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.

Tackling the Tele – Weipa

It was a relatively short drive from Laura and we arrived in Weipa around lunchtime.  Everyone split up to do their own thing and met up again later in the day at the caravan park.

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View from in front of our campsite …. plenty of crocs out there!

Weipa is a relatively big town …. well very, very tiny compared to say Sydney!, but for the townships on the cape, it’s a relatively large town with most facilities available.  Weipa sits on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula, on the Gulf of Carpentaria.

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The region in and around Weipa is very rich in bauxite and this has led to Rio Tinto operating the Weipa bauxite mine for many years.  They are in the process of extending their operations to another site in the area aswell.  There is some big money being spent on infrastructure in the area and some big money coming out of the mines.  The first thing you notice as you get closer to Weipa is that the condition of the road significantly improves!  Then you see the traffic lights and the boom gates as you cross the mine access road to enter the town.

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We had all booked on a sunset cruise with Western Cape Eco Tours.  We had done this exact cruise when we were in Weipa 5 years ago and it was such a great night we couldn’t recommend it highly enough.  Everyone took our recommendation and we booked on for a couple of hours of relaxing, history and crocodile sightings.

 

You’d think being a ‘sunset cruise’ I would have mentioned that we watched an amazing Weipa sunset aswell, well think again!  We didn’t even come close to getting a sunset that night, very disappointing, but what can you do!  At least we saw plenty of crocs.

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Here’s what the sunset should have looked like! (taken on our cruise in 2013).

The cruise itself runs for about 2 hours and takes you around the Embley River to see the wildlife and of course the sunset.  The price of the cruise includes beer, champagne, soft drink and yummy antipasto platters.

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Western Cape Eco Tours are a small family owned company who love their town and love showcasing its natural beauty.  They had only just started out when we took our first cruise with them and we are so glad business is going so well for them.  If you are ever in the area, you really must look these guys up.

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Contact Details

Western Cape Eco Tours

Website:  www.westerncapeecotours.com.au 

Email:  westerncapeecotours@bigpond.com

Telephone:  0447 009 044

Tours depart from Evans Landing Boat Ramp, Weipa QLD 4874


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Cape York 2018

So we’ve returned from Cape York and we had the most amazing time, but as you would have realised we didn’t do too well on the blog writing while we were away!

Anyone who follows us on Facebook & Instagram would have been kept up to date with plenty of photos, but unfortunately our blog community was a little neglected!

You see, it was just too hard this time travelling in a big group, too much time socializing and drinking! 🍻, we just didn’t find the time to write and post the blogs.

But don’t fret, we didn’t forget you all, there are plenty of photos, videos and stories coming your way …. so sit back and enjoy!

⬇️Check out the short video below of some of the 4WDing we did up the cape!

 

We will also take this opportunity to thank all our wonderful friends for an awesome trip filled with amazing memories. Also thank you to mum and dad who looked after the house and animals while we were away (and everything else you did!). Thank you both so much xx …… Gelly & Charli loved having nonna and Gedo here to stay!🐾

And lastly thank you again to our mechanic, Adam from A1 Autohaus, for getting the Prado ready for the trip, we nearly got by without an issue this time, but more on that later!

Tackling the Tele – Laura to Weipa

After all surviving our first night of camping in Laura, some headed off in the morning to visit the Split Rock Aborignal Rock Art site. We then set out for the days drive, only about 350km, but as it was the start of dirt roads it wasn’t a quick drive.

We stopped in at Hann River roadhouse to relive that day Stewy’s 4WD broke down and to visit the resident Emu, who kept us company last time when we were doing the oil change in Stewy’s 4WD!!.

Next on the list was a stop for a beer at the (S)Exchange Hotel in Coen. Legend has it that in 1976 the Exchange Hotel in Coen was renamed. Apparently a group of plumbers were in town and they put an ‘S’ up in front of the sign on the roof. Other rumors are around but all are fairly similar as to what happened. It was left there and the pub has since been known as the ‘Sexchange Hotel’!

Last night we stayed at the Archer River Roadhouse and you can’t stay here without trying one of their famous Archer Burgers! These things are HUGE!

Today we arrived in Weipa, where we will be spending the night.  Weipa is a mining town and is the largest town on the Cape York Peninsula.  Rio Tinto basically own the town, they mine and export bauxite, with exports of over 30 million tonnes of bauxite per year.  We did a mine tour in our last visit to Weipa and it was very interesting.

Tonight we are all booked on a sunset river cruise with Western Cape Eco Tours, we did this cruise with Stewy and Kristy on our last visit to Weipa and it was amazing so we weren’t missing out on this again.  I’m sure there will be plenty of photos for us to share as the sunsets up here are spectacular.

Tomorrow we head off to Bramwell Station for the night, before an early morning start the next day …….. Tackling the Tele track!


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Tackling the Tele … the journey begins!

This adventure starts today!

We first did this trip back in 2013 as part of our honeymoon and we are beyond excited to be back here doing it again!  This time we have a total of 6 x 4WD’s, 1 x Camper Trailer, 12 x Adults and 3 x Children and we are all absolutely pumped for the weeks ahead!  As we all came from different parts of Sydney and QLD we all made our way up to Cairns as our starting point.  After a group dinner and drinks last night for everyone to meet each other, we met up again early this morning to start our trip.

Our first stop of the morning was Port Douglas. While we were up here we figured it was a chance for everyone else to see a little more of this beautiful area.  Surrounded by palm trees, it’s not hard to realise you are in paradise.  This is the perfect place to come and chill.  The town is built for tourists, with many cafes, bars, day spas and of course shops.  It’s kind of got a bit of an upmarket Byron Bay feel about it. Far too touristy for us, but beautiful for sure.

Next it was a short drive to the small town of Mossman.  Sitting at the foot of the hills and surrounded by cane fields, Mossman is a small town in tropical North Queensland, not far north of Cairns.  It’s a pretty little town with country stores dotted along the beautiful tree-lined the Main Street.

Just out of town you’ll find the famous Mossman Gorge, which sits in the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park.  The Mossman River tumbles over huge granite boulders that line the gorge and this creates the perfect freshwater swimming hole.  The water is crystal clear and it’s cold, very cold!  I think this is our 3rd visit to Mossman Gorge and the water has been freezing on every visit …. some people call it refreshing!

It’s very much a tourist orientated place now, with plenty of money making, completely different to our previous visits. It’s still a stunning area, but it’s definitely lost a bit of its charm.

The Kuku Yalanji people are the indigenous inhabitants of this area with history dating back 50,000 years.

Our last stop of the day, and our home for the night, will be Laura, a very tiny little town with only a few buildings, of course including a pub …. the old Quinkan Pub, and this is where we are planning on camping for the night.

This area is known as Quinkan country, after the Aboriginal spirits which are depicted at the Aboriginal rock art sites in the area, Split Rock and Gu Gu Yalangi.  Another little bit of history, apparently in 1873 Archibald Macmillan was exploring in the area and named the local river, Laura, after his wife.


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Goodbye Sydney!

All the preparation, trip planning, packing and last-minute hassles (nothing like getting the 4WD back from your mechanic 4 days before leaving or getting a windscreen replaced 18 hours before leaving!) has been worth it and we are finally on our way.

We left home Tuesday morning and headed north for the start of our trip. George was actually working on Tuesday and Wednesday so we visited some customers around the Port Macquarie and Kempsey areas before spending the night at a motel in Kempsey.

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early to head off further north to see more customers for the day. As we were getting out of the 4WD we met a lady in the main street of Kempsey and she asked where we were headed and we told her Cape York. Her response was ‘oh my son is heading up there this week too’. Somehow we get the feeling that we were right, this is going to be totally different to our last visit, it’s gonna be hectic up there!

Tonight we are staying with friends just north of Brisbane. Always great to catch up with this beautiful little family, lots of fun and laughs, a few drinks – and tonight to watch the State of Origin – go the blues!

Tomorrow morning we meet up with Stewy & Rori, the first of our Cape York travel mates, to start the big drive north!

Safe travels to our other Sydney based friends who are starting the drive north today.


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The countdown is on ….

We have just over 4 weeks left before we start our journey up north to Cape York.  We are both so excited to be heading back up to this amazing part of the country again.

Those of you who have been following us for a while will recall that we did this trip as part of our honeymoon back in 2013.  During that trip our friends who were meant to join us had engine trouble in the first few days and unfortunately couldn’t complete the trip so we ended up doing it alone.

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Here we are, 5 years later and we are about to embark on the amazing journey to the cape again, but this time we have another 5 4WD’s joining us (along with Stewy in his new, hopefully problem free vehicle!).

As we are all coming from different parts of Sydney and Queensland, we will all meet in Cairns on Sunday 15th July to start our epic ‘Tackling The Tele’ trip!

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Below is our itinerary

  • Cairns – Laura
  • Laura – Archer River Roadhouse
  • Archer River Roadhouse – Weipa
  • Weipa – Bramwell Station
  • Bramwell Station – Eliot Falls
  • Eliot Falls – Seisa (few days in Seisa)
  • Seisa – Captain Billy Landing
  • Captain Billy Landing – Chili Beach
  • Chili Beach – Musgrave Roadhouse
  • Musgrave Roadhouse – Elim Beach
  • Elim Beach – Lions Den Hotel
  • Lions Den Hotel – Cape Tribulation
  • Cape Tribulation – Cairns

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Of course we will be driving the famous Old Tele Track, as well as some of the other more well-known tracks up there such as Battle Camp Road, Frenchman’s Track and the CREB Track.

After what was apparently quite a ‘wet’ wet season up north, the track conditions are still quite damp and muddy and the water crossings seem fairly deep.  We have a feeling the new winch might be getting a bit of a workout!  Although a lot can change in a few weeks, so we will wait and see!

We can assure you there will be plenty of photos and videos of the trip, so stay tuned!  We will be writing blogs where possible, but most photos and videos will be posted on Instagram and Facebook so make sure you are following us on social media to keep up to date!

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The magnificent Boab Tree

If you want to see a Boab Tree, head to the Kimberley region of Western Australia.  This unusual looking tree is found everywhere across the region, from around Kununurra all the way down to Broome you will see these incredible trees.  They are quite the sight to see and we really love these beautiful ancient trees.

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Boabs are a very slow-growing tree and it takes many hundreds of years for these to grow.  They love well-drained sandy soil and the Kimberley region is the perfect growing environment for Boab’s as they receive plenty of warmth and water during their growing season (which happens to be the wet season) and then during their dormant period (the winter months / dry season) they prefer the drier conditions.

The boab tree is deciduous and loses all its leaves during dormancy in winter.   As these winter months are the ‘dry season’ this is the time most travellers are in the area.  Therefore, it’s generally a bare brown skeleton of a tree that is seen.   The new flowers usually start to open around November.

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Every boab tree is unique and some of them are said to be over 1500 years old.  As for the history of the trees, the Aborigines used them for shelter, food and medicine.  Once the white settlers arrived they were more commonly used as meeting points, or as described later, prison cells.

We’ve heard a few stories of why the boab tree looks the way it does, but one such story is that, initially the boab was one of the most beautiful majestic trees ever created.  After a while it began to boast of its beauty to the other trees.  It was after this that a higher being decided to punish it and turned it upside down to expose its roots and hide its beauty forever.

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Food

Boab trees have a ‘nut’ which grows and inside the nut are seeds.  As mentioned previously, the indigenous people used this tree as a food source as most parts of the tree are edible.  Apparently parts of the tree are very high in Vitamin C content.

Nowadays boabs are grown commercially and the boab roots are sold and make their way into many gourmet foods.  We actually purchased the most amazing mango and boab chutney while we were in WA.


Art & Craft

The nuts themselves are covered in a fine hair which, once scraped off, reveals the dark brown boab nut.  In many of the art galleries and craft stores around the Kimberly you will see the most amazing carvings that have been carved out on these nuts.


Boab Prison Tree

While on our Western Australian trip a few years ago we visited to Boab Prison Tree in Derby (pictured below).  This tree is said to be around 1,500 years old and has a girth of 14.7 metres.  It was used as staging point for prisoners being walked into Derby in the early days.  This tree is now a registered Aboriginal Site.

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As the trees age, their trunks become hollow.  It was said that this tree was used as a “prison cell” in the 1890s by the local police to lock up Aboriginal prisoners over night, on their way to Derby for sentencing.  It’s recently been reported that there is no evidence that this particular tree was ever used as a prison, but there was also another similar one at Wyndham.

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We really do love these trees, there is just something about them.  At the end of the day it is just a tree, but they are all so different and there is something slightly magical about these ancient creatures.  We even brought our own boab home with us which sits proudly on our front entrance.

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Things you didn’t know about George

ONE – Both of my parents were both born in Egypt, but moved to Australia before I was born.  I have an older sister and I also have two adult children.

TWO – I really have no desire to travel overseas as we have so much here to explore in Australia.  In fact, I didn’t even leave Australia or get a passport until 2011 when Shelly wanted to take me on my first cruise.

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THREE – My first car was a purple 1972 Ford Capri.  My parents actually purchased it for my sister and I and it was such a cool little car.   Unfortunately it didn’t last very long as it got stolen from in front of our unit.  Police recovered it a week later with no interior whatsoever, no door trim, no seats, no steering wheel …. it was completely stripped out!  Such a shame as it had been a great little car and in excellent condition.

FOUR – The first, and only, time I rode a motorbike I was on a Postie Bike.  The bike had come into the workshop to get a service and the boys told me to jump on it and ride it into the workshop.  Unfortunately I gave it a little bit too much throttle and almost lost the bike into the brick wall.  In the process I damaged my left knee and had problems walking for the next six weeks!  Not surprisingly I never had the desire to jump on another bike!

FIVE – I love sim racing (simulation) on the PS4.  I have a full set up at home (which my beautiful Shelly even lets me keep in the loungeroom!) and I spend a lot of time racing online.  I’ve always loved racing and used to own a Honda Integra which I often raced on the track or at the drags.

SIX – I haven’t been on television as much as Shelly, but I did appear on a segment of 4WD TV a few years ago, you can see the link here on our website.

SEVEN – Gelly & Charli aren’t the first staffys i’ve owned.  My first was a little English Staffy pup called Zon.  She escaped from our yard and the neighbours said that someone had picked her up off the street and we never saw her again 😦  Next we got a big black staffy which I believe was a half English & half American staffy.  My ex and I adopted her from the pound as a 1 year old and we fell in love with her immediately.  We named her Deb, which means bear in Arabic.

EIGHT – I’ve flown a real plane!  The flight actually counted towards my first flying hours.  It was a little Cesna and I flew and landed unassisted (the pilot was there with controls if needed!).

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NINE – Back in 1997 I attended a day out at a go-kart venue with work (for legal reasons I can’t disclose the name of the venue!).  We had a great morning racing around and it came time to pull into the pits.   I pulled in, jumped on the brakes and ……… NOTHING!  …… no brakes ……. BANG! I crashed into a wall and broke my ankle.  What started out as a fun morning out with workmates ended with being rushed to hospital in an ambulance, an operation and continual problems to this date.   At the time the doctor said that I had done a one in 1 million breakage and I was lucky that I didn’t damage the cup in which the bone sat.

TEN – I have owned more than 20 cars in my lifetime.  I have always been a Ford man so a lot of my cars were Fords!  I’ve owned a Ford Falcon XE, XB and XY and a Ford Fairlane ZD.  The one and only new car that I have ever purchased was a brand-new Suzuki Swift GTi.

ELEVEN – My dream car is a 1965 Ford Mustang GT350.   A few years ago Shelly surprised me with a joy ride in a GT500 (Eleanor replica).

TWELVE – I have worked all my life in the automotive industry, I’ve managed mechanical workshops, performance workshops and tyre stores.  I’m currently working in sales as an Account Manager selling wheels for the 4WD market.

THIRTEEN – One of my funniest moments growing up was when my friend and I jumped in the boot of a mate’s Ford Escort to go to the drive-ins, in the hope of getting in for free!  Well we didn’t get in for free, we were busted and told to get out of the boot and leave the premises immediately!

FOURTEEN – I have a love for Australian history, in particular the early explorers.  I also love the history of old shipwrecks.  There is so much to learn and it’s amazing to see what they all endured and overcame to make their mark on history.

FIFTEEN I love trying new things and have driven a V8 Supercar, driven WRX and V8 Holden Ute Rally cars, been in a Stunt Car, flown a plane as mentioned above, been a passenger in V8 dirt buggies, was a passenger on a hot lap with Bruce Garland (Bruce participated in multiple Dakar rallies), flown in a helicopter and seaplane and experienced flying a Boing 737 via a flight simulator (same as what the pilots train on).

Just in case you missed them, check out ‘Things you didn’t know about Shelly‘ or ‘All About George & Shelly

TIPS & TRICKS WE HAVE LEARNED WHILE CAMPING

During our travels over the years we’ve come to realise that not everything always goes to plan, not everything can be controlled all the time and sometimes you just need to adapt, suck it up and deal with it!  Here’s our list of what we’ve learned ……..

  • It’s inevitable that bugs, dirt and sand will become like seasoning to your meals!
  • BABY WIPES are my favourite thing, we have them everywhere! They are our daily shower, they clean our hands, they wipe down tables and clean the bench top, and they’ve even been used to wash cutlery and plates when we haven’t had water!
  • Your feet will always be dirty, you just live with it!
  • We can go days without a shower and don’t even miss it …… until you eventually have a nice hot shower and you realise what you were missing!
  • Now this one we stole from the Uncut Aussie Adventures list, but this couldn’t be more true! ……. You absolutely relish in the 30 minute bug free change over between the flies going to bed and mozzies waking up. ………. OMG, we couldn’t agree with this more, you literally go from a million flies on you to none and there is that miniscule window of time, of total bliss, where there are absolutely no bugs around at all …. But then the mozzies wake up!
  • Swimming is perfectly acceptable to class as a ‘shower’.
  • White clothing should never be taken camping!
  • If you travel the outback, be prepared to throw out your clothing upon return, as everything will end up a slightly pink/brown colour as it’s tinged with red dirt.
  • Once you’ve done one outback trip your 4WD will forever after bleed red dirt. No matter how many times you wash it or think it’s clean, it will never ever be that case again! The only way to rectify this is to sell it and buy a new one!
  • Hold back on the packing as you will always take more food and clothes than you really need.
  • We love Zip lock bags! OK well Shelly does, but she’s converted George too!
  • Always replace a beer when you take one out of the fridge, one for one every time! No-one wants to find no cold beers in the fridge!
  • Never ever leave garbage or food unattended as hungry animals are hiding everywhere! So our very first visit to Fraser Island a dingo took George’s roll within about 15 min of us arriving at camp, lesson learnt! ….. OK maybe we did have another small incident with a cow at Mt Elizabeth Station in WA, but we won’t go into that! But yes we’ve seen dingoes, cows, birds, horses, wild dogs & even emu’s breaking into people’s campsites, eating their food & spreading their rubbish around!

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Things you didn’t know about Shelly

Following on from our ‘All about George & Shelly‘ blog, here’s a few things most of you wouldn’t know about Shelly!


ONE – My first cat was called Yoyo, because apparently that was one of the few words I could say at the time.  Unfortunately she was hit by a car so mum and dad bought me a new cat and guess what, I called her Yoyo as well!

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This is me with Yoyo (number 1!) and King, the dog

TWO – I LOVE hot chips, I could eat them with every meal. Chips with chicken salt, chips with gravy, chip sandwiches …… actually anything that involves potato is great!  I think I actually have a chippy compartment in my stomach where it doesn’t matter how full you are, you can always fit in chips ….. I know I’m not the only person who has this!  In case you were wondering, I’ve done extensive chip testing across Australia and so far the best chips I’ve found were at the Innamincka Hotel, outback SA and the best Chips and Gravy is at the Archer River Roadhouse in Cape York!

THREE – I’m allergic to bees and sandflies, but mosquitos don’t touch me.  I hate big spiders and absolutely hate cockroaches, they freak me out big time!

FOUR – I’ve met lots of celebrities over the years and have an old autograph book filled with signatures.  Most well-known Australian celebrities would be Danni Minogue, Johnny Young (Young Talent Time), Peter Brock, Fifi Box, Tim Freedman and The Whitlams, Mark Geyer, Simon Townsend (we were actually friends with the whole family, including Woodrow the dog!).

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FIVE – I do lots of courses to learn random things, many that I’ll probably never really use in life, but I love learning new and different things! I’ve done Genealogy, 4WD Driver Training, Cake Decorating, Belly Dancing, Burlesque dancing, Jazz, Ballroom & Swing Dancing,  Indigenous Studies, Arabic, Barista Course.

SIX – Years ago one McHappy Day I was at our local McDonalds with a friend when we met Mark Geyer and Jacin Sinclair and some of the other Balmain Tigers NRL players that were doing a celebrity appearance. We ended up chatting to them and they drove us back to my mate’s house and invited us to go watch them train.  My dad has always been a huge Tigers fan, so I asked could they stop by my house and go and say hi to dad and they were more than happy to do so …. unfortunately for dad though, he’d popped up the shops and missed them!  Looking back now, I think of how silly we were to jump in a car with a bunch of random guys we didn’t know, but I guess we did a lot of silly things when we were young, especially when you had a bunch of good-looking famous boys in front of you!

SEVEN – I name my cars! My first car was a little purple 1993 Ford Festiva called ‘Freddie’.  Everyone knew Freddie and many called him by name, I loved that car!  My next car was a Proton Satria GTi called ‘Sally’.  I loved Sally too, even with all her squeaks and rattles.  It was a special kind of love and only a Proton owner would know what I’m talking about!  The 4WD’s don’t have names, well the green one is commonly known as ‘The Old Girl’ and the new one is ‘The Beast’, but that was more George than me – see what happens when he names a car, it’s not quite as personal is it!

EIGHT – I was a State and National Baton Twirling champion. I won titles at both levels as an individual and also as a team, in fact our team was undefeated National champions for many years before our retirement.

NINE – I love cemeteries!  I could spend hours walking around a cemetery and looking at the old graves, the older the better.  It’s a rare holiday if we don’t find at least one old cemetary to stop by.

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TEN – If I could have dinner with anyone who has passed on I’d love to meet Peter Brock (well I did actually meet him once, but I’d love to spend more time with him and have a proper conversation). I’d also love to meet my great-grandmother, Elizabeth.  I never met her, she died many, many years before I was born, but I’ve always felt like I’ve had a connection to her.  Every day I wear her wedding ring, my grandmother’s wedding ring and my mother’s wedding ring.

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And it goes without saying that of course I’d love to see my beautiful mummy one more time, I miss her every single day and wish she was still with us.  Nothing can ever replace the love of your mum, there is so much she has missed out on and so much I wish I could share with her.

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ELEVEN – I used to have three pet rats called Jimmy, Jayden & Slater.

TWELVE – ‘Froggy’ was given to me as a baby/toddler and he has been with me ever since and comes on every holiday with us, wherever I go, Froggy is there too!

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THIRTEEN – My dream car is a Valiant Charger E49 or E38, I love my old Aussie muscle cars and hope to one day own a Charger, which of course would be parked next to my other dream car, a Lotus Elise.  My love of Chargers is so great that we spent months looking for one to use as our wedding car and finally found a bright yellow one, which I absolutely loved!.

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FOURTEEN – I’ve been on TV many times over the years. My TV appearances started early when I was on Romper Room with Miss Helena!  Over the years I’ve been on the news a few times, as well as Young Talent Time, Simon Townsend’s Wonder World, Wombat and I’m sure there were others that I can’t remember now.

FIFTEEN – I absolutely love John Farnham and have been going to his concerts for years …. yes even his ‘last time’ concerts ….. and the subsequent ones!!!  Our most recent concert was an outdoor event at Kiama which saw us sit through torrential rain, hail, thunder, lightening and gale force winds just to see the headline act of John Farnham!

……… Stay tuned for ‘Things you didn’t know about George’.