We all love to pry into other people’s lives, right?! Well here’s your chance to find out who George and Shelly really are. You read all about our travels and what we have been up to, but we thought it might be fun to get to know us a little better, so here goes ……..
SO WHO ARE WE?
Shelly is our ‘organiser’. She is responsible for majority of our trip planning, accommodation bookings and research for our trips. She is one of the most organised people you would ever meet, with lists and spreadsheets and folders available for every part of our trips! She is also our social media expert, our blog writer and photographer.
George on the other hand is responsible for everything to do with the 4WD’s and camper trailer. We never leave home without a fully serviced vehicle with only the best of everything. Ensuring that we are safe and the vehicles are mechanically safe and sound is George’s no 1 priority. George will happily spend hours, days or even longer researching new ‘things’ for our 4WD’s.
HOW DID WE MEET?
We met back in 2003 when George was managing a performance mechanical workshop and Shelly took her car in there to have some mods done …. Shelly got more than your usual amount of phone calls about her car while it was in the workshop for that week!
Funny story is that we did actually initially meet way back in 1997, George remembered meeting Shelly, but he obviously didn’t make much of an impression on her at the time as she doesn’t remember him at all! The first meeting was with Shelly’s other car, her parents paid to have her car lowered and some other work done for her 21st birthday. George was in charge of wrapping the car in a big ribbon!
Fast forward to 2003. George had just moved back to Sydney and gone back to his old job and in walks Shelly to query about getting extractors on her new car. To be honest, Shelly couldn’t have looked worse that day, she was unwell and certainly wasn’t out to make an impression at all ….. and George happily clarifies that she definitely didn’t make any impression! Our next meeting a few days later was a different story though and look at us now!
We married in 2013 in a beautiful relaxed ceremony at Richmond and a reception back at our house, it was the perfect day with family and friends and the perfect mix of fun, love and laughter.
We live in Sydney with our two dogs, our English Staffy, Gelly and American Staffy, Charli. Gelly is the most stubborn, lovable, opinionated and vocal dog you’ll ever meet, we’ve never known a dog with as much personality as Gelly! Charli on the other hand is our little problem child. She came to us with a number of problems that have taken us years to help her overcome, she destroys everything she can get her teeth or paws on (gardens, pool tables, 4WD mud flaps and trailer wiring, fences, shoes, clothing, fish pond filter) and if that wasn’t enough she also suffers severe separation anxiety and was even on puppy Xanax for a while!
Between the two of them we’ve had a broken leg (lucky us, we got the dog with a one in a million break …. what does that mean you ask? Well that means a top surgeon and a very expensive vet bill!). We’ve also had two torn cruciate ligaments, a torn meniscus and even a suspected snake bite (which turned out to be that Charli had probably choked Gelly by pulling on her collar and caused a retinal haemorrhage!) ….. let me tell you, all of this adds up to some very expensive vet work, lucky we love them.
We also have Bob (17 years old!) and Al the Cockatiels, Dodge the frog, Sam the snake and numerous fish!
We obviously love 4WDing and camping, but we also really enjoy our cruises and have done quite a few over the years. During our down time we love nothing more than spending time with the dogs, whether that’s at home or jumping in the car to go for a drive somewhere, they both love the car and love 4WDing and being in the bush.
We also love spending time with friends, a backyard BBQ or a visit to the pub is our idea of a good night. Don’t get us wrong, the odd night at a top restaurant or a weekend at the Palazzo Versace is amazing and we do this every now and then, but as a general rule we don’t need all the fancy things, as long as we are with each other, family or friends, we are happy.
We own two Toyota Prado’s, a 150 series which is our touring vehicle and tows our Cub Brumby camper trailer, and a 90 series which has retired from touring and is now Shelly’s daily driver and our weekend 4WD trips vehicle.
You all know that we love to travel and go exploring, but another thing we enjoy doing is experiencing new things together. It’s always been the one thing that we love, over the years we’ve both exposed each other to different things we love and shared many new joint experiences. This can be anything from climbing the Harbour Bridge to exploring an underground mine to flying in a Helicopter. Below are some of the great things we’ve shared together.
Hand feeding this orphaned baby in NT
Horizontal Falls, WA
RIO Tinto Mine Tour, WA
George holding his first snake ever! It was after this encounter that he agreed we could get a pet snake
Sunset camel rides at Uluru
Ice Skating at the Winter Festival at Bondi Beach!
Baby Crocodile, QLD
Indoor Skydiving, NSW
V8 Buggy rides
Indoor Skydiving, NSW
Baby Lion encounter
George’s first flying lesson
Scenic flight over Fraser Island
First helicopter ride
Sydney Harbour Bridge climb
Underground mine tour, Mt Isa
Centrepoint Tower Skywalk
Qantas Museum, Longreach
15 Random facts
Footy teams – Canterbury Bulldogs (George), Wests Tigers (Shelly).
In our wedding vows George promised to let Shelly watch Home & Away and Neighbours each night and Shelly promised not to annoy George while he’s playing Playstation!
No matter what, whether happy, sad or angry, we kiss each other good night every night.
When we travel, George does 95% of the driving, but Shelly does 95% of the singing!
Early on in our relationship we split up for a year and then got back together again, obviously we were meant to be!
Our dog Gelly was named after the two of us … George & Shelly.
In our younger years we have both been pulled over for drag racing, one of us more lucky than the other with the outcome! (obviously this was in the past with previous vehicles we’ve owned as Prado’s aren’t known for their drag racing abilities!).
George has a habit of testing the fuel economy and fuel empty light of vehicles and we once had to be towed off the F3 motorway after running out of fuel. Must tell you that we were about 2km from the end of the freeway and a service station! Not embarrassing at all to be dropped off a tow truck right at the fuel pump!
We’ve been incredibly lucky and have never ever had a flat tyre on either 4WD in all of our trips.
We used to live in a rental property that came complete with its own family of mice, it wasn’t unusual to be sitting in the lounge room and see one wander by!
We have visited every state in Australia, driven across every state border and visited the northern-most, eastern-most and western-most points of the Australian continent.
Our dream (and plan at some stage) is to travel Australia for a year or two and move to Queensland.
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.
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
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 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!
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 Yorkagain. 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!
So what a busy year 2016 was for us, particularly the second half of the year. After arriving back from our Western Australia trip in September, we only had 1 totally free weekend between then and Christmas! We already have many things booked in for 2017, so yes, life is pretty full on at the moment!
We wouldn’t want it any other way though. After losing Shelly’s mum fairly suddenly a few years back, I think it hit us both pretty hard and we changed our whole outlook and attitude to life. We no longer worry about the little things, we try not to put things off to ‘another day’, we live for the moment and do what we want, when we want. We’ve come to realise what’s important in life and to be totally honest, that’s our happiness. That might be different for each person, but to us it means being happy in ourselves, spending time with family and friends and exploring and experiencing new and interesting things. We don’t want to wake up one day and think ‘gee I wish we had of done that when we had the chance’. You never know what’s around the corner, so go for it, do what makes you happy.
So this is how our 2016 panned out
The year started off on a very sad note, when we got the phone call that our beautiful friend, Kristy, had passed away suddenly. This was a huge shock for us and all of our friends. Kristy was only 35 years old and left behind her beautiful young daughter and husband. It was great to see the huge turnout at the funeral, including all of us Sydney-based friends making the trip up to Qld. It’s still emotional while writing this now, even recently a song came on that was played at the funeral and both of us burst into tears! It’s one of those things that just hits you at random moments.
Shelly & Kristy at Lions Den Hotel
This is a family we have known for many years and had done many travels with them, we’ve been to each other’s weddings and we’ve had a lot of laughs and memories shared. For those that have been following us for a while, they are the friends that joined us on our Cape York trip back in 2013, but they didn’t quite make it when their engine blew at the beginning of the trip and they ended up missing the trip (but did get to see a lot of Weipa and Cairns!). We finally caught up with them again at Cooktown and did get to spend a couple of days travelling with them before we headed off over to the NT.
In 2018 there is a group of us heading back up to Cape York, including Kristy’s husband and daughter, even thinking about it now we know what an emotional trip it’s going to be, but you will always be in our hearts Kristy, we will get you there, you will finally make the trip you had planned for and dreamt of xx
6th March 2016 marked the birth of the gorgeous little Levi.
Shelly’s sister and husband gave birth to this beautiful little boy who we all fell instantly in love with. It’s been amazing watching this little bundle develop and watching his own little personality coming out.
He’s such a good boy, very relaxed and
chilled out ….. I think he secretly knows how cute he is and that everyone will love him and he and plays on that! Exciting times ahead watching this little boy grow up.
At Easter our daughter/step daughter, Min, came back from the UK for a visit. She had moved over there the previous year after getting a job as a Chef over there.
She is absolutely loving it and doing a great job, so much so that she was promoted to sous chef not long after arriving. We both couldn’t be more proud of her, and as hard as it was for George to watch his baby girl leave and move to the other side of the world at only 19, it is amazing to see her grow into this independent young lady who is seeing the world and doing exactly what she needs to do at this stage in her life.
It was great to see Min and spend some time together. The whole family even got together and spent the day at the Easter Show! She also got to meet her new baby cousin, Levi!
The Festival of Shelly
This year also became the Festival of Shelly! It was the big one, she turned 40!
What better way to celebrate than to take off on a mini 3 night cruise with family and friends. Three days of cruising around, sipping on cocktails, playing bingo and eating more than we really should have! Aside from 4WDing and camping, cruises are another one of our favourite holidays.
A group of 10 of us set sail for a weekend of fun and laughter. We had a great time and most of the same group have even planned another cruise for 2017 to celebrate another 40th birthday!
Of course the Festival of Shelly didn’t stop there! Now Shelly does normally tend to have a ‘week of Shelly’ for her birthday celebrations, but this year it seemed to go forever! We had the cruise, then had her birthday dinner, birthday party with family and friends and Horizontal Falls tour during our holiday to WA (present from George!)
The Year of Celebration
2016 was a year of parties and celebrations!
We attended 3 weddings of family and friends. We had a few baby showers and new little babies being born. We had friends engagement announcements, numerous 40th birthday parties, a 70th birthday party and a 1st birthday party! It was certainly a busy year for celebrations!
The Camper Trailer
This year also saw us bite the bullet and buy our camper trailer. We’d been discussing this for years and always said ‘one day’!
Well that one day arrived, we decided to purchase our little Cub Brumby. We love him (yes it’s a ‘him’, he doesn’t have a name yet, but we know it’s a him!)
He accompanied us on our trip to WA and we loved it, couldn’t have been happier with our purchase, all the research and planning paid off, we certainly made the right choice.
Our trip to Western Australia
This year we escaped the Sydney winter and headed over west for the warm weather. We left on 1 July and arrived back at the beginning of September, if only we could do that every year and live year round with nice warm weather!
Western Australia is amazing, every place you visit is amazing, just as you think it can’t get any better …. it does! If you haven’t visited, it definitely has to be on your bucket list.
We explored the top end and although we did see a lot during our 2 months, we could have spent a year exploring the area. It is a long way for us based on the east coast, but it’s certainly worth the effort to get there. We have explored a lot of Australia already, but have never seen anything like some of the places we visited in WA.
Santa comes to visit ….
Christmas means different things to different people, but to us it’s spending time with family, reflecting on the past year, celebrations, lots of food and lots of presents! Of course we all enjoy receiving presents, but we also love the feeling of gifting a present aswell. Christmas is an exciting time, particularly for Shelly … both her and her sister are still like big kids on Christmas day!
Of course we never forget those less fortunate than us, whether it be donating gifts or money to our local charities …. or a few years ago we donated gifts for a local charity that looks after the pets of homeless people, so we made up little packs with food and toys from our pups to the ‘homeless pups’! It’s the little things that not only make you feel good, but they can mean the world to the person receiving the gift.
This year’s Christmas celebrations started with a pre-Christmas party us our house to catch up with some friends, followed by work Christmas parties and a family pre-Christmas party. This latter party even had a visit from Santa (where George hilariously played Santa for the kids! Apparently Santa now rocks it in an open jacket with t-shirt showing, socks and no shoes!)Christmas Day was spent at our house with the whole family. Both sides of our immediate family came for lunch, the first time ever that we’ve all been together for Christmas. Lots and lots of presents were exchanged, we got to celebrate the first Christmas with the cute little Levi and also have all of our beautiful niece and nephews together. Of course the pups didn’t miss out either, they each got their own stocking too.
Last holiday of the year
Our year ended with us celebrating New Years Eve in a caravan park at Urunga, near Coffs Harbour.
We left early on Boxing Day and headed up to Urunga for a week of camping with one of our friends and his kids. We had a great spot on the water, away from all the crowds, couldn’t have asked for more.
View from our campsite
Now this is camping!
We managed to visit all the tourist places, fit in a bit of 4WDing, go to the beach and do some fishing. What a relaxing holiday. Always great to get away from Sydney and this place is perfect as it’s far enough away from Coffs to not have all the crowds, but close enough to still have all the convenience of town.
Part of the track on the Rover Trail we drove
Day at the beach
New Year’s Eve was spent at the caravan park, the kids spent the night fishing and we spent it chatting with our camping neighbours who we invited over for drinks and nibblies. There were a few little parties happening, but it was surprisingly quiet! Did we make it till midnight? …… well …… yes, we were already in bed, heard other doing the countdown, said happy new year and went back to sleep!!
The video below shows our campsite decorated and ready for NYE.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our family, friends and followers for their support over the past year. We love being able to share our adventures and knowledge with others and hopefully we are inspiring some of you to get out and about as well.
Wishing you all a very happy, safe and adventure filled 2017 ….. remember, you never know what’s around the corner, so don’t put things off, live your life to the fullest and live a life of no regrets.