Guest Post: Must sees in rural NSW

Guest post brought to you by Destination NSW

 

Australia’s New South Wales is known for its beautiful beaches and coastlines to die for. However the state has so much more to offer than laid back beach towns, with a gorgeous coastline, white covered snowfields and a winery or two in between.

 

Regardless if you are after a quick trip away or setting off on a two week long adventure, there are a bunch of things to do in the state of New South Wales, and rather than guide you to places you’ve heard of a million times; here a few of my favourite rural destinations.

 

Mudgee

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Photo Credit: Pexels

 

The town of Mudgee boats local produce, fine dining and delicious wine! Located just north-west of Sydney, the area is made up of gorgeous greenery, farmlands and rolling hills.

 

You can always find something to do here in Mudgee, but some of our favourite things are bushwalking by Dunns Swamp, going wine tasting at one of the 40 family owned wineries, or spending a night under the stars at Goulburn River National Park.

 

Morpeth

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Photo Credit: Foundry

Just two hours North of Sydney, situated in the infamous Hunter Valley lies the historic town of Morpeth. The colonial buildings in the main street are filled with amazing restaurants, eclectic stores selling a bunch of local products and delicious food outlets.

 

There is a lot to do in Morpeth that embraces the history and culture of the town like eating lunch riverside, enjoying a heritage walk and tasting a slice or two of the famous Morpeth Sourdough. Go back in time and explore just how popular the river port was in colonial times with a trip through the Morpeth museum.

 

Armidale

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Photo Credit: Melent

 

Located smack bang in the middle of Sydney and Brisbane, the stunning Armidale has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike. Being the home to Australia’s second highest waterfall, World Heritage national parks and scenic landscapes, Armidale is one to add to the travel bucket list.

 

If you are one for walking amongst nature, you will be thrilled with all the walking trail options in Armidale, like the Oxley Walking Track or the Chandler View Circuit Walk. However if hiking isn’t really your thing then you can take a leisurely stroll through the Armidales Farmers Markets. This is held on the first and third Sunday of each month so make sure you check your calendar and pick yourself some local produce.

Bellingen

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Photo Credit: PattyJansen

On the banks of Bellinger River, just half an hour from Coffs Harbour sits the rural town of Bellingen. If you are a fan of kayaking, canoeing and rainforest walks then this might be your new favourite place. Bellingen is a great place to base yourself while you immerse yourself amongst the nature that surrounds the local area, like the Bangalore Falls or the World Heritage listed Dorrigo National Park.

 

Kangaroo Valley

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Photo Credit: Giraphic Design

 

The Kangaroo Valley is one of Australia’s most hidden gems, located in between Canberra and Sydney along the Kangaroo River. With the river flowing throughout the valley, the whole area has become very popular to go camping, and enjoy a variety of watersports like canoeing and kayaking.

 

To make sure you’re experiencing all Kangaroo Valley has to offer, make sure you stop in to the Kangaroo Valley Pie Shop. This heritage listed shop is home to the ‘World’s Best Pies’, however if you’d rather something else they also offer great local treats as well.

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Do you have all the gear but no idea? Mark Shotkit talks travel tripods!

Hi there! I’m Mark from a Shotkit, a site all about the camera equipment and photography.

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Today we’ll be discussing a list of what I believe are the best travel tripods for Shaun, Sarah and all you awesome Norris Around Australia fans who want a steady shot on your next holiday.

Before we dive headfirst into the world of our 3-legged friends, you should ask yourself, do I really need to take a tripod on my next trip?!

In most situations, even if you need a steady shot (for a long exposure night shot, or for a selfie with your family etc), you’ll usually be able to find a level place to put your camera to achieve the same thing. Lugging a tripod around on holiday, even if it is one of the best travel tripods, isn’t my idea of fun!

Having said that, for those of you who really need a tripod in your dslr backpack, these are my picks of the 5 best travel tripods available this year.

Let me know in the comments what tripod you’re currently using!

  1. Joby GorillaPod Focus Flexible Tripod

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Whilst every other tripod manufacturer concentrates on making lightweight tripods with rigid legs, Joby has been turning the rulebook upside down for years with this little gem of a tripod that was built to flex. Wrap the legs of the GorillaPod around anything you want to achieve that shot that a rigid leg tripod can only dream about!

The Joby GorillaPod Focus Flexible Tripod is available here.

 

  1. MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip Travel Tripod/Monopod

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Multi-function should be the name of the game for all your travel gadgets, and the MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip achieves this with its neat ability to switch from a tripod to a monopod. Choose from fourteen colours (9 aluminium and 5 carbon fiber), then smile all the way through customs since the MeFoto weighs only 1.6kg – quite respectable for a tripod that extends up to 156cm tall.

The MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip Travel Tripod/Monopod is available here.

 

 

  1. Manfrotto BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod

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From the Italian tripod manufacturer Manfrotto comes the Manfrotto BeFree Compact, with my favourite feature – flip-lever-locking legs (as opposed to twist to lock). Sliding each leg into itself and rotating it 180 degrees back on itself allows the legs to nestle neatly into the grooves of the sides of the ballhead. This kind of design is unique to the Manfrotto BeFree, and is testament to the attention of detail of Manfrotto products.

The Manfrotto BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod is available here.

 

  1. ZOMEI Z699C Portable Carbon Tripod

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Even though aluminium gives the best bang for the book when it comes to price vs features with tripods, carbon fiber is definitely the gold standard. Usually the price of carbon fiber pushes it out of reach, but this isn’t so with the ZOMEI Z699C. For a relatively unheard of brand, this travel tripod has an impressive feature set, and an even more impressive price! If you’re willing to try something new, the ZOMEI Z699C is the most affordable way to get a carbon fiber lightweight travel tripod into your backpack.

The ZOMEI Z699C Portable Carbon Tripod is available here.

 

 

  1. Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

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The aforementioned GorillaPod isn’t the only ultra-compact tripod on the block. If you’re not a fan of the GP’s bendy legs, then the Pedco UltraPod II really is your next best choice. Weighing in at a carry on friendly 119g, the Pedco UltraPod II can just about fit in your jacket pocket, but allows an impressive 2.7kg load to be supported to provide a stable shot (i.e. more than enough for a mirrorless camera + lens).

The Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod is available here.

 

 

So that’s my short and sweet selection of some of the best travel tripods available in 2017.

I didn’t want to bore you with all the nitty gritty, but if you want to dig deeper into the topic of the best travel tripods (and find out the other models that made the cut), head over to my site Shotkit.

 

While you’re there, be sure to check out our most popular posts on the best cameras under $500, the best camera bags, the best Fuji lenses and the best mirrorless cameras – all information that you Norris Around Australia fans will find useful for your next travel adventure.

 

Thanks again to Shaun and Sarah for having me on their awesome travel site and I look forward to seeing the photographers amongst you on Shotkit soon.

 

Guest post by Mark Condon, a British wedding photographer based in Sydney. Mark is the founder of Shotkit and author of the Shotkit Books, Lightroom Power User, More Brides and LIT.

 

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waiting

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We have done our fair share of waiting these past few weeks and it is clear that I lack any form of patience what-so-ever.

Even when a wait ‘deadline’ has been provided it still fills me with a mixed feeling of anxiousness, dread, negativity and worse-case scenario’s playing over and over in my teeny tiny head.

No matter how hard I try to occupy my mind and keep myself busy, my mind is on constant replay and makes up the most ridiculous scenarios.

Waiting can be tortuous and let’s be honest, it totally sucks!

I can’t provide any advice such as go for a run or read a good book because let’s face it I wouldn’t do that myself. I do try to write, like I am now but this only allows me to fixate further.

All you can do is go about your business, prepare yourself as best you can for either result and enjoy the now. No matter the outcome, we all have right now.

 

 

 

 

Tâssie Accommodation Options – Your thoughts!

We are looking for your accommodation recommendations for our Discover Tasmania trip this Summer!

116 days and counting!

Would love your ideas for hotels, inns, lodges, retreats, B & B etc in or around the following destinations:

  • Launceston
  • Stanley
  • Cradle Mountain
  • Strahan/Queenstown
  • Lake St Clair
  • Hobart
  • Port Arthur
  • Freycinet/Swansea
  • Bay of Fires

Remember it is our first trip to Tassie and we want to taste test the region for a longer trip in the next couple of years.

There are so many beautiful places to visit with outstanding accommodation options in bucket loads, it is so hard to make decisions!

 

Have you done Tassie?

Where were your favourite places to stay?

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Image captured by Leigh-Rae Ash

our top 5 of the Flinders

The Flinders Ranges is one of those special places that keeps drawing us back time and time again.

The ancient and rugged landscape is steeped with history and remnants of the past remain scattered throughout the picturesque landscape.

There is so much for every type of traveller to keep them occupied for days, if not weeks on end. Whether it is the breathtaking vistas, strenuous hikes, historical tours, scenic drives, relaxing strolls, divine dining or simply kicking back around the campfire and soaking in the 5 billion stars above you, the Flinders region really does have something for everyone.

It is hard to choose a only 5 things we love about the Flinders but we tried;

  1. Blinman; The historic mining town is situated in the Northern Flinders. A quaint historical township with a gorgeous stone pub, an underground copper mine and abandoned ruins. Our highlights included a stroll through the historic cemetery and the side-trip out to Nuccaleena mine.
  2. Quorn: The historic town began as a railway town and is now the home of the Pichi Richi Railway. A quaint town with beautiful stone buildings and welcoming locals stepping foot in Quorn is like stepping back in time. We loved the ride on the Pichi Richi, the railway workshop tour and exploring the streets of Quorn.
  3. Parachilna: From Blinman, a scenic drive to the West through spectacular Parachilna Gorge brings you to the famous Prairie Hotel. This outback pub maintains it historic exterior while
  4. Bunyeroo & Brachina Gorges: Oh my vista! The drive that winds it’s way through the Bunyeroo and Brachina Gorges are nothing short of spectacular. Photographs simply don’t do it justice!
  5. Moralana Scenic Drive;  hugs the outer wall of Wilpena Pound and the colourful bluffs of the Elder Range! A great stop along the way is Black Gap!

 

There is so much to enjoy and explore in the Flinders – a top 5 simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

Have you been? What are your favourite places to visit?

our tassie bucket list

We are thrilled to be planning our first ever trip to the beautiful island of Tasmania.

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Image captured by Leigh-Rae Ash
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Image captured by Leigh-Rae Ash
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Image captured by Leigh-Rae Ash
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Image captured by Leigh-Rae Ash

This will be a quick fly and drive trip towards the end of twenty-seventeen.

We are sure we will fall in love and be back to the apple isle with the caravan in a few years time but this trip is going be about one week max.

Here is our start to the brainstorming:

Hobart

  • MONA
  • Salamanca Markets

Port Arthur

  • Convict Settlement
  • Tasman Arch
  • Tessellated pavement

Strahan & Queenstown

  • Gordon River Cruise
  • Sarah Island
  • Huon Pine Mill
  • West Coast Wilderness Railway

Stanley

  • The Nut Chair Lift

Launceston

  • Tasmania Zoo

Cradle Mountain

  • Pumphouse Point
  • The Boat Shed
  • Dove Lake
  • Lake St Clair

Wineglass Bay

Callington Mill

It would be great to know what you all think is a must for our first Tassie adventure.

What are your tips for us?

 

S & S 

 

oh my darling

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The Darling River has been a long time bucket list dream item. I have traced my finger down the map so many times in anticipation of one day driving along the edge of this beautiful watercourse. The Darling River and the river systems of Australia have always fascinated me!

Why!?!

No idea!

It could be the natural beauty and wonder that comes from the ebb and flow of the Darling. Or it could be the amazing connections the Darling has with our Australian history; the majestic river boat trade, our explorers or our nomadic natives.

Times would of be tough along the Darling, but there is a nostalgia that puts a rose-coloured tint on the river’s past.

As usual we wish we could of taken more time to traverse the river’s edge but when you have limited time you make the most of the time you do have.

We met Australia’s third longest river, the Darling on the drive between Brewarrina and Bourke, where the Culgoa and Barwon Rivers meet in Western, NSW.

We had only planned to stay in Bourke for two nights and ended up staying three. If time was limitless we could of spent a much longer time exploring Bourke and surrounds.

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Our base camp was made at Kidman’s Camp, North Bourke and we have to say it is has crept into one of our top 10 caravan parks ever! That is a big call but we are sticking by it. Great amenities, beautiful grounds, close enough to town but far enough out.

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Our time in Bourke;

  • Back O Bourke Exhibition Centre – 5 stars, friendly staff, excellent exhibits and crammed packed with history! They even let you go back the next day for free! 17880153_10154649571094538_6505065834052485120_o
  • PV Jandra Paddle Cruise down the Darling – a wonderfully relaxing cruise down the Darling on a Paddle Boat. 100% worth it!
  • A day trip to Gundabooka – this is a trip in itself, the majestic ranges and rock art, we will be back for sure and we might even spend a night or two.17833970_10154653155604538_6036086099208362436_o17880256_10154653021809538_4559082656587085622_o
  • Exploring the history of the town including the old wharf, the weir, the Crossley engine – the Darling really was a life-blood, without the Darling towns like Bourke would simply not exist.

 

We headed off from Bourke and meandered our way down the Darling River, West-side, East-side, whatever direction took our fancy at each bridge cross-over. As so many before us we made a slight pub-crawl of it with a stop at both Tilpa and Louth (both iconic outback pubs in their own right). We passed through Wilcannia, unfortunately the town was battered and bruised; I’m sure only a shadow of it’s former self and we made our way to a little patch of paradise back on the Darling.

The Paroo-Darling National Park is approximately 40km south of Wilcannia and an absolute world away. The Coach and Horses Campground is complete perfection. Great effort by NSW National Parks! They have provided BBQ’s, toilets and picnic tables with designated camp-sites along the Darling River.

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From Paroo Darling we moved on down the river towards Menindee. As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to visit Menindee. I don’t know why exactly, it could be the photographs that we all associate with the Menindee Lakes. You know the ones, the ghostly trees emerging from the lake’s bottom reaching up into a wonderfully painted sky. Whatever the reason, it lived up to and exceeded my expectations. We were lucky to see the lakes with a far amount of water in them and even luckier to score what is one of the best free camps we have ever stumbled across, and I do mean stumbled. 17966451_10154659803264538_3977871532047791994_o

Picture this! Wake up, step out of the caravan and onto the soft and sandy loam, the birds are already singing but no other noises meet your ears. You walk several metres and dip your toes into the silky water of Lake Pamamaroo. This was one of those spots where we stayed an extra few days and well thank goodness because it is one of those magic spots, that I will dream about for years to come.

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What did we do while in Menindee?

  • Kinchenga National Park; we explored the Darling River drive, so many more wonderful campsites tucked away in there, the old woolshed and Kinchenga ruins, the woolshed especially was amazing 17972124_10154662352029538_1455704605374242059_o
  • Had a drink in the pub where explorers Burke and Wills stayed in 1860
  • Walked around the historic township Heritage Trail
  • found the boiler from the Paddle Steamer Providence disaster back in 1872

Our only disappointment at Menindee was the lack of information about the Burke and Wills Depot camp and survey tree a short way out of town. We are not sure if the signage was washed away or stolen but it was a real shame to miss such an historical marker. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time this trip but would love to take one of the boat trips on the Lakes. We just have to save that one for next time.

From Menindee, our original plan was to head to Mungo National Park but we weren’t feeling it and we had spent a few of our extra nights along the Darling so we decided to head to Wentworth. Mungo NP will be added to the next trip when we have more time to enjoy and take our time.

We travelled through the town of Pooncarrie which I might add was delightful with beautifully manicured, green lawns and neat gardens. It is always so nice to see towns that the locals take pride in even out there, way outback. We made it to Wentworth where the Darling meets the mighty Murray.  17972388_10154665537934538_3015918485766752436_o

We made a lovely free camp on the edge of the Murray and explored Wentworth;

  • Old Wentworth Gaol; in such wonderful condition, interesting and eerie, so many stories of times gone by 17991572_10154668420319538_1841414843296520947_o.jpg
  • Wentworth Pioneer Museum; absolutely crammed pack of history, highlight for me was the historical photograph collection of all the old paddle steamers.
  • We took a drive out to the Perry Sandhills, attempted sand boarding on cardboard no real success but lots of laughs. On a side note; was horrified by the amount of rubbish floating around! 17973727_10154669342389538_6467889000138221445_o
  • The walk out to the junction of the two rivers was highlight, the colour difference is very clearly defined.

We would definitely complete the Darling River Run again and again as there were things we missed and we would love to spend more time there, Plus it is one of those places that would be different each time your visited.

>>>>>Coming soon our Flinders Ranges trip note<<<<<<<

S & S

life is a zoo

Zoo: An excellent place to study the habits of human beings.
– Evan Esar

We have passed the Taronga Western Plains Zoo so many times over the past few years and we thought now was the time to finally visit.

We weren’t 100% impressed to be honest. The zoo is quite spread out which is great and we thought the enclosures were going to be quite large and open however, that wasn’t always the case. Some enclosures were well disguised by natural elements such as lowered ground level, trees, water moats however, some were quite concrete jungle-esque.

The zoo is so large that you can chose to either drive your own vehicle around, hire and electric cart or ride bicycles. I personally think they should stop people driving their own vehicles around and everyone should either ride bikes or use electric carts. The vehicles create an unnatural and flurry of craziness.

The electric carts are only able to be hired for three hours which is not enough to get around and see everything. We paid $69 for the three hours but would of quite happily paid up to $100 to have the cart for the entire day (there was not option to do this). Further to this, the set up to purchase zoo tickets and then hire the cart was quite long-winded and required attending two locations, two line-ups before then waiting to enter the zoo in another line-up. When purchasing the tickets the customer service member handed the map with no mention of what was on, the entry location or where to hire the cart from?

We made the most of our three hour time limit and saw everything we wanted too. While we wouldn’t necessarily rush back we would recommended others to go and visit the zoo for themselves. The animals make it worth the visit.

Have you been to Dubbo Zoo? We would love to know what you thought?

S & S

 

rivers and ranges

Oh my!

What an absolutely brilliant trip we had.

This country never fails to amaze me. It’s beauty is splendid and varied.

Unfortunately, our trip was cut short due to the passing of a close family friend. The last portion of our trip was cancelled and we will add it to another adventure at later date. While it was a sad way to end this trip, it reminds us again how life is short and so precious. We aim to treasure every moment and live a life worth living. Our passion is travel and inspiring others to travel, we will continue to do so as long as we are able.

We titled this particular adventure; rivers and ranges. It saw us follow the Darling River Run in Western NSW where we met up with Murray River and crossed over the border into South Australia. From the Riverland we headed into the Flinders Ranges; one of our favourite places to visit in Australia. We spent a wonderful 8 nights in the mountains even with some rainy days thrown in. We then headed for Outback South Australia and the Strezlecki and spent a wonderful night in Farina. As we were about to embark on the Strez to head up to Innamincka we heard from home and it was time to head South again to the Riverina to be with family. We tried to make the most of the long trip back to Griffith and stopped in at Burra, the most beautiful little town and a few river towns along the Murray.

We gave the drone a work out and look forward to sharing some footage with you. In fact there is a link to a teaser posted below so stay tuned.

https://www.facebook.com/norrisaroundaustralia

S & S

2017 travel blog awards

We are super excited and thankful to be nominated for the 2017 travel blog awards.

If you could spare a moment to follow the link below and vote for us we would really appreciate it.

https://mrpromocode.com.au/awards/travel-blog-awards-2017/

Thanks to everyone who reads our blog, follows our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/norrisaroundaustralia.com) or follows us on Instagram (@norrisaroundaustralia) , we are forever grateful.

S & S