Myall Lakes National Park – A Detour Off The Pacific Highway

Boat in the Reeds at the Bombah Point Ferry

We regularly commute up and down the Pacific Highway, and as more towns have been bypassed it has gotten quicker. The downside? It’s easier to miss some of the special places that are off the beaten track. So, last week we decided to take a detour at the Hawks Nest exit, North of Newcastle and Port Stephens.

What we found was a lovely surprise.

A quick question

What’s the best place you’ve discovered when you’ve detoured off the beaten track? Let me know in the comments after this article!

Disclaimer:

This article is all our own experience. Everything we did was paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!

Matt Looking To Broughton Island from Myall National Park.
Matt Looking To Broughton Island from Myall National Park.

After turning off, it’s a short drive into the town of Tea Gardens. Yes, that is a town. If you don’t believe me, check it out on the map below.

Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest and Winda Woppa

Driving through the town, it turned out to be bigger than we expected, even featuring a golf course at Hawks Nest – the two towns kind of merge together, sort of. Once we reached the end of the road, a right turn took us down to the town of Winda Woppa through Hawks Nest while a left turn heads to Myall Lakes National Park.

We decided to visit Winda Woppa since we were there anyway. It’s just a housing estate, but it is surrounded by water, with the Karuah River on one side near where it empties into the Pacific Ocean and the Myall River on the other before it joins the Karuah at Corrie Island.

Myall River at Winda Woppa
Myall River at Winda Woppa

Here you can find beautiful, sheltered white sandy beaches that are 4WD accessible with crystal clear water. Looking across the wide river mouth you can see Tomaree Mountain, Shoal Bay, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens all the way to Soldiers Point.

4WD Tracks on Jimmys Beach Looking to Port Stephens
4WD Tracks on Jimmy’s Beach Looking to Port Stephens

A lot of the houses here are available for holiday letting, so while it was quiet during our visit, I suspect it gets busy in Summer, and why not with such a gorgeous beach.

There were only a few people at Jimmys Beach
There were only a few people at Jimmy’s Beach.

 

Boats Lined Up at Winda Woppa on the bank of the Myall River
Boats Lined Up at Winda Woppa on the bank of the Myall River.

After doing a circuit of Winda Woppa, we headed back into Hawks Nest and stopped at the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest Surf Life Saving Club to take some pictures of the nearby islands. The beach here is called Bennetts Beach, and it is not as sheltered as in the river mouth, but the sand is brilliant white. It looks like it’s the perfect spot for a swim with some waves!

Passing through Hawks Nest town centre on our way to Myall Lakes National Park, we decided to stop off at the Hawks Nest Takeaway shop. There is an IGA here and a few other small stores, but it was getting late, and not much was open except for the supermarket. We grabbed ourselves a burger each and sat down to a late lunch / early dinner.

They were some excellent burgers.

Myall Lakes National Park

Heading out to Myall Lakes National Park from Hawks Nest means heading north on Mungo Brush Road at the golf club, back where we had previously turned off into Hawks Nest and Winda Woppa. It’s only a short drive to the national park boundary, and it is a little confusing. On the Myall Lakes National Park website, it indicates that there is a park day use fee of $8 per vehicle, but there is nowhere at the park entrance to pay this fee, so we are still a bit unclear on exactly how it works or if the charge only applies for campers.

Due to our time constraints, namely, the sun going down and crossing the Bombah Ferry before it ceased operating at 6 pm, we decided to skip the first few stops in the park. I was disappointed we didn’t have time to go into Dark Point, but I was pleased that we pulled into the Hole in the Wall car park to check it out. The name is what caught our attention.

From the parking lot, it’s a 25-metre walk to Mungo Beach. There are some big dunes along the coast here, and this happens to be one of them. The path opens out to a picnic area at the top of a dune giving you a brilliant view of the beach, Broughton Island and the other smaller islands just off the coast.

Broughton Island from Hole in the Wall Picnic Area
Broughton Island from Hole in the Wall Picnic Area

The beach here is the same white sand as Hawks Nest, beware of the drop!

Watch Your Step at Hole In The Wall
Watch Your Step at Hole In The Wall

 

As we continued along Mungo Brush Road through the park, we saw a turn-off to the Mungo Brush Campground, but as the sun was starting to get low already, we didn’t check it out. It’s located right on Bombah Broadwater, between the Myall River and Two Mile Lake, with the ocean only a short distance away so it should be a great beach camping spot.

The Mungo Brush Campground turn-off is about halfway through the park to the ferry, and between the two are some other smaller campgrounds.

The Bombah Point ferry runs every half hour, and we got there just as it reached the opposite side.

Bombah Ferry at Bombah Point
Bombah Ferry at Bombah Point

So I took the opportunity to have a bit of a wander and found a sandy alcove hidden amongst the reeds that looks like somewhere you might find a boat hiding. It turned out that there were a couple of boats hiding there!

Boat in the Reeds at the Bombah Point Ferry
Boat in the Reeds at the Bombah Point Ferry

The ferry costs $6.50 for cars, and there are cheaper rates for foot passengers and bikes.

Bombah Point Ferry Prices
Bombah Point Ferry Prices

Once it’s time to board, the operator will direct you on and where to park.

Vehicle Leaving the Bombah Point Ferry
Vehicle Leaving the Bombah Point Ferry

The ferry takes about 10 minutes to get from one side to the other and only fits six cars at a time. Fortunately, though, the operator tells us that if there are more than six waiting, he comes straight back for them rather than forcing them to wait another half hour.

The Bombah Point Ferry carries 6 cars
The Bombah Point Ferry carries six cars

While you are on the way across, the operator will collect your payment. It’s cash only, so make sure you have some on you.

Parked right at the front of the Bombah Point Ferry
Parked right at the front of the Bombah Point Ferry

If you are fortunate like us, you might even get treated to sunset while you cross.

Sunset as we crossed the Bombah Point Ferry
Sunset as we crossed the Bombah Point Ferry

At the other side, at Bombah Point, you’ll find the NRMA Myall Shores Holiday Park. It boasts villa style accommodation as well as glamping, and camping. You will also find a pool, lake access, and on-site dining at the Barefoot Cafe and Pizza restaurant, the only restaurant within Myall Lakes National Park.

Myall Lakes National Park - A Detour Off The Pacific Highway

Heading past the resort on Bombah Point Road, it doesn’t take long before bitumen gives way to gravel. Soon the National Park ends, and you enter cattle and sheep grazing areas with stunning sunset vistas across the Myall River. Minutes later, the bitumen is back, and we arrived in the town of Bulahdelah where we merged back onto the Pacific Highway and continued our journey north.

I was amazed at how easy to access this scenic hideaway town is, and how close it is to Newcastle. It’s worth the detour off the highway, even if it’s just a quick trip.

Enjoy.

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Myall Lakes National Park Day Trip - A Detour off the Pacific Highway

First published on: May 13, 2018 @ 22:54

Caves Beach – Lake Macquarie NSW

Caves Beach - Lake Macquarie NSW

Caves Beach is a beautiful sandy beach near Swansea in the coastal city of Lake Macquarie, our backyard. We’ve never actually been before because when we visited in summer, the carparks and street parking were always full. We decided to go recently though, even though it is cold and rainy Autumn. We’re so glad we did!

Beach Access
Beach Access

A question

Just before I jump into it, I’d love to hear from you about a place in your backyard that you’ve discovered recently. Let me know in the comments at the end of the article!

Disclaimer:

This article is all our own experience. Everything we did was paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!

About Caves Beach

Caves Beach is unique because, at the Southern end, you can find a network of caves worn out of the sandstone cliffs. These very same caves are the reason for the name of the beach. At low tide, you can access these caves and explore this scenic part of the NSW coastline. We didn’t think to check the tide times before we left, but we were lucky that the tide had been out and was on the way back in when we got there.

Looking south down Caves Beach towards the caves it is named for.
Looking south down Caves Beach towards the caves.

Parking during summer can be a challenge, but in Autumn, we were able to get a park close to the Surf Life Saving Club at the southern end of the beach next to Stuart Chalmers Park. This carpark is both the closest to the beach and the caves. The beach itself is a gorgeous white sandy beach with enough of a swell to surf if that’s your thing and more than enough to have fun on a bodyboard.

There is plenty of swell, but stay north of the rocks.
There are plenty of swells, but stay north of the rocks.

 

The swells north of the rocks are safer with plenty of sand to have fun.
The swells north of the rocks are safer with plenty of sand to have fun.

 

At the southern end, the sand gives way to sandstone cliffs and rocky outcrops that jut into the ocean. If you look closely at the rocks, there are some fascinating patterns and textures.

The rocky outcrops before the caves have some interesting patterns in them.
The rocky outcrops before the caves have some unusual patterns in them.

 

Look carefully at the rocks at the southern end of Caves Beach and you can spot some unusual patterns.
Look carefully at the rocks at the southern end of Caves Beach, and you can spot some unusual patterns.

Make your way around these cliffs, and you will see the first and largest cave.

Looking out of the first cave at Caves Beach
The main cave is easily tall enough for most people to stand in.

Heading into the cave, you’ll find lots of fissures and cracks.

Looking into the depths of the first cave. So many spots to explore!
There are so many spots to explore in the depths of the caves!

Towards the back is one of the most prominent fissures. It takes you out the other side of the cave. From here you can access more of the cave network. Unfortunately for us, the tide had started to come back in and was flowing freely through here, so we decided not to head through it this time.

The crevasse leading from the first cave to more caves
The fissure leading from the first cave to more caves

You can also head up the stairs to the top of the cliffs where you will find another car park and a lookout where you can take in the beach looking both directions.

Matt at the stairs to Caves Beach Lookout
Matt at the stairs to Caves Beach Lookout

There are picnic facilities including barbecues and seating, but these are hard to come by during the summer months.

One of just a few picnic tables at Caves Beach.
One of just a few picnic tables outside the SLSC at Caves Beach.

We found a great little fish and chip shop in town called Caves Beach Takeaway. It’s a little bit more expensive than some, and they only take cash, but they did great fish and chips. You can find them here:

For the dog lovers, it’s important to note that you cannot have dogs on the beach at the southern end near the caves, they are however permitted 300m to the north at Hams Beach.

We went on an overcast day that ended up raining, but we were a little spoiled. We got to watch a rainbow form while we were inside the cave, ending in the ocean just outside. It was so beautiful to watch and such a pleasant surprise to our visit.

Caves Beach - Lake Macquarie NSW

Getting to Caves Beach

Caves beach is part of the suburb of Caves Beach, a township in Lake Macquarie City Council. It’s just south of Swansea and Swansea Heads. The easiest way to get here is by car, but there is a bus available.

By Car

To get here by car, you can find it by entering Caves Beach in your GPS, or Stuart Chalmers Park. There are two car parks available. The first is at Stuart Chalmers Park; the second is at the top of the cliffs with access from Caves Beach Road.

It’s about 30km’s South of Newcastle, allow about 40 minutes for the trip. It’s also about 130km’s North of Sydney; you can expect it to take about 1 hour and 45 minutes for the journey.

By Public Transport

The only public transport available to Caves Beach is bus or taxi. To get there by bus, take Newcastle Transport bus 29, the Glendale to Swansea Heads service. Bus 29 is the only bus that goes to Caves Beach at the time of writing. You can connect with this bus from Cardiff Train Station. Otherwise, there are some intersecting bus routes at different points along the way 29 takes.

Admission fees and other costs

Parking at Caves Beach is free, and there are no entry costs.

Opening hours

The beach itself is accessible all the time. However, you can only get to the caves during low tide, so check the tide timetable before you go. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards from the September/October school holidays through to the April school holidays.

Lifeguard off duty
Lifeguard off duty

Hotels near Caves Beach

In spite of how special this beach is and how busy it gets in Summer, there are not a lot of hotels in the immediate area. The main one to consider is Caves Coastal, also known as Caves Beach Resort and Caves Beach Bar and Bungalows. It’s all the one place and is about as close as you can get to Caves Beach. Otherwise, your nearest options are in Swansea or Cams Wharf. You can also find holiday homes in the area listed on Airbnb and Booking.com. You can check what’s nearby using the search box below.

 

Helpful links

 

Don’t forget

I’d love to hear about somewhere you’ve discovered recently in your backyard. Tell me about it in the comments below!

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Caves Beach is a beautiful sandy beach near Swansea in the coastal city of Lake Macquarie, our backyard.

Travelling by bus in Australia on Murrays Sydney-Canberra Express Coach

Murrays Coaches at Canberra’s Jolimont Bus Terminal

When I visited Canberra recently, I decided to go via bus instead of driving myself.

Murrays and Greyhound both offer express services that run from Sydney’s Central Station to Canberra’s Jolimont Centre Bus Terminal via the Sydney Airport and back. These services are meant to be three hours and thirty minutes, about the same time as driving it yourself.

Murrays Coaches Waiting at Central Station
Murrays Coaches Waiting at Central Station

Greyhound has free wifi on a limited number of their coaches, but they do the route much less frequently, so I opted to try Murrays as they run a bus almost every hour, 24 hours a day, giving me the most options for bus times. As an added bonus, if you travel this route frequently, Murrays also have a loyalty program where you get every 6th trip free. That’s awesome and strikes me as a cheap way to get from Canberra to Sydney for cruises, especially if you need to go to the White Bay cruise terminal. Just get the bus from Canberra to Sydney Airport and then take the cruise line airport transfer shuttle to White Bay!

But, I digress…

Murrays Coaches at Canberra’s Jolimont Bus Terminal
Murrays Coaches at Canberra’s Jolimont Centre Bus Terminal

After selecting the trip time, Murrays Coaches offer three fare types priced as below (current at the time of writing):

  1. Hot discount – $38.00
  2. Premium discount – $42.00
  3. Fully flexible – $46.00

Since I had to rely on the Intercity Train to get me from Lake Macquarie to Central Station, I booked the fully flexible fare. This means that if the train is late, delayed, or just doesn’t turn up, I can change my booking at no cost up to 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time (although they are pretty flexible and may accommodate your change later than that time if possible).

My train was due to arrive half an hour before the bus departure, which is plenty of time. Unfortunately, my train was delayed twice, and I didn’t get into Central Station until a few minutes after my bus departed.

Fortunately, I was able to quickly change my booking to the next bus. You can do this online or by calling Murrays customer service number. I was very impressed with the ease of change, though it wasn’t helped by the awful phone reception along the train line.

The other benefit of the flexible ticket is that if you happen to arrive early, you can change to an earlier coach. On my return trip to Sydney, it worked out better for me to get to the Jolimont Centre in Canberra about an hour earlier. I got there just as the bus before mine began boarding, so I swapped onto it and got back to Sydney an hour earlier than planned.

In Sydney, Murrays coaches operate from Pitt St, a level below the main station platform at Central Station.

It is a little confusing to find, but once you know it’s down on the lower level, and right on Pitt St (not any of the bus turn-around or drop-off areas), it’s really straight-forward.

Murrays Coaches Office at Central Station on Pitt St
Murrays Coaches office at Central Station on Pitt St

In Canberra, you’ll find the Murrays coaches office in the Jolimont Centre on Northbourne Ave with the coaches waiting in the bays behind the centre. Access to the coaches is through the Jolimont Centre building.

Checking in is straightforward with just your name required, though they can ask for ID as well.

Once onboard, the buses feature leather seats with USB power to keep your phone or tablet going. I found that while it is powerful enough to charge an iPhone 6+ while it was in constant use, it isn’t powerful enough to charge an iPad Pro while in use. It does slow down the speed at which you use up the battery though. My guess is they must only be 1.0 amp USB sockets.

My seat with USB power
My seat with USB power

The seats are firm and compared to airline seats they are probably a similar width to a Jetstar domestic seat with legroom like a typical Qantas domestic seat. Footrests come standard, and you get one 32kg checked bag plus one small carry on bag.

Footrest included!
Footrest included!

I personally found them no more or less comfortable than an economy airline seat, perfectly fine for 3.5 hours, but we had terrible traffic getting out of Sydney, and the trip turned into a four hour and ten minute one. I‘ll admit, I was ready for a different seat by then!

Each seat has it’s own air conditioning and lighting controls, just like on a plane, so it’s all very familiar and helps maintain comfort during the trip.

Air conditioning and lighting controls above my seat.
Air conditioning and lighting controls above my seat.

There are seatbelts as required by law, but there are only armrests on the outsides of the seats (window and aisle) with no armrest between seats. I think this makes the seats feel a little smaller than they actually are since there is no clear divider to separate you from your neighbour, but I didn’t find it problematic.

Seat belts are required
Seat belts are required

I found that for me; the only real source of discomfort with the seats is just that, even partially slouched, my head is still well above the top of the headrest, meaning no head or neck support unless I slump way down. It’s not enough to stop me from travelling by coach again, but it would definitely increase the seat comfort level over a trip of that duration. Looking at others on the bus though it seemed that the height is suitable for most people.

The headrests are fine for most people.
The headrests are fine for most people.

All in all, it was a good trip. It runs directly without a stop, so make sure to bring a water bottle and some snacks! There is a toilet onboard so you can make a pit stop if required, just don’t expect a Macca’s run!

There is a toilet up the back
There is a toilet up the back, and a decent amount of overhead storage space.

Overall

I found that overall, Murrays Sydney-Canberra Express coach service was a cost-effective and comfortable way to do the trip between Sydney and Canberra. It is about the same amount of time as driving the route yourself, and the terminal locations are convenient to Canberra city centre, Sydney Airport, Circular Quay Cruise Terminal, Central Station and the Sydney CBD. The baggage allowance is generous and everything is just easy, especially with a flexible ticket. Add to that the loyalty program for frequent travellers and this works out in my opinion to be one of the best ways to get between Sydney and Canberra.

Have you used Murray’s, Greyhound or another bus service on the Sydney to Canberra route? Have you used it to get on a cruise? I’d love to hear your experiences and which coach line you prefer, let me know in the comments below!

Video: Snorkelling at South West Rocks NSW

There aren’t a lot of places suitable for snorkelling near Kempsey. Under the footbridge across South West Rocks Creek from Buchanan Dr (also known as Back Creek Bridge) is one spot that is great for someone new to snorkelling though. See the map below the video for where this was taken. When the tide is in it is shallow enough to easily touch the ground but there are still quite a few fish around, many of which are quite interested in people.

Map

Cruising From White Bay Cruise Terminal Sydney (How To Get There)

Cruising From White Bay Cruise Terminal Sydney (How To Get There)

So we’ve booked a 6-night cruise with Princess cruises in October from Sydney to Tasmania and back. A few days later we were looking at our itinerary and noticed that it departs from the White Bay Cruise Terminal, not Darling Harbour.

Interesting, we didn’t know there was another cruise terminal, but that said we went to the Sydney Tower Buffet a few weeks beforehand and had noticed a cruise ship berthed on the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so we thought perhaps that was it.

After looking at their website and doing a bit of searching online, we discovered that it is located here, near Balmain:

Which seems like the middle of nowhere as far as transport options.

Public Transport

Initially, we thought perhaps we could get some combination of public transport there from Pennant Hills, be it train, bus, ferry etc to the Darling St/Ewenton St bus stop below and then walk down Ewenton St to the terminal:

But after trying to get Sydney’s public transport route calculator to suggest how I might achieve that, it couldn’t come up within anything. A little investigation on Google Street View also made evident that one cannot access the terminal from Ewenton St anyway. You have to come in via James Craig Road. So the closest bus stop is actually on Robert St near Victoria Rd. Given that, I considered the cost of getting four people there and upon considering who would be travelling with us I decided it may be a lot easier and cheaper to pay for long-term parking or hire a car.

Long Term Parking and Car Hire / Go Get

It turns out though that as Balmain is a residential suburb, there are no long-term parking stations and there are no depots for car hire companies nearby at all. You have to go all the way around to Pyrmont for your closest options and get a taxi from there! There is, however, a Go Get car share pod a couple of blocks further up on Donnelly St as below, I thought this may have solved the dilemma:

My theory here was we could pick up the car that morning, or even the day before, then drop everyone off at the terminal with our bags, leave the car at the pod and walk a couple of blocks back. Should only take me 20 minutes or so.

Don’t bother.

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to check the terminal out on Google Street View. Turns out, Grafton St is actually above the terminal and there is a large, impassable fence. You have to actually go around to Robert St and onto James Craig Rd!

Which is what Google Maps was trying to tell me all along anyway. I did however discover that there is another Go Get pod on the corner of Robert St, closer for walking, about a 15 minute walk I’d say after dropping everyone off at the terminal.

So this is the option that I was basically leaning towards.

Taxi vs Go Get

I had never really considered taking a taxi, in my recent Sydney taxi experience it has always ended up being a costly mistake and pickups at our address have been unbelievably unreliable. Doing a quick check on TaxiFare though showed that a taxi would cost an estimated $70-$100.

Go Get would depend whether I got it the day before or in the morning, but it was still going to come in at around $70-$100 as a casual user anyway once you add the $49 annual fee (assuming I won’t use it again this year to split the fee cost).

Keeping in mind the nearest bus stop is actually even further away than this Go Get pod, it would seem that a taxi is the easier option, though it almost definitely will wind up costing a bit more, and that’s assuming they actually turn up to pick us up at the time we book them for, or even turn up at all as has been my experience before when booking a taxi in Sydney. The other possibility is either a transfer/limo service, a premium valet service, or an Uber.

These are the only options for getting to White Bay Cruise Terminal beside airport shuttles, so if you are concerned about transport, be aware of this when booking a Sydney cruise, you may not leave from Circular Quay and you may have the nightmare that is getting to White Bay Cruise Terminal.

Shuttles and Valet Services

Princess does offer a paid airport shuttle/transfer service, but it seems a bit redundant to drive to the airport, pay for the parking there or alternatively pay for the train there for 4 people and then pay to take a shuttle back to White Bay. It’d take half the day up on both departure and return. I understand P&O does now offer a shuttle from the Sydney CBD, but again, the cost of getting there plus the cost of the shuttle all seems a bit too much hassle.

I have found a few options for transfer/valet services as below that we may yet consider:

  • Sydney City Shuttle
    • Offers shuttle services from North West Sydney.
    • Quotes $90 for 4 people from Pennant Hills.
  • Mascot Parking Services
    • Offers a valet service from the White Bay Cruise Terminal.
    • Your car is picked up after you get out and then stored in their car park at Mascot near the airport. It is then returned to you after your cruise arrives back at the terminal.
    • Their website is a bit confusing, but assuming I’m reading it right, it quotes $90 return to provide a standard valet service to the White Bay Cruise Terminal or $180 for a deluxe service (I’m not entirely sure what the difference is).

For those travelling from Canberra, it’s worth noting that Murrays offers a very frequent and cost-effective coach from Canberra CBD to Sydney Airport and Central Station, so it lines up perfectly with the shuttle services offered by Princess and P&O Cruises. Read my review here.

UPDATE:

Uber

In the end we actually went with an Uber. There were no Uber X vehicles in the area when we booked so we got an Uber Black, though that was probably a good thing since we had four people in the car. It cost us $124.00 from Pennant Hills to the White Bay Terminal, so a little more than what TaxiFare and the Sydney City Shuttle quoted, or what GoGet would have been, but for the convenience it was a better option than GoGet, for ease of booking it was simpler than the shuttle, and for the reliability it was a better option than a taxi. That said, the cheapest option seems to be the Sydney City Shuttle.

Passing through Narooma, Wagonga Inlet and Bar Rock

Bar Rock, Narooma

Recently Tammy and I made our way down the South Coast of NSW and were blessed with some beautiful days and stunning scenery.

Wagonga Inlet, Narooma
Wagonga Inlet, Narooma

Narooma is a quiet little town situated on the southern side of Forsters Bay and the Wagonga Inlet roughly half way between Bega and Batemans Bay. North Narooma is on the northern side of the Bay and Inlet. The Princes Highway runs through the town, so if you take that route you will pass through it. The bay and inlet are a beautiful blue as you can see in the photo above and looks so inviting.

Read morePassing through Narooma, Wagonga Inlet and Bar Rock

SNSW Big Camp 2013

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Jindabyne Big Camp is always so full of surprises, I love it!

This year we have had all sorts of weather, from blistering heat to rain to freezing cold. I grabbed the screenshot above on my phone, it was -2 that morning!

It’s so good to get a break in such a beautiful place like this and the Adventist Alpine Village is such a peaceful place for it.

This year Tammy and I have had the added fun of planning our wedding too, it’s really starting to come together nicely.

Something Fishy Happened At My Last Car Service

In August last year when my car’s rego check was due, I also had to get all 4 tyres changed, so they were all brand new in August. This was done in NSW.

In October, while I was in QLD I took it in to Keema at Mt Gravatt for the 90,000km service. I’ve had previous services done here and even though it was a bit more expensive than other places I was happy with their customer service as they generally went out of their way to help me and ensure I was happy with everything.

When I picked up the car after this service, which I might add was a $962 service, I discovered that the passenger sun visor clip was broken. I called them up about it and they were a bit difficult about it and didn’t want to know about it, but eventually they did agree to replace it for me free of charge.

I noticed about a month later that one of my back tyres was more worn than the other 3. At the time besides thinking it was a bit odd, I didn’t think that much of it. They were supposed to do a tyre rotation as part of the service so I thought it could have been on the front, and given that my car is front wheel drive, the front does tend to wear down more than rear wheel drive cars. So perhaps they had rotated it to the back and I didn’t look too closely at it.

When I got back from my holiday in February this year, I had a closer look at all the tyres, and that’s when I realised that it was the only one that was worn down, and not only was it more worn than the others, it was significantly more worn. If it was just because of the front wheel drive, there should have been a second tyre equally as worn, and even so, it shouldn’t have been worn that much in such a short space of time.

I checked all the markings and everything on the tyre to make sure it matched all the others, and it did, which left me a bit uncertain as to why it was so much more worn than the rest.

At the time I didn’t think there was any point going back to them about it, after all, it had been 4 months since the time of the service, they could easily argue that I had done something in that time or whatever and refuse to do anything about it.

I’ve put air in my tyres a number of times since but yesterday when I was doing it I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before, the worn down tyre has a silver valve. The other three have gold valves. The worn down tyre IS NOT my tyre. Which leads me to believe that something happened at the service and one of my tyres was swapped for an old one for who knows what reason. I also checked the wheels and it is definitely my wheel, all four of the mags on my car have distinctive scratches, and it has those scratches. So the tyre had to be changed while it was in for service, it can’t have been somehow one of my wheels mistaken for the wheel of another car that was in for a service or something like that.  Which means whoever did it had to be well aware that they were replacing one of my tyres with a tyre that had probably done closer to 25,000km’s, than the ones that were on my car that had only done about 800-1000km’s at the time.

As a result, I realised while checking the air yesterday, this tyre will not pass rego this year and I will need to get a new one.

There is no way that I could have worn one tyre on my car to unroadworthiness in one year, approximately 7,000km’s. Especially not without wearing the others. The ones that have been on the front since the service still look virtually new, as does the other back tyre.

Admittedly the tyres on my car are relatively cheap compared to some – $95 each when I got them last year I think it was, but they should last much longer than this.

I can tell you where I will not be getting another service done – Keema.

I’ve thought about approaching them about it, but it was almost a year ago now and I can’t see them being willing to do anything about it or admitting any wrongdoing. What do you think? I was actually pretty unimpressed with their service at the time to, they are usually quite friendly but I recall that they weren’t that time.

Either way, they won’t be working on my car anymore, there are plenty of other places that are more than happy to do my car service.

Art Express 2007

A year old now I know, but I just came across this article on the Northern Rivers Echo website from the end of 2006 when I found my best mate Rhi, another of my class mates, and myself, selected for the NSW state-wide Art Express Exhibitions for 2007.

As I said, it’s a year old, but hey, it was exciting for me to find my art being exhibited all over the state including places like Albury, Orange, Grafton, Newcastle, and Sydney.

I did a fractal animation to a song by a friend of the family, Dennis Nattrass (or Wah Wah Willie). Wah Wah Willie has done some really great music. It is guitar based ambient and shows off much of his skill on the guitar. I highly recommend his album entitled “Cinema“. It adds a very unique twist on more common ambient music and is very complimentary to fractals.

I created the fractals using Apophysis and rendered them in Flam3. It was really quite an interesting experience, as I had created many fractal’s in Apophysis and had a fairly good understanding of how the software functions, the effects of different triangles and so on, however I had not done any animations before, so it was all new.

The theory behind my animation was much deeper than what is outlined in the article in the Echo, as I explained in my film and write up, it was based on the chaos theory. My thinking behind it is as follows:

The Chaos Theory
The study of phenomena which appear random, but in fact have an element of regularity which can be described mathematically.

“Trust me…There is order here, very faint, very human.”
-Michael Ondaatje

“There can only be one right answer in mathematics. Fractals are an art form, based entirely on maths. Like anything though, when the human element is added to math, it becomes imprecise, there can be mistakes, errors, many right answers.

Variation becomes limitless, but order remains.

From the chaos theory, fractals are born.
Trust me, there is order here.”
-Matthew Brown

To my knowledge, neither of my video clips thus far are available anywhere on the internet.