit.
- May (also known as the month of Shelly!) we spent the weekend away for Shelly’s birthday. We actually stayed in a hotel about 15min drive from home (it had been a gift) and spent the weekend drinking cocktails, going to the drive-in, checking out the markets etc. Considering we were so close to home, we actually had a great weekend.
- July saw us spend a weekend away with friends 4WDing on Stockton Beach and the Watagans. We also spent a weekend at Lucknow with family celebrating Shelly’s cousin’s surprise 50th birthday party.
- October we headed back up to Fraser Island again with friends, never get sick of that place! October also saw us board a cruise ship for a 3 night cruise with friends to celebrate a 40th birthday.
- And of course, December we are back here at Urunga.
So yes ok, when you put it like that I guess maybe we do have a lot of holidays!
We also had quite a few weekend 4WD trips by ourselves, with friends and with 4WD clubs. We spent a few weekends at Stockton Beach and had a few days playing out at Lithgow.
Our regular followers will remember our night stranded in the Watagans! The Watagan State Forest is an unpredictable area and unfortunately this time it got us too and we spent hours trying to get the 3 4WD’s out, spent a lot of time backtracking and snatching that afternoon/night!
Jobs and future planning
This year also saw us in the early planning stages of us getting sorted for our trip around Australia and ultimate move to Queensland. Still a few years off yet, but we’ve started decluttering at home and planning for our life on the road. We both undertook a barista course to give us another skill to use if we need to pick up work on the road.
We started a new business selling Scentsy which is still very new but so far we are doing ok. Hopefully we can build up a customer base and spread the word while we are travelling and bring in a little extra income. Check out our website, Awaken The Scent if you are interested.
After 11 years working for Bridgestone, it was time for a change and George starts a new job in January as a Business Development Manager for Monster Lubricants. After spending majority of his working career in the tyre industry, George is excited about this new challenge. Oh and in case you were wondering, it’s lubricants as in engine oils, coolants etc ….. not the other type of lubricants as many people have thought!
How we spent Christmas
We put on lunch at our house on Christmas Eve for Shelly’s side of the family. Christmas has always been a big thing and Shelly’s mum always put on the full hot Christmas Lunch every year. After Noeline passed away, Shelly continued this tradition and always put on the big Christmas lunch …. not as traditional as far as food is concerned, but we all still gather and open presents and then have the big sit down lunch.
This year was a lot of fun as Levi was interested in opening his presents and playing with all his toys …. who knew a 20 month old would get so excited over a pair of shoes! His face when he opened the box and smiled and said ‘shoes’ was hilarious! He sure was one spoilt little kid …. and I’m sure that continued on Christmas Day with his presents from his other grandparents and aunty as well!
Christmas Day we both headed to George’s parents house to spend the day with George’s side of the family. Another day with plenty of food and lots of present giving. Our niece and nephew scored pretty good on Christmas Day as well! Christmas really is all about the kids and we love buying them lots of presents.
Finally Boxing Day we went to see the kids and exchange presents. We spent a lovely morning with Min and Tre and their adorable funny little dogs before continuing on our journey to Urunga for our week long camping trip.
What’s planned for 2018?
Australia Day this year will be spent camping locally with a group of friends. In fact it’s a whole 29km from home! At least we’ll be able to pop home if we forget anything! Should be a fun weekend though.
In February we head down to Tasmania for a few days for our wedding anniversary. Neither of us have been to Tasmania before, so this will give us an idea of what it’s like. We would really love to go back with the 4WD at some stage and spend our time exploring.
2018 also sees us make the trek back up to Cape York again. This time we will be joined by a few other families and 4WD’s ….. apparently as we’ve been once we are the ones to go with, so we’ll be leading our ‘George & Shelly Cape York Adventure Tour’!! haha We are both excited to head back up there again and share the natural beauty with our friends. This trip we are hoping to fit in an overnight stay at Roko Island which looks absolutely divine.
We’ve got more renovations planned, repainting the whole house and renovating and landscaping the backyard, plus a few other things on the list, we will get there!
Lastly, we’ve been approached by Cub Campers to see if we’d like to be part of their ‘Cub Stories’ web series. So we will be meeting with them in the new year and filming our story, we’ll be sure to let you all know when it’s finalised!
Goodbye 2017 …. hello 2018!
What a great night we shared to bring in the new year. We all decorated the camper trailers, we set up our nibbles for the night, had fridges full of beer 🍺 and cocktails 🍹 too! There were plenty of glow sticks and sparklers too! Although we were probably the loudest group in the campsite we all struggled to make it to midnight, I think we were all in bed by 12.15am! Regardless it was such a relaxed night, just the perfect way to end a busy year.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our family, friends and followers for their support over the past year. We absolutely love being able to share our adventures with you all, so if you know anyone who may be interested in seeing our photos and/or reading about our adventures, please tell them about us and ask them to follow our blog or follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Wishing you all a very happy, safe and adventure filled 2018 ….. and as we always say, never ever take life for granted, live your life to the fullest and live a life of no regrets. Bring on 2018!