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

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

Kanga

 

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.

 

 

 

Attractions · Australian Travel · Camping · Caravan Parks · Destinations · Four Wheel Driving · Free Camping · Home on the Road · National Parks · New South Wales · Travel Photography

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

Attractions · Australian Travel · New South Wales · Travel Photography

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

 

Attractions · Destinations · Four Wheel Driving · New South Wales · South Australia · Travel Photography

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

Attractions · Australian Travel · National Parks · New South Wales

Long live the Sunday drive

Who loves a Sunday drive? You know we do!

Exploring the back roads around your own region is the perfect way to spend a Sunday. You don’t have to go far or spend too much cash. You can even pack a picnic and make a day of it.

We are so lucky that we currently live in such a beautiful area of Australia. The Northern Rivers region of NSW has such a varied and diverse landscape and there are so many pockets to explore.

This morning was spent chasing waterfalls at Killen Falls, Tintenbar and having some “dam fun” out at Rocky Creek Dam near Lismore. It isn’t as hot as it was a few weeks back but it is still pretty humid.

It’s not long till our big trip for 2017 and we are in a flurry of getting everything prepared. However, it is always nice to take some time out for some localised exploring.

I believe at this point we are 4 weeks and counting.

S & S

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