Product Review: hipS-sister waistband for travel

Sometimes it is the simplest designs that are the most versatile and stylish, like the hipS-sister waistband. Awkward name, awesome product.

hipS-sister leisure band

hipS-sister leisure waistband

Looking for somewhere to put your hotel room key when you go out for a morning jog? Want to take your phone too? Perhaps stash some cash in case you get lost and need a taxi back to the hotel? Or just want to go for a walk hands-free and not have to worry about a bag? Then check out the hipS-sister.

The lightweight, stretch waistband has three pockets; a hidden top-loading front slip-pocket, which fits a smartphone or iPod, a front zip pocket, perfect for a room key or cash, and a lager zip pocket in the back, which is big enough to fit a small point-and-shoot camera. Everything is held close to the body, so there is no banging or flapping (like a bum bag) and items are held comfortably without digging in or pinching.

When out jogging I wear mine over the top of my singlet, but because of its slim design it could just as easily be worn under your clothes as a secret money belt when travelling. In fact there is a wider version specifically for travel, which will fit a passport comfortably. It’s certainly more fashionable than other money belts on the market.

hipS-sister travel waistband

hipS-sister travel waistband

hipS-sister was designed by American Sonia Kanner, who says, “While on a hike with my friends, frustrated because we were all holding our precious iPhones and car keys, I said,  ‘There has to be something out there to hold all this stuff, that is cute and flattering'”. There wasn’t, so she set about designing a simple piece of fabric with pockets. Now there are several designs based on the original product.

I have versatile black, but hipS-sister comes in a range of gorgeous colours and prints including black snakeskin, camouflage and reversible polka dots. There’s a unisex sports version too.

hipS-sister fashion waistband

hipS-sister fashion waistband

Verdict: I love the hipS-sister for it’s simple, smart design, which has been well thought out. It is practical, very well made and above all, looks stylish. It has actual pockets inside the band, unlike similar designs where the band is hollow and items can slip all the way around inside. The only minor issue I’ve had is when I wear it over a Lycra top it tends to ride up slightly, but this doesn’t happen when I wear it over other fabrics (and may have something to do with the ratio of my hips to waist!). A great product for travel, fitness, leisure and fashion that takes up no room in your luggage.

See: for free shipping within Australia.

Disclosure: I paid for this product and my opinions are honest and unbiased.

Posted in Fashion, Travel, Travel Accessories & Gadgets, Travel Gifts | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Postcard of the week – Outback recycling

Outback fence decorations have a purpose

Outback fence decorations have a purpose

I love this shot of a battered XXXX Gold beer can attached to a fence in the middle of the Australian outback. I hope someone enjoyed consuming its icy-cold contents before it was re-purposed to dangle like an earring on this fence, or perhaps I should say necklace, as there were cans strung along the length of the wire fence. Its on Kings Creek Station, an outback cattle and camel farm near Kings Canyon in the Northern Territory. The station covers 1800 sq km and is the largest exporter of live camels in Australia. I stayed at the property, in one of their tented safari cabins, while driving from Alice Springs to Uluru and came across these cans while hooning about on their quad bike adventure dodging mulga ant nests, desert oaks and skittish cattle.  The cans are hung to make the fence wires more visible from a distance (they tend to meld into the background) so stockmen don’t go hurtling into them when mustering. They certainly make you long for a cold beer on the hot and dusty track though.

(If you’re interested you can read about my drive from Alice to Uluru in the upcoming Winter ’16 edition of Get Up & Go magazine.)

More: Kings Creek Station  TravelNT

Posted in Accommodation, Adventure, Australia, Northern Territory, Outback, Postcards, Road Trips, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Postcard of the week – furry cuteness

Get close to the wombats on Maria Island, Tasmania, Australia

Get close to the wombats on Maria Island, Tasmania, Australia

I just love wombats. There is something about their short, squat shape, their waddling walk and their super cute faces that make me smile whenever I see them. So I was thrilled to see so many in the wild on a recent visit to Maria Island in Tasmania with Coral Expeditions, on assignment for Get Up & Go magazine. Maria is Tasmania’s only island national park and is home to Cape Barren geese, Bennetts wallabies, Forester kangaroos and Tasmanian devils. Wombats, which are marsupials, are nocturnal, but they were out en mass in the late afternoon during a walk to the convict ruins at Bloodstone Point. They were more interested in feeding than in us, so we were able to get close to them for some super cute photos, like this one. Hope it makes you smile too. Merry Christmas!

More: Maria Island, Tasmania, Coral Expeditions Cruises, Get Up & Go magazine

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Christmas gifts for a cause – it’s like giving twice

I often pick up small items when travelling to put aside for Christmas gifts, and always look to support local crafts people, whether it’s from a roadside stall or dedicated artisans’ market. But this year, while purchasing some stunning carvings from Chile and the Tiwi Islands for my own home, I didn’t do so well with gifts for others.

Coasters made by rural women in Swaziland

Coasters made by rural women in Swaziland available at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

So I was thrilled to learn about the beautiful handmade gifts from places like Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland available through the Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia charity, which can be bought via their Australian Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia online shop or at their retail store in Turramurra, Sydney.

Telephone wire bowl made by weavers in KwaZulu-Natal

Telephone wire bowl made by weavers in KwaZulu-Natal available at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia aims to eliminate childbirth injuries through the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and the Hamlin College of Midwives. So far they have helped over 43,000 women. You can read more about their story here. (I heard about them when one of my travel writing colleagues generously volunteered with the organisation this year.) As their work is funded purely on donations, purchasing their gifts not only supports the women who make them, but also raises funds for the foundation.

Handwoven cotton scarf made in Ethiopia

Handwoven cotton scarf made in Ethiopia available from Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia

There’s still time to order online, or if you’d like to see the products before you buy, call into their store at 1396 Pacific Highway, Turramurra (between Vinnies and the 7/11 with parking at rear).

Items include homewares, scarves, jewellery, toys, spices and coffee. They also have a great selection of books, from Dr Catherine Hamlin’s inspirational story to children’s books. My order of salad servers, bowl and book was delivered promptly with a lovely personal note, and I’m looking forward to visiting the Turramurra store next time.

Read about the wonderful work done by the Hamlins

Read about the wonderful work done by the Hamlins. Available at Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia


More: Inspiring young people to be philanthropic can be as easy as adding a care gift with their traditional presents. A $10 care gift card can provide a chicken or a packet of seeds for protein and income, $15 buys mosquito nets for a family or learning materials for a child and $20 buys a school uniform. It’s a great way to start a conversation about those less fortunate at a time when we all receive so much. Buy care gift cards online at World Vision Gifts or Care Gifts.

Merry Christmas!

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Postcard of the week – Heart Reef, Whitsundays

Heart Reef, Whitsundays, Australia

Heart Reef, Whitsundays, Australia

It’s been overcast, wet and very grey in Sydney this week. I need some colour to brighten the mood, so have chosen this image of the Great Barrier Reef, taken last year on a scenic flight with  GSL Aviation out of Airlie Beach in Queensland, Australia.

The Great Barrier Reef extends some 2,300km along the north-eastern coast of Queensland, on the east coast of Australia.

There are 3000 individual reef systems with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which was given World Heritage status in 1981. This is Hardy Reef, famous for tiny Heat Reef – so named for its shape, which you can see in the middle of this image. It’s a very popular spot with romantics, many declaring their love or proposing while flying over the heart-shaped coral outcrop. With colours like this, what’s not to love.

More: If you’d like to read more about my flight and visit to Airlie Beach, check out this story Every day’s a Whit-Sunday, which appeared in the Courier Mail. More stories on the Whitsundays appear on my Articles page

GSL Aviation

Airlie Beach 

Tourism Whitsundays

Posted in Attractions, Australia, Postcards, Queensland, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bottoms up to Kakadu Bird Week 14-21 October 2015

Magpie geese search for water chestnuts at Mamukala Wetlands

Magpie geese search for water chestnuts at Mamukala Wetlands in Kakadu National Park

A bums-up salute from magpie geese greeted us at Mamukala Wetlands last month as they scrabbled to stretch their necks to the bottom of the billabong in search of juicy bulbs. It was a comic display and one that was repeated by geese throughout Kakadu National Park as they filled up on water chestnuts before the billabongs dry up and the ground becomes to hard to extract them.

Sixty species of water birds visit Mamukala Wetlands in Kakadu

Sixty species of water birds visit Mamukala Wetlands in Kakadu

While I knew the bird life in the park was prolific, I didn’t realise that Kakadu is home to one third of Australia’s bird species, including an estimated three million magpie geese. Listening to their comic honking and watching them take flight en masse at sunset is a memory I’ll now always associate with Kakadu.

Magpie geese take to the air on a Yellow Water sunset cruise, Kakadu

Magpie geese take to the air on a Yellow Water sunset cruise, Kakadu

As well as the bird hide at Mamukala, the easiest way to see the variety of water birds is on a Yellow Water cruise. From tiny kingfishers to regal eagles, Jesus birds to jabirus, the guides know where they hang out and delight in showing you as many species as they can.

Learn more about how I got all twitchy in Kakadu in my story for  Escape Flock to Kakadu.

07 White-bellied sea eagle at Yellow Waters, Kakadu. Photo © Briar Jensen

A white-bellied sea eagle at Yellow Water, Kakadu.

Now I wish I could go back for Kakadu Bird Week, which runs from 14-21 October. Aimed at both novice and experienced twitchers, it includes talks, guided walks and special cruises. There’s a mini Twitchathon, the opportunity to participate in scientific monitoring surveys and a photographic competition on the park’s Facebook page

For full details visit

More: Kakadu Tourism; Travel NT

Discalimer: I travelled to Kakadu with the assistance of Tourism NT and Kakadu Tourism.

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Postcard of the week – Hawkesbury

Smiths Creek, a tributary of Cowan Water, itself a tributary of the Hawkesbury River

Smiths Creek, a tributary of Cowan Water, itself a tributary of the Hawkesbury River

I was eagerly anticipating the television mini-series of Kate Grenville’s bestselling novel The Secret River, a story of conflict between the First Australians and early European settlers, which recently aired on the ABC, both to see how the story played out on the small screen, but mostly to see the beautiful scenery of the Hawkesbury River, around which the story is set.

Unfortunately, the remaining pristine bush along the Hawkesbury is pretty inaccessible to film crews, so much of the filming took place on Lake Tyres, near Lakes Entrance in Victoria. However, there were some aerial shots of the Hawkesbury, a magnificent river that flows into Broken Bay. I spend a lot of time boating on Cowan Creek, a tributary of the Hawkesbury, which is cocooned in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, so I’m familiar with the rugged sandstone country that featured so strongly in the book. This picture of Smiths Creek, a tributary of Cowan Water, is taken from a lookout on the road to Cottage Point, the only pocket of residential land inside Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. There are numerous bush walks within the park, including many beside the water, which give a feel for the country of the Dharug people and hints at how difficult life must have been for the early settlers to the area.

More: If you’d like to do a tour of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, you might like to read my story on Sydney Out Back which combines bush walks and boating.

Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park

Hawkesbury Tourism

Hills, Hawkesbury & Riverlands Tourism 

Posted in Australia, Hawkesbury, National Parks, Postcards, Sydney, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments