Monday 27 May 2013

1st month summary of trooprock.

It is now a month since we arrived in Thangool. On April 24, 2013 we began, leaving friends, family and Newcastle behind, to finally start our journey at Hotel Thangool. This is the first time I (Jeni) have had the opportunity to post on here. I thought I would summarise our first leg of our travels from my perspective. Since it is my first time, I decided I would write about some of our firsts that have happened this year. Some of the mistakes I have made, and some of the triumphs we have had, and lessons to be learnt. Some I will just list, others I will detail, and help others not to make the same mistakes we made. In saying this, I am glad of the lessons, and experiments we are learning from everyday. For one not to make mistakes in life, or to always know the most direct root, the easiest way to go about something is not possible, and to take a bumpy road occasionally instead of the highway allows for a much different experience, gives you stories to tell, and things to discover off the beaten track.

  • Finding and purchasing a vehicle - Keep your options open. You never know what you will find.

Upon deciding to travel around Australia in November 2012, Cameron and I started to look for a vehicle. We spent many hours over the next few months looking, sifting through the good from the bad. Eventually after looking at a few, and talking to people, we had narrowed the selection of our backpacking vehicle to a Toyota Hiace - a hi-top to allow for more storage and sleeping room.We also had a selection criteria; price, number of kilometres, year model, condition, practicality.  I learnt quickly that one thing for sure, people know a bargain when they see one. Often we would find vehicles that met two of the conditions, but let us down in others.  One time I was searching. I found a vehicle that was advertised only 3 hours prior. It met all of our conditions, which was rare. I rang up to organise an inspection the next day in Sydney. This was another rarity, as we would often also find a great vehicle, but advertised in Western Australia. The next morning, Cameron rang the owner back just to double check a time, only to find out he had already sold it to somebody who had rung up only 5 minutes before I had the day before.
Even though we had practically decided on the Toyota Hiace, I still kept my options open. There were a few times I had seen a Toyota Landcruiser Troop-Carrier, which had been modified similar to the Hiace hi-top campervans. I started to think that maybe a 4X4 would be the way to go. There were positives and negatives about this new option. It would allow access to many more places around Australia, as Landcruisers were built for the Australian outback. However, these vehicles had slightly less room in the living area of the camper part because the Hiace engine is mostly underneath, while the Landcruiser is at the front under the bonnet.
Another day after now about 3 months of looking I found a Troopy that was heading to Sydney. After looking at it, and getting Cameron's brother who is a mechanic to do a mechanic check on it, here we are today, owners of a 4X4, Landcruiser, Troopcarrier (Troopy) hitop, campervan.

  • Selling vehicles - Don't assume you will be able to sell within a month of initial advertising. Use more than one method of advertisement. Think outside the box.

Ok, so our previous cars are still a touchy subject. Both were loved, well looked after and bought with the intention to have them until the day they died. If you want to read more about Cameron's interesting experience he has written an article here. In summary, my car sold the day we left on our travels luckily, Cameron's sold on the day his Registration ran out, with many many thanks going out to his mum as we handed the keys to her when we left. For our first two weeks of us being here, Cam was on the phone every couple of days discussing if either of them had received any offers, and when test drives could be arranged. I NEVER want to sell a car again. First mistake was not allowing ourselves enough time. The second we decided to travel they should have been on the market, and being advertised! Due to our ignorance, or maybe just naivety, and a few other circumstances, we didn't start to advertise until the end of January, maybe even February. I think Cameron's didn't hit gumtree or Carsales until March once we had moved out of Wangi Wangi. I thought of many ways to try to sell it. One of my ideas (not successful but an idea none the less) was to send emails out to Driver Instructor companies in Newcastle and the Hunter. My question to them was were any of their students soon to get their P's (Provisional driver's License) and in need of a car. Another thought was to put flyers up in the local Universities, and TAFE's as students are another demographic usually in need of a car that is priced cheaply. This worked for me, with no time to spare.

  • Working a new Job. - Have fun, experiment, broaden your horizons. It is easier to find a job face to face and talking to people, rather than via Internet, however there are many unusual jobs you might not have even thought of out there to be discovered. Cover letters are important to be attached with your resume.

The last 4 years I have spent working in Childcare. Last year I gained another Diploma in Outdoor Recreation, but right now I am about to leave my first bar job. Whilst we were in limbo, eagerly awaiting our departure, I was madly job searching. Knowing we would be doing backpacking, I was searching all types of jobs. Jobs relating to childcare/ Nannying, jobs relating to outdoor recreation, kayaking, abseiling, hiking, jobs to do with fruit picking, jobs for couples, anything I could find really. Some days I was frustrated. I thought being Australian it would be easier to pick up backpacking jobs, but maybe it wasn't as easy as I thought. There were many jobs that would say "only females" or "experience required" which that one is fair enough. Other jobs I would apply for, only to be told I was over qualified.
One evening I found the job for Hotel Thangool. I kind of glanced at it, but was tired and went to bed not long after. The next morning I was checking jobs again, and I actually read the ad properly this time. The job was for 2 people (PERFECT), no experience necessary, and willing to get RSA (Responsible Service Alcohol). It was to start in two days time in central Queensland (QLD). I rang Cameron to see his thoughts and he said to go for it. I applied, two hours later, management rang me back and said they were impressed with the cover letter I wrote with our situation. Mark the manager said he would give us a chance, and wished more people had given him and his wife more of a chance when they were younger, doing the same thing we were. That afternoon, I had already arranged for somebody to test drive my car. This was finalised the next morning, then after doing a quick stop to buy some new shoes for Cameron, we embarked on our travels, driving 2 days straight to be here. So here we are. This is some of the firsts I have had while working here

  • First time pouring beer (from tap rather than bottle)
  • First time making cocktails for customers and shots
  • First time having a shot named after me
  • First time having a housekeeping job
  • First time using a truck pullover area, setting up the Troopy at night and sleeping,
  • First time going to the horse races,
  • First time being hit on by an old drunk guy that kept indicating he wanted to go outside and hook up, despite the fact that I told him Cameron was my boyfriend, and even got him to come over and prove it, and I kissed Cam in front of him.
  • First time hearing the musical rocks at Mount Scoria
I must say that working in a Bar is in a sense similar to working in childcare (minus the liquor), in the sense that you always have to have a level head about you. You have a duty of care to people who may not necessarily be able to make decisions, or look after themselves. Working in a bar or childcare there are responsibilities of making sure these people are in a safe environment, and try to keep out of harms way. You need a clear head to make reasonable decisions.

Mark and Fiona have been wonderful managers. I am glad we have gotten to know them. They own a business called Outback Now. A web address focusing on allowing people such as backpackers, to have a true Aussie experience. On the site there is information regarding festivals, events, jobs, off the beaten track towns. They have had years of experience travelling Australia and still love it. I have learnt many things including how to find more space for storage when we thought there was no more.

I am excited for many more firsts over our travels. Today, May 27th, 2013, is the day we are leaving the area of our first chapter of our many more adventures. If you are reading this blog, you may become inspired to travel around also. I hope so. You will come across many things that you have not done before. I also hope that after reading this, you can be more prepared than I was, but there is a first time for everything, so just give it a try.

- Jeni

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