We say it every year, but wow, where did the time go! What a busy year that was, everyone says it and it’s true, the older you get the quicker time flies by. That’s exactly why you need to make the most of every day, live out those fantasies, tick off the bucket list items, laugh, have fun, explore and make memories.
We started 2019 in the Wilpena Pound campground in the Flinders Ranges. In fact, we were both already in bed at midnight! We spent the night drinking at camp by ourselves, with Shelly giving an impromptu concert of singing and dancing! George thoroughly enjoyed the concert (though he may deny that if you ask him!) and i’m sure some of our camping neighbours did too!
Fast forward 12 months and we are sitting at camp surrounded by friends, at one of our most favourite places ever …. Fraser Island.
Now let’s take a look back over the year that was 2019 …..
We woke up on New Years Day in the Wilpena Pound campground in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We’d packed up on Boxing Day and headed to Coffin Bay for a few days, before driving up to spend a week or so in the Flinders Ranges. Now summer is certainly not the time to be camping in outback South Australia, with temperatures reaching 48 degrees at one stage, but we survived (and the pedestal fan that Shelly packed wasn’t such a stupid idea after all was it George!).
January also saw us head back to the Hunter Valley Gardens with friends to see the Christmas lights. This is something Shelly had wanted to see for ages and they certainly do a good job, well worth the visit.
A last minute decision to head off for the Easter long weekend break saw us wake up on Good Friday, hook up the camper trailer, chuck the dogs in the car and head off down south. We had no idea where we were going to stay, we just started driving! We ended up near Tumut in the Riverina region of NSW, at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains. We found a great free camp in the forest, right on the water with plenty of room for the pups to run around. You may recall that last year we took the dogs away camping with us for the first time and they didn’t even last the whole weekend before they were taken home! Well we are happy to report that they were both surprisingly well behaved this time and had an absolute ball swimming, running around and 4WDing in the bush. I think they have now proved they can be well behaved and may be invited to join us on another trip at some stage!
By pure chance we also met up with friends, Tracey & Mark, and ended up spending our second night camping with them and their friends. Being the social butterfly that she is, Gelly in particular enjoyed her newfound friends to hang out with!
Exhausted puppies on the way home after a long weekend of camping
April also meant another trip up to the Hunter Valley to see the Hunter Valley Night Glow at Roche Estate. We caught up with Shelly’s cousins Lauren & Emma to enjoy a night of food, markets, wine, beer, fireworks and hot air balloons.
It started with a weekend trip up the central coast for Shelly’s best mate Adam’s 40th birthday party. As this was the week before we left for Birdsville we used this as our chance to pack everything in the camper trailer so we booked ourselves into a caravan park at Mannering Park for a couple of nights. Even though it was cold and it rained on and off we had a great long weekend and did some exploring of the local areas as well.
Friday 12th July saw us leave for our first ever Big Red Bash! More on this later ….
This was a girls weekend away for Shelly, her sister Kylie, all the female cousins, and a few friends for Kylie’s 40th birthday. We booked out a house in Woodford in the Blue Mountains and spent the weekend catching up, eating, drinking, playing games and decorating cup-cakes! This amazing house was actually a 100 year old church which had been converted into a holiday house.
Another 40th birthday celebration, this time a weekend P&O cruise. Generally the short cruises don’t dock anywhere, but this one docked in Eden and we were able to go ashore and visit the Food Festival. It was a great weekend catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. We had a group of 13 and we all had a fun weekend of laughs and maybe a few cocktails!, celebrating Ellen’s Fabulous 40th!
This year we decided to spend Christmas and New Year at one of our most favourite places …. Fraser Island. We first visited in 2006 and have been coming back ever since. After a few days to ourselves (the Island was fairly empty) we had friends join us after Christmas …. as well as the rest of the crowds!
Big Red Bash
Ever since the first Big Red Bash in 2013 Shelly has been wanting to attend. For those that may not know, this is the world’s most remote music festival, held at the base of Big Red (the largest sand dune in the Simpson Desert) in Birdsville, QLD. Well finally we made it and wow, what an event! This would have to be by far the best run event we have ever been to. They basically throw nearly 10,000 people together, camping in the middle of the desert for 3 days. There are concerts from mid afternoon every day, as well as other entertainment to keep you occupied. The headlining act this year was Midnight Oil! The whole event ran so smoothly. Our friend Stewy joined us (with his daughter and nephew) and we all had the best time, they say that once you go you will be back ….. and yep we caught the bug, we already have our tickets for BRB 2020!
As well as attending the Big Red Bash we also spent 3 days camping at the Boulia Racecourse to see the Boulia Camel Cup – they say it’s the Melbourne Cup of camel racing! We’d always wanted to attend a camel racing meet and now we can tick that off the bucket list. So what’s it like? Well, lets just say it’s horse racing in slow motion …. really slow motion!
We also visited Cameron Corner (where the borders of NSW/QLD/SA meet) and Haddon Corner (where the borders of SA/QLD meet), Burke’s Grave & The Dig Tree (Burke & Wills), Innamincka, Birdsville, Winton, Longreach, had a beer in the Birdsville Pub and touched a fossilised dinosaur bone in Winton!
Over 16 days we traveled 4,838km, through 3 states, spent $1,290 on fuel and $210 on accommodation.
The 4WD’s & Camper Trailer
We are always spending money on these vehicles, they are money pits! And this year was no different!
We sold the old Prado
Early this year we made the hard decision to sell the old Prado. She was on the market for quite a while, but we always knew that a vehicle like this would have to attract the right buyer. For a start, not everyone wants to buy a 23 year old car with nearly 300,000 km on the clock! Anyway, after a few months on the market, that right buyer did come along, a young guy and his family from the central west region of NSW. He’d done his homework, he’d seen our website and knew exactly the life this car had lived, there was now no hiding anything!
It was sad to see her go, she’d brought us so many years of memories. She was what started our whole 4WDing and travel adventures together. It was this Prado that got George into 4WDing in the beginning, Shelly learned to drive off-road in the Prado. When we first started travelling together we slept in the back of the Prado, free camping or staying in caravan parks as we traveled around, all of the dogs have gone 4WDing with us and the kids grew up knowing this car. She took us on so many amazing holidays and to places across Australia that we would never have gone to without a 4WD. We spent our 2 month honeymoon travelling in the Prado, as well as many weekend trips with friends.
So many fun memories, it was really hard to watch her drive away with her new family, alot of memories drove away with her that night. But hopefully the old girl still has a lot of life left in her and this new young family can start making memories of their own.
We bought Leia!
By far one of the most exciting things that happened this year was buying Leia! For years Shelly has been talking about one day owning a Hilux, something George wasn’t entirely on board with. Anyway, as talk turned to selling the Prado we had to make the decision of which car to replace it with. It need to be Shelly’s daily driver, but we also liked the idea of having another vehicle to drive off-road on the weekends instead of taking the 150 out, so this eliminated any smaller hatchback purchase. George would have loved another 150 or even a 120 series Prado, but he reluctantly gave in and agreed to buy a Hilux!
The day we picked her up!
After alot of looking we found one for sale up in Newcastle, it was full of the goodies we would have added anyway so it was the perfect buy for a great price ….. only thing was we hadn’t sold the Prado yet, but it was too good to miss out on. So off we went with our mate Liam and headed up to newy to pick her up.
Upon returning home she was given the full once over by our mechanic and treated with various products from Cost Effective Maintenance ….. these guys follow our pages and when we bought Leia they posted us a pack of their products to use on her!
Shelly knew exactly how she wanted this car to look and after throwing a fair bit of money into it she’s nearly there! The first major mod was removing the cage on the back, modifying the backboard and shortening the tray. Luckily one of Shelly’s friends, Paul, was able to do this for us so we saved a bit of money there.
Next we threw some money to the boys at ARB Penrith and Leia was fitted up with her snorkel, side steps, under body protection, extended diff breathers and most importantly, her rear air locker! The last major expense was new suspension in the form of front and rear Bilstein shocks and 2” raised springs, complete lower control arms and all new bushes, ball joints and camber pins. Thanks to Auto Parts Co and Sydney Suspension.
We love her …. yes even George has learned to love her now too! Click here to see the Project Leia page and her transformation so far.
150 Series Prado
After spending all our money on the new car there wasn’t much left to spend on the Prado! He did get a re-tune and dyno early in the year though.
Luckily the camper is relatively maintenance free and doesn’t require much, but we did buy a port-a-loo and shower to take travelling with us! Oh and the repaired awning after we riped it in Birdsville. We did also buy our Darche -12 degree sleeping bags …. so warm and so glad we bought them before the desert trip to the bash!
Lastly not camper trailer related, but the dogs bought George a swag for fathers day!
We haven’t tested it out yet, but we think it may come in handy to chuck it on the back of Leia for a quick weekend trip.
This year we had a lot of weekend adventures, particularly after we purchased Leia, we were out every other weekend in her! We also spent a bit of time exploring around the local area we live in, as well as further afield. We all travel far and wide and see these great places, but there is often quite a lot of interesting places to visit in your local areas. Our area actually has a lot of history, you just need to go searching for it, which is what we tried to do this year.
Royal Hotel, Sofala (1851)
Sofala, Australia’s oldest surviving gold rush town
Old Pipe at Prospect Reservoir
Prospect Reservoir (building completed in 1888)
Prospect Reservoir Valve House (1887)
The Old Prospect Post Office building (circa 1890).
Leia took a spin around Mount Panorama, Bathurst!
Settlers Arm Inn was built in 1836 from convict-hewn sandstone.
Explorers, Lawson, Blaxland & Wentworth carved their initials in this tree in 1813.
St Bartholomew’s Church and Cemetery at Prospect (built in 1841). Explorer William Lawson, who crossed the Blue Mountains with Blaxland & Wentworth, is buried here.