Special thanks to all our sponsors for the South Australian Trip. Without you it
would not be possible to undertake such a great trip for the boys.
Front of Jumper sponsor: TOSHIBA
Back of Jumper sponsor: GREG JAMES GARAGE DOORS
Sleeve sponsors: ANDERSON FENCING and MR MINIT LAKE HAVEN
Travel bag sponsor: WARNIES
"Once a journey is designed, equipped and put in process; a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a tour, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys; it has personality, temperament, individuality & uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike. We do not take a trip, a trip takes us." (John Steinbeck 1902 -1968)
Two years ago the seed of an idea was formed by a few U12 Warnervale rugby parents to take the boys on rugby tour to New Zealand. The idea took root and Darren & Elisa Byrnes worked tirelessly planning the itinerary and organizing fund-raising and sponsorship for the tour. They were aided by a small, dedicated team and supported by the teams' parents and well wishers.
Particular thanks must go to "Heroes & Legends" our main sponsors, who raised the bulk of the funds for the tour.
On tour were:-
Warnervale Wildcats Rugby Team
William 'Wonka' Anderson
Team officials and supporters:
Bill (Grandad) Clarke
Sue, Stoff & Emma Woods
Michelle & Sam Hulme
David, Rachel, Jessica & Bronwyn McDonald & Natalie.
Sunday 26th September
The much anticipated day of our departure finally arrived……4.30 a.m. was a bit early for some of us but this didn't deter any high spirits! A Coastal Liners coach arrived outside Warnervale Oval at 5.30 a.m. to take us to the airport and with fond farewells from those staying behind, we clambered aboard the coach. After the 'seat-finding mission' was accomplished and the initial flurry of activity and chatter, we set off for Sydney Airport. Megan Collins of Wyong Plaza Travel was at the airport to meet us and ensured that checking in procedures went smoothly. All the boys looked very smart in their Warnervale tracksuits carrying their blue kit bags. After completing Customs & Immigration formalities, we had time to spare for duty free shopping and a cup of coffee before our Air New Zealand flight departed at 9.30 a.m. bound for Auckland.
After an uneventful flight, we disembarked at Auckland airport at 2.30 p.m. to be met by our Leisure Time Tours coach driver, Stewart. The coach was modern and comfortable which was just as well as we were to spend many hours on it during the next 10 days. Darren presented Stewart with a Warnervale Wildcats rugby cap which he duly put on and we set off for Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World & Antarctic Encounter. We were given an hour to enjoy this attraction and I think the highlight for many was seeing the King & Gentoo penguins from the snow cat. Back on the coach and after a brief tour of Parakai Drive viewing some million dollar residences, we continued south to the small rural township of Pukekohe and our accommodation for the next two nights, Bluegum Lodge Motel. Before checking in at the motel, Stewart drove us into the town centre to have a quick bite to eat.
Monday 27th September
After a restful night (for some!), a continental breakfast was delivered to our rooms by the motel's excellent hosts, Lynette & Don Welsby. As our game of rugby was only scheduled for the evening, we had a 'free' morning and Darren organized Ten Pin Bowling and lunch (fish and chips) at a local club. Les Anderson emerged as the champion bowler. We headed back to the motel after lunch so the boys could go for a training session at the rugby ground. Our first rugby match was against the Pukekohe Rugby club at the Colin Lawrie Field (kicking off just after 6 p.m.) but unfortunately we were defeated despite a valiant effort by the boys. The opposing team had boys of various ages up to 17 years old and they good naturedly substituted some of our players for theirs and vice versa to even things out a bit. After the boys had showered, we exchanged gifts, speeches and well wishes followed by a very nice barbecue supper. There was even Banana Split for dessert! Our weary boys went home and slept soundly that night. The motel hosts had kindly offered to launder the boys rugby gear so we handed them a muddy, soggy pile of clothes at 9 p.m. We were to find this sort of helpful attitude throughout our stay in New Zealand. (En route to Rotorua, Darren was contacted by BlueGum Lodge in Pukekohe advising that a kit bag had been left in one of the rooms; they kindly offered to courier it to Rotorua
Tuesday 28th September
After breakfast, we loaded our bags onto the coach and set off on the road to Rotorua. It was a rainy day so much of the passing scenery wasn't easily visible. We stopped for a break in the town of Matamata, a picturesque town and the site of "Hobbiton' from the movie "Lord of the Rings." Upon reaching Rotorua, Stewart let us loose in the town to find some lunch. Most of us opted for the 'all you can eat' establishment called Valentines where a wide selection of food was on offer. Our original plan for the afternoon was to go lugeing down Mt Ngongotaha but as it continued to rain after lunch, we decided to visit the Whakarewarewa Thermal Village for a guided tour instead. Our guide was very good natured and enthusiastic and gave us a run down of the Maori history in the area. It was fascinating to view the geysers and mud pools up close. In the late afternoon, we were taken to our accommodation for the next two nights, the Kiwi Paka Youth Hostel. Once everyone was settled in their rooms, we were given a welcome meal of roast chicken and vegetables. The little bar proved to be a popular spot with a great atmosphere and a pool table where several challenge matches were played! We also played cards and Michelle introduced us to the game of 'Spoons', much to the amusement of onlookers.
The hostel has it's own thermal pool adjacent to the bar and restaurant area and we all benefited from a soak in the mineral water, particularly the boys who were a bit stiff and sore after their first rugby encounter.
Several other sporting teams from Australia were also staying at the motel including a girl's swimming team!
Wednesday 29th September
The day dawned bright and clear so taking advantage of this, we headed off early to Skyline Skyrides on Mount Ngongotaha where we rode the aerial gondola 200 metres up the mountain. Once kitted out with helmets and brief instructions on how to operate a luge (a kind of plastic tray on wheels!), we hurtled down the mountain on concrete tracks (there are 3 tracks of varying degrees of difficulty or daring). Upon reaching the end of the track, a chairlift scoops you up and carries you back up to the top for subsequent runs. The boys had lots of fun and lots of turns on the luges. The more sedate amongst us were able to have a hot drink at the cafe and take in the scenic views below of Lake Rotorua and browse in the souvenir shop. Some daring souls had a ride on the Skyswing which seats 3 and is attached to a 40 metre long cable. After being firmly strapped in, the cable is winched up and released like a giant playground swing…..plenty of screaming and endearments to family and friends were heard as the swing whooshed by.
We then set off for the small settlement of Mamaku in the mountains north of Rotorua. It's a town founded on the once prosperous sawmill industry but now only one sawmill (out of the original 17 sawmills) is operational and there is major unemployment in the area. We were welcomed by the gumboot wearing, besmocked principal of Mamaku Primary School and after the boys changed into their rugby gear, we set off for the nearby sports oval to watch their second game of rugby. We were somewhat apprehensive about this game as we'd heard that the boys in the opposing team were a rough and ready lot and we feared some gruesome injuries! Despite their reputation, they turned out to be ok and the referee kept a beady eye on them. This team performed The Haka in front of the Wildcats and the boys where in awe. The Haka is traditionally a war cry designed to intimidate the enemy…it worked.
We were defeated in this game too but once again, our lads put up a brave fight, showing great team commitment in the knowledge that we had only one replacement player available.
The opposition was just too big, fast & strong, some of them 16 & 17 years old. The local media were there to document the game and Michael Charlton in action was captured on camera with the photo appearing in the following day's edition of The Daily Post (several copies were kindly purchased by the owner of the Kiwi Paka and forwarded to Darren in Te Awamutu).
After the match, we went back to the school for formal reciprocal speeches, gift giving and a sausage sandwich. Some of the Mamaku boys were interested to see where we came from and Michelle Hulme talked them through the photos in the Ken Duncan Central Coast book we'd presented to them. After a picnic supper by the pool in the early evening, some of our entourage got taxis to the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua township for some beneficial soaking in the mineral pools.
Thursday 30th September
After a hearty cooked breakfast, we left Rotorua destined for Palmerston North. En route we stopped for a brief look at the Wairakei Geothermal Steam Field and the famous Huka Falls. We also stopped for an hour in the town of Taupo which is scenically situated on the shores of Lake Taupo with distant views of the three snow capped volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park. Some of the most beautiful scenery in the North Island is between Rotorua and Taupo. On we went to Palmerston North arriving at our accommodation, the Albert Motor Lodge in the late afternoon. We were allocated rooms and dined in the motel restaurant that evening. The fare of roast beef made a welcome change from ubiquitous chicken!! Paul Coombe set off to explore the area and soon knew where all the nearest shops & takeaways were. (Throughout the tour we relied heavily on Paul for his local knowledge and excellent orientation skills!). Sharon Anderson and Sue Jarrett came to see us and were to join us at the Skotel and stay on there to ski for a couple of days.
Friday 1st October
We set off early for the New Zealand Rugby Museum and an interesting hour was spent viewing rugby relics from bygone days. From here we journeyed to Tararua through the somewhat treacherous Manawatu Gorge which follows the course of the Manawatu River (recent heavy rain had caused mudslides which had closed the road for several days). Tararua Wind Farm has 48 wind turbines (each 40 metres high) which produce enough electricity to supply 15,000 homes. Tararua College in Pahiatua was the setting for our third rugby match. The main college is an impressive building and immaculately maintained. The principal said that a few days prior to our arrival the rugby ground was flooded. Luckily, the ground had dried out sufficiently for the game to take place. We were not victorious in this game but our boys' skills were steadily improving and their defence was good. After the usual speeches and lunch, we returned to Palmerston North. Darren organized a trip to the movies that evening and an enjoyable time was had by all. Unfortunately, Natalie received word that her Gran was ill in hospital in Masterton so she left the tour.
Saturday 2nd October
Overnight, David MacDonald became sick with an upset tum (dodgy pizza was thought to be the cause) so Rachel and the girls stayed behind in Palmerston North and planned to meet us later at the Skotel. Today we traveled through some cold and bleak landscapes, stopping at the small settlement of Waiouru for lunch before continuing to Turangi where we had a dip in the hot mineral pools. We arrived at the Whakapapa Ski Fields in the early afternoon which gave everyone ample time to play in the snow and slide down the slopes before checking into the Skotel for the night. They laid on a sumptuous barbecue for us and it was good to try some NZ lamb at last. The view of the mountains from the motel was breathtaking and we all wished we could've stayed for longer.
Sunday 3rd October
It was with some regret that we left the magnificent mountains and headed for Te Awamutu, the location of our final rugby match. On the way we stopped at Waitomo to go caving. We were split into 3 groups and each group had 2 guides. After struggling into wet suits and gum boots and donning helmets complete with miners lamps, we set off in a van to one of several caves in the area. After tramping across a farmer's paddock with curious cows as onlookers, we reached the mouth of the cave. We each took an inner-car tube and descended into the dark, dank cave not knowing quite what to expect. We were given a brief history of the caves and their glow-worm inhabitants before setting off into the black interior. As we went further into the caves, the water got deeper and we were told to put the tubes under our arms and float through the icy water by hooking our feet under the arms of the person in front of us. There was a small ledge where we jumped backwards into the water and then a steep slide into shallow water. To exit the cave we had to climb 105 steps (!) then it was back to base to peel off the wetsuits, shower and enjoy a welcome cup of hot tomato soup before heading on to the Marae near Te Awamutu. We arrived at the Marae and were addressed by Scott (Leisure Time Tours) on the Maori protocol practiced at the Marae. We were formally welcomed into the Marae (the Powhiri ceremony) and then shown to our sleeping quarters (the main 'meeting house'). Our kids and the Maori children integrated well and played touch football until dusk!
That evening, Vanessa Terry (Martin's Mum) kindly took a group of us to watch the grand final of the NRL on TV at her Uncle's farm.
Monday 4th October
Today we traveled the short distance to Te Awamutu Rugby Club for the lunchtime rugby match against Te Awamutu College. Some of us explored the town and bought souvenirs before returning to the Club to watch the game. Once again our boys played well and this time managed to score 10 points, but this wasn't enough to win. The hosts were gracious in victory and after lunch, we headed back to the Marae for our final night in New Zealand. We were treated to a veritable feast of three different meats and an assortment of vegetables and salads and after this our hosts sang some traditional Maori songs. Some of us lingered and had a bit of a sing-song with our hosts accompanied by a guitar. Much later that night, a somnolent chorus of snoring could be heard……
Tuesday 5th October
This morning we set off for Auckland Airport after thanking our kind hosts for their excellent hospitality. We were excited at the prospect of going home but sad to be at the end of our holiday. Everyone had a wonderful time and gained new friends and experiences along the way.
Thankyou Sue Woods for a wonderful Journal!!
The 13s Dubbo Trip 2008
The team travelled to Dubbo with high expectations of having a great trial match against the strong Dubbo side. Unfortunately, the Dubbo team forfeited at the last minute, so the team decided to play against themselves. Perhaps not the wisest decision as the boys were harder on each other than the Dubbo team would have been.
Never the less, the team had a great time at the caravan park, and the parents had a great time at the BBQ. Certainly everyone had a great time, and Dubbo promised they would be better prepared next time.
Front of Jumper sponsor: Air Pacific
Back of Jumper sponsor: PKP and Samurai Surfboards
Sleeve sponsors: All Sorts, 100 Barr, LewCal, Primo
Polo: DOT, On Time Services
Training singlet: Dafters Quality Meats, Wayne Cini Plumbing, Warnies, Crowne Plaza,
Snake Creek Cattle Company, AJ Scare Cranes, Layers Cranes
Travel bag sponsor: John McNamara
Since the decision had been made in 2009 - that each year an Under 15 team from Warnervale would travel to Fiji for an end-of-season tour - a hard core group of parents and players worked extremely hard to raise funds.
Led by our leaders Chris Acreman and Laurie Ashwell, and aided by Nigel "the Chief" Willmott, Warren Butler, Glenn Allan, Pete Sternbeck, John McNamara and many other parents - the group set about picking flowers, selling raffle tickets, holding Trivia Nights, chocolate and cookie drives, and any other means possible to raise funds.
The players pitched in, and it was great to see them running around the flower beds picking flowers and then selling them at Toukley Markets. I'm sure these experiences helped the boys mature in a big way.
So good was the work performed by everyone to raise money, that the players were able to travel for free to Fiji, have their accommodation and food paid for, and a brand new Fiji Playing Strip supplied. The look on the team's faces when the gear came out of the bags was priceless. For some of these boys it was the first time out of Australia, and getting onto a large plane and flying for a number of hours was an experience never to be forgotten. Arriving in Fiji with guitars playing and a lei of flowers was great.
The boys were able to go through their tour undefeated, despite coming up against some of the strongest schoolboy sides in Fiji. The playing highlight was beating the Fiji Academy side - a team which hadn't been defeated in a number of years.
The resort was extremely nice to the boys, although it must be said that the behaviour of the team was terrific, perhaps just a bit loud around the swimming pool.
Finally, to Bula Ben, the team says thank you in a big way for showing us the true meaning of "smiling Fijiians" and allowing us to take part in an authentic Kava Ceremony, followed by a traditional Fijiian meal sitting on the floor and eating with our fingers. Although it must be said, some of boys looked to have had too much practice eating with their fingers!!!!!