Sunday, 27 December 2015

2015: A Trooprock year in review

The end of another year and for many this brings about a time to reflect on the year that has been, and the new year to come. Memories of the awesome times. It is a time people often try to improve themselves, hence the idea of New Years Resolutions which personally I have never gotten into, but I still like to reflect on the year that has been and gone.

2015 was a year of change for us Trooprock Aussies. In 2014 we visited the USA for three months to play in the sky, jumping out of planes, where a great time was had by us both. Then it was off to United Kingdom with an Ancestry Visa for Cam, and a Working Holiday Visa for myself, the plan being to live there for 2-5 years. Needless to say we only lasted 2 months because we missed our beautiful country! We flew out of England on Christmas Day 2014 and after 40 hours of travel, including a 10 hour stopover in Singapore we were finally back in Australia on 27th December 2014.

We kicked off 2015 with not much direction. I started a nannying job in the Hunter Valley, NSW. Having previously worked in Child Care, becoming a nanny is something I had wanted to try my hand at. I didn't particularly like it, but at least I can say I have tried. While I was doing this, Cameron started to work on his novel again that he started back in early 2013, the year we bought Rocky. After a few months of dedicated writing, the story was complete, but then came the gruelling task of editing, so more on the book in a moment.

Rocky was due for rego in early March, so once that was sorted we were ready to be on the road again. For the second time we headed north. We spent  about a month travelling, visiting relos, and avoiding caravan parks over the Easter period (which as usual in Australia was pouring down with rain anyway). Then back to travelling until May where we started work again as tour guides at a place called Paronella Park. It was a beautiful location to work in the rainforest, and so different in every aspect to when we were tour guiding in central Australia; green vs. red, 45 minute tours vs. 3-4 day tours. You can find more information about us on our tour guiding information page.

In life it is good for the mind to vary things up a bit, to get away from the repetition. This was certainly Cameron's mindset this year. If what they say about keeping the mind busy helps prevent dementia then this year Cam has certainly kicked it as far away as possible. After the book was written, and in the process of being edited by an elite handful of people, including myself, Cam started another project. While working at Paronella Park we found some Australian based cartoons that he had drawn in the past so he decided to do something with them. He scanned them onto the computer, coloured them, then put them onto t-shirts, and started his first on-line business selling them. Talk about keeping busy! The brand is called Li'l Aussie Monsters. For me I have always had a collection of shirts with cartoons on them, but now I have some that have been drawn and created by the person I love. It is a proud moment for me when people compliment us on the shirts and I proudly tell them that Cameron created them.


Over the years I have noticed that by the time September comes around people start commenting on how fast the year is going. Usually I just agree, but for us it did seem that 2015 has flown by! After being away for the past 2 years for Christmas we had promised family at the beginning of this year that we would be back in Newcastle and the Hunter for Christmas 2015. Working up north was good for this as the tourism season starts to dwindle by the end of October when Australian travellers start to head back down south. When we first started working  we were told there would be work until October. By September we knew our time was drawing to a close and time to think about what would happen for the rest of the year. We finished up work in mid October after the school holidays. After changing hats from tour guide to tourist, we did a final lap up north then started heading down south again. We of course spent time at Townsville with mates and while we were there I caught up on some blog posts from the year, hence why there is 7 blog posts in October posted within a week! For 2016 we plan on bringing you much more frequent blog posts.

It was also in Townsville that new beginnings were in the air. I was starting to think outside the box in regards to travellling and seeing Australia. I had recently read articles and blogs about people house and pet sitting for others while they go away. It is a good way to see different parts of the country. For us particularly as we are already seasoned travellers it seemed like a good idea and whilst between sits we could just do what we usually do and camp in Rocky. I reasearched a few different websites to go through to house sit and decided on Aussie House Sitters. I payed the yearly membership of $65 which is what 2 nights in a caravan park with power would usually cost us. The site is good in that you set up a profile with information about yourselves, and after house sits people can leave us a reference afterwards. For some people it may be hard to start as many people ask for references which is fair enough as they are leaving you in charge of their house and pet. Just like going for a job though, if you know people who can give you a character reference, most people are happy to accept this instead of a reference on the site. For us to get started I referred to this blog so that people could get more of an idea about who we are, and we have participated in couchsurfing for many years too, where we have hosted numerous travellers and gotten references off them. On the site we are free to select areas in Australia that interest us on where we would like to house sit. This is more for the people needing a sitter so they know if we are in the area or not. When we search for house sits though, we are free to look anywhere in Australia. 

After Townsville we continued heading south. Coming to the end of October, Cam's book was almost ready to publish! Due to some advice he decided to release the book online through Amazon. It allows us to travel without having to lug around the books, but that said Kindle and e-books are not as big in Australia just yet, fortunately you can order a physical copy of the book through Amazon USA which are printed on demand. 

Once the membersip for the house sitting was paid for I set up our profile; Jeni and Cameron (Trooprock Aussies). Our first house sit was 30 minutes north of Coffs Harbour at the end of November. This gave us the chance to visit and spend time with Cam's nan which we don't get to do very often, and seeing as it was approaching the Christmas season, we had a few early Christmas celebrations. It was a lovely time.

Earlier in the year we promised our family that we would be in the Hunter Valley for Christmas, so after our first house sit was complete we came true of our promise and continued to head south. Well Christmas certainly was great, made even better that we got to have Christmas two days in a row! Cameron's sister had a gathering on Christmas Eve, then we visited my family on Chrismas day. It was great to see everybody, but it was also great to give our bellies a rest on Boxing day after all of the food that was consumed!

We are finishing off the year and kickstarting the new one in Nelson Bay house sitting. Normally a place I would avoid this time of year as it seems to be tourist capital, where all the Sydneysiders travel 3 hours north for their family holiday, but we are house sitting enjoying the area and avoiding the crowds. The house is nice, the dogs are friendly, the weather has been hit & miss, but we are making the most of the sun when it is out. For us 2016 will be about using house sitting as a means of travel, and in between jobs we of course will go camping in some new place with Rocky. We are happy for short or long sits but our aim is to find a longer house sit of 3+ months in Victoria, South Australia or Western Australia. This will allow Cam to work on his second novel, and it is long enough time to find casual work in an area. If you are reading this blog post and need a house sitter please feel free to contact us through Aussie House Sitters. If you are reading this as a tour company, blog writing company, or travel company and like what you see, there are email links to contact us via our tour guiding page.

From the Trooprock Aussies Cameron, Jeni and Rocky, we hope you had a merry Christmas, have a happy new year, and an icy cold beer!