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Meat The Crew with Kyle – BigLift

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For this Meat The Crew we visited BigLift in Muswellbrook where the new GM Billie Sharpe introduced me to some of the crew; Scandalous, Highnoon, Ghost Rider and Wolverine. Ok, so that’s not the crew, that’s the fleet.

We sat around the boardroom table eating egg and bacon rolls, drinking coffees and sharing stories. I really took a liking to Dave and he told plenty of funny stories, especially about the Cockatoos on Hamilton Island that steal your items from your room. I am not too keen to go there.

Billie then talked to them about what the employee of the month should be graded on this month? Trent was awarded the previous month’s for having all his paperwork in place when spot checked. Sarah the receptionist suggested presentation and all the boys laughed, as it is a dirty job. But then they all agreed on safety for the month and do run extra spot checks on top of those they normally do.

It was a great morning with the team and I thank Billie, Dave, Sarah, Kate, Todd, Lindsay, Paul and Col for the opportunity. We had a fantastic time. I’m still voting for Lyndsay for employee of the month!

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Hit the Road

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As restrictions ease it’s time for that long awaited getaway. With international and some interstate travel still out of the question why not pack up the car and head out on a road trip. Here are a few of our favourite NSW drives.

The Grand Pacific Drive

This is a great drive for when you don’t have a lot of time off work. The Grand Pacific Drive starts at the Royal National Park just south of Sydney and takes you through 140km of dazzling rainforests and picturesque seaside villages while you take in the mesmerising coastline of NSW.

Traversing the iconic 665 metre Sea Cliff Bridge, The Grand Pacific Drive then makes its way into Wollongong, where you’ll find an abundance of things to do, see and eat.

Then on to the beautiful Kiama region and its famous blowhole. Stop and stretch your legs on a beautiful coastal walk or rainforest trail. You’ll find many wonderful attractions and activities, such as Australia’s highest zip-line and kayaking on the Kangaroo River. 

Hunter to Broken Hill

Depending on where in the Hunter you’re starting from, a trip to Broken Hill is around 1100km. Stops along the way include Dunedoo, Dubbo, Nyngan, Cobar and Wilcannia.

A trip inland is a great way to see Australia’s heritage. At Dubbo you can visit the Old Dubbo Gaol which has Australia’s largest collection of hangman’s knots or check out the iconic Royal Flying Doctors.

Cobar has a rich mining heritage which you can learn about at the Great Cobar Heritage Centre. The area also boasts amazing Aboriginal rock art and plenty of colonial buildings.

Finish up in the unofficial capital of Outback NSW, Broken Hill which was Australia’s first heritage listed city.

Pacific Coast

Discover NSW at your own pace on the legendary Pacific Coast Drive. From Sydney to Tweed Heads, it’s over 800km with plenty to see along the way. The Central Coast and Port Stephens regions are known for wonderful beaches and beautiful sheltered bays but in the colder months there is still an abundance of things to do.

Pitch a tent at one of South West Rocks campgrounds before exploring the historic ruins of Trial Bay Gaol on the cliffs above the sea or take in the views at Smoky Cape Lighthouse.

When you hit Coffs Harbour, take a side trip along the Waterfall Way to Armidale. Drive through lush rainforest and woodland to enjoy the lofty lookout platforms at Ebor Falls, unpack a picnic at the dramatic Dangar Falls or visit Dorrigo Rainforest Centre to discover ancient World Heritage wilderness.

When you finish at Tweed Heads you have better worked up an appetite because this town is becoming known as a culinary centre, serving up some of the region’s best fresh produce.

Tourist Drive 33

The perfect drive for a day trip, Tourist Drive 33 originally linked Sydney to the Hunter Valley. Much of the drive is along the original Great North Road which was built by convicts between 1826 and 1836 to provide an overland route from Sydney to Newcastle.

A popular route for motorbike riders and day trippers, Tourist Drive 33 showcases some of the most stunning countryside in NSW and steps back in time as you meander through the convict stone walls, bridges and culverts still in use today.

There are plenty of little townships to stop in along your journey including Peats Ridge, Kulnura, Laguna and Wollombi. Grab a bite to eat from a charming country pub or a quirky local café before quenching your thirst at one of the many boutique cellar doors.

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GO GO GALAPAGOS

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Though travel restrictions have put a hold on holidaying, we can still experience the beautiful and amazing parts of our world through stories.

I can hear my breathing get faster and faster through my snorkel as I see the menacing shapes come out of the darkness below and lazily circle closer and closer. Sharks have always been my biggest fear and now two of them are almost touching my feet. Our guide had told me they were vegetarian, but I start discreetly positioning myself behind a fellow snorkeller just in case one decides to try a new diet but thankfully they head off for a tastier meal.

The location of my narrowly avoided heart attack is Kicker Rock, a 150m high monolithic rock formation formed out of the remains of an old volcano in the middle of the Galapagos Islands. As we swim through the 50m deep channel in between the remains of an old degraded lava cone we see white-tipped reef sharks, endless sea lions, huge turtles, a giant Eagle Ray and the star of the show, a seahorse bobbing along. 

We’re only about 3 days into our Galapagos Tour and already it’s very clear to see why these beautiful islands were a decisive contributor towards Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – the variety and quantity of wildlife is unbelievable.

From iguanas to enormous tortoises to the aforementioned sealife, every day is a new discovery of remarkable creatures who due to the remote nature of these islands were largely left alone to evolve. There are so many animals to look at that at one stage I actually found myself cursing a playful sea lion for photobombing some local penguins.

The extraordinary animal population is offset by the relatively low human population, partially explained by the limited natural resources available, especially water, and the strict residency requirements. All new permanent residents must either be born or married to a local to keep the population down. Although the islands are part of Ecuador, even mainlanders aren’t allowed to live here due to the pressure on local resources and the threat to the local wildlife.

We leave Kicker Rock to hike volcanic and deserted Isabela Island which is a mixture of craters, black volcanic rock, and lush green fields caused by the rich volcanic soil. Isabela is also home to the Wall of Tears, a 25m high wall of lava rocks built as a punishment by prisoners in the 1940s and 1950s when the island was a penal colony and where locals claim to have heard cries from the ghosts of the departed prisoners. Thankfully Isabela is also home to beautiful Puerto Villamil, a tiny beachside village where local kids walk barefoot along sandy streets to early morning school lessons (it is too hot for class in the middle of the day) and we soothe our tired bodies with cuba libres whilst looking out on the fishing boats mingled with superyachts in the bay.

Our next couple of days are spent with more snorkelling (more sharks!), swimming alone on isolated beaches with just sea lions for company, seeing giant tortoises, and in a shock to the system after such tranquility, visiting a pumping nightclub in the biggest “city” of the Galapagos.

Sadly and much too quickly we reach our final evening in paradise and watch the sunset with one last cocktail (which are amazingly cheap by island standards) and walk back to our hotel along the quiet streets, with the silence only broken by the occasional bark of a sea lion. I take in the perfection around me and can’t stop thinking to myself – I need to find myself a Galapagos wife….

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#Love NSW

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The entire NSW tourism industry has been impacted by the devasting bushfires and drought. It’s time for everyone to give NSW a helping hand! 

As part of the NSW government’s disaster recovery plan for tourism regions is the new marketing campaign; Now’s The Time To Love NSW. A social media led, community-driven initiative that aims to encourage people to make holiday plans in NSW, inspire them to capture their favourite NSW holiday spots and ‘share the love’ by posting authentic images with the tag, #LoveNSW. 

NSW has always had a vibrant tourism industry and many regional communities rely heavily on the income it provides. It’s tourism that keeps these towns alive. We can all help by taking a getaway that gives back by staying, eating and shopping in NSW. Take a drive along the coast, head inland or explore some of the communities right on your doorstep.

And what’s not to love. The Blue Mountains, South Coast, Snowy Mountains, Country NSW, Sydney, Central Coast. The list of amazing destinations goes on and on. And of course, don’t forget our beautiful Hunter Valley!

One of the best ways to explore what NSW has to offer is on a road trip. Pile into the Kombi, caravan, ute or whatever your preferred mode of transport is and hit the road. There are so many touring routes to choose from or you can be truly adventurous and wing it!

When it comes to accommodation there’s options suitable for every family and every budget. From backpackers and hostels, to camping, to luxury resorts and hotels. How about trying a farm stay? These accommodations are located on working farms and some offer interactive experiences where you can feed animals, collect eggs and learn how a farm functions. 

In NSW we know how to have good time. Whether it’s a festival, concert, sporting match, expo, market or race day, you’ll be guaranteed to find an event to include in your holiday plans. Check out events calendars before planning your trip.

When it comes to things to do, NSW has it all. Arts and culture, Aboriginal heritage, adventure, sport, wildlife, nature, food and wine. 

Experience the winter wonderland that is the Snowy Mountains with skiing and snowboarding during the winter months. During the warmer months climb Australia’s highest peak Mt Kosciuszko or try your hand at fly fishing. 

If water sports are your thing, the beautiful NSW coast has everything. From deep sea fishing to paddle boarding to snorkeling. And don’t forget we have some of the best surfing beaches in the world.

With magnificent national parks covering nearly 5 million hectares of NSW, you’ll never run out of areas just waiting to be explored by foot, on 2 wheels or 4. Or even 4 hooves!

The list of things to do and see in NSW is endless! Can’t decide? Just grab a map and close your eyes and point. No matter where your finger lands we guarantee you’ll have an amazing time getting to know the people and the communities that make our state the best holiday destination in the world!

Get involved in the campaign by following these steps:
1. Make your hands into a heart shape
2. Take a photo with your heart in a NSW location
3. Share on your socials with #LoveNSW

www.visitnsw.com/love-nsw
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