YorkeysKnobClifton BeachEllisBeach near Port Douglas
Oops! Sorry! I bet you’re singing “It’s Amore” now! The song will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day! I hope you’re not smartin’, Dean Martin!
In the late Eighties while living at Yorkeys Knob (and later at Clifton Beach) I worked in a real estate office during daylight hours; and, at one stage during that time, I spent my nights operating a small pizza eat-in-takeaway eatery in Yorkeys’ piazza for a lady who owned two others; one in Cairns and another at Machans Beach.
Yorkeys Knob was named after George “Yorkey” Lawson, a beche-de-mer fisherman who originally hailed from Yorkshire. “Yorkey” gave up fishing and “beche-de-mering” for farming. In other words, one could perhaps say he became beached! As it happened, his agricultural venture failed because hungry rampaging bandicoots and wild pigs stormed across his fields, eating and destroying most of his crops; what was left over the crocs finished off!
Yorkeys Knob is one of the northern beach suburbs of the tropical city of Cairns, Far North Queensland. When I first arrived in Yorkey's I rented a townhouse a few metres from the beach; and just around the corner from the yacht club. Everything that end of Yorkey's Knob Road was within easy walking distance; the small shopping centre; the yacht club and the beach. After living in the townhouse for a time, I then moved to the other end of Yorkeys Knob Road....it was long stretch of road.
The renovated "Queenslander" (a name given to the architectural style of older Queensland houses) I moved into was situated on a parcel of land that had been portioned off from a cane farm. The cane farm had been in existence on that area of land for many, many years...from when the land across the road had been turned into cane fields. Before the land was converted into sugar cane fields ithad been wetlands; and the home of many crocodiles. Tom Mason, the owner of the land had been a cane farmer all his life; as was his father before him. Tom had been born and bred in the house that he and his wife lived in. They raised their own, now grown family in the same house.
The house I was renting had been moved onto land adjoining Tom and his wife's house for their son and his wife to eventually live in, once they finished their studies at an agricultural college down south. In the meantime, I was the house's paying tenant.
The Bruce Highway, Queensland's major highway commences at the Pine River on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, Queensland's capital and passes northwards through areas along the eastern coast from its starting point to Cairns in Far North Queensland. The Bruce Highway is 1652 kilometers or 1,027 miles in length, from whoa to go! From Cairns north the highway becomes known as "The Captain Cook Highway" - it runs from Cairns north to Mossman (75kms or 47 miles in length). The Captain Cook Highway passes through the northern beaches between Cairns and Mossman, of which there are about 13 named beaches along the way (not all inhabited).
Mossman is situated a little less than 20 minutes drive north-west of Port Douglas.
I only give these intricate details to help you gather together an image of where I was living at the time of this tale that I tell.
I'd moved to Yorkeys Knob after leaving Hinchinbrook Island. My desire and need to be close to the ocean remained strong.
A group of young lads started hanging around outside the pizza shop in Yorkeys Knob each night, riding their skateboards up, down and around about the parking area, night after night. Their numbers ranged from six to eight; sometimes as high as 10. There, of course, was a leader of the pack; a brash young blade, quite tall for his age; dark of eye and hair; handsome in a youthful way. Totally aware of his presence and appearance, his charm matched his looks.
When the young fellows first started hanging around I kept a discreet eye on them from afar, but it soon became obvious to me they were just kids out to have a bit of innocent fun. In those days the area really had nothing to offer teens. Trouble was begging to happen. I never heard many stories of havoc being caused, but there were some minor problems.
I befriended the lads, believing it best to have them on my side than not; and, every so often I’d give them a couple of subs filled with tasty ingredients, “on the house”, to share amongst each other.
They didn’t expect the freebies; and they never took them or me for granted. The lads were appreciative.
Although I copped a dressing down from the owner when she found out about the free subs, I continued with the practice.
Unspoken, the lads had become my junior Lord Protectors. Through my giving them a free sub or two every so often, I knew they kept an eye out for my safety, and also an eye on the shop. It was cheap payment for protection, I believed. Woe betide anyone who would dare try to do harm to either me or the shop! The lads were my skateboarding guardian angels. They were good kids who shared with me many of their dreams and aspirations. I hope they fulfilled those dreams. Most of my customers were regulars; all pleasant people.
One night there was a power outage just on opening time. The pizza oven and range were both gas, but I was otherwise engulfed in darkness, making it impossible to successfully prepare food. However, a knight in a large, shining four-wheel drive came to my rescue. With his headlights beaming, he drove his vehicle up onto the footpath, right to the doorway of the shop, leaving enough room for patrons’ access and egress. The vehicle’s lights lit up the shop. I didn’t miss a beat, a pizza or a customer (nor did I beat a customer) all night!
Ultimate Italian Sub: Lay out an assembly line consisting of 240g each: mortadella, coppa, salami and prosciutto, 150g provolone, 1c pitted green and black olives, 2c giardiniera (Italian pickled veges), 1 jar marinated artichokes, drained, chopped. Slice 1 large round loaf, 10-inch diameter in half; scoop out insides, top and bottom to make cavity. Evenly layer the ingredients in order; ensure to use all meats and cheese. Once loaf is filled and topped, wrap tightly in wrap; put heavy pan on top to weigh it down; chill at least 4hrs; unwrap; slice in wedges; drizzle with balsamic.
Rocket Chilli Prawn Pizza: Grab a pizza base; place on lightly-greased tray. Heat 1tbs olive oil; add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2tbs chopped red onion and 2 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped; cook, stirring, 1min. Add 10-15 medium green prawns; cook 2mins. Spread 3tbs tomato paste over base; top with prawn mixture, crumbled feta or goat's cheese and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese; season; bake 10-12mins at 220C. Top with baby rocket; serve.
Artichoke-Goat Cheese-Chicken Pizza: Sprinkle 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts with dried oregano; season with salt and pepper; place chicken in pan; grill 2mins per side; set aside. Preheat oven 230C. Mix 125g goat cheese and 1/2c ricotta in a bowl; spread evenly over 12-inch pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with chicken, ½ a chopped red onion, 10 small olives, sliced (optional), 1 c halved, drained artichokes, and 2 large plum tomatoes, diced; sprinkle with 2tbs parmesan. Bake until parmesan turns golden, about 8mins. Sprinkle with fresh oregano; serve.
Similar style and vintage of the house I rented in Yorkeys Knob