My Affair With The Clare Valley

Sevenhill Winery, Clare Valley

Sevenhill Winery, Clare Valley

I’ve always found that there is something romantic about visiting wine regions. It’s not just the free samples of vino at the cellar doors, the sprawling wine estates, the beautifully landscaped gardens or the perfect rows of grape vines. To me it conjures up images of cycling through the vines with your sweetheart and stopping to savour a picnic hamper filled with wine and cheese, just the two of you amongst the vines. Sigh!

This brings me to an absolute hidden gem of a wine region, bounded by picturesque farmland and centuries old vineyards, and only 137 Km’s from Adelaide in South Australia, the secluded Clare Valley.

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On a Mission of Self Improvement

shutterstock_486478114

This year I have been on a mission of self improvement, and not just trying to be a better person but trying to be a better writer, blogger, photographer, graphic artist and more techno-wise. In fact I have undertaken so many short courses, workshops, podcasts, challenges and joined so many Facebook forums that my head is in a constant spin!

I’m constantly worried about my SEO (site engine optimization), blog content, photo sizes, website speed, Google analytics, website presentation, social media presence and the list goes on and on. I think I have reached the point where I want to scream from the rooftop: “Enough! I can’t possibly absorb anymore information to help improve my blog”.

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In Tune With Bali

bali-pin

I had come to Bali second time around, not to experience the upbeat and frenetic pace of Kuta or Legian, but to completely relax at a resort located in Tanah Lot around 23 kms from Kuta. My aim was to cleanse my body, clear my mind and reinvigorate my soul, after having a busy year to date. Sounds cliche I know! But seriously this body needed some respite!

There was no better place to do this than at the Pan Pacific Nirwana Resort located in Tanah Lot, Tabanan adjoining the famous ‘Sea Temple of The Earth’ – Pura Tanah Lot, constructed on a large rock jutting out into the Indian Ocean, paying homage to the guardian spirits of the sea. You can simply sit at one of the many prime locations at the resort and soak in the majestic views of this temple with the sunset being the most spectacular.

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Camping on Superb North Straddie

North-Stradbroke-Island-4WD

Once we boarded the vehicular ferry at Cleveland, located on Moreton Bay east of Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island (North Straddie) emerged in the distance. I immediately slipped into relax mode, although there had been a lapse of almost twenty years since visiting this island paradise, I remembered what a superb place North Straddie is!

North Straddie is located only an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast plus a 45 minute ferry ride across Moreton Bay to this large sand island. Once you hit the disembarkation point at Dunwich you have several options for either camping, caravanning, resort style accommodation or holiday units/homes on the island.

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Making The Most of Your Life in Your Fifties

Queenstown-New-Zealand

It is as though, one day you’re in your forties with teenage kids, working full or part-time, taxiing kids around from one extra-curricular activity to another and trying to run a household. And next thing you know your kids have left school, undertaken a university degree, got a job and then packed their belongings and moved out of home. The inevitable big five zero birthday looms and you feel as though all is lost. Well this is how I felt!

Fast forward a few years and you have finally recovered from the ’empty nest syndrome’ and stopped checking on your kid’s wellbeing every single day of the week. In fact you probably only speak to your kids once a week now and although you still love them to bits you have decided to give them their space and allow them to make their own way in the world. It’s such a lovely feeling of accomplishment when his happens – to see your kids independent and succeeding in the big world.

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Tracing the Coastline of South Australia

Coffin Bay SA

Coffin Bay SA

Great adventures normally start with the anticipation of diving into unknown territories. That feeling of treading on new ground with fresh surroundings all around you, tantalising your senses, is one of the reasons that I love to travel. One such adventure was embarking on a trip tracing the coastline of South Australia, a state in the southern central part of Australia.

If you look at a map of the South Australian coastline on the Great Australian Bight, it looks like it has ‘bites’ gnawed out of its otherwise semi-circular shape. These bites, in fact form three peninsulas: Fleurieu, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulae, before straightening out to the vast stretch of the Nullabor and the West Australian border.

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Pre-Camping Checklist

Photo Credit - Nigel Allan Flickr

Photo Credit – Nigel Allan Flickr

As spring is almost here, the avid campers among you will be spending your next couple of weekends gearing up and preparing for the camping season ahead. This perfect time of year when it is not-too-hot nor not-too-cold, is when a lot of you will pack up and set out for a weekend adventure or two.

After your camping supplies have been lying dormant over the winter months, it’s important to go through the below checklist to make sure your supplies are in order. It could easily be too little too late if you receive a nasty shock when you roll out your tent at the campsite.

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Northern NSW: Where All The Rivers Run

Richmond-River-Woodburn

As a child, growing up in the southern state of Victoria, I spent a lot of time camping with my family on the mighty Murray River, that borders Victoria and New South Wales and runs through to The Coorong and to the river mouth in South Australia at Goolwa. They were the best times of my youth – spent boating, fishing, water-skiing, swimming and relaxing on the river and river-fed lakes and billabongs.

Riverside holidays can be equally as enjoyable as a seaside holiday, particularly in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales where all the rivers run. It is not called river country for nothing! There are more than eleven rivers to explore from Tweed Heads on the border of NSW/Queensland to Camben Haven on the NSW Mid North Coast.

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Lake Towada Japan: A Sea of Clouds

Views over Lake Towada

Views over Lake Towada

As we stood on the Kankodai Observatory overlooking the deepest section of Lake Towada we were in awe of this “sea of clouds”. It had a mystical dreamy appearance as though a sea monster was going to rise from the depths. We waited in silence, however all we could spy in the distance was a small boat and the long wake it left behind on the dark blue velvet waters.

Lake Towada is located in the Aomori Prefecture, Tohoku on Honshu, the largest of Japan’s islands. The double caldera lake was formed by volcanic activity eons ago and its outer rim consists of 600 to 1,000 metre high mountains, including Mt Towada and Mt Ohanabe. With a depth of 327m, it is the third deepest lake in Japan and is the largest crater lake on Honshu.

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Road Tripping: Brisbane to Cairns

Coastline North of Cairns

One of the great Aussie road trips is the 1700 Km drive along the Pacific coastline from Brisbane, the state capital, to Cairns in Far North Queensland. The trip, which is probably best broken up into seven comfortable segments, spending two days at each stop, over two weeks will take you from the stunning beaches of the Sunshine Coast, to the Fraser Coast, Capricorn Coast, the Great Barrier Reef through the cane fields to Townsville, the Great Green Way and eventually to Cairns.

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