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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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

2016: Our Year in Review

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!

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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


sssMeet Levi

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. IMG_6303.JPG

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.


IMG_2964 (2).JPGEmotional Reunion

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 img_5661both 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!Untitled.jpg

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.IMG_6342

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!IMG_6994

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! img_5289

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’!

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 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

img_4280This 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 img_4515September, 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.

img_4160We explored the top end and although we did see IMG_7065a 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!

img_3559Of 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

Our campsite

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. 

2016-year-in-review