About George & Shelly .... Off The Track

Married couple who love 4WDing, camping and travelling around this great country of ours. Join us on our journeys around Australia.

Tassie Trip Day 4: George Town

OK, so I guess it’s only fair that we found this town, Shelly has all her beaches and her own roadhouse and gorge (Mt Barnett) in Western Australia, so it was only a matter of time before he found his own town!  Yes, there is a George Town!

Now to be honest, this was basically on the way to where we were going, but the main reason we went to George Town was so that George could get a photo in front of the sign!

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Actually it was quite a pretty town, but not as old looking as we were expecting, given that George Town is Australia’s third-oldest settlement after Sydney and Hobart.

It’s a beautiful little town located on the banks of the Tamar River, about 45min from Launceston.

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It’s had a long maritime history and European settlement can be traced back to 1804 when William Paterson camped there after running his ship, HMS Buffalo, aground at York Cove.

He raised the Union Jack at Monument Point and fired a salute from his ship and claimed the area. The town itself is was named George Town, in honour of King George III.

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The Paterson Monument marks the spot where Colonel William Paterson took possession of northern Tasmania.

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Tassie Trip Day 3: Woolmers Estate & Brickendon

Whilst driving to Launceston we passed a turnoff to Woolmers Estate & Brickendon and decided to go and check them out and we are so glad we did.

Both of these places are World Heritage Listed Convict Sites.

Four Archer brothers emigrated from Hertford, UK between 1811 and 1833 and all settled close to one another, in fact William and Thomas farmed side by side.  Thomas Archer settled on Woolmers Estate which was a pastoral operation running sheep and cattle, while William Archer settled on Brickendon, an agricultural property.  Both estates were run independently of each other, but they did share their assigned convicts.

Both Woolmers Estate and Brickendon took part in the convict Assignment System which operated in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) until 1840.  Under the Assignment System, convicts were assigned to free settlers.  They were responsible for feeding, clothing and housing the convicts in return for their labour.  This helped convicts as they could then have skills or a trade when they received their ‘ticket of leave’ and were then free to leave and obtain paid employment anywhere.  It’s understood that they were so well looked after at these two properties that many stayed on for years or decades after receiving their ticket of leave.

 


Woolmers Estate

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Woolmers was owned by six generations of Thomas Archers.  The first Thomas founded the property in 1817 and the final Thomas passed away in 1994.  He did not have any heirs and left the property and it’s contents to the Archer Historical Foundation.

The property has numerous buildings where convicts once worked and lived.  It’s the perfect place to reflect on colonial life and look back at the heritage that has been preserved over the years.

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The Rose Garden was created in 2001 on the site of the original apple orchard.

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Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee applicable and you are provided with a booklet that allows a self guided tour around the property, except the main house.  There is an extra fee if you would like to see and go on the tour of the main house.

Address:  658 Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 2230

Website:  http://www.woolmers.com.au


Brickendon

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Much like the Woolmers Estate, there are numerous buildings to view and walk through in the farm village area.  There is a lot of information on the history of the property and the convicts that lived and worked there.  After walking around the village, it’s then time to explore the estate garden which is beautiful.

Brickendon has remained the same 1150 acres (465 hectares) as originally granted in 1824.

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It’s amazing to see the crimes that these poor souls were sentenced for …… 7 years for stealing some handkerchiefs or life for stealing a pair of trousers, wow!  It really starts to put things into perspective doesn’t it, we really do have it easy nowadays.

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The photo below was taken in the estate garden.  There was a wedding just finishing up the day we were there and its no wonder they hold so many weddings here, the backdrop is spectacular.

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Attraction Information:  There is an entry fee and you can take yourself on a self-guided tour, maps supplied.  This also gives you entry to the gardens which are across the road.

address:  Woolmers Lane, Longford

Telephone:  03 6391 1383

Website:  http://www.brickendon.com.au


 

Tassie Trip (Day 3):  Salamanca Markets to Launceston

img_3047Our Saturday started with an early morning visit to the world-famous ‘Salamanca Markets’.  What a coincidence that we just happened to be in Hobart on the day of the markets …. Ok, maybe a little bit of secret planning on Shelly’s part!

In 1974 local traders established the first Salamanca Market and this was taken over by Hobart City Council and really came into its own as a tourist attraction by the 1980’s.

Every Saturday morning, Salamanca Place comes alive with market stalls filled with fresh Tasmania produce and plenty of other goodies. The street is filled with about 300 stallholders setting up to sell their wares for the day.  There is so much variety on offer, including fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing & jewellery, toys, gifts & souvenirs and plenty of handmade arts of craft items.  Of course there is plenty of yummy food around for you to try as well.

Attraction InformationSalamanca Market is open every Saturday from 8am until 3pm at Salamanca Place, Hobart

After a morning at the markets it was time to head off to Launceston, our home for the next two nights.  We decided to head up the coastal road which took a little longer, but the views were definitely worth it.

On the way we called in to Bicheno.  This is a very picturesque town on the east cost of Tasmania, approximately half way between Hobart & Launceston, on the coast.  We called in here as everyone had told us how beautiful it was and how good the seafood was …… well the beautiful part we will agree with, but the seafood part we didn’t really find unfortunately.  Although George did enjoy an overpriced crayfish roll.

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OK so now George was really wanting some decent seafood!  We asked at our hotel and we were recommended to go to Cataract on Paterson as it was probably the best restaurant in Launceston.  Luckily we were able to get a late booking for dinner, so off we went.  Wow, this place certainly didn’t disappoint …. the venue, the food and the staff and service was all impeccable, we couldn’t fault any part of our night.

Cataract on Paterson is located about 5min from the centre of the Launceston CBD.  The venue itself is slightly industrial inside, but still warm and welcoming with its quirky features.  The menu was a contemporary mix of Tasmanian produce with plenty of choice for all tastes.  They also offer their interactive dining experience that serves your meal cooking at your table on a 400 degree volcanic stone!  Neither of us had this, but our dessert did come on a frozen stone!

Attraction Information:  Cataract on Paterson is located at 135 Paterson Street, Launceston

Telephone:  03 6331 444

Website:  http://www.cataractonpaterson.com.au

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Tassie Trip Day 2: Exploring

Located within the Tasman National Park you’ll find Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen and The Blow Hole.  The coastal scenery found here is beautiful and reminded us of the coastline around Kalbarri in WA.   It’s the rugged beauty of these sea cliffs and the sheer drops that make this place so popular.

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Tasman Arch

You can’t have a visit to the blowhole without trying out the seafood from the “Doo-lishus” foodtruck which is conveniently located in the car park for the blowhole.  We enjoyed our scallops and chips, not cheap, but it was a pleasant surprise to find this in the middle of nowhere!

 

Just past Eaglehawk Neck we came across this quirky little village called “Doo Town”.

Apparently in 1935 an architect by the name of Eric Round started a tradition when he named his shack “Doo I”.  This apparently caught on and now nearly every shack in this seaside village has it’s own Doo name … Doodle Doo, Love Me Doo, Doo U, Xanadu, Dr Doolittle, Rum Doo.

 

Attraction Information:  Doo Town, Tasman Arch, Devils Kitchen and The Blowhole are about 1 hour or so drive south of Hobart.

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We arrived back in Hobart after a long day, but it wasn’t over yet!  We had read about Street Eats which are held in the city every Friday night during summer.  Food trucks are spread around the park offering various types of food ….. tip, get there early as they do sell out as we found out!  It’s a great atmosphere though as people are everywhere sitting around on picnic blankets munching away on food and listening to the live band.

We then took a walk along the waterside of Sullivan’s Cove/Constitution Dock where the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends.

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There was a lot of activity around this area as it’s full of restaurants and bars that are now occupying the old historic buildings.

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Tassie Trip Day 2: Port Arthur

We were both excited to visit Port Arthur and what better way to spend our 5th wedding anniversary!

The story of the Port Arthur Historic Site is a story of many people, places and moments.  It wasn’t only a prison for convicts, over the years it was also home to military personal and free settlers.

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It’s had a very long history and one of many hardships, but to be able to walk in a place with so much history and so many stories is a privilege.  It’s a testament to the amazing people who protect and restore our heritage like this for us to enjoy.

Britain started transporting convicts to Australia from about 1788.  Most were sent here for very minor crimes by today’s standards, and these included many woman and children as well.  It was very rare that any returned home after their sentence.

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The Pydairrerme people were the traditional owners of the land that we now know as Port Arthur.  The Port Arthur penal settlement began life as a small timber station in 1830, using convict labour to produce sawn logs for government projects.

By 1840 more than 2000 convicts and soldiers lived at Port Arthur and it was now a major industrial settlement producing many things, predominately boats and ships.

The last convicts left and Port Arthur closed in 1877.  From then the site was renamed IMG_0158Carnarvon and land was divided up with people taking up residence in and around the old site.

Severe fires in 1895 and 1897 destroyed many of the old buildings and gutted the Penitentiary, Separate Prison and Hospital, but the new residents were determined to create a livable township for themselves. Subsequently they built more buildings and amenities such as a post office, cricket club and lawn tennis club.

With the settlement’s later closure came the first tourists.  By the 1920’s the Port Arthur area had three hotels, two museums and guides, they were definitely starting to cater for the many tourists, nothing has changed to this day.

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Ship Building at Port Arthur

One of the greatest problems facing the authorities of Port Arthur was balancing the need to punish the convicts against needing to make the station a profitable enterprise. Convicts could not simply spend their days getting flogged and rotting in a cell, they needed to be reformed through a combination of religion, education and trade-training.IMG_0199

Ship building was introduced on a large-scale to Port Arthur in 1834 as a way of providing selected convicts with a useful skill they could take with them once freed. Only those convicts deemed well-behaved and receptive to training were allowed to work at the dockyard. Up to 70 convicts were employed at the yard at its height, with the majority engaged in the menial task of cutting and carrying timber. The remaining convicts were the carpenters, blacksmiths, caulkers, coopers and shipwrights who actually built the vessels.

Fifteen large ships and over 140 smaller vessels (from whale boats, to rowboats and punts) were launched from the two slipways. These ships were known for their craftsmanship and durability, with one, the 270-ton Lady Franklin, enjoying over 40 years of service. The hull for a steamer, the Derwent, was even constructed at the Port Arthur dockyards. The yard was also used as a regular servicing lay-by for ships plying the busy east coast route, vessels often hauling in for refit and repair.

Though successful, the ship building operations at Port Arthur ceased on a large-scale in 1848. A growing colonial economy, recovering after a severe depression in the early 1840s, meant that private ship builders did not want to compete against a government yard producing ships at a cheaper rate and lobbied for its closure.

Today the site of the dockyards is a short walk from the main settlement. The original Master Shipwright’s residence still stands, as does one of the original slipways. A later building, the Clerk of Works’ residence, also stands on the location of one of the original dockyard sawpits and a later blacksmith.

Source:  This section was taken from https://portarthur.org.au/history/history-timeline/

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Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour

IMG_0172We chose to do this optional tour as, well when has Shelly ever turned down the opportunity to visit a cemetery!

A short ferry ride and you arrive on this small island which was the final resting place of more than 1000 convicts, soldiers and civilians who were buried there between 1833 and 1877.  This is a guided tour and you get a great insight into the life and death of some of Port Arthur’s residents.

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Once on the island you realise that there are two very distinct burial sections.  The convicts were buried in unmarked graves on the low southern end, while the military personnel and free civilians were buried in marked graves with quite elaborate headstones.  These are all located on the top of the island, on the high northern end.  The story is that convicts were the lowest of the low and looked down on in life so it was only fitting that they were looked down on in death.  I’m guessing the only positive thing from this is that after 1850, some of the convicts were allowed to have headstones.  We really do have a very sad history.

It was a very quiet place and quite haunting in many ways as you hear the stories of these poor people who were buried in unmarked graves without a future thought.  The fact that there were so many graves on the island meant that we would have actually been walking over the top of people’s graves.  Very interesting tour and highly recommended, but a very somber tour as well.

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IMG_0272Unfortunately one of the first things many people think about when you hear Port Arthur is not the tortured past, but the more recent horrific massacre and Australia’s worst mass murder that occurred there on Sunday 28th April 1996.  The events from that day will forever remain in our memories as we think of the many lives that were lost.  Within the grounds they have a small plaque mentioning the names of the people who lost their lives.  This sits discretely within the Memorial Garden to honour these people and the tragic events that unfolded that day.

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Port Arthur is one of eleven historical places that form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property.  These sites are spread throughout Australia and together they tell the story of Australia’s convict heritage.

Attraction Information:  Your entry ticket includes entry to the site for 2 consecutive days, a short walking tour, a harbour cruise and access to over 30 buildings across the 100 acres of grounds.  You can also purchase separate optional tours such as the Isle of the Dead Cemetery Tour, Point Puer Boys’ Prison Tour or Ghost Tour.

Port Arthur is open 7 days a week.

Telephone:  1800 659 101

Email:  reservations@portarthur.org.au

Website:  www.portarthur.org.au

The good thing is that proceeds from your entry fees contribute to the ongoing conservation and development of the Port Arthur sites.

When you purchase your tickets you are given a playing card.  You can then go and find your matching card to read the story about one of the convicts.

I think everyone will take something different from their visit to Port Arthur.  As you hear about and feel the stories of the convicts, soldiers and free people you can’t help but immerse yourself into their history and situation.  They say that Port Arthur’s tale is told in many ways and it will stay with you long after you leave, and that’s definitely true.

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Tassie Trip Day 1: Hobart & Surrounds

Wow, what a beautiful place Tasmania is.  We were both overwhelmed by just how stunning the scenery was.  From the historic towns and buildings to the green rolling hills, the wineries, national parks and large expanses of water ….. this place has such diversity and it’s natural beauty is breathtaking.  We may have only had 5 days there, but we saw a lot and it gave us a great introduction to this amazing place and we will definitely be back again for sure.

IMG_0132So, now we are back home and we will try to share a few blog posts about our adventures, starting now!

Day 1 was an early start to drive out to the airport for our flight.  Knowing what Sydney traffic is like, we left home at 5am, but we were still cutting things fine.  Leaving at 5am for a 7.35am flight nearly wasn’t early enough!

img_2937We arrived in Hobart and were welcomed by rain, not the ideal start to our trip.  And things were only about to get worse, we went to pick up our hire car only to find that it had two bald front tyres.  Now giving a car like this to someone like George who has worked in the tyre and mechanical industry his whole life was not a good move at all!  We won’t publically mention this particular company, but we can’t say we were impressed and can’t say we were overly happy with their service at the time.  Eventually we were given another car, in fact a better car, and we were on our way to start exploring …. Albeit a lot later than we expected.

We took a drive into the town centre (where parking cost us a whole $1.20 an hour!, we certainly weren’t in Sydney anymore!) and started exploring. Luckily the rain had disappeared and the clouds were starting to burn off for a hot and sunny day.

Salamanca Place is one of Tasmania’s best known landmarks and is renowned for its beautiful historic buildings and warehouses and there are certainly plenty of them.  Salamanca Place was established as a warehouse and storage area close to the existing waterfront in the 1830’s. Nowadays these buildings house art studios, clothing and craft stores, pubs, restaurants, cafes and galleries.

img_2951Next on our list was Willie Smiths Apple Shed  which is home of Willie Smith’s Cider, one of George’s favourites!

The main building is a large rustic barn which houses a mini museum featuring many relics from the past and lots of interesting information.  This building is beautiful and very well presented, the perfect place to relax with a meal or a drink, which is exactly what George did, trying out one of their tasting paddles.

They do run distillery tours which probably would have been interesting, but we didn’t have time to do one of these unfortunately.

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Inside the main building you will find their infamous apple wall which contains over 390 varieties of apples – who knew there were so many different varieties of apples!

 

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Attraction Information:  The Willie Smiths Apple Shed is located about 1/2 hour drive from Hobart and is open every day, check their website for opening hours.

2064 Huon Highway,  Grove 7109 TAS

Telephone:  (03) 6266 4345

Email:  appleshed@williesmiths.com.au

Website:  http://www.williesmiths.com.au

img_2958Of course you couldn’t have a visit to Hobart without taking a drive up to Mount Wellington, or as it’s officially known, Kunanyi / Mount Wellington, incorporating its Palawa kani name.  This mountain provides the perfect backdrop to Hobart.  There is a sealed road up to the summit and plenty of walking tracks as well.  The views from the lookouts along the way are pretty amazing and I’m guessing the view from the summit would be even better ….. not that we would know!  Below are our photos we took from the summit ….. yes there was a little bit of cloud around!

IMG_0137Although only about 30min drive from Hobart, the mountain is a 1270 metre alpine peak and does have extreme weather conditions at all times of the year.  The day we were there it was hot and sunny at the bottom of the mountain and cloudy, cold and windy at the summit!

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This was our view from the summit …… down there below the clouds is Hobart!

Australia Day 2018 ….. a weekend camping trip to Percy’s Place Caravan Park at Pitt Town.

Percy’s Place is located on a 110 acre property right on the Hawkesbury River.  We couldn’t have found a more perfect relaxing place to spend a few days.  In fact, this caravan park is only 30 minutes from home, but it felt like we were a million miles away.

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We joined good friends, Emma & Jono and Lauren & Liam and their children for a fun long weekend filled with plenty of swimming and relaxing.

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The weekend started Friday morning when we met Fiona from Cub Campers at the caravan park as she had asked to film and interview us as part of their Cub Stories web series.  We spent a few hours chatting with Fiona and filming (amongst being laughed at and heckled by our fellow camping buddies!).

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It was great chatting with Fiona and learning a little more about the history of Cub Campers as it’s actually her family business.  Fiona had approached us a couple of months ago after seeing our photos and adventures on Instagram and asked if we’d be interested in taking part and we thought why not!

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This trip was also the first camping trip with the dogs.  We weren’t sure how we’d go as we knew there was another dog coming with our group so we really didn’t have high hopes of it all going to plan!  Well they surprised us and lasted longer than we thought they would, they survived the first day and night and then ruined it mid-way through Saturday.  Unfortunately as much as they enjoyed being with us and swimming and running around, they also seemed to enjoy terrorising poor Milo and so they were packed up and taken back home …. See, camping locally does have its advantages!

We will have to take them out again by themselves and maybe get their dog trainer back and have some lessons on how to be nice to other dogs!

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We had plenty of room!  That is our campsites in the background and the track to the right of the photo leads down to the water.

Our campsites had a great view and as we were camping on the last two sites, we had no-one else near us.  A small walk down the hill and we were swimming in the river, on our own private little beach (ok calling it a beach is stretching the imagination a little, but there was sand and water!).

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The river was a hive of activity all weekend, starting early in the morning and going to early evening, there were boats, jet skis and water skiers everywhere, it was like a highway out there!

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Pitt Town was originally known for its market gardens and orchards and nowadays the fertile land around the area is covered with turf farms.  Pitt Town is one of the five ‘Macquarie Towns’ established by Governor Macquarie at a dinner at Government Cottage, Windsor on 6 December 1810.  Pitt Town was named in honour of William Pitt, a member of the British parliament.

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In 1981, Pitt Town became recognised for the setting of ‘Wandin Valley’ in the long-running television series ‘A Country Practice’.  Our friend Emma did make us aware of this and showed us the church which was used in the show.  I’ve since looked in to this and found that much of the outdoor filming was done around the Pitt Town and Ebenezer areas.  Although not excited about this adventure in the slightest, George will be joining Shelly on an ‘A Country Practice’ exploration one day soon and we will be finding all the buildings which were used in the show!

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It’s not Australia Day without Pavlova!

2017: Our Year in Review

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.

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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!)


GS2Min 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.


Renovations

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!).


Celebrations

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.

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We also attended a few family and friends children’s birthday parties, doesn’t George make a pretty fairy princess!


Scenic Flight over Fraser Island

fdsaOver 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

img_5886Not 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.

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The old Prado looks tough by itself, but next to the new one it looks like a baby!

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!


Our Trips

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.

Merry Christmas from Gelly & Charli!


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!

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Sandy Cape, Fraser Island

Fraser Island 

We are back to one of our favourite places, Fraser Island! Absolutely love this place and here are a few pics from this trip. 

On the barge on our way to the island

Sunset from our campsite

Late afternoon stop at Eli Creek

Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station

Dingo at camp

Maheno shipwreck

The Western Beach

Turtles at Lake Allom

Sandy Cape

Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo

All the Sydney-siders would know that Sydney recently held the ‘Vivid’ festival, but for those of you who are not aware of what this is, let us explain.

So what is Vivid Sydney all about?  Vivid Sydney is a festival of light, music and ideas which runs for close to a month every year.  It’s a free event featuring creative displays of light, sculptures, installations and music.  These light displays and pictures are projected on to various buildings around the city, including the famous Opera House. Most would have to say that the display on the Opera House is the highlight of Vivid. I guess you could describe the event as a huge outdoor ‘art gallery’.  Vivid Sydney has been running for a number of years now and it’s a very popular event for locals and tourists alike.

Every few years we brave the crowds and head in to the city to see Vivid, last time we even did a dinner cruise to view it from the harbour. This year we thought we’d try something different and purchased tickets to see Vivid at Taronga Zoo and it was amazing.

dsc_0301What happens at Vivid at Taronga Zoo?  Now this is another experience altogether. With incredible giant animal sculptures scattered throughout the zoo, this is truly a great experience.  Add in the incredible views back towards the lights of the city and it’s a breathtaking experience.

Unlike the Vivid displays in the city, you do need to purchase a ticket to visit the Zoo, but we think it was worth it.  It’s a totally different experience and, as the ticket numbers are limited and you are limited to a certain time slot, it isn’t as crowded as the city.

As you arrive at the Zoo you are greeted with amazing pictures projected onto Taronga’s heritage-listed main entrance.  From here you are issued with your interactive wristband and head down the illuminated trail that winds its way through the grounds of Taronga Zoo.  Every so often there is a huge light sculpture of one of the zoo animals.

The great thing about this event is that proceeds from all tickets go directly back to Taronga Zoo’s work in conservation and wildlife care.

Below are just a few of the photos we took at this year’s Vivid at Taronga Zoo.