Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

A dream long weekend - plus my kids now know how to make sandwiches!:

It's not every day you win a plane but that's what Julie-Anne Foster did, and on Friday she takes off with 250 of her closest family and friends for a trip with AirAsia to Malaysia.
By Julie-Anne Foster
Date: October 31 2012
Editor Rating:

Gobsmacked and speechless. In total disbelief. Not sure whether this was the real deal or some kind of cruel scam to make off with my credit card details. 

These were the first thoughts that flew through my mind when the legal team at AirAsia rang me in June to tell me I’d won “a whole plane” to Malaysia. I’d entered the AirAsia competition about a month beforehand, but at that very moment, the memory faded away into a cloud of uncertainty and scepticism. Then, after it began to (very slowly) sink in, came a tidal wave of excitement, and the realisation of what it all meant: I would get the chance to tell over 250 of the closest people on the planet to me that we’re heading on a once–in–a–lifetime trip to Kuala Lumpur!

Straight away I rang my husband Darren, who was also initially certain the competition was a rort. It took a bit of convincing, but eventually he began to believe, as I did, that we were all actually going to Malaysia together.

The story began to seem even more real when it appeared in newspapers around Lismore. I’ve got to admit, it was odd seeing my name splashed across the local rags – it was the first time I’d ever experienced this kind of publicity. My life was suddenly a matter of public discussion. But hey, 42 years of age certainly isn’t too old to claim a few moments of fame.

Once the initial disbelief melted away, the buzz in our household returned to what you might call a manageable level. There are five of us in our family home: myself, Darren, and our three beautiful kids Jake, Natalie and Keely.

Being a mother of three teenagers and running a family business with Darren, I’m usually a pretty busy person. We manufacture catamarans in Altsonville on the New South Wales north coast and live in nearby Lismore, which we’ve called home for around 20 years. Jake is an apprentice with our company, whilst the girls are still in high school.

It’d be fair to say life was tipped on its head when I was suddenly told I’d have to organise a holiday for over 250 people in addition to life’s other responsibilities. With countless trip spreadsheets, travel itineraries, confirmations and cancellations, juggling the normal happenings of life has been a taxing task at times. Needless to say, I haven’t been meeting my normal weekly sandwich quota for the kids these last few months. But I think we’ve all risen to the challenge … and the bonus is the kids now know how to make their own sandwiches.

When I began telling people I’d won a whole plane’s worth of seats to Malaysia, some simply laughed whilst others stood in stunned disbelief.

In order to enter the competition, which had been organised on the social networking site Facebook, I had to “fill” the entire plane with as many online Facebook friends as I could. After three nights (and a few glasses of wine), I’d managed to fit 251 people on board the airliner on my computer screen. Included are Darren and the kids or course, but also a whole raft of people from many different parts of my life.

Some, I speak with on a daily basis, whilst others I haven’t caught up with in decades. My mum will be joining us, as will an 80–year–old uncle, two aunties, three brothers, one sister and two little nephews, not to mention countless cousins and their partners and children. I’ve also inadvertently managed to cause a minor headache for the Lismore hospital emergency department, which will be losing five ambulance drivers and six nurses this weekend.

Some of those who will be coming are old girlfriends from high school days whom I haven’t seen in 27 years. I’m so excited about this and well up with tears inside sometimes when I think about it. So much time has passed, but I know when we’re all together on the plane to KL it will seem as if weeks, not years have elapsed. I’m also taking my championship–winning hockey team on what we’ve dubbed our end–of–year trip. So, girls, get ready for one heck of a season–ending tour!

For many of those joining us, this will be their first trip abroad, their first chance to see another country, to experience a different culture, to witness another way of life. And what’s more, we’ll all be doing it together!

To my kids, I’m so thrilled to be able to gift you the opportunity to see the many beautiful sights and sounds of Kuala Lumpur and the chance to experience the delights of the beautiful Malaysian culture. At 18, 17 and 13 years of age, they’re (almost) all grown up, and as they get older it’s going to be harder to do these kinds of things together. To have this opportunity is truly priceless and it will stay long in our hearts, I’m sure. This trip presents such a unique opportunity for us all to do so many amazing things side–by–side, such as visit the epic Batu Caves, play with monkeys in the forest and sip martinis at the beautiful rooftop Luna Bar overlooking the Malaysian capital.

It’s only a few days now before we all head off and the excitement is building once again in the Foster household. It all still seems slightly absurd. However, the greater relevance of this trip is not being lost on us: A chance for so many people to do all this TOGETHER. Sometimes, when life gets its way, we’re often all pulled in different, sometimes opposite directions, regardless of how much love we have for one another, regardless of how strong the urge is to stay by each other’s side. This holiday, albeit only lasting a few days, represents the very opposite of that notion: a chance to reunite.

This is not just your average holiday. It’s something more. It’s something that will be remembered by a whole body of people from countless overlapping family and social circles for many years to come. It’s a true legacy event. We’ll be a travelling circus, a rolling party. I’m sure we’ll all cherish the opportunity to spend such quality time together – to forge new friendships and reignite old ones. I know I will!

(Now, to the first task at hand: to organise what could be the silliest and largest mid–air karaoke sing-along ever.)

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Todd McGeary says: 2012 11 14

Jules - I just read your article over my morning coffee. 

Your words brought goosebumps to my skin. All well said with honesty and grace Jules. 

I know first hand what an amazing group of Friends and Family you have. We did have an incredible and mindblowing 3-days in KL, I’m sure it’s just a taste of what is to come in the future for all involved.
I’m now sure that everyone who joined us on the Friendsy event is fully aware of the power of Friendship and Family connetion.

Well done Jules a no more deserving host than you.

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