Friday, June 30, 2017

Learn how Experts Camp in Winter - and Have Fun!

From elevating the humble Winter beanie to debunking myths about how to stay warm in a sleeping bag; more than 60 managers from 36 holiday parks from coastal and country NSW have pulled together their collective knowledge to ensure families have a fun Winter caravanning or camping adventure.

The tips, which range from sensible clothing advice to fun ways to keep warm like snuggling your loved ones around a camp fire come from the NSW Crown Holiday Parks Trust (NSWCHPT) Group which manages 36 holiday parks across NSW and encompass North Coast Holiday Parks (NCHP), South Coast Holiday Parks (SCHP) and Inland Waters Holiday Parks (IWHP).

NSWCHPT CEO Steve Edmonds said park teams and the collective knowledge of the Group represented decades of camping experience in all kinds of weather so families could rest assured that the best advice was on hand to help families and campers have a great holiday.

"The biggest myth of all is that people won't have a good time if they go camping in the colder months when in fact this time of year is one of the best times for outdoor activities at our parks like fishing, surfing and hiking," Mr Edmonds said.

Top Winter camping thoughts include:
  • The humble beanie is a good move as it prevents lots of heat loss.
  • The Ugg Boot, (or equivalent), should be on any serious Glamper's winter check list!
  • Thermals are also an option if you're too far away from a warm house!
  • Select a good quality sleeping bag. There are some very good ones on the market now.
  • Why not prepare some yummy stews, soups and hearty foods prior to arriving; they will certainly keep you fuelled with warmth and energised to play!
  • Make sure you air your tent daily to prevent condensation build up which makes the inside damp and uncomfortable.
  • When the ground is cold; use foam floor tiles on the tent floor to give an extra layer of insulation.
  • Don't camp in a valley or watercourse and position your tent to take full advantage of the warming morning sun.
  • Wear a beanie to bed and keep your head out of your sleeping bag as a night of breathing may cause your sleeping bag to become damp.
  • Put glow sticks in water bottles for a game of night time bowling or place them around a tent's guy ropes to prevent trip hazards.

Mr Edmonds said each park also shared their top tips on keeping warm in a tent this Winter, with the consensus being to make sure plenty of thermals and woollen socks were packed, water bottles were not forgotten and hot thermoses of hot chocolate were on hand.  

"My best tip is to prepare and plan ahead for the expected weather and don't forget to have fun", Mr Edmonds said.

"Many of our parks also have communal camp kitchens which are perfect for those wet days and allow guests to enjoy flat screen TVs and electric cooking facilities like bbqs toasters, jugs, microwaves and fridges.

"I am also a big fan of sitting around a camp fire and enjoying the amazing locations our parks are situated in; just don't forget to check which parks allow fires beforehand."

Mr Edmonds said there was still plenty of availability across the parks for the Winter School Holidays, and encouraged anyone thinking of a last-minute trip to book now before sites disappear.

For more information about the coastal and inland holiday parks managed by the Trust and to plan your next caravanning and camping adventure visit, or


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mudgee Historic Railway Station

The station building, when opened, was rated as one of the select group of significant railway structures, surpassed only by regional stations in Newcastle, Albury and Hay.

Currently (2017)

The original Station building was categorised as one of approximately twenty 'first class' stations built between 1870 and 1890 (Late Victorian period) and reflects the John Whitton principles of railway operation.

Mudgee Station was classified by the National Trust (NSW) in 1977 and listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1978.

This station building in its original state, was acclaimed most impressive - and rated amongst the most significant railway stations of its day. However it required some considerable alterations in the 1900's to meet the needs of rail travellers, as lines were extended to new growing towns to the north.

Brief history – (with fascinating related activities).

*24th July 1879 State Parliament sanctioned the extension of the Rail line from Wallerawang to Mudgee. (This approval was piloted through Parliament by Mudgee's member Sir John Robertson. The news of the approval reached Mudgee at midnight of the same day. At this late hour the town 'bandsmen' were assembled who then played appropriate music until daylight).

*First 'Train' to arrive Mudgee:¬Wednesday morning, 10`" September 1884.
It was a mixed 'goods and mail train.

The towns people had everything ready for two days celebrations – town was gaily decorated – a banquet was prepared for the evening of the 10th -in the Engine Shed).

*11th September 1884 six trains arrived Mudgee: One train carrying the official party - Mr. Edmund Barton (Barrister, NSW MP, First Prime Minister after Federation in 1901), Railway Commissioner Mr. Goodchap, and two local Parliamentarians, Sir John Robertson and Mr. A.G. Taylor.
This marked the official opening of the Railway to Mudgee.

(These trains, ex Sydney, each pulled by two engines, collecting passengers en route, arrived Mudgee filled to capacity.

A tremendous feast had been prepared in 'Market Square' (now Robertson Park) for the celebrating townspeople and visitors. A roast bullock, five to six hundred loaves of bread and many ten gallon casks of beer were consumed – one large loaf of bread weighed 150lbs!

That evening a public Ball was held in the Engine Shed to commemorate the opening of the 'Rail Line'. And it rained – no one cared – feasting, dancing and revelry were the order of the day and night.)

* 14th April 1909, extension of 'Line' to Gulgong opened.

*In Nov. 1910, line Gulgong to Dunedoo was opened. In later years the 'Line' was extended to Binnaway, Coonabarabran, Baradine and Gwabegar (end of 'Line').

*With 'Lines' opening northwards - 'Mudgee Refreshment Room' (and kitchen) opened 5th Dec. 1911 to cater for travellers' needs. (These 'rooms' now encompassed what had been the 'Parcels Office, 'out of room' and western end 'open yard' space.

This development brought about a replacement Parcels Office' and 'out of room' being built upon 'open yard space' between eastern end of main building and men's toilet block).

There were numerous building additions/alterations over ensuing years:- 1917, 'Bar' facilities to the 'Refreshment Room'.

1920, verandah (Inglis St. side - near entrance 'Refreshment Room') enclosed to house a Telegraph Office; to provide communications with the departments of 'Station', e.g. 'Goods Shed' etc. Also alterations to main facade, and the alteration of some windows into door -ways.

1927, a 'furnace' to heat 'foot warmers' (a steel canister filled with reactive salts) was built. The 'furnace' with sheltering roof and 'coal bays', is still evident at western end of platform.

*Last 'Rail passenger services' (Dedicated 'Mail Train' ex Sydney to Mudgee & return ceased early 1970's. In lieu thereof a rail 'two car diesel' service (twice daily Monday to Saturday and one return service Sunday), connected with electric Rail service Lithgow. This subsequently ceased): Sunday Is` December 1985. (These 'services' replaced on the following Monday [2nd December '85.] by road Coaches - arriving/departing 'Station'.)

Dec 1991: One of the last trains to Mudgee carefully crosses
the viaduct north of Mudgee bound for Gulgong (David Johnson)

*Last Freight Train': 1992.

*'Line' Kandos to Gulgong closed 1992.

*'Line' Kandos to Gulgong re-opened September 2000; as an alternative route for some 'Freight Trains' during the 2000 Olympic Games.

Reopening Mudgee Station 2000 (Mudgee History)
Following maintenance (considerable 're-sleepering' and viaduct strengthening) 'Tourist' trains subsequently passed through/stayed in Mudgee [some overnight] on an irregular basis for some time afterwards.

        Related story: Rylstone line to re-open for show train (2016)

*'Line' Kandos to Gulgong finally closed again in latter half of 2007.
(On Saturday June 2007 a 'Rally' to protest against the coming 'closure of Line' was held.

The 'Rally' was arranged to raise awareness of the plight of country rail services [to/from Mudgee in particular]. Approx. 500 people attended; the central activity was conducted from an empty flattop rail wagon [the 'wagon' being one unit of a visiting 'Tourist Train'] positioned adjacent to Station platform awning. As part of the 'Protest' attraction Troy Cassar-Daly presented a number of musical items. Pertinent politicians and Railway officials were invited; only attending political/Rail representative was Orange Federal member.

This text from a leaflet prepared by members of


A delightful gallery full of' the finest locally made 'Art & Crafts'

Open 7 days 9am, – 4pm
At the historic Railway Station
Corner Church & Inglis Streets,
Ph: 02 6372 2822

The content has been researched/confirmed from old documents (or copies thereof), Mudgee Guardian papers and local knowledge, and to our belief is correct in events and dates. Thankyou also to the Colonial Inn Museum

Discover timeless treasures in New York State

You’ll love what New York State has to offer for those who enjoy antiquing. Venture through the Hudson Valley’s 70 antique shops or find your treasures in the Finger Lakes. There are plenty of antiquing hotspots around the state and I have listed a few below.


Hudson Antiques

70 antique shops fill five historic walking blocks on and around Warren Street, Hudson Valley. An amazing array and range of merchandise spanning all continents and centuries can be found in Hudson’s Antique Shops. From Country to European, you never know what little or big treasures you’ll find.

• CM Cherry
CM Cherry features a specially curated selection of rare and unique objects of glass, crystal, lighting and furniture collected by store owner Claude M. Cherry. From hand-blown glass candles to antique English and American estate furnishings, CM Cherry is quite the collection you don’t want to miss. For more information visit or call 518-697-9508

• Carousel Antique Center
Carousel Antique Center is owned and operated by Karen Squire and Dan Barton and is a large multi-dealer shop offering a wide range of merchandise reflecting different personalities and price ranges. Come by for your own treasure hunt. For more information call 518-828-9127

For more information on Hudson Antiques stores please visit

The Belvedere Mansion
This mansion offers posh accommodations with million-dollar views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. The 17-room Greek revival mansion is lavishly restored and whimsically decorated by the owners, who were antiques dealers before owning an inn. Many of the main rooms have complete suites of matching French Empire furniture. The property includes six other units, each decorated in unique motifs, including Asian. An outdoor pool, tennis courts, health club and gourmet dining add to an idyllic scene. For more information please visit or call 845-889-8000.


Mark Lawson Antiques
Mark Lawson Antiques is the Capital Region's premier resource for selling your estate jewelry, coins, paintings, fine antique decorative arts, and rare collectibles. As the proud supporter of PBS affiliates WMHT TV-17, televising Antiques Roadshow, they have helped thousands of satisfied clients in New York’s Capital Region since 1990. For more information visit or call 1-877-902-8787.

Batcheller Mansion Inn
This American architectural masterpiece is an elegant mixture of small hotel and living history museum with the intimate feel of a bed and breakfast. Entering through the doors of this high Victorian Fantasy, you are greeted with old world elegance. Intricately carved European woodwork, hand carved marble fireplaces, family items on loan from museums, original 1800's Batcheller family furnishings, and spellbinding grandeur make this one of a kind Saratoga Inn and living history museum a stately retreat. For more information visit or call 518-584-7012.


Gaffer District
Located in the Finger Lakes area, Coming’s Gaffer District is rich in antique shops and glass studios. In their historic downtown district, walk on the river, shop their shops, and experience some of the most amazing dining of the Finger Lakes. Each day you’ll find exciting events and fun experiences for the whole family. The Gaffer District offers an array of antiques shops including:

• Stained Glass Works & Antiques
Stop in this interesting store to shop for some antiques, sign up for a class, or check out some students art work. The shop is opened Wednesday through Sunday. For more information please visit or call 607-936-3772.

For more information on Coming’s Gaffer District stores visit or call 607-937-6292.


The Lake Placid Lodge
. The Lake Placid Lodge, built by hand in the Arts and Crafts tradition, furnishes the entire property with Adirondack rustic furniture and Adirondack antiques There are thirteen sumptuous rooms and seventeen luxurious cabins at the water’s edge. The woods and water enfold the Lodge; the sun warms its wide stone porches. Above all, there is comfort and welcome, wherever you go. The lodge furnishes the entire property with Adirondack rustic furniture and Adirondack antiques, and many are offered for sale. For more information please visit or call 518-523-2700


The Lodge at the Emerson is concealed among tall pines and shading maples. Its log-built exterior blends naturally with its historic Hudson Valley surrounding and the legendary Catskill Mountains. The 27 rooms of The Lodge range from standard to multi-room suites and can sleep from 2-6 people. The Lodge is ideal for families, groups and outdoor enthusiasts. And its pet friendly.

The Inn at the Emerson provides romance, tranquility and comfort in 25 adults-only suites. Oversized windows gaze upon the natural beauty of Mt. Tremper and the Esopus Creek, providing peace and privacy to connect with a loved one, nature, or your spirit. Other amenities include fully enclosed access to the Spa, Fitness Center, The Phoenix restaurant, the Country Store and the Conference Rooms.

For more information visit or call 877-688-2828.

Mohonk Mountain House
This national historic landmark dating to 1869 is a 264 room Victorian Castle nestled beside a mountaintop lake. It is still owned and operated by the family that opened it more than 100 years ago. The hotel is furnished with many pieces that date back to its opening. For more information please visit or call 800-772-6646.

For more information on New York State, please visit

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Best whale watching in New South Wales

From May to November the waters along the NSW coastline become a living, moving spectacle as thousands of humpback, southern right, fin and other whale species make their way north. The NSW coastline becomes the world's best place for whale spotting and encounters, or to join the Saltwater Indigenous people celebrate this annual migration through Whale Dreaming ceremonies, festivals and experiences.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, "Each year thousands of whales migrate north along the waters off the NSW coast, providing locals and visitors alike with the chance to see these majestic creatures up close and in their natural environment. It's exciting for young and old to spot a whale tail slapping or breaching its full body from the water".

"NSW has plenty of great whale watching experiences including fast boat cruises, lookouts and vantage points from stunning coastal walks, whale festivals and Whale Dreaming tours. With whale numbers increasing, it's not surprising that the State is often known as New South W(h)ales," she said.

The long association between Aboriginal people and whales is reflected along the NSW coast where rock art sites document the powerful relationship with these creatures. In fact, the whale is an important totem for numerous Aboriginal groups.

South Coast Indigenous Tourism Operator, Ngaran Ngaran Culture Awareness, runs Whale Dreaming Tours to explain the importance and significance of whales. Operator Dwayne Bannon-Harrison, a descendant of the Yuin people said, "The connection to saltwater and sea creatures is of utmost importance to many coastal First Nation's people. In our creation stories the whales are elders of the sea that once walked from the land into the ocean. Whale Dreaming Ceremonies sing the safe passage of the whale migration, and ensures the connection and respect continues on. We perform these ceremonies in May and October."

Other Whale Dreaming tours and events taking place along the NSW coast include: Unkya's Gurruuja Juun (Whale Tail) Tour, Five Lands Walk on the Central Coast on 24 June 2017, and Whale Dreamers Festival at Norah Head on the 2 July 2017.

In addition to the importance of Whale Dreaming during whale season, NSW is home to some top notch whale watching spots and experiences. Here are just a selection of some of the great whale experiences available in New South W(h)ales:

·         Whale Count Days – This year visitors are invited to take part in the annual ORRCA whale count, which takes place on Sunday 25 June at Cape Byron Lighthouse, Tacking Point Lighthouse near Port Macquarie, Crackneck Lookout on the Central Coast and North Head in Sydney Harbour National Park near Manly.

·         Ballina – On the North Coast, Ballina Head Lookout, located between Shelly and Lighthouse beaches, offers panoramic views over the sparkling blue water out to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy the whale spotting from this headland or stroll down onto the surf patrolled beach and watch the whales go by as you swim or as you enjoy breakfast or lunch at the cafĂ© above the surf club at Lighthouse Beach. Another great spot in Ballina is the Black Heading viewing platform, which is easily accessible on a short walk through an old growth littoral rainforest.

·         Iluka and Wolli – Iluka Bluff is a dedicated whale-watching platform that offers 360 degree views along the coast. While local tour operator Wooli Deep Sea Tours runs whale watching tours that includes cruising in the beautiful Solitary Island Marine Park, home to a rich diversity and abundance of sea life including dolphins and turtles.

·         Port Macquarie – Home to the second most easterly point in NSW, whale watching in Port Macquarie ensures close-up encounters just metres off the coast and tours that provide less travel time out to open ocean to find the whales. The 9km Coastal Walk from Town Beach to Lighthouse Beach hugs the coastline and offers stunning vantage points and a number of seats at different headlands along the way for whale watching encounters. For those looking for some adrenalin filled whale watching, Port Jet's Wave Rider can reach speeds of up to 100km/hr, making it one of the fastest commercial boats offering whale watching cruises.

·         Port Stephens - For land based whale watching, set out with your binoculars to locations like Tomaree Headland, Barry Park at Fingal Bay, Fishermans Bay, Birubi Point and Stockton Beach, but one of the favourite spots that offers great whale sightings is the Boat Harbour headland, off Noamunga Street. Look for a 'V' shaped puff of spray as the whale surfaces. Humpbacks are the most surface active of all the whales, so you might even see tail slaps, pectoral fin waves, body rolls and the mighty 'breach.'

·         Newcastle – Book at tour with NOVA Cruises, departing from Newcastle Harbour which is only a short trip out the heads and into open water to find the whales. For land based spotting in Newcastle try Shepherds Hill Lookout, a popular spot with the locals.

·         Lake Macquarie - With spectacular ocean views for most of the way, Caves Beach Walk is just the spot for whale watching, this picturesque coastal bushwalk traverses the cliff tops south from Caves Beach to secluded Pinny Beach in the Wallarah National Park. Also not to miss are the views from Redhead Bluff, a red rocky headland that offers views that stretch across the ocean and south over Nine Mile Beach towards Blacksmiths and Swansea. A prime whale watching location!

·         Central Coast – The whale is the totem of the local Darkinjung people of the Central Coast, which plays host to a series of Whale Talks at Crackneck Point over a number of weekends and is run by National Parks and Wildlife Service, to find out details call the local National Parks and Wildlife Service office on the Central Coast.

·         Jervis Bay - Jervis Bay marks the half way point for the 4000km whale migration, so it is no wonder many use the bay's waters as a resting point and a place for the newborn calves to learn, play and rest. Jervis Bay Wild provides whale watching tours that get you up close to these majestic animals as they enjoy the calm still waters of Jervis Bay. For land based viewing you can't go past Penguin Head at Culburra and the viewing platform in Booderee National Park, located at Cape St George Lighthouse.  Whales have also been spotted from Caves Beach in Booderee National Park, a popular camping spot.

·         Montague Island and Narooma – Narooma Charters runs regular whale watching tours to the stunning Montague Island which sits off the coast of Narooma. In recent years Southern Right Whales, Fin Whales, Brydes Whales, Sei Whales and Blue Whales have also all been seen off Narooma , as well as several sightings of the extremely rare albino humpbacks known as Migaloo and Mini Migaloo. In 2011 Mini Migaloo was photographed off the coast near Montague Island by Daryl Stuart of Narooma Charters, in a stunning lunging pose. The angle of this cheeky pose has been of great help to scientists in identifying the sex of Mini Migaloo. We believe in 2017, Mini Migaloo will be seven years old - not so mini anymore.

·         Broulee & Moruya Head – A top spot on the South Coast is Broulee Island at Broulee, which is joined to the mainland by a sandbar so is always accessible. Whales in season and dolphins all year round may be sighted from any side of the island which takes about an hour to walk around. Also not to miss is Toragy Point at Moruya Heads, this lookout offers whale watching views north along the coast and interpretive signage about whales and marine life.

·         Eden – Renowned as one of Australia's best spots for whale watching, Eden's calm Twofold Bay offers respite for the young calves before making their final leg of the journey south and is one of the few places in the world that Humpback Whales feed on their southern migration in Spring. The Eden Whale Festival, 3-5 November, is the perfect time to celebrate all things cetacean. The festival is the chance to get out on the water with Cat Balou or Freedom Charters for a sea based whale experience, join a land based whale spotting tour, visit the historic Davidson Whaling Station to hear about the strong history of Eden and its whales, as well as feast on local produce and enjoy entertainment, music and film.

To find out where the whales have been recently spotted and tips for great vantage points along the coast download the Wild About Whales app. Even better, you can even share and log your own sighting.

Share your favourite NSW whale watching experience with us on social media by using the hashtag #NewSouthWales and #ILoveNSW. For more information visit and

Pic: Port Macquarie Port Jet whales double breaching. CREDIT: Port Jet, Port Macquarie.

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