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From carpentry in rural NSW to travelling the world

From carpentry in rural NSW to travelling the world

For McKenzie Sandbrook aged care resident Ron, an unexpected career change in his 50s led to making unforgettable memories from across the world.

Growing up in the small town of Tumbarumba in New South Wales, where he ran a carpentry business, Ron and his wife Ronda would eventually make the move to Tweed Heads to start a new career path in 1980.

“I was a carpenter for most of my career - at one stage I had 43 employees reporting to me and saw most of the east coast of Australia from the Gulf down to Ballina,” Ron said.

“It was an adjustment going from carpentry to tourism, but Ronda had worked for the tourism company for a while and if my darling liked the idea, then it was alright to me.”

The pair moved to the coast and took on a new challenge as managers of the Fishermen’s Bend Motel, with 47 employees on the books.

But it wasn’t the work that kept Ron and Ronda in the tourism industry for a decade, it was the perks of exploring the world together.

“The beauty of working for the travel company was, as a bonus, each year we could go anywhere in the world and everything was covered.

“We did the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and did these trips every year for 10 years straight.”

Their explorations led to some wonderful new friendships and experiences, including becoming part of a wedding ceremony in Malaysia.

 “We flew into Kuala Lumpa and hired a driver for the day to look around before coming back to the hotel.

“The driver asked us what we were doing that night and we had no plans, so he invited us to his sister’s wedding.

“We thought he was joking, but he lent me a jacket and Ronda found a nice dress and he came back later that night to pick us up.

“We ended up being a part of the wedding ceremony – there was a frame that had an egg in it above the bride and groom - Ronda stood by the bride and I stood by the groom.

“Because we were foreigners, it was a sign of good luck so long as the egg didn’t drop.

“The bride and groom were doing their first dance and next thing we knew we were being pulled onto the dance floor to do the Waltz as well and the whole crowd clapped and cheered.

“So, from then on I either had a drink in one hand or I was dancing – I’ll never forget that!”

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