New South Wales – Hot Air Balloon Festival in NSW (Canowindra International Balloon Challenge)

What
Hot air balloon festival of Canowindra but unlike other festivals; there are competitive games that are carried out from the hot air balloons. Sometimes knowns as New South Wales biggest hot air balloon festival. This is a once a year festival so make sure to check the website for the latest dates.

Where
77 Rodd St, Canowindra NSW 2804 (Canowindra Sports Ovals) – Map
http://canowindrachallenge.org.au 

How to get there
The main way to get there is by driving and the drive is about 4 hours from Sydney. Due to the long drive, a lot of people will make a stay nearby and drive to the actual event in early morning.

Price and value
There is no cost to spectate in the event. There are additional fees if you wish to ride in a balloon. The value for money is TBC (Future event)

What to bring
* TBC (Future event)

Tips
TBC (Future event)
Book accomodation early as this event generally occurs during a school holiday and a popular time for people to travel.

Experience
TBC (Future event)

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Sydney – Royal Easter Show

What
Annual show during Easter that displays many farm animals, competitions, games, rides,  showbags, performance shows and much more.

Where
Generally held at Sydney Olympic Park in recent years.
https://www.eastershow.com.au/

How to get there
Train is a popular way to get there, as well as bus. You can also drive but parking spots are limited and sometimes full during peak days. Traffic getting out may also be a challenge if you stay till the end.

Price and value
There is an entry fee to get into the Easter show but it’s generally good value as it gives you access to all the displays and shows, including stunts and the evening fireworks. Sometimes there are also deals for early tickets which helps sweeten the value even more. Some tickets include a train fare too.

There are additional costs for rides, games, showbags and food and these tend to be on the lower value for money side due to the limited choices.

What to bring
* A backpack to carry your items
* Wallet and money, as food, showbags and other activities have additional costs
* Bottle of water, a lot of the show is outdoors and you’ll likely end up buying water

Tips
* Try to find early tickets or discounted tickets through partner companies
* Carry a bottle of water with you, you’ll likely end up buying another one if staying for the full day
* Prepare money in advanced if you want to go on rides, buy food and other items
* Take public transport as it can get crazy on the roads out (if staying for the fireworks)
* You can actually leave and get a stamp for re-entry, this was super useful for going out for dinner, so we weren’t limited to street food options.
* There is an arena with free food samples, you can hit this up for a pre-lunch snack

Experience
(The Easter show, to me at least, is more like an agricultural show and doesn’t have a lot to do with Easter aside from the timing of the show)
I loved the Easter Show as a kid. I loved it when I visited again as an adult and spent a full day looking at things and shows. There is a lot of entertainment and things to see and do. I spent a lot of my day doing photography and looking at displays, as the rides were quite pricey.

The showbags were great, some which are in my opinion, good value. There was a variety of food, however they weren’t excellent for the cost. Luckily you can leave and grab a stamp for re-entry. This is what we did for dinner, so we didn’t need to eat the same things as lunch.

I highly recommend staying for the stunt show and fireworks at the end, as they are impressive.

However, going to the Easter show two years in a row made me realise there was little variation between each year and so I will not make it an annual event for me.
Kids will love it and adults will too as there is a lot on display such as animals, shows, paintings competitions, flower competitions, photography competitions, cake competitions and much more. But for me, two years in a row is too repetitive.

Sydney – Vivid Sydney festival; the city lights up with colours and projections

What
Once a year festival event where the Sydney city is lit up with colourful lights and projections of artwork and story telling. Generally held in late May, check website for each year’s exact dates.

Where
Sydney CBD in various areas but particularly at landmarks such as Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge etc.
https://www.vividsydney.com

How to get there
Any of the multiple methods of transport into the CBD; bus, train, car, light rail etc.

Price and value
There is no fee involved for spectating in this event as it’s all around the city and in the open, for public viewing.
You can also enjoy the views from many restaurants, bars and pubs with a good view such as O-Bar (see post), and that would have associated costs.

What to bring
* Camera, there is a lot to see and many photography opportunities
* Warm clothing, a lot of the displays are around water and the event is generally held in cooler months, so it’s a good idea

Tips
* This is a popular event but especially popular during Friday and weekend evenings. If you dislike crowds or need a quieter area for photography then I suggest going on a weekday night (exc. Fridays).

Experience
When this idea first came out, it exploded with popularity. So much that it’s worth hosting on an annual basis ever since. However, it is still interesting every year as the displays are slightly different and the stories projected and the artworks projected are different each year. Some years seemed to have gotten a budget boost and there was fireworks, laser show and big flamethrowers which was amazing and wowed everyone.

As it became an annual event, it’s not hard to understand it will get hard to top and outdo every year. If you attend every year, you may feel like some years are peaks and some years are a little less amazing. Nonetheless, each year is different and I always make an effort to go and check out each display with curiosity for what they will introduce each year to wow me.

Sydney – Where to do car photography in Sydney (Olympic Park)

What
Car photography with a stadium backdrop. Olympic Park provides many stadium backgrounds as well as many interesting light features for unique night photography. Such as trees with fairy lights and ANZ stadium blue light towers. Plenty of space and suitable for group/club photography.

Search for “Car Photography” for other related posts.

Where
Edwin Flack Ave, Sydney Olympic Park NSW 2127 – Map

How to get there

Price and value
Free parking and entry but go during off peak (no concerts or sports games) for better photography results. Be sure to check the signs as sometimes areas may be free parking for a limited time, some may be metered parking and sometimes during events those same spots may be no parking.

What to bring
* If you are going to be doing night photography or photography where you want to blur people movement; bring a tripod.

Tips
* Avoid during big games and concerts, it will be chaotic for getting a clean photo. Plus a lot of areas become drop off zones and no parking.

* Be sure to check the signs before parking.

* Don’t trespass into areas, there are 24 hours security patrolling the area.

Experience
I tend to enjoy night photography here as there are a lot of lights around so cars can be well lit, especially if using a tripod. There are also lots of light features such as the ANZ stadium and blue light towers which can add some pop to the background.

In my experience, weekday nights are quieter and easier to centre your car in front of the stadium and without other cars in the way. If you want to do photography of other cars, then going on weekend you may see a lot of cars from clubs meeting here and may be able to take some photos.

Sydney Markets – Big weekend markets selling fresh fruits, homeware, pets, flowers, almost a bit of everything

What
Sydney Markets also known as Flemington Markets or Paddy’s Market Flemington is a big market run on weekends and has many market stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables, homeware items, pets, food and drinks, clothing and much more.

There is also a similar market in the CBD known as Paddy’s Market Haymarket.

Where
250-318 Parramatta Rd, Homebush West NSW 2140 – Map
https://www.sydneymarkets.com.au

Price and value
Generally speaking, the items at the markets are quite cheap and some sellers open to some haggling too.
If you’re after fruits, vegetables and produce, you may want to maximise your value by going early so you can pick the best ones.

Tips
Get here early so you have more selection of choice over the quality of  fruits, vegetables and produce.

Check the website for times and dates that the market opens as certain things like seafood and flowers are only on certain days.

You can drive to the markets and there is usually plenty of parking. If you are willing to walk a bit, you may even find some free parking.

Experience
I spent a bit of time here on my first visit as there were lots of market stores to choose from and browse at. I went late so I found that the produce had been hand picked and filtered for hours, leaving many odd looking ones to choose from.

Parking here can be free (for hours) if you’re willing to park further and walk, so it’s a great place to go and browse for a while to check out bargains and also a great place to go stock up on bulk quantities of fruits or vegetables such as when preparing for a party or gathering.

Illawarra – Annual Air Show in Wollongong region (Wings Over Illawarra)

Image: Bright Events | Wings Over Illawarra

What
Annual Air Show in Illawarra also known as Wings Over Illawarra is an air show that runs over a weekend each year and features many classic and current planes as well as fighter jets, stunts, tours and even rides.

It’s held in Illawarra Regional Airport in Albion Park, which is near the Wollongong region. It may sometimes be referred to as Wollongong Air Show, Illawarra Air Show, Albion Park Air Show or Air Show in Wollongong/Albion Park/Illawarra. The actual event name is Wings Over Illawarra and searching this name can get you pre-paid tickets.

Where
Airport Rd, Albion Park Rail NSW 2527 – Map
www.wingsoverillawarra.com.au

How to get there
The main way to get there is by driving and there is parking at the airport itself but can get full quickly.

TBC (future event)

Price and value
There is a minimum price of paying for an entry ticket or admission fee (unless you view the show from surrounding areas and look up at the sky).  There are also other optional costs such as if you wanted to book a ride on one of the planes or helicopters. The value for money of the entry ticket is

TBC (future event)

What to bring
* TBC (future event)

Tips
* TBC (future event)

Experience
* TBC (future event)

Image: Bright Events | Wings Over Illawarra
Image: Bright Events | Wings Over Illawarra
Image: Bright Events | Wings Over Illawarra

Sydney Fish Market – Big selection of fresh seafood outlets and waterfront dining area


What

Sydney’s most famous place for fresh seafood. With many outlets and restaurants selling live and cooked seafood. Then eating it at the waterfront view tables. What more could you ask for? Seeing live seafood in large tanks, seafood auctions, wine, fresh fruit juice? they offer all that here too!
They’re also looking at doing an upgrade in the near future to improve the experience even more.

Where
Corner Pyrmont Bridge Road &, Bank St, Sydney NSW 2009 – Map

Price and value
The price range of seafood here varies a lot; depending what kind of seafood you want to eat, live or cooked seafood and the outlet you go to.

Generally speaking, you can have a filling seafood lunch here for an affordable price (which is the main attraction). Many outlets have platters, which can be shared amongst many people and are great value for money and include a few fancy seafoods, such as inclusion of lobster, oysters etc.

You can also go for more luxurious seafood and pay a little premium. I’ve seen big groups chip in for live king lobsters (live, then cooked to order) and can work out to be affordable when split.

Tips
It gets quite crowded here on weekends and public holidays, especially during lunch time. If you’re visiting or bringing visitors here, consider going on a weekday to avoid the crowds and allows you the luxury of picking seating.

Indoor seating can get quite hot as there is limited air conditioning. Outdoor seating has more of a sea breeze but can also be in the line of harsh sun during hotter seasons. Consider the best seating for you.

To get here quickly, you can take the lightrail from the city and it’s a short walk to the market.  You can also drive here, though parking is limited. However, parking is affordable if you leave before the first hour.

Experience
It’s always an exciting experience to go to the fish market and grab some seafood for lunch. If you’re planning to stay for a quick visit, then I am usually thrilled at the affordable parking and ability to drive there.

There are many outlets selling seafood but I tend to go for the ones with a platter and share it, so we can all try a bit of everything. The only downside is the popularity of the fish market; means you can be fighting for parking spots and seating if you happen to go during peak hours.

I love visiting when it is quiet, so I can relax in the outdoor seating with the sea breeze, sharing food with some friends and maybe opening a bottle of wine to share!

Sydney – Where to do car photography near Sydney (Hunter Valley Wineries)

What
Car photography with a Hunter Valley Winery backdrop; a relaxed and luxurious backdrop of a vineyard and maybe some mountain ranges in the background.

Search for “Car Photography” for other related posts.

Where
Various wineries around Hunter Valley have beautiful backdrops, you just need to research to find the ones where the parking lot is in front of picture perfect scenery.

Below are some suggestions – I will keep adding to this as I discover more and submissions by viewers:

750 De Beyers Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 (Audrey Wilkinson) – Map
790 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 (Bimbadgen) – Map
1838 Broke Rd, Pokolbin NSW 2320 (Tyrrell’s Wines) – Map

How to get there

Price and value
Most wineries are free to visit and park at.
However, I always love to combine a shoot with a good meal at that winery and maybe grab a few bottles whilst I am there and there will be a cost for that.

What to bring

Tips
* Make sure you do research for which wineries to visit. I have done some already and supplied in the “Where” section above. Not all beautiful wineries are in view from the parking, which would be pointless if you needed to include your car in the shot.

* Keep in mind wineries are a private property and you must show respect and not drive into any restricted areas. If going as a big group or big shoot, I would also suggest asking for permission prior. However in my shoots (of only one car), I’ve never had issues and sometimes the social media tag is appreciated. Just be mindful if you block others as you use the parking area.

Experience
I generally always combine any Hunter Valley roadtrip / photoshoot with a lunch in mind and sometimes a quick wine tasting and buy a few bottles for later (because don’t drink and drive!).

Photoshoots in the wineries are always lovely after lunch time, when the sun begins to set behind mountain ranges and I get a good contrast of colours in the skies. You can see in the photo above, it is a bit harsh, this is because it was shot during midday with strong sunlight.

I enjoy the backdrops of the Hunter Valley and find each winery has a unique view. Sometimes the challenge is the car park isn’t in view and there is very little you can do about that.
I’ve tried to help by building a list of wineries I know have a parking area where you can frame your car and have a good view in the background. If you find any others, please share back!

Blacktown Pet and Produce – Sydney’s cheapest place to buy fish tanks


What
Blacktown Pet and Produce, a pet warehouse store in outer Sydney that sells one of Sydney’s cheapest all in one fish tanks. They have a range of sizes to choose from and their other aquarum gear seems to be priced very nicely too.

Where
1/47 Fourth Ave, Blacktown NSW 2148 – Map
https://www.blacktownpetandproduce.com

How to get there
You can drive to the warehouse and there is a lot of parking at the front. Be sure to have enough space to hold the tank in your car and that it will be secured when driving.

You can also take a train here and I did see a young lady buy the same tank as me and carry it back to the train station (hats off to her!)

Price and value
The price of the fish tanks are super good value for what you get; big size, great design and includes filter and lights. You can also add a matching stand for very little extra money. The prices make it famous and on my short visit (which I had to drive a little to get there) I saw others travelling very far to buy a tank. In fact it was cheaper to buy here than to order on eBay (which don’t always carry long warranties too).

What to bring
Money and a list of items if setting up a new tank.

Tips
* Make a list of what you will need so you can get it all in the same visit, if setting up a new tank. Will you need filter media, filter pads, substrate, decorations, a heater? probably too early to stock it so don’t pick up fish yet in my opinion.

* Make sure you can get it home safely. E.g. do you need to take things out of the car to make room and secure it down tightly.

* Buy a stand, from my research, it’s quite hard to find a stand that matches so nicely and for anything near that price.

* Be careful when putting the filter together, I cracked mine due to the brittle plastic. However once assembled, the filter seems to be working well. (I fixed mine with super glue)

*
Call up first and check on stock before going in, as they import all their tanks, and may be waiting for a shipment to arrive.

Experience
I was doing a lot of research and this place was the cheapest and best featured fish tank for the money. A lot of online shops don’t provide long warranty and cost more. A lot of other places will just get you a glass tank for the same money. Their tanks on the other hand have a filter and lights built in, as well as a hood and is great for those who want a seamless looking tank.

On my visit, I also saw another young lady who came here to buy the same tank and travelled far and by train which I was impressed by as it wasn’t a short walk to carry a 65L tank.
I also picked up other items I needed to set up the tank whilst I was there and found them to be priced cheaply.

The staff also helped me carry the tank into the car which was nice of them. After getting it home, I did struggle to build the stand as there was no instructions, but after a bit of puzzle solving, I built it! I didn’t like the handles though, but was able to easily swap them over for more contemporary looking handles for $4 from Bunnings.
When assembling the filter, I cracked the plastic as I pushed too hard to join the tubes so be careful about that! I also replaced some of the screw locks things (cam lock and nut) for the cabinet as the one supplied broke and seem to be quite weak (luckily they are cheap and I had spares from other flat pack furniture)

Aside from these 3 challenges, it’s been a great tank so far and will be keen to see how long it can last with proper maintenance. The hood appears to have holes for a canister filter, so if the built-in filter is not that durable, there are alternatives. However not sure how easy replacing LEDs lights with a hooded tank will be.

All in all, very happy with the purchase and would look here again for upgrading to a much larger tank down the track.

 

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