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

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

Four Wheel Driving · Home on the Road · Preparation

disaster averted

The trip is fast approaching. Shaun is already on leave and undertaking some last minute vehicle preparation.

Today he was working on the Colorado and he happened upon this little nasty with potentially big consequences.

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Shaun was rotating the tyres and spotted a broken spring. Panic set in because of time frames and $$$$$ but as per usual we get things sorted.

After ringing around half of northern NSW and SE QLD he finally ordered the parts and hopefully they will arrive in the coming few days.

In all fairness, the springs have been on the vehicle since we purchased the Colorado 190,000km ago.

It certainly isn’t something we need right now, time-wise or financially but it sure is better than being in the middle of nowhere and having something happen.

Thanks to Shaun’s attention to detail and thoroughness, potential disaster has been averted.

S & S

Australian Travel · Home on the Road · Motivation · New South Wales · Random Thoughts · Travel Photography

sea-change, life-change and new beginnings

Well we have taken the plunge and dived right in. Excuse the pun, or don’t, it is up to you. 

Our sea-change has finally taken place and we are slowly finding our stroke. No floundering has occurred as yet and we are hopeful it won’t occur at all…. but we never say never here at Norris Around Australia and neither should you. Life is a wild and crazy ride and anything can happen.

We are hoping this is our place…..after travelling all over Australia we always keep coming back to the Northern Rivers of NSW. If you keep coming back somewhere and you can feel it inside you, you should at least give it try. This little coastal village combines all our loves;  water, small-town feel, a sense of community and close to a world of exploring.

Don’t fret our dear and loyal readers, we still have nomadic blood flowing through our veins and are still the travellers you have grown to love. Although we are trying to build a nest here in the Northern Rivers of NSW, there will plenty of travels now and in the future. These may be big trips, short trip or weekend gallivants but they will be worth sharing and worth reading about.

After years on the road exploring this great country we are under-taking a massive life-change. Change is good. It challenges you and stretches you.

 

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. Robin Sharma

 

As I look back over the past several years, we have done exactly that. We have not done so without fear mind you. Some of the best decisions we have made have left me frozen stiff but these have turned out to be the best years of our life so far. We will continue to design our own life and live a life worth living. We hope you do to. Here is to new beginnings.

S & S

 

 

Australian Travel · Home on the Road · Motivation · Random Thoughts · Reader Interaction · Words of Wisdom · Writing & Reading

Life isn’t always greener

12301501_972324566140240_8452318694570986748_nLife isn’t always greener on the other side,

but this should NOT hold you back.

A lady recently asked me if I had ever heard the saying; “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.”

Of course I had!

Hasn’t everybody?

Her comment was made in the context of my lifestyle choices and our nomadic existence. She went on to say; “you may never find what you are looking for.”

It caught me off guard. I have never thought of it that way.

We live this life by choice. We are not looking for something in particular. We are not escaping something, not trying to improve on what has been or to run away from something horrible. We choose to live a life, full of change and exploration and there is nothing wrong with that. But it scares people because it is different.

My conversation with this lady really got me thinking. People have this life mentality hammered into them from very early in life. But what is wrong with dreaming of a different path or working towards a big life change or a completely new life? We all have the power to design our own life. We can change the aspects we don’t like or build upon the parts we do. You may go down several paths before you find the right one. But don’t let the unknown scare you from pursuing them. The grass may or may not always be greener but sometimes you need to spend some time amongst brown grass to move forward, to evolve, to change. You can always turn the sprinkler on, throw on some fertiliser and grow new green grass wherever you are. At the same time of wanting more you can appreciate what you currently have. Life is a journey. Our journey is constantly growing and evolving. We often get asked; “Why don’t you stay put?” We could ask in return; “Why do you stay?” But we don’t. Everyone is entitled to build and live their life their way. You need to be HAPPY within yourself. You need to build confidence in your choices. We are all capable of AMAZING things and whether that is building your dream home and raising your family or whether that is travelling across the countryside, it is completely your choice. There is nothing wrong with staying in one spot but this is not the way we live our life.

Why do people need to judge others to justify their choices? Is it human nature or is it purely to reassure themselves? Don’t be afraid of what is unknown to you. Next time a friend or family member tells you their plans or life dream don’t scoff at it or try to hold them back because you don’t agree, support them. It is their dream, not yours.

Attractions · Camping · Caravan Parks · Destinations · Finance · Four Wheel Driving · Free Camping · Home on the Road · National Parks · Preparation · Random Thoughts · Words of Wisdom · Working on the Road

no excuses

Haven’t been away for ages?

Do you feel like your Facebook news feed is full of friends, family and random travelling and flitting about everywhere? Meanwhile you are sitting on the couch, watching re-runs of Mash and daydreaming of your next holiday. Or you are so busy you haven’t had time to think straight when one day you realise it has been 6 months since your last weekend away?

STOP!!!!

You can be out there too.

No excuses.

We are the makers of our own misery and by the same token the makers of our own happiness. Chose to live a life you love.

Money tight?

Why not go for a cheap camp-out? National parks are great, low-cost and are quite accessible for most no matter which town you reside in. There are also endless free camp sites dotted across Australia. Keep meals simple and easy to reduce costs further.

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Time poor?

One night away is better than none? A night at the coast sounds lovely doesn’t it. Or why not hop in the car for a drive and see where you end up. Stay the night and enjoy the sites and head back home the next day.

Day 59: Our Time in Griffith is Ticking Away

 

Too busy at work/school/study/life?

It will all be there when you return. Our lives are forever fast-paced but we have earned at least one to two days here or there! Haven’t we? You don’t need to head off on a 12 month voyage to have a good time. Plan around your schedule! Fit in some time to getaway. Make the time.

Day 88