Mermaid pools

To make the most of what’s left of the sunshine, we went for a hike to the Mermaid Pools, it’s located in a suburb called Tahmoor, about 1.5 hours south west of Sydney. It’s not too long a hike, you’ll need about 3 hours return (if you’re just heading to the pool and back), allow more time if you want to do the whole canyon.

Bear in mind that the track is not signed, you’ll be relying on the map below and a series of small yellow markers and occasional arrow on the ground to guide you. The track is mostly visible but it is possible to stray away from it without realising.

There’s an old map provided by the council. It was originally done with North facing down so keep that in mind when navigating, I might retouch it the right way later.

Trail map, start at the top left

Download a pdf here: Mermaids-Pool-Map

Once you arrive, there’s a little dirt patch/car park on Charles Point Road (just off Rockford or Arina Road). Park your car here and follow the dirt road (keeping right) until you get to a bridge (Pheasants Nest Ford Crossing Bridge).

We initially went left and found a little lake, this doesn’t really lead anywhere though.

_NTR7863Just past the bridge is an area called The Potholes, a bunch of swirl holes from the creek water (you can see the bridge in the background).


I found one particular hole amusing as water would gush in but not out, a little like magic.

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Keep to the right until you reach the track, there are small yellow markers and you’ll reach a point where the track splits. There are arrows spray painted on the ground marked M (for Matilda track). Follow either, the tracks meet up, the top is meant to be easier.


Shortly after the tracks converge, a path splits to the left, this is an area called the See Through pools, a very nice place to stop with pools to swim in and a small waterfall. We stopped here for lunch and it’s definitely a nice place to chill. We climbed down a few rocks to get here, but I do believe there is an easier path. We got too keen and just decided to come down, but if you follow the path a bit longer there’s one that goes left and back down.

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After a short break we kept going until we reached the Mermaid Pool. Some markings denote the split, one to the pools and one to the canyon that surrounds.


What’s here? A lovely secluded pool.


Entry via a 10 meter cliff jump only, also the pretty stern warning from the top.

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Water’s pretty cold, but refreshing. On the other end of the pool is also a rope swing. When we arrived there was only a small group of guys and a couple, so it’s a pretty quiet place to relax.

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Exit via climbing some rocks with the assistance of a rope. Harder than it looks and there’s a few holes into the rocks so it’s a bit like rock climbing.

We went a little further to find the lookout that overlooks the pools from the other side but didn’t quite make it. You’ll see the vantage point we were after in the Eat Sleep Hike link below. We got to the spot below and decided that would be good enough. The sun was setting soon and we didn’t want to walk in the dark so it was time to go back.


We were going to make another stop at the See Through pools but found a different path down where we saw this old engine just sitting there. Not sure where it’s from, perhaps a ship or similar, way too big for a car.


Ended the day with some longer exposures of the flowing water along the creek._NTR8035-HDR _NTR8041

Also a head-stand, why not?

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For more information about the walk, see these links below. I should have been a little more detailed in providing guidance, but half the fun is trying to figure out where to go.

Seafood pizza

Love pizza as it’s something you can really let your imagination run wild in terms of toppings and flavours. In this recipe I’ve made a seafood pizza and used some frozen dough and sauce from Costco.

Value wise – the dough’s pretty expensive for what it is, but it does much better than those frozen pizza bases. You let it sit out side for 4 hours (we took it out before leaving for work) and it rises to a really fluffy dough full of air. Stretch it out on a bench with some flour and you’re good to go.

Only tip is to place the dough in the oven for a few minutes for harden it up a bit and prevent the juices from seeping through.

What you’ll need:

  • Pizza dough – we bought frozen but you can make your own.
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozerella cheese
  • Garlic prawns – we purchased the pre-marinated ones from Woolworths
  • Smoked salmon
  • Mushrooms, onions, capsicum
  • Chilli flakes and oregano

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Pizza’s simple, lay on the sauce onto the pizza base, spread out your toppings, add the cheese and into the oven. Don’t be shy and let the toppings and cheese go all the way to the edge.

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We’ve got a pizza stone, so make sure you let that heat up before putting the pizza on. I maxed out my oven at 260 degrees and baked the pizza for about 15 minutes. The end result:

Photos by ntranced photography. For enquiries email

Back to blogging & Momofuku Seibo

As you can probably see, this blog’s been neglected for quite a while. To my surprise, there’s actually a few draft posts that I never got round to posting up, I know the girlfriend’s been anticipating a particular post about a particular restaurant, but ironically, the post below isn’t it! The post below was written over 2 and half years ago.

I guess when you’ve been with someone for 6 months it’s a mile stone and you’re supposed to celebrate it together by doing something nice. For this anniversary we would be going to the much-hyped and hard-to-book Momofuku Seibo in The Star. Blink and you’ll miss the place (like we did), the door completely blends in with the surrounding and the only mark which identifies the restaurant is their peach logo.

It’s a mirror finish so naturally you use it like a mirror.

_DSC3632The interior of the restaurant was a lot more casual than I had expected, as you walk in, the walk-in bar is to your left. If you’re keen to give some of the menu items a try, the bar is available for a 3 people and no bookings are taken/required.


The setting is simple and feels rather relaxed, no fancy white table cloths, myriad of cutlery or fancily dressed staff, just a big open kitchen in the middle surrounded with more bar styled seating. Great to be able to see the chefs work their magic.


Food here is a 13 course degustation and doesn’t take long to come out after your arrive. There’s no menu on the tables so all the plates that come out are a surprise. The first looked a little like a cigar or a spring roll, it was smoked eel wrapped in some sort of pastry. It had a really nice smooth creamy kinda texture on the inside and the superb crunch on the outside complimented by a lovely sweetness from the apple jam.

The next was a little steamed bun with pork with a cute bottle of sriracha chilli sauce, I was very surprised to see sirarcha sauce in a high end restaurant but it just shows how good it is and how well it can go with food. The bun was amazingly soft, almost like eating a cloud and the pork was so succulent and juicy; it just melts in your mouth.

_DSC3641The next dish was potato with roe and parson’s nose (not sure what this is exactly) and it was strangely delicious, they were the best potatoes I’ve ever had, the way it was cooked gave it an amazing texture, a little elastic/resistance, super soft but not mushy at all. The roe gives most of the flavour and is well balanced by the creamy sauce.


Mud crab with chickpea and amaranth is served next, while it looks rather simple in presentation, it’s got a great amount of flavour. The crab is nice soft yet firm enough to break up on contact. The amaranth adds a great crunchy texture which is finished by the buttery  sauce.

I found the rose sake that it was served with to be very interesting, the initial taste was a bit strong, but the flavours subdue and it becomes a smooth and sweet flavour.

A bowl of beef and radish makes it way out and looks lovely, we’re told to mix well and that’s when a black bean sauce encompasses the whole bowl, it looked kinda like squid ink. While it was no longer the pristine and lovely white dish it was before, flavour wise it was fantastic. Small bits of lightly cooked wagyu beef were tossed in however I think they could have had a little more.


A plate of cauliflower and smoked egg yolk sprinkles was served next with a glass or orange wine. Never heard of orange wine before so it was interesting to try, personally found its consistency to be more like a white, but with deeper smokey flavours. I quite liked this dish as well as the slight saltiness of the fried egg yolk sprinkles meshed beautifully with the sweetness and creaminess of the cauliflower.
Just when I had enough of vegies, some  meat came out, this time some lamb served with asparagus. It was a very strange dish, not quite what I was expecting, the lamb didn’t feel like lamb at all, more like chicken, the meat had a very soft texture (different from what it’s normally when grilled like say, medium rare).


The next was marron which is kind of like a lobster from Western Australia. The meat had a firm springy texture while still remaining rather soft, the sauce was a little sweet with a bit of tang to create a dance on your tongue, very yum.


This dish is their signature, it’s a lamb chop and as it came out, you can see how juicy and delicious it’ll be. Plenty of fat on the outside for a flavoursome meat, but it’s cooked a medium rare the whole way through, perfectly pink!

You can see the lovely layer of fat which has been given a lovely golden shell. I thought it was pretty amazing and it was a high quality piece of meat.


The sweeter stuff came next with this curd with mint and blackcurrant. The curd here was amazingly smooth and blending the sauces would give a subtle sweetness which was lovely, some sort of crispy sprinkle was a great, added another dimension with the crunch breaking up the smoothness of the curd..


The next would be a very simple gelato dish with the addition of muntries. The gelato was amazingly smooth while the little muntries  mixed the texture up a little while a slight sourness from the berries offset the sweetness of the gelato.


The next dish was pear and jerusalem artichoke with sunflower seeds and the simple addition of sunflower petals to add a sprig of colour to the dish.

The final dish that came out was the biggest surprise, after we’ve had all our sweets, we get more meat! It was a lovely serving of delicately cooked pork, almost like a pulled pork. Very tender and hand torn for consumption without utensils. The sauce was sweet with a deep flavour, kind of a like a glaze and was just superb.


As the night comes to a close, the restaurant provides you with a couple of momentos so you can remember your experience. Some kim chi, a lovely little card and so that you realise what you ate, the menu. It was a lovely experience and definitely not cheap at $185 a head but based on the variety of food that came out and the environment, I felt it was rather worth it. I know a lot of people aren’t the biggest fan, girlfriend included, but I feel like the food here is more humble and not such an abstract experience; I love the idea of each dish being a surprise.


Hakata-Maru Ramen

Market City food court has always been good for cheap Asian lunch time eats, but if you didn’t know, you can find a very well priced and delicious ramen place called Hakata-Maru Ramen. It specialises in tonkotsu ramen serving a couple of differing variations yet still retains the low prices found else where in the food court.

The store is immediately to the left of the food court (second on the left) and is hard to miss with the Japanese styled decorations and large sign

The stall is quite open and behind the counter is the kitchen where the magic happens. Chefs preparing the noodles to perfection while quick and delicate hands work to put together the bowls of ramen.

The result is a moderately sized bowl of ramen with a few toppings. I opted for the red tonkotsu which is just the addition of a chilli sauce/paste.

A small condiment bar allows for some sauces and toppings like sesame and pickled ginger. A few sides are available to go with your ramen, my choice? The chicken wings with coleslaw for $4. Cool thing is that one bone is removed, allowing easy consumption like a drumstick.

Well onto the ramen, i personally think its quite delicious. The pork flavour is present and not too strong and the soup has a nice golden flavour. Its not overly thick which would appeal to those who cant handle a heavy thick broth like Gumshara’s.

Unfortunately the toppings are a little lacking from the stock menu with only half an egg and few bits of pork. To help fill you up though, kaedama (or an extra serve of noodles) is available for $1. Be careful to ensure the cleaning saff don’t take away your bowl.

Overall its a great place,good food and staff with smiles in their faces makes for a good meal. You also cant beat a genuine bowl of tonkotsu for less than $9.

Nokia Lumia 1020

Been kinda wanting a new phone a while but nothing on the market had really appealed for me. As a photographer, when the announcement that the new Nokia Lumia 1020 would be released with the same tech as the PureView 808 and be based on Windows Phone 8; I was immediately sold. The PureView 808 was based on the dead Symbian OS and wasn’t something I wanted to touch.


The packaging is pretty simple, colourful box with the inside a slide out tray, inside is just the phone, micro USB cable, charger and earphones in the colour of the phone. I grabbed a yellow phone so unfortunately for me that means yellow earphones.


It’s design is similar to previous Nokia phones, polycarbonate body which feels quite nice in the hand and supposedly hides scratches quite well. The screen is quite nice and outdoor viewing is excellent, much better than my previous Galaxy S3 which wasn’t that great. Slightly rounded sides and screen leave for a nice touch; most of the phone is thin enough.


The camera does bulge a little and when on the table doesn’t sit flat, not such a bad thing as it means the camera lens doesn’t make contact.


So Pureview? It’s a 41 megapixel camera with the sensor size comparable to some of the better point and shoot cameras. The number is ridiculous, but it’s not as much of a gimmick as it initially sounds.
_DSC3530 Admittedly that was my first reaction, but reading into the finer details of what Nokia decides to do with the 41 megapixels is pretty clever. Essentially Nokia ‘super samples’ or combines multiple pixels to recreate a larger pixel with more colour detail and less noise.

What results is an image which has more accurate colour and better low light detail. The standard image which comes out is a more respectable 5 megapixel image which is stunning for a phone. The image below was in a room that was barely lit and it was able to produce a pretty good image.


Further, they use this tech to allow a ‘semi lossless zoom’ by using native pixels as you zoom in digitally. You’re not losing quality as that’s how the sensor would perform normally but you’re not getting the benefits of super sampling.

Here’s an idea of the kind of detail you can get:

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What else is great? Xenon built in flash, this kinda tech had popped in and out of phone tech over the years; however the difference it makes compared to a LED bulb is night and day. Xenon flashes are brighter and have a shorter duration, allowing you freeze motion a lot better.


The bits which are great about the phone’s camera is the inbuilt lens stabilisation (which uses ball bearings), this allows for shutter speeds as low as 1/4 and provides great stability when recording photos and low light images. Strangely enough you can hear the rattle of the stabilisation system, very odd.


The Nokia Pro Camera app which allows full manual controls (not aperture as that’s fixed) including shutter speed and ISO and white balance. The lens is a snappy f/2.2 aperture and wide enough for everyday use. Due the fast lens and large sensor, it’s quite possible to get a nice depth of field without having the camera centimetres from your subject.The device also has Nokia’s PureAudio tech, this allows the phone to record super clear audio during video recording with plenty of dynamic range, this is something most cameras struggle with (let alone phones). I haven’t had a chance to play with this personally but the results can be heard online.

So that’s enough about the camera, what about everything else? Well to be honest it’s Windows Phone 8, there’s not much to differentiate it and it runs wildly smooth despite it’s weaker hardware. With pre-ordering, I did get a wireless charging kit to go with the phone.


I really like Nokia’s idea of making the wireless tech optional, if you want it, purchase a cover which snaps on and attaches to two pins exposed at back of the phone.


Snapping on the cover does add a little bulk but it’s not too bad.


The charging pad is a bit smaller than I expected and does require a of careful placement, not the ‘just drop it on the table and it’ll charge’ mantra I was hoping for. Wireless charging standard used here is qi so it’ll work with any other qi chargers.

Overall, so far I’m heaps happy with the phone, still getting used to the Windows Phone interface, it’s design intention is a lot different to Android and Apple and does have a bit of a learning curve. Compared to the Galaxy S3 its profile is pretty much thicker due to the camera.

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The Windows Phone OS is certainly snappy and doesn’t choke like the Android did at times.

Armin Only and Cafe Del Mar announced!

Two very exciting announcements out today for Sydney today which has got me pretty stoked. The first? World’s number 1 DJ Armin van Buuren has announced his Armin Only world tour for his artist album ‘Intense’. The second? World famous beach front bar in Ibiza known for its chill out music and amazing sunsets.

Continue reading Armin Only and Cafe Del Mar announced!

Drive down to Robertson’s pie shop

On a nice sunny day we went for a drive down to Woollongong (well Robertson to be precise) to check out a pie shop known as Robertson’s Pie Shop. The drive is about 1.5 hours from my local area and passes through the Royal National Park and Macquarie Pass (now you know why we’d make this trek down :P).
Unfortunately for us Sunday traffic through the national park meant cyclists blocking the road while they struggle with the uphill and family sedans moving at a snail’s pace.

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Fortunately though Macquarie Pass was a little better and to my surprise, it was a bus that was leading the pack, man that bus driver was a gun. So we eventually arrived to this pie shop, plenty of bikes and cars parked out front so we knew it was where we wanted to be.

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Looking at the map below you can see how much fun Macquarie pass can be, a bit scary at times as there’s a section with no line dividing the two sides of the road.

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The shop front is just your local pie shop/cafe looking kinda place, plenty of awards and articles about the shop were scattered at the counter.

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Plenty of pie choices but I went for the Volcano, a chunky beef pie with a kick.

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I was too busy munching on the pie to get a photo of the pie itself (odd I know) but damn it was tasty. Definitely a lot of kick but the filling was thick and flavoursome. The pastry flaked well but wasn’t overly crispy, a nice balance between softness and crispiness.

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Well priced and overall pretty damn good pie and a lovely drive to get there. For takeaway we bought two large pies, a beef and mushroom for savoury and a blackberry and apple pie for dessert. Popping that into the oven at home was delicious, the apple pie pastry broke well and wasn’t a hard biscuity mess and the filly was just divine.

Definitely have to head back here.


Ikkyu Ramen

So there was a whole heap of hype about this new ramen place called Ramen Ikkyu opening up in Chinatown inside the Sussex centre, I remember the week of it opening, there were waits of up to an hour before you’d get your food. While I’m a bit late to join the bandwagon, I’ve finally had a chance to try this place out.

So where is Sussex centre? It’s on 401 Sussex street with an alternative entrance in the back from Dixon St next to the Chatime.

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Most of this hype came about from an article in SMH’s good food guide. To be honest, I’m not familiar with the actual terminology of Ramen, the type of soup they prepare here is known as ‘Paitain Soup’ which I understand means a white soup.

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The store is placed in a food court which means a rather minimal shopfront, there’s a single waitress whom assists with ordering at the front counter while the back kitchen is hidden away.
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Ordering is performed using iPads and allows for you to customise your order as you please. Order, pay, grab your receipt and then wait for your delicious noodles. As you can see my choice was the pork rib ramen and I decided to add some Cha Shu slices and get some chilli oil to spice things up a little.

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Great thing about this place is the many options to top your ramen and get and assortment of sides to match your preference. Toppings include extra Bamboo shoot, butter, corn as well as sauces like black garlic oil or chilli oil.
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I’ve seen what comes out for the pork rib and I was rather excited, but for those who haven’t heard of this place, the pork rib is HUGE and completely overwhelms the bowl. Just imagine, it’s $14 for just the rib. The bowl is beautifully presented with a rich vibrant colour.

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The default option provides plenty of toppings; bamboo shoots, ontama egg, black fungus, shallots and seasame. With the rib, it came as 2 whole ribs with meat up to the fatty layer. The best thing about the rib is that it just comes off the bone and is super tender, however it is sprinkled with good chunks of sea salt so mix well before consuming.

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So what are my thoughts? It’s pretty yummy, the hand made noodles have a great texture, firm and springy but not so much resistance that it feels tough. The broth flavours are nice, it’s on the light side compared to a thick tonkotsu broth and is lighter. The pork rib is delicious and amazingly soft where the cha shu also has a delicious sweet sauce glazed over it.

The overall meal was huge and with the extra free serving of Kaedama (which is always awesome) was really filling, fantastic food coma after the meal. To be honest though, I don’t think it lived up to the hype and for the price would prefer Gumshara which has a really rich pork broth – for those that find this a little too much, you may find Ikkyu more by ntranced photography (

Verdict: Good place, but personally prefer Gumshara and Ramen-kan for a cheap eat.
Cost: Somewhat expensive, you do get a lot though.
More info:
Location: Shop F1A, 401 Sussex Street, Sydney, 2000.

Defqon.1 2013 – in photos

Photographing Defqon.1 in Sydney’s always been a fun and challenging gig, expectations are high and there’s a lot to go on making it hard to capture moments that stand out. Here’s a small collection of shots which I think demonstrate the atmosphere from the day. Still getting a full album ready to upload onto my photography page.

The venue:

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The stages:

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The main stage:

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The punters:

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Production/Night time:

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The rest:

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Embrace – Embrace (Ferry Corsten Fix)

This is definitely a less known tune and to be honest I never knew what it was called until it came up on and I instantly recognised it. First heard this in 2008 during one of the best nights I’ve ever had, Armin Only 2008 at the Hordern Pavillion.

I still remember the moment it was dropped and seriously chills went down my spine, it’s had that 3am/late night kinda vibe that just really brings you back into it. Continue reading Embrace – Embrace (Ferry Corsten Fix)

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