By Michael R Williams
Two travellers who met in New Zealand, solidified their love of exploration, meet up and explored Australia before landing in Ilfracombe.
Wonderers Joe Masters is from the UK and Marina Mackenzie is from Canada.
“We actually met when we were working in New Zealand, I had been there for three years and Marina was there for a couple of years,” Mr Masters said.
“Both working in the tourism industry there.
“Marina had quit her job and was just about to leave when we first met, so then we just sort kept meeting up on our days off.”
Mr Masters was working an on-and-off roster and Ms Mackenzie was looking to travel elsewhere; Mr Masters would make the decision to join her in travelling around New Zealand before they hopped on a plane to Australia.
“Both of our visas were expiring, and at that point, we needed a change from New Zealand – we both love New Zealand but we wanted something a little bit different,” he said.
“We got lucky in being able to hop over to Australia, it was probably one of the only countries in the world at that point that you could move to.”
They would spend some time in Brisbane and in cities along the coast before being poached by Terry Hatch from the Wellshot Hotel on a backpackers forum.
“We got a message from Tracey and the Wellshot really took our fancy,” Mr Masters said.
“She told us about the small town; we’re very used to living in a small-town community.
“Throughout Covid there were only 100-150 people living in the community at the place we used to work at.
“We enjoy the small-town small community feel of things – the real communities you don’t necessarily see on a tourist trail.”
Mr Masters said he had been shocked as to the depth of comradery within the people of the Central West.
“Yesterday, we were in Longreach and our car broke down – made a few calls to locals, a few people who drink in the pub,” he said.
“We managed to get two or three people out helping us – one guy, Lurch, lent us his trailer.
“A few people picked up the car and brought it back and had a look at it for us.
“We’ve only been here for a short amount of time, and the people are willing to help us and they don’t expect anything in return.
“They are lovely lovely genuine people looking to help.”
Ms Mackenzie has been making films during her time in Ilfracombe for her youtube channel, “My World Experience“.
“I’ve been doing it for about a year and a bit now,” Ms Mackenzie said.
“I’ve always done stuff that’s a bit odd and harder to film because I am on my own.
“Or when I’m with Joe, we’re spending more time with each other and it gets a bit difficult to try and capture everything that’s happening.”
During her time in Ilfracombe, she’s been able to find more time to film.
“It’s been nice to have the time together and time to go off and capture what’s happening around here,“ she said.
“And things you’d kind of think of would happen in a small town, but just trying to film the experience of it, that feeling of it.
“For Ilfracombe and the station, I was working on before this [in Cairns], I ‘ve grown as a filmmaker in that sense.”
Both Mr Masters and Ms Mackenzie said they had felt welcomed during their whole stay in Ilfracombe.
“It’s a completely different feeling to the rest of Australia,“ Ms Mackenzie said.
“We’ve spent time in Brisbane and in Cairns; you can feel the difference coming up North, people are a bit more friendly more talkative.
“But I think as well when you start coming to the Outback it’s very different the cities; as a foreigner, this is the kind of Australia you think of.
“The other day we got to see a whole bunch of kangaroos just jumping along – that quintessential Australian feel.“