2018: Our Year in Review

What another busy year that was and time just flew by didn’t it. This year was a year of trying to get out more, more 4WDing days, more weekends away and more quality time with family and friends.

We started 2018 surrounded by friends at the Urunga Waters Caravan Park. This was a really fun week away with a great group friends …. and a few others who popped in at random times throughout the week! Even the rain and mud around camp didn’t dampen our spirits!

Fast forward 12 months and as we write this we are sitting at camp in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. Anyone who’s been following our blog or photos on social media will have seen that we spent an amazing 2 days camped in the Coffin Bay National Park, WOW, words can’t explain how spectacular this place is! We then moved a little further north to the Flinders Ranges where we are camped in Wilpena Pound and spending time exploring this marvelous area. We have visited before, but never for an extended period and we are absolutely loving it.

Thank you to all of our family, friends and followers for their support over the past year.  Thanks for following our adventures and interacting with us, we even personally met some of our followers this year which was great and we also gained a few new camping friends! If anyone sees us out and about make sure you come over and say hi, we love meeting new people and sharing stories.

Now let’s take a look back on the year that was 2018 …..


2018 Trips

January

We spent a week with friends in Urunga, camping at the Urunga Waters Caravan Park. This is a great little park right on the water. It’s an older style park, but it has everything we need, it’s quiet and it’s conveniently located. Urunga is just outside of Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid north coast, it’s great for 4WDing, beaches and of course all the tourist activities, most famously the Big Banana!

January also saw us head away for the Australia Day long weekend. We camped at Percy’s Place in Pitt Town, a whole 29km from home! This place is great and you certainly didn’t feel like you were that close to home. Situated right on the banks of the Hawkesbury River it was the perfect setting for a hot long weekend …. We spent a lot of time in that river! This was also the first trip we decided to take Gelly and Charli away camping with us. We won’t dwell on the fact that our dogs are naughty, but let’s just say they didn’t last too long and luckily we were close to home as they were both taken home midway through the second day! In the time that they were there though they loved it and Gelly spent a lot of her time in the river too!

February

Our 5 year wedding anniversary was celebrated by 5 day trip to Tasmania. It was the first visit to Tasmania for both of us. Did we enjoy it? YES it was amazing and we can’t wait to go back there again, hopefully next time with the 4WD and camper trailer for a much longer visit.

We visited Hobart, Mount Wellington, Port Arthur, Bicheno, Launceston and the famous Salamanca Markets.  We had a private encounter with a baby Tasmanian devil at Cradle Mountain (so adorable) and we learned all about seahorses, platypus and echidnas at Seahorse World and Platypus House.  We visited the Beaconsfield Mine where tragedy struck in 2006 and we explored the beautiful historic Richmond, which is home to the oldest bridge in Australia.   Tasmania is so full of history and we learned a lot and saw some beautiful areas.

We certainly managed to pack a lot into a short period of time as you’ll see from the map below.

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We even detoured so that we could visit ‘Georgetown’!

July

This was our big trip of the year, it was when we made the trek back up to Cape York, the tip of Australia. We’d first completed this trip in 2013 as part of our 2 month honeymoon, but we had friends who wanted to go so we agreed to lead a trip. We had 6 vehicles and 15 people and we all had an absolute ball. I think it gave some of our friends an appreciation and understanding of why we love what we do. It was their first real remote trip and it was great to be able to share it with them all. Not only did we visit the Northern Most Point of mainland Australia, we had a beer in the northern most pub on the mainland, we swam under waterfalls, we saw crocodiles, we played with a dingo (he was very friendly!) and we had plenty of laughs and memorable moments.

October

2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the Cub Campers brand and to celebrate Cub Campers invited all Cub owners to a 50th Anniversary Jamboree held at Del Rio Riverside Resort at Wisemans Ferry. We didn’t know anyone who was going, but thought it would be a good long weekend away so ‘why not’. As it turned out, we had a great weekend and met some people who we will definitely keep in touch with and catch up with again …. In fact we’ve since been camping with one of the families again already! Cub put on a great weekend with goodie bags, talks and activities, a gala dinner and drinks and a BBQ breakfast on the last morning.

The whole Cub family was there, along with some of the employees from their North Rocks factory.  it was great to meet and have a chat with Roger Fagan, the founder of Cub Campers, and hear his stories of how it all began and the obstacles that have stood in their way over the years.

November

We met a family at the Cub Campers jamboree and arranged to catch up again and go camping, so this saw us head up to Soldiers Point for a weekend.  We all had a lot of fun with plenty of drinks and plenty of laughs. The others in the group were great as well and I think everyone had a good weekend.

December

Shelly had wanted to go to the Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Light Spectacular for years and finally George gave in! We made a weekend of it and camped in the Hunter Valley and spent Saturday visiting the various wineries, cheese and chocolate shops and Shelly’s favourite, Pukara Estate.  We even tried Bacon Beer at one of the breweries!  Later that night we were meant to meet up with friends to visit the lights, but as it turned out a storm came through and they closed the gardens and cancelled the lights 🙁  So unfortunately we didn’t get to see the lights, but we did have a good weekend and spent way to much money!  We will now revisit in January to see the lights, with hopefully better weather next time.


Filming for ‘Cub Stories’.

In last year’s ‘Year In Review’ we mentioned that we had been approached by Cub Campers to see if we’d like to be part of their ‘Cub Stories’ web series.  We were already heading away to Percy’s Place at Pitt Town for a long weekend camping trip with some friends over Australia Day so we arranged to meet up with Fiona from Cub Campers to film our story.

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We met Fiona at Percy’s Place early and she filmed us driving in, setting up the camper and then she interviewed us both as well. The day was so incredibly hot, we had our friends heckling from the sidelines and we had two whingeing dogs to deal with, but it was a lot of fun. We really weren’t sure what to expect, but Fiona made everything so easy and fun and we were both happy with the end result, so it was all worthwhile! Click here to check it out.


Celebrations

Little Levi turned 2 in March and we had a lunch with family and friend’s at his house. It’s been great watching Levi grow from a baby into a little boy. It’s been a big year for him, he is starting to talk a lot more, he’s started soccer, he’s changed day care centres and he got his first bike.

In April we attended the wedding of Shelly’s cousin, Mel and her husband, Matt. This was a beautiful day, with the ceremony also incorporating a christening for their daughter Chloe. The reception was held in Cockle Bay so we treated ourselves to a night away at the Hyatt Regency.

The next morning to celebrate our brother in laws birthday we went to the fish markets for a seafood breakfast …. seemed fairly strange at first but this place is packed early in the morning and apparently a seafood platter at 9am is perfectly acceptable!

October 31st was not only Halloween, but it was also the 21st birthday of George’s son, Tre. They certainly aren’t kids anymore, Tre is 21 and Min is 23!

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October was also a big month for Shelly’s dad, Johnny, as he turned the big 80. We celebrated at our local tavern with a lunch for all the family and friends and it was a great day catching up with everyone.


The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer

We are always spending money on these vehicles, they are money pits!

90 Series Prado

Something Shelly has wanted for a long time was a black bull bar on the old Prado. Last year we purchased some Raptor paint with the intention of painting the bar on the 150 ….. As it turned out we just bought all new bar work for that Prado instead! So while we were off on holidays at Cape York, the old Prado took a holiday with our mechanic. We came back to a new windscreen and pretty black bullbar and side steps and we absolutely love it, it changes the whole look of the 4WD.

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During the year, one night while parked out the front of our house, our aerial and base got stolen off the Prado.  This was Shelly’s chance to get the pink aerial she’s been wanting!  She has gradually been adding her little touches of ‘pink’ to this 4WD and below are the latest!  George said he’s never driving this 4WD again!

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After painting the bar, the old rusty standard steel rims needed to go, so we got some new black wheels to fit with the theme ….. a set of 16×8 Sunraysia steel wheels from Dynamic Wheel Co.

150 Series Prado

The 150 Series Prado was also given new wheels and tyres – 17×9 Mickey Thompson Deegan Pro 2 wrapped in Dick Cepek Extreme Country 265/70×17.

These were tested out on our trip to Cape York and we were very happy with them.  One of our other vehicles also fitted them before leaving and they too were happy, these are an extremely good offroad tyre.

Like the old Prado, this one also got a new windscreen (installed the day before leaving for Cape York …. nothing like being prepared!).  An unexpected expense during our Cape York trip was a new Starter Motor, a detour back to Townsville and this was sorted quickly, (thanks Alect Auto Electrical) and later in the year a new alternator.  Boy these vehicles are expensive!

Both vehicles also got their new Off The Track stickers.

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Jobs

Last year we mentioned that George had left Bridgestone and started a new job …. Well as it turns out that wasn’t the job for George and he soon left and picked up his new job which he absolutely loves.  He’s now an Account Manager with Dynamic Wheel Co, covering NSW and ACT. This is the absolute perfect job for George as he is specializing in alloy and steel wheels predominantly for the 4WD market, could you get a more perfect job for a guy like George!.

Shelly is still at Capital Results, there have been a few changes over time but it’s basically been over 20 years in this job now!  She’s also still running her Scentsy business, Awaken The Scent. If you’re interested, we can deliver Australia-wide so check out the website and see if you’d like to order anything. Our whole house is filled with Scentsy products and aromas, even George is a huge Scentsy lover!


George’s outback trip

Now, it’s no wonder George loves his new job so much, September saw him head off with 5 of his workmates on a mini outback trip, disguised as a ‘sales conference’! George flew to Brisbane and met up with the others, loaded themselves into two vehicles and hit the road, first stop Thargomindah. Over the next few days they visited Innamincka, Burke’s grave, Cameron’s Corner and Tibooburra, before finally finishing up in Broken Hill.


Jungle surfing

After our Cape York trip we spent an extra day in Cape Tribulation so that we could go Jungle Surfing!   What a great experience this was to fly through the Daintree Rainforest on zip lines.  The platforms are up to 16 meters high and you can reach speeds of up to 45km/hour as you fly through the trees  ….. we even flew upside down on one of the sections!  The views were amazing, looking over the jungle canopy and across the Great Barrier Reef, such a fun way to spend a morning.


Paronella Park

Jose Paronella was a man who had a dream, a man who worked hard to make that dream become a reality and what an amazing story this is.  In 1929 Jose purchased 13 acres of scrub along Mena Creek and set about creating this special place.  Jose lived here with his family, but also opened it up to the public so that they could all enjoy the spectacular place aswell.  Jose built the whole park by hand, including hand planting over 7000 trees.  This was also home to a Hydro Electric generating plant which supplied power to the whole park, the earliest in North Queensland.

This had been on our list of places to visit and we can highly recommend it.  The entry price includes overnight camping fees so you can explore at your leisure.  Once we arrived Shelly set off on foot to explore the area and take some photographs while George set up camp!  Later that night we went on one of their guided tours (also included in the entry price) and learned a little more about the history of Paronella Park.  The current owners of the park even came out to speak with the group after the walk and explained a little about the history and their experiences and involvement since purchasing the park.  This is one really well run tourist attraction and you can see why they win so many awards.  This one should definitely be on your list of places to visit.


Pergola

After years of having the ugly triple car port in the yard we finally installed a new pergola earlier this year and we love it ….. now to just work on the rest of the yard!  Anyone got any ideas on how to have a nice backyard AND an American Staffy ……. our house would look amazing if we didn’t own Charli!  In case you are wondering why the camper trailer is hidden behind temporary fencing …. ask Charli!


RIP Bob

Shelly’s little cockatiel Bob died earlier this year.  Bob was nearly 18 years old and although Shelly has always had birds and aviaries, Bob was always the favourite.  Even Shelly’s sister loved Bob and she’s scared of birds!  Bob lived in 3 separate houses with Shelly over the course of his life and he was always a big part of the family.

Bob lived in our kitchen and often came out to play.   He was a strange little bird who much preferred to walk than fly and he absolutely loved rice bubbles, they were his favourite!  I remember one time when we were living in a rental property we arrived home to find the cage open and Bob gone, we walked around the house calling his name and followed the slight chirps we heard – we eventually found him at the other end of the house in the bedroom, hiding behind a set of drawers shaking!


How we spent Christmas 

Christmas Eve we had lunch at our house for Shelly’s side of the family. A big lunch, lots of presents, a few drinks and all your family, what better way to celebrate Christmas.

Christmas Day we headed to George’s sisters house to celebrate with George’s side of the family.  Again, plenty of presents and food and great company.


What’s planned for 2019?

Our big plans for 2019 are to visit the Big Red Bash!  Finally we are going! ….. Shelly’s been pestering George to do this since it first started! Another one of our bucket list items is going to be ticked off.  This 3 day concert is the most remote concert in the world, taking place outdoors in the Simpson Desert, just out from Birdsville at ‘Big Red’, the highest sand dune in the Simpson Desert.  We have the tickets and we are going!  Headline artists for next year are MIDNIGHT OIL, THE LIVING END and KASEY CHAMBERS, with many others including Richard Clapton, 1927, Wendy Matthews, Chocolate Starfish and The Chantoozies.  If anyone wants to join us on this trip, let us know!

Other than that, we will be taking a few weekend or short trips again and plan on spending a lot more time out 4WDing and exploring.


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As we look back and reflect on this past year, we are thankful for the love and friendship of our family and friends. We have had quite a few of you go through some hard times this year and it makes you realise more than ever that we only have one life and you need to make the most of that.  Do what makes you happy, enjoy every day like it’s your last. Cherish the moments you share with others, make memories wherever you go and live a life with no regrets. You are only given one chance at life so make sure it’s a great one 💕

Wishing you all a very happy, safe and adventure filled 2019. Get out there and experience some of the magical places that surround you. Bring on 2019!


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