'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin visits 'The Hobbit' set

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It's no secret that "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin has great respect for the fantasy worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. That's why it shouldn't come as much of a shock to learn that he took a bit of a side trip to the Shire while he was visiting Australia for some recent events.

TMZ acquired photos that show Martin took a pit stop in New Zealand to visit the Shire set from "The Hobbit." Peter Jackson decided to keep the set standing so fans could continue to visit like they did after the "Lord of the Rings" movies came out.

Martin wrote about his Australia travels on his blog, teasing that he would be traveling to New Zealand. "Kikcing [sic] around Down Under. Supanova Brisbane, Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Wheeler Center, Supanova Adelaide have all passed in a blur of signatures, smiles, panels, signatures, readings, questions and answers, signatures. Now we are back in Melbourne for a couple of days before we take off for New Zealand," he writes.

Maybe that visit to Hobbiton will help give Martin some inspiration to write more of "A Song of Ice and Fire" book 6, "The Winds of Winter." "Game of Thrones" Season 4 is slated to return to HBO in Spring 2014.

Photo/Video credit: TMZ