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High adventure at low season in ‘The Snowies’

Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

High adventure at low season in ‘The Snowies’

As the summer morning fog lifted like a veil off the endless valleys and peaks of the NSW Snowy Mountains, I was so impressed by the stunning views I almost forgot I was on horseback. It can be a little nerve-wracking when your transport has a mind of its own, but it’s the best way to appreciate the landscape – the ‘Man from Snowy River’ definitely had the right idea. And the fresh air and tranquillity soon calmed any jitters I had about riding for the first time in years. A friend and I were on a mini break after swapping our Sydney city lifestyle of heels and handbags for a mountain adventure of horses and quad bikes. We stayed at Andrea’s White House, near Jindabyne, and drove about 30 kilometres to the Snowy Wilderness Resort situated on 7,500 hectares of countryside bordering Kosciuszko National Park and Snowy River. We figured a two-hour horse ride was the best way to take in the sights and some local history from our friendly guide, who knows the resort’s trails better than a Sydney cab driver knows the CBD. It’s was a civilised start to the day, but we soon swap the steeds for  speedy quad bikes – releasing our inner Evel Knievel. After mastering the difference between the throttle and brake, we explored the specially-made tracks and saw our first brumbies quietly foraging between the sun-drenched paperbark trees, unfazed by the noise of our machines. We were also rewarded with more breathtaking views after we zipped up to the highest point of the property (1370m above sea level). Covered in dirt and weary from our activities, we ended the day with a glass of wine by the resort’s serene billabong. And as the sun melted into the horizon we were content we got exactly what we came for – a great adventure! ___________________________________________ What Horse and quad bike riding in the Snowy Mountains in summer. Where The Snowy Wilderness Resort is located in the pristine Snowy Mountains about six hours drive south west of Sydney. How The Snowy Wilderness Resort has a multitude of activities on offer including quad bike and horse riding tours and treks where you camp out under the stars and enjoy five-star dining with a personal chef. Click here for more information. You can stay on the Snowy Wilderness property or try something more boutique  and contemporary such as Andrea’s White House near Jindabyne. Note: The writer was a guest at Andrea’s White House and Snowy Wilderness...

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‘Head butting’ a dolphin can be crossed off my bucket list

Posted by on Jun 29, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

‘Head butting’ a dolphin can be crossed off my bucket list

Swimming with dolphins has always been on my bucket list, and it wasn’t until my honeymoon in French Polynesia that I had the chance to finally come face to face with one of these beautiful creatures – literally. As I waded in the deep, aqua lagoon at the Moorea Dolphin Centre waiting for Hina, the 34-year-old female bottlenose dolphin, I tested out how I would watch her under water. My life vest was extra buoyant in the super salty South Pacific Ocean and I needed to tilt forward to get my head and snorkel mask under. Just as I was practicing my ‘dolphin-watching moves’, Hina emerged from the adjacent lagoon to the sound of the trainer’s high-pitched whistle. But rather than going to the trainer’s hand as expected, she swam straight to me … and into my mask. I knew I was in for a close encounter, but not that close! I was in a bit of shock from our little ‘head-butt’, but certainly not hurt. “She likes you,” said the trainer who was also caught off guard.  Well thank goodness for that, I thought – weighing in about 200 kilograms, she could have been the last thing I saw for a while. It was only then I was informed that Hina was in fact blind. A threatening cyclone forced the trainers to take her out of the water, placing her in a ‘wet bed’ inside the Intercontinental Hotel where the dolphin centre is located. Leaving her in the lagoon could have been fatal. But the 48 hours it took for the cyclone to pass by the island, a 20-minute boat ride from Tahiti, proved too taxing for Hina and her sight was lost forever. Although she mistook me for the trainer, Hina knew well enough I was there. Using her clicks and aquatic squeaks as a sonar, she is just as capable without her sight. This echolocation technique is inbuilt in every dolphin’s DNA and is often used where the water visibility isn’t great. After she stopped and said ‘hello’ to me, Hina didn’t lose her way again – even though I now wanted her to, I would be ready this time. Following that first encounter I decided to ditch my life vest, finding it easier to just tread water while I watched this amazing animal show off her speed and agility. Besides, who needs a life vest when you have a buoyant dolphin as your friend? Hina didn’t seem to mind me using her for a bit of support while she so graciously awaited her next set of instructions from the marine biologist and trainer. I’d already decided the trainer should retire immediately so I could take over her job. Even after half an hour with her I was still in awe of Hina’s sheer size (about 2.5 metres long). She would torpedo through the lagoon, ending her underwater ballet with an acrobatic feat so high in the air that it would leave the performers of Cirque du Soleil envious. And the sheer power – she could switch that tail into sixth gear as if at the touch of a remote control. This still made me a little nervous and I felt vulnerable despite knowing she posed no real threat to me. What was even more intriguing...

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