After last week’s shock departure, Summer Bay bids farewell to two more locals this week, as Ben and Maggie Astoni depart on their dream move to Italy…
It’s been a long road for Ben (Rohan Nichol) and Maggie (Kestie Morassi) over the past few months, but after finally getting back together following their separation earlier this year, the couple decided last week that they would make a fresh start in Italy.
Maggie had been preparing to leave for Italy herself only a few weeks ago, before Ben stepped in front of her car to stop her.
As the couple finally agreed on giving their marriage another go, Maggie felt it difficult to move on in a town where everyone knows what they’ve been through.
It was then that they came up with the idea of moving to Italy together on a permanent basis, and they asked daughters Ziggy (Sophie Dillman) and Coco (Anna Cocquerel) if they would come with them.
When both daughters declined, the couple had second thoughts, but Ziggy convinced them that they should follow their dreams.
When Ben and Maggie realised that the cost of flights were soon going up, they realised they would have to act fast and it was action stations as they announced their impending departure to Ziggy.
Left with the issue of the farmhouse, Ben and Maggie have offered it to Ziggy and boyfriend Dean (Patrick O’Connor) for a cheap rent, and this week Ben also asks Dean if he would take over the board shop business.
Although pleased for her parents, Ziggy is struggling with everything happening so fast, and when she comes across her and ex-husband Brody’s wedding album whilst helping Maggie pack, it leaves her quite emotional.
If Dean later walking in on Ziggy crying whilst going through the album wasn’t enough, she also starts to panic about Maggie and Ben’s departure the following day, exclaiming that she’ll have no-one left to talk to, she’ll be on her own!
The hurt is etched across Dean’s face as he thanks her for that cutting comment.
With the couple about to embark on a brand new beginning together, with the possibility of moving into their own place and Dean’s taking over the business, is their relationship going to start to suffer?
The day of Ben and Maggie’s departure finally dawns, and the couple are surprised by Alf with a farewell lunch outside the surf club with all their friends.
Toasts are given, and speeches made by both Alf and Ben.
Ben and Maggie then head back to the farmhouse for a final goodbye with Ziggy and Dean, before leaving for Cairns to farewell daughter Coco.
Kestie shared the following image back in December when she and Rohan filmed their final scene, as the couple drive out of town past the famous ‘You are leaving Summer Bay’ sign.
“I like to believe Maggie and Ben are going to be able to work through any issues they have and grow old together” Kestie told New Idea magazine. “It’s what they’ve always imagined for their future.”
Talking about her three year stint on the show, Kestie continued “I expected it to be wonderful and exciting, but I didn’t expect to fall so deeply in love with the people I worked with. I can’t tell you the joy this job has brought me.”
Asked if she could see a return to Summer Bay in the future, Kestie added “Well, we drive off into the sunset… they seem to leave it very open, which is nice”
The Astonis first appeared on the show back in June 2017, and were the first nuclear family to be introduced since the Sutherlands in 2000.
In fact they still remain the only such family to be introduced to the show in the past 20 years.
Unusually, we met the Astonis before they had even moved to Summer Bay, joining them at their home in the city as they faced issues with daughters Ziggy and Coco.
Ben was first seen bumping into Brody Morgan (Jackson Heywood)—who was at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in the city—as he searched for Ziggy. Little did Ben know that Brody had just met Ziggy when she hid in the toilets from Ben, and that Brody was hiding her in his car.
When Ziggy eventually snuck home, it transpired that the police had been searching for her over the theft of a neighbour’s car. Although Ben had covered for Ziggy by giving her an alibi, he wasn’t impressed by Ziggy’s admission that she and boyfriend Jarrod had just ‘borrowed’ the car for a little joyride.
Things were only to get worse when Maggie then arrived home with younger daughter Coco, who had just been suspended from school for online bullying.
Although money was tight with Ben’s business struggling, the couple agreed it would be best to head away for a while to stay with Maggie’s mother Diana (Sarah Chadwick).
Fate had other ideas for the family however. Pulling off the main road for a break from driving and Ziggy’s complaining, surfer Ben followed his nose and they found themselves pulling up on the beachfront in Summer Bay.
After a brief respite, the family were prevented from leaving when their car refused to start.
As calamity after calamity prevented their departure, the family agreed to stay for the rest of the holidays. When Maggie, Ziggy and Coco partook in one of John Palmer’s bus tours of Summer Bay, the trip was halted outside the farmhouse when Coco became travel sick.
Maggie immediately fell in love with the house, which had just gone up for sale.
With the opportunity later coming for the couple to buy the Pier complex, and for Maggie to apply as Summer Bay High’s new principal, everything seemed to fall into place for the family and the rest is history…
Here’s the full spoilers for this week in Australia:
Monday 13th July (Episode 7367)
Dean accepts an unexpected proposition.
Ziggy seeks closure.
Tane disappoints Ari.
Tuesday 14th July (Episode 7368)
It’s a special celebration for Ben and Maggie.
Ziggy and Dean overcome challenges.
Marilyn and John make hard decisions about their marriage.
Wednesday 15th July (Episode 7369)
Marilyn and John reach the point of no return.
Tori draws a line in the sand.
Ryder encourages Alf to seize every moment.
Thursday 16th July (Episode 7370)
Jasmine’s behaviour reaches a crescendo.
Nikau and Bella’s relationship continues to blossom.
Tori makes an impossible choice.