Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Sugarloaf Saddle – Cathedral Ranges State Park

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I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

You can access Sugarloaf Saddle via The Mt. Margaret Road from Marysville or via Buxton. I’ll assume you are coming off the Maroondah Highway. Make your way to the Cooks Mill camping ground located off the Little River Road. Access with a 2wd is fine, albeit a little bumpy on the road in. Follow the signage west to Sugarloaf Saddle. It’s a little steep and doable in a 2wd but it’s a rocky and bumpy road. From Melbourne head east through Healesville and through the mountainous Black Spur. Once you have left the Maroondah Highway and have driven north of Buxton, you will see the signposted turn off to the Ranges. (more…)

Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand, Repurpose & Upcycle

Nook Vintage – Fitzroy

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Johnston Street is becoming a hot spot for retro, vintage and secondhand stores that sell a multitude of items that are unique to each store. I discovered this little shop nearly five years ago where I bought myself a hospital bedside table. I now have about four of them sprinkled around the house as kitchen items, bathroom storage and more.

Voted as one of the best second-hand furniture stores in Melbourne by Timeout Magazine, Nook Vintage has the most awesome range of vintage treasures and vintage inspired homewares. (more…)

Markets, Op Shops, Secondhand, Repurpose & Upcycle

Reclaimed – Collingwood

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I can’t stop dropping into this little treasure trove of goodies set in the not so trendy end of Johnston Street Collingwood. But – it’s starting to find its mojo and more and more funky places are popping up nearby.

Went in last week and was greeted by a lovely woman with her two dogs – Bacon and Googey. My daughter was totally charmed by the long-haired dachshund and when we got home, she was googling where to buy one.


Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at The Farmyard – Cathedral Ranges State Park

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I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management and tree hazard checks, The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

There are a number of campsites in the Farmyard area much of which is shady amongst tall beautiful Peppermint, Blackwood and Red Stringybark gums with the sound of lyrebirds imitating chain saws in the background.

The splendid, high-peaked ridge of the Cathedral Range offers spectacular walks and rock climbing routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Cathedral Range is recovering from the extensive damage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt. There is a pleasant old sawmill clearing (partially vegetated) sheltered in a forested valley near the bubbling Little River. This 3577 hectare park offers you a range of activities from relaxed camping by a clear mountain stream to an exciting climb to its high exposed peaks.Camping feeCaravan accessNo dogs/petsNo rubbish disposalPicnic areaRangerSpecial campsite (more…)

Explore & Inspire

56 Things I’m Proud of as a 56 Year Old Woman

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March 16 this year I’ll turn 56. So what have I done in those 56 years that I’m proud of, grateful for, achieved? 56 isn’t enough, I need to be 100 at least to write everything and so many of them are what I call ‘box tickers’ – saw the Pyramids, New Year’s Eve in Dublin, paraglided in Hawaii. But there are others that are the small things that make your heart skip a beat and make you feel fortunate and gracious.

You also need to understand that my work has given my opportunities to do some things that others take for granted. I’ve been a climbing and abseiling instructor, skiing instructor, white water rafting guide, bushwalking leader and so on. So for some people going rafting would be on their list. For me – that’s work (although still exciting).

Of course, as soon as I write this, I’ll think of other things I’ve done/seen/found that would supersede this but hey, gotta start somewhere.

So here are my 56 in no particular order:

  1. Birthed three amazing children who have grown into amazing adults. Born 1998, 2000, 2002
  2. Swam with giant manta rays. 2011
  3. Sailed to Komodo Island to see the dragons. 2011
  4. Working at an orphanage in Cambodia. 2009
  5. Walked on the Great Wall of China in when there were no westerners around. 1985
  6. Lived in Hong Kong for a while with the most delightful Indian family. 1997
  7. Walked on fire. 1995
  8. Spent hours watching orangutans in a rehab. centre being…..themselves. 2009
  9. Expedition Leader in South Australia on an ANZSES trip monitoring southern right whale behaviour (Head of Bight) and exploring an old whaling station (Fowlers Bay). 1994
  10. Expedition Manager for Earthwatch called Australian Reef Culture – monitoring and researching soft and hard coral spawning off Magnetic Island. 1994
  11. Took 28 years but finally lead climbed Little Thor (Grade 20) at Mt Arapiles that’s been my nemesis for many years. Then led Pilot Error (Grade 21). Thor was clean, took a lead fall on Pilot Error. Not fancy but I did it. 2016
  12. Slept in the outdoors for over 2,200 nights of my life.
  13. Travelled to over 50 countries and still counting.
  14. Fell truly in love with an Icelandic man with an open heart and for the first time in my life felt appreciated, respected, honoured and loved. Unfortunately he passed away and my heart still aches. 2016
  15. Rafted the Zambeze. 1994
  16. Survived two narcissists in my life.
  17. Took control of my financial future. Now!
  18. Wrote two books that are published and one won an International Award 2010 & 2012
  19. Finished by Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education. 1992
  20. At 16 walked in the Grampians on a school camp and five of us got lost. My dad always said, if you find a river, fence or track follow it. So I did and we all made our way back to camp – before everyone else!
  21. Dux of my year in 1978.
  22. Sent over 100 letters typed on a ‘typewriter’ to protect our old growth forests – 1977 – 1980.
  23. Volunteered – alot, actually around six weeks a year. Ongoing.
  24. Quit smoking. 1985
  25. Saved a man’s life in a car accident. 2016
  26. Rode a camel in Jaisalmer into the desert night. 1986
  27. Hot air ballooning over The Serengeti. 1995
  28. My parents are still alive (84 and 85) and my two older brothers and we all get along beautifully. Ongoing
  29. Renovated four houses.
  30. Climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo with my kids. 2010
  31. Worked with young male offenders in the outdoors, toughened me up and gave me perspective of how other peoples lives can be. 1991 – 1993
  32. Spent an afternoon listening to the Dalai Lama speak at an event. Magic! 2001
  33. Taught myself Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Ongoing
  34. Was a vegetarian for five years including during my first pregnancy and partly into my second. 1995 – 2000
  35. Learnt to fly fish and caught an 8lb rainbow trout (which I released back into the lake). 1985
  36. Became a certified scuba diver but then burst my ear drum. Doh! 1990
  37. Swam with dolphins and seals when 7 months pregnant with my first child. Brilliant. 1997
  38. Learnt how to not care what other people think of me. Ongoing
  39. Learnt what true friendships and not settle for less – discarded those that are just passing through my life. Ongoing
  40. State records in Shot Put, 50m butterfly in the 70’s.
  41. Made gift hampers for a community I was living in for those who were having a tough time. 2005 – 2009
  42. Protested environmental issues since 1979 – Gordon below Franklin River, Lake Peddar, Cattlemen in the High Country, Women’s Right to Choose Abortion, Asylum Seeker support, Soup Kitchen support at Christmas + more. Ongoing
  43. Made myself a living out of teaching creative activities such as sculpting, mosaics, repurposing etc. 2003 – Ongoing
  44. Spent two nights at the Mount Kenya Safari Club with a girlfriend and two of the most lovely senior gentlemen I’ve ever met. 1995
  45. Spent a night on The Ark in Kenya (with same people above) 1995
  46. Managed to do 7 static chin ups in my early 30’s plus 3 one handed chin ups. Now I could do….3 on a good day. Doh. 1996
  47. I can’t run but I’ve walked 35kms in one day just for fun. 1995
  48. Took the plunge and had a knee replacement at 47 despite the hesitancy of the surgeon. Was XC skiing three months later! 2008
  49. Made friends from all around the world that I’m still connected with and enlighten me on their own travels, lives, cultures, journeys, adventures and families. Dalia, Wayan, Semesa, Siggy, Pha. Ongoing
  50. Chosen true friends to be in my life and let the others go. 2016 and 2017.
  51. Built a Facebook network of 6,500 members who are passionate about repurposing and upcycling. Ongoing
  52. Created a Facebook page for locals in my community to Buy, Swap, Sell with over 4,500 members. Ongoing
  53. Watched my daughter graduate secondary school with her amazing friends and receive a Lifeworks Achievement Award. 2016
  54. Dinner with a Fijian family (he was my taxi driver), sharing stories of life in Fiji and Australia, playing with their children and drinking kava (which is like drinking mud).
  55. Taught myself to weld, do basic plumbing, can swing a hammer and fix, mend, repair and restore most basic household problems – except anything electrical.
  56. Raised over $10,000 for charity. Ongoing

Now it’s your turn. What are your Top 3 lifetime achievements? Leave a comment below.