News ID: 314921
Published: 0939 GMT July 19, 2021

Travelling couple makes lifetime of memories while at Top Didj Gallery in Australia

Travelling couple makes lifetime of memories while at Top Didj Gallery in Australia

It was a planned trip of a lifetime that hit some bumps in the road, but those obstacles have now created an adventure much more exciting than originally thought.

Marnee Monczko and husband Barry were world travellers on a quest to finish a lap of Australia. Then the world changed, wrote.

"We've lived in Australia for 23 years now," Marnee said.

"We're originally from Canada, but we have lived on the Gold Coast since arriving here.

"We worked, lived and had children. The nice life. Then the kids grew up and left. There was really no reason to hang around the Gold Coast any more.

"We thought to ourselves, what are we doing? So, we decided to take a gap year and travel."

The travel plans began in 2018. They were well thought out and the couple had a long list of things to see and do.

"First went back to Canada, international travel used to be a thing," Marnee said.

"We spent six months there. Next was the US, Guatemala, then we were bound to start the lap around Australia in 2019."

"We started our lap on the Gold Coast and made our way down. We began to get a really good rapport, then the fires and floods began at the end of 2019.

"We changed some plans and just went with it, little did we know that would be the beginning of the world would change.

"Around February in 2020, we were in Perth and COVID was beginning to hit full swing. Life was so easy before all of it.

"When we got to Western Australia, we were in Dongara, we had absolutely no place to go. Caravan parks were turning everyone away.

"It was so out of control, but luckily a little mum and pop caravan park took us in. We stayed for two months and did whatever we could to help. We lived very nicely there and are forever grateful."

As the borders began to open again, the couple tried to get the trip back on track.

"We got a lot, but we were so delayed and it just wasn't going to plan," Marnee said.

"COVID made us realise you can't make plans. We turned around and became slower travellers and just went with the flow.

"We got to one part of Australia and just thought, lets go right up the middle. Why not?

"We got to Coober Pedy and were reading an ad post asking for help at this Katherine Top Didj Gallery place.

"We knew nothing about Aboriginal culture, art, but it seemed to match our skill set. We just couldn't say no to the opportunity.

"Now we're here in Katherine."

Top Didj Cultural Experience & Art Gallery in the Northern Territory was founded in April 2009 by Alex and Petrena Ariston. Once they took in Marnee and Barry, a friendship was formed.

"We found a real sense of belonging here in Katherine," Marnee said.

"We're learning about Aboriginal culture and art. Life happens when you're busy making plans. This has been so much better than the traditional lap around Australia.

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