Australian Travel · Camping · Destinations · Four Wheel Driving · Free Camping · Home on the Road · National Parks · New South Wales · Victoria · Writing & Reading

A pretty Australian Australia day

“There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around”
“The Banjo”

What could be more Australian than reading about the life of Banjo Patterson while camping at Tom Groggin, NSW – the home of Jack Riley, “The Man from Snowy River”.

This past Australia Day weekend was our maiden voyage in the caravan since moving to the Snowy Monaro region last year. I know…..no caravaning for six months….. what the?!

Well this trip certainly dusted off the cobwebs on both the caravan and our noble steed, the Colorado.

Tom Groggin near Khancoban in the Snowy Mountains is probably one of the best camping spots we have stayed at…… golly I’m full of big calls lately! It’s totally true though.

On the banks of the upper reaches of the Murray River near the base of Mount Kosciouszko, Tom Groggin is picturesque, to say the least.

I wonder how much as really changed since Banjo visited in 1890? Apart from the obvious, you know – bitumen roads (any roads in fact), the odd “official” campground here and there with drop toilets, a smattering of picnic tables, parking barriers and fire pits. I really do wonder how much the natural portions of this region have changed…. I mean it is relatively untouched by humans.

Tom Groggin straddles the southern border of NSW and the upper Victorian High Country which as you can probably imagine has some great 4WD tracks.

We gave the Mt Pinnibar track a red hot go while we were out and about. Located in the Alpine National Park on the Victorian side of Tom Groggin, the track tackles the steep Mt Pinnibar (1727m above sea level) and it was rough – holy moly! It had definitely been chopped up and was one of the hardest 4WD trips we have tackled to date. If we had known what the track was like we probably wouldn’t have taken it by ourselves, there were plenty of people around so I’m sure we would of been fine if we became unstuck.

I will share some more adventures from Tom Groggin sooon…

Speak soon

S

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Australian Travel · Destinations · Home on the Road · New South Wales · Random Thoughts · Travel Photography · Writing & Reading

At home in the mountains

 

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It has been a looooooong time since I last wrote here……. almost a year in fact. As usual, the life of the Norris’ has been an absolute roller-coaster and a period of extended change.

It has only been in recent times that I have been reflecting on where we’ve been, who we’ve met along the way and what we have learned. If I could do it all again I would – the whole experience of living like an adventure book has paid out in trumps. Each of us have benefited individually and of course, our relationship has been strengthened.

So where are we now;

In mid-2018 we relocated from the sunny (and rainy) northern coast of NSW to the very (almost) south of the state! We made a home at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in the sweet old town of Cooma – and sweet it has been. The Snowy-Monaro was an instant fit for us. It was like all the little Tetris pieces lined up.

We have been living here for over six months now and loved it so much that we bought a house here…… I know right! The nomadic gypsies who’ve spent the majority of our married life living in tents, swags, campers and caravans have ‘settled’ down! How did that happen? I think of this often and you now what, no matter how deep I dig – I honestly don’t know…… It all just snowballed (we all know I love a good pun!) It felt right – so we did it. There was no real umming and ahhing! It just kind of happened.

What’s not to love- the clean and crisp mountain air, the slow-down, the stillness, the peace, the variety of life in this region.

For those that aren’t aware – Cooma kind of has it all. BIG STATEMENT – I know! A population of about 6000 – makes it not too big and not too small. I guess if I was Goldilocks I would call it just right, but I’m not – so I will say it suit us. Our nation’s capital, Canberra is just over an hour up the Monaro Highway so the ‘city’ is at your fingertips, as is an airport to go anywhere. The beautiful southern beaches of NSW are just over an hour away in the other direction. And then the trifecta – the snow is an hour away up the mountains. The mountains are also spectacular in summer when skis and snowboards are swapped with hiking boots, mountain bikes and boats on the myriad of lakes.

You can wake up on a Sunday;

“What you want to do today?”

The city.

The beach.

The mountains.

In Cooma I guess you really can have it all…..

NEXT BLOG POST: Camping at Tom Groggin

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Glen Innes in the Summer:  Cool Climate, Warm Welcome

With average maximum temperatures of 26 degrees, Glen Innes is the perfect place to visit in the Australian summer. There is so much to see and do in the Glen Innes Highlands, although its the people and the community that make this place a must to visit.

Everywhere you go in this town, you are welcomed with open arms. The town is proud of its heritage and has an overwhelming sense of community spirit. You cannot help but walkaway singing its praises to anyone who will listen.

A four-day visit only scratched the surface of this beautiful region as there are many attractions within the Glen Innes Highlands. Your Glen Innes holiday can be as busy or as relaxing as you make it, here are some suggestions;

  1. Honour Australia’s Celtic past with a guided tour of the Australia Monument Standing Stones.
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  2. Slurp on a strawberry thick shake at the Super Strawberry or tuck into some traditional strawberries and cream.
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  3. Appraise contemporary art pieces by internationally acclaimed artist Lloyd Hornsby Gawura along with guest artists at the Gawura Gallery.
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  4. Get back to nature by visiting the local National Parks of the Glen Innes Highlands including; Kings Plain, Washpool and Gibraltar Range.
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  5. Step back through the town’s history at the Land of Beardies History Museum, this place is full to the brim of memorabilia, artefacts and celebrates Glen Innes’ colourful past. DCIM100MEDIADJI_0041.JPG

Make sure your first port of call when arriving in town is to visit the Visitor Information Centre. The friendly welcoming committee will have you walking out with a long list of things to do in this diverse region.  While you’re there take a sneaky look at a range of local sapphires at Reddestone Sapphires, they are beautiful you will just have to buy one.

If you are travelling with your caravan, why not book a shady site at Fossicker’s Caravan Park. The park is right in the heart of town and walking distance from the historic main street, despite being on the highway the park is quiet and set in a natural setting.

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Glen Innes is certainly upping its food game with a wide-range of options to suit all dining experiences. While in town make sure you visit;

  • The Railway Bistro Tavern serves amazing pub-fare with a modern flair served with old-style country hospitality – the Baileys cheesecake is an absolute must!
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  • The Hereford Steakhouse chars a mean steak, using locally-sourced beef and fresh ingredients you won’t be disappointed.
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  • The Crofters Cottage is a great stop to refuel after exploring the Australia Standing Stones, the brownie and macadamia slice were absolute delicious.
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Glen Innes is perfect for the romantic weekend getaway or a week-long holiday with the family and it is perfect all year round; Winter, Autumn, Spring and even Summer too.

 

Australian Travel · National Parks · New South Wales · Travel Photography · Words of Wisdom

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.

 

 

 

Australian Travel · Travel Photography · Words of Wisdom

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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Random Thoughts · Reader Interaction · Writing & Reading

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.

 

 

 

 

Attractions · Australian Travel · Destinations · National Parks

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