Tag Archives: Food

They do have a winter

Yes it does rain, winter (relatively speaking) is part of the Queensland experience. Best part of the morning spent exploring the foreshore in Bongaree. This location named after the aboriginal who travelled with Matthew Flinders while he mapped the area. Names aside, while the sun shone we did plan to go to the beach but by the time we got home clouds were gathering and it was much too cool. Some good, some bad – non beach day. Our plans included going to Mooloolba but a minor medical emergency meant sampling the excellent support services on the Bribie Island.

Bongaree Jetty
The Bongaree Jetty, many a pleasant afternoon spent here

We are enjoying – as part of house sitting- the joys of a fully equipped gourmet kitchen. Instant heat under high-tech stove top hot plates, homemade yoghurt, obscure products, seasonings, garnishes and gourmet, organic or even freshly gathered, locally sourced food. The surrounds provide us with papaya, passionfruit, mint, herbs, rouquette and spinage. So I can be creative. Results include a mandarin slice and green papaya salad.

Another grey day and we drive north to Mooloolaba, apparently holidaying. What used to be little more than one bakery, plank footpaths and a caravan park, largely surrounded by swampland is now an up-market, bustling café strip. More crowded, more resort towers than we are used to, this is a bonsai Gold Coast. Still some shabby areas though, the Aquarium centre, or down on the spit where the fishery/ seafood area. The adjacent foreshore has a sheltered swimming area but the chilly air puts us off.untitled (320)

Being deep in Maroon territory when the State of Origin Rugby happens is a new experience. Many in the neighbourhood deck out houses, buses, offices in their team’s colours. Queensland having won eight years on the trot are very popular. They are definitely walking the walk of winners. The whole state rivalry is much less noticeable south of the border, or perhaps we just live in the wrong area.

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While Queensland has adopted the Cane toad as their emblem, and with no love lost those from south of the border are aligned to cockroaches, we have our own invasions to deal with: tiny ants along the hand basins in the guest’s bathroom and perhaps kindred NSW cockroaches. House sitting does have its down side.

Cane toad
Great invader, taking over so much.

When we eventually explore the coast Cotton Tree and Maroochy Surf club do not live up to the hype. Much of the foreshore is being rebuilt and heavily dressed in construction site garb.

A garbage truck stalks us northwards. My memories of a lovely family lunch in the Surf club on a previous business are destroyed by insistent jack-hammering.

Much of the façade is the ‘same-same’ as all along the coast. Why do people come here? Scratch just below the surface, behind the shops, sparkling businesses, and gleaming towers are still garages, back alleys and waste areas.

Much changed Mooloolaba foreshore

A favourite up away from the coastal strip is the Kunrana Organic Supermarket – Brownies worth the drive. (featured image) They have bulk bins and paper bags for customers to fill, mark the product code and you are charged accordingly. The range is enormous, everything squeaky-clean and good for you. Now the complex has been extended to include café, garden centre and even an organic butcher. I notice a sign indicating they now sell, “Grass fed Lamb”, and wonder; is there another sort? Do they eat something else?

We are frequently asked, ‘how long we’re staying or what are we doing here?’ Which leads us to feel we are being judges as clearly not locals! As far as I can see the only evidence to support this assumption is that we are clothed in shorts and T shirts, obviously damming evidence, when others around us are in more wintery outfits. When we get a chance to respond to this curiosity any mention of house-sitting is greeted with platitudes.


Bumming in Burleigh

There was a man doing a needlepoint tapestry in the Surf side Burleigh Hotel.

I drew parallels between the Gold Coast and Florida or Miami; don’t know if they have surf beaches, but in terms of resident retiree populations. They must be hot and sweaty too.

Mondays and Wednesdays means a morning Tia chi group. taichi-burleighGold Coast Council pays a leader to come out and makes this activity free to all. I found out about energy systems and feeling ones extremities. Lots of people gather no matter what weather. This is all part of the many free services provided to ensure a richer quality of life. Those busy foot paths are also dotted with gym equipment. Plenty to watch in the form of a passing human parade.

We decided to drive to Coolongatta, but found the breeze was stronger there. It wasn’t even comfortable to walk to Rainbow Beach, let alone sit in the sand, or swim. We were not drawn into shooting the waves. The main beach is being prepared for an operatic production of Aida, complete with mini sphinx and very Egyptian looking stone work. All made of plywood, but still very sandstone look-alike.

Aida at Coolangatta
Not quite the same set, but you get the idea.

And the Rake-man’s temporary art is on the beach as part of the preparations.

A two-for-one voucher from a local discount magazine came in handy, so we were able to partake of the Chief Burgers in Coolangatta. Just down the road from where Rod says, ‘the chew and spew’ used to be. Important location for $2 rissole and vege dinners during his surfer days. While ago now.

Chief burgers coolangatta
Advertising does lie.

Backpackers sold strawberries $1 more than in the fruit shop. A lost dog wandered about, no collar or tags, happy as.

We spent late afternoon back on the Beach in Burleigh. As you do, when staying here.

Coolangatta used to be the Gold Coast location of choice, since Rod and I have been taking holidays in Queensland. Initially this was an effort to rekindle the memories of his early years as a long-haired, blond surfer type. ‘We slept in our vans, parked under an empty Queeslander house,’ he reminisced. Not many of them left now. And these days it simply wouldn’t be possible to just take shelter under some stranger’s home. Now the apartment towers that can hold a multitude make for busy sidewalks, too few interesting shops and traffic flooding pavement seating with noise and fumes. We have been converted to Burleigh snobs.

Queenslander house
architectural masterpiece – a queenslander


Only on the Gold Coast

We have to go through a process of adjusting to loss of daylight saving. January in NZ we talked about 8 more hours of daylight and now the evening descends quickly. Now long drawn out twilight in the sub tropics. Basking on the beach, shooting the waves, just lolling about has us taking on what we might have considered as “old folks” hours, eating dinner early, retiring early. We are surrounded by others with the same hours, so it doesn’t seem alien. Another subtle shift towards being elderly? The Gold Coast does have a high percentage of retirees in their population.

Marianne Fredriksson – Hanna’s Daughters …Suddenly she dared admit to herself how tired she was of high-rise apartment blocks, the anonymity and the motorway thundering through her days and nights, not to mention those poor pine trees. This description would fit Burleigh, we are just off the Gold Coast Highway, the shore is lined with Norfolk pines, and there are certainly plenty of high-rises. Trends are for lower constructions, but it seems this all depends on who you know at the council, and what you are prepared to offer in the way of ‘improving the ambience.’

High rise towers on the Gold Coast
What are all those other people doing?

From Joanne Harris’s Jigs & Reels a section I thought worked well with the broken sleep of being in a tower looking out on the world of Surfer’s Paradise I woke up at two in the morning again, and couldn’t go back to sleep. …so I get up, dressed and went out. .. sometimes I like to walk there and see the lights above the car park and the people moving about inside. They can’t see me looking in, but I can see them… I wonder why they come here so late; perhaps like me they can’t sleep. Perhaps they are night workers, or perhaps they enjoy looking out from those warm yellow windows and imagining someone standing outside. There was a few nights that jittery temperature controls (hot flushes) had me watching the view to see how many others might be doing the same. The sounds of surf invade everything.

Tony Plant beach art
Temporary but spectacular

We encounter the work of the beach sand artist Tony Plant who constructs swirling patterns on the tidal flats, and then photographs the incoming waves eating his work. The ultimate in disposable art. Apparently he has been doing this, ‘temporary interventions and drawings in the landscape’ for 20 years. Local television calls for suggestions for where he can work, I immediately want to suggest out front of the Southern Cross apartments in Burleigh Beach.

Beach Art
Under construction or destruction?

Continue reading Only on the Gold Coast

Mixed Bag of Fish and Chips

Cardwell. A must stop half way between Townsville and Cairns for the famous Crab sandwich. Also available under the equally as big crab in Miram Vale. Further south, closer to 1770/Agnes Waters. (featured Image) Cardwell offers a choice of grams depending on how much crab you want, more cost more, obviously. Fresh white bread, some butter crab and lettuce. Can’t help thinking this needs mayo.

We missed so many chances to further our fish and chips challenges due to efforts to counter expensive accommodation by cooking at home.

Madigans Hervey Bay. Pronounced Harvey. A mere 2 doors down from our apartment. Touted as the “world’s best” by our apartment management, and the neat sign outside. Large generous serves – $9.90 = three pieces of mackerel and chips. Extra for the additional piece of fish – local varietal. No tartare sauce, that costs extra $1.70 for small serve. They also sell fresh fish. Salt and Pepper Squid on the menu. Can’t help thinking that the “best” title equates more to the size of servings rather than the quality.

Noosaville Fish and Chips
Weird little shop – great food

Noosaville Fish and Chip shop. Right next door to our temporary abode. They do Whitebait fritters! A strange facial haired, checked flannelled shirted mannequin stands outside, if he’s supposed to encourage customers, there might just be the opposite effect. ½ serve of chips available tossed to aerate through the salt before packing. Fresh fish fillets of a reasonable size lemon included. $1 for tartare sauce. There was a $5 lunch special, but this was our dinner.

Yamba Shores Tavern. Crumbed flathead on the menu $18.50. I ordered the Mulloway – $25. More chips than fish arrived, I expected a larger portion as this is a big fish. Served with salad. While this was a casual tavern they could probably go under the restaurant category. A dish called Seafood Delight on the menu – whiting, prawns, scallops, calamari – way too much fried food.

Apollo Bay Fisherman's co-op
Great View and produce.

Great Ocean Road Apollo Bay. Otway light seafoods, as in light house. Right at the harbor’s edge. Blue Grenadier is fish of the day! Fish and chips for two $16. They also sell South Melbourne Markets Steamed Dim Sims for $2.50 – legendary! Help yourself to the lemons on the counter, so we do. Homemade tartare sauce. Thickish batter, I don’t want to eat it all, but do. Waiting for our food a group of young guys buys 8 flake fillets, 500g of prawns, which amounts to $65 of seafood. Someone else, obviously local, buys 300g of scallops. There was a gob smacking moment when the orders were almost handed to the wrong person. That was going to be embarrassing for both parties.

The scallop purchaser in this exchange discussed eating the scallops on a bread roll. How he used to work on a boat and came to like the catch. Putting some down the boots to get a ‘booty’ (pardon the pun) to take home. He had to take care not to rattle the stash as he left the boat. The shop assistant recounts how her father-in-law said, ‘that’s not how you shuck scallops.’

To which she replied, ‘do it yourself then.’

So he shucked scallops for an hour.

I am sure there will be more fish and chip entries somewhere in my notes journal. They will figure here when I come across them.

Apollo Bay Fisherman's co-op
Typical Nosh from Apollo Bay Fisherman’s co-op

The Curry Fest 2014


For a reasonable $5 (per couple) $3 a single, you entered a barricaded off areas of stalls selling all sorts of relevant food, try yoga, watch dancing, and generally survey all things from the sub-continent. You are given a lovely silk scarf for that entry fee. We ask, ‘where does the money go?’

‘Down to the head office, to be counted.’

‘No, who gets the funds?’

Goes to the volunteer committee, pays expenses – barricade fencing, toilets, acts from Sydney. Never mind, if they use it to ensure future festivals, that’s fine. Apparently this is the 9th year, we are told it washed out last year so no fee was charged. The decision was taken to fix a token entry payment. Food is at an additional cost, which is fine as for $10 Rod gets a huge plate of butter Chicken.

To eat we sit near a family, surrounded by people wearing all sorts of Punjabi outfits. Fewer saris than I’d expect. There seems too many kids – families have come up from Sydney. We are told, ‘how much more peaceful it is here compared to the crazy frenzy when they make the reverse trek to see relatives in Ryde.’

There are plenty of samples to be had. I try Kombuca – a type of fermented tea. “Yogi bear” brand, sounds dreadful, but with all sorts of detox capabilities. Does not taste nice. But the Indian sweets do. Also various types of local ginger beers. Other samples are from the range of dips and pickles. White Salt is doing a Sri-Lankan fish curries.

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Bright happy dancers as part of the Curry Fest 2014

While people from the sub-continent are to be expected. Staff in the local chemists who are happy to give me cash out on a purchase are decked out in sparkly Punjabi scarfs. There are many surfie types in the crowd, again no surprise. They might be famous world champions? Highly likely. It’s weird to see the red-neck types, escapees from fat central, wearing bronco’s tops and beanies with platted ear flaps. Takes all sorts.

Crowds are thickening, we watch yoga classes, check out the cooking displays, watch a few energetic dance groups. And generally take in the ambience using that seat as a point to come back to, in case either of us gets lost in the masses. 

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Just one of the stalls

An elderly couple has an ‘Edge of the World’ (image at end of this post) stubby cooler. ‘We’ve been there.’ They’ve toured Tasmania three times. ‘If you could add 15 degrees C to the temperatures, we’d live there.’ An echo of our exact same sentiments.

I talk to a local tri lady, who strikes up a conversation because I am wearing a 70.3 shirt. She does not realize this is different from an Ironman, ‘been swimming since August, and did 2km today,’ she tells me.

‘Such great weather here, definitely could live here,’ is Rod’s mantra.

Edge of the World Tasmania
If you look hard enough you can see Sth America.- The Edge of the World Tasmania

Cheese and the Highlights

What was that infamous Monty Python misquote – “He said, blessed are the cheesemakers…”

With six weeks on the road about to come to an end, as we head back to our Sydney home base to shelter during school holidays, it is time to reflect on some of the highlights. High on the list are the chances we’ve had to taste some fantastic dairy foods. images6IK0EZQN

From near St Helens – What was the name of that place? That’s right it was Pyengana – where they had a pig in the paddock. Some Europeans asked, ‘what happens to the whey?’

‘We give it back to the cows.’

Which meant the whey, considered waste, is pumped into the paddocks.
We had to wait in line and get the tasting order correct.

Ashgrove, just near Devonport where the samples were unpoliced, Rod in revolving, I will just sample that again, mode. 

ashgrove cheese Devonport
Unsupervised tastings , so Rod cuts loose

Tilba, – the ABC cheese with array of flavors and variety.

Bodella – today, just north of Narooma, with dessert pots and I try chili flavour. Flavoured milks, even plain milk which we could buy from local supermarkets. Tastes fantastic, nothing like the product we get back in the city. 

Bega – uncontrolled again. Featuring sliced and tinned cheese. The latter with Arabic lettering and exported to the Middle East.

Bega Cheese
Huge restaurant, museum and tastings centre – Bega Cheese

Sheep’s cheese,  Grand-ewe…south of Hobart, toward the Huon Valley.

Duck river butter in Tasmania, and now Western Star, again nothing like what we can usually get.

Burnie Art Group – self-service again. Were we sampled South Cape Victorian products in surroundings like a bonsai-ed Mona.

Burnie Arts center
All sorts of samples and hands on things await inside.

I discovered ants in my dirty washing bag. So it must be time to go home.


'fish frenzy Hobart

Another Fish and Chip Edition

Tides of Rhyll on Philip Island Victoria. The shop sign doubles as a seagull perch. They only sell fish and Chips, well the choices do extent into Fish sandwich or burger, but neither of these two are printed on the menu. Oh, and you can get beer and wine with your meal; soft drinks, help yourself from the fridge. Our lunch is 2 pieces of Grenadier and chips is $15. 25 cents extra if you want any sauce.

Rhyll Fish and Chips
A tiny shop, in a tiny town, worth the effort- Rhyll on Philip Island

The Metung Gallery, Gippsland Lakes. Restaurant with adjacent Fish and Chippery. Run by a bubbly West Australian who is a wealth of information, including telling us how they used to have a café on the other side of the road. But, ‘brought this side because it can’t be built out.’ Serving of Fish and Chips is $16 for two people, includes lemon and tartare sauce. I opt to include an old favorite, the potato cake, or potato scallop, depending on where you come from. A meal in itself, soft and almost mashed inside.

The Galley Metung
The Galley, in typical Gippsland weather – rain!

My reviews of this 2014 challenge disappear into a separate journal, I have to pick up the trail when I find the rest of my entries. It’s hard to imagine that these are the only Fish and chip opportunities we had all the way from Melbourne along the southern Victorian coast, and northward up the New South Wales South coast the entire way back to Sydney. But stranger things can happen.