|The small bar on Newry Island...and me in full swing|
|Me driving the Trogjan DeHavilland...and in the water between Newry and Outer Newry. I moored the boat in the channel (out in the darker blue water ..closer to Outer Newry Island.|
|DeHavilland Trojan...similar to the island boat (mine didn't have the canopy)|
|Seascape by me, painted in acrylics a few years ago|
|A couple of yachties who were part of those who participated in the Hinchinbrook Island yacht race. held in 1986. The fellow on the left had also been a member of the crew on the winning yacht of the 1983 America's Cup...Australia's "Australia ll"|
|Dame Nellie Melba's House|
I mustn’t grin much because I’ve never won much; and I never win much, other than a pittance every now and then in the Lotto – in the lowest divisions.
However, being forever hopeful, I live by the mantra – “You gotta be in it, to win it!”
Foot races on school sports’ days were not my forte, so I never won one those. Actually, Dawn Taylor, a school mate of mine and I used to purposely hide in the girl’s locker room on sports’ days until the races were over – that is until the day our sports teacher cottoned on to what we were up to!
That put paid to that!
The ball games I enjoyed. I never shied away from them, and always participated, but I couldn’t see any point in running from one point to another. Nowadays, of course, it’s a different matter – no, I not yet compete in the hobbling races - but I do enjoy watching the athletic events at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, and similar.
When I was a kid I did win two Charlie Chuckles’ badges, though. One was for a poem and another was for a drawing I’d submitted to the “Chucklers’ Weekly” – a kids’ magazine that was published – hint, hint - weekly. I more than grinned at my two wins - I chuckled and clapped my hands with glee.
In 1990 when I was running the now-defunct little holiday haven on Newry Island, north-east of the coastal town of Seaforth in the Mackay region I had a brilliant idea (one of many). This particular cogitation was a beauty. My light-bulb moment, my illuminating idea; my flash of genius was – drum roll please - I’d orchestrate the Inaugural Airlie Beach to Newry Island Yacht Race.
Happily, I’d play hostess with the mostest to the exhausted, but exhilarated competitors, and to the excited spectators who would flock to the island.
The fuel tank that held diesel for my generator was filled to capacity. I had enough fuel to power the lights, fridges, freezer etc., in the kitchen, bar, dining area, and the guest cabins. No one would be kept in the dark!
My boat’s 175hp Johnson outboard motor was serviced and in top-notch condition. I had enough fuel to cover the numerous trips I expected to make in the DeHavilland Trojan across to Victor Creek to pick up guests and ferry them to the island.
I’d cater for ocean-weary, knackered yachties, their crew, and the resort’s visitors, who I expected would descend in droves upon the island to take up residence at the tiny resort for a weekend like no other ever seen or experienced previously. My cabins would be full to overflowing with ardent devotees of seafaring, sleek yachts.
For the event the camping area would be packed with contented campers in their tents.
Striking while the iron, or my idea, was hot, I rang the Whitsunday Sailing Club at Airlie Beach, and spoke with the commodore, who was immediately receptive to my brainwave. Being an avid sailor, I think he was halfway out the door to check the keel on his boat before I’d finished my spiel.
The Airlie Beach to Newry Island Yacht Race may not have had the notoriety (or distance) of the Sydney to Hobart, or Brisbane to Gladstone, but the planning etc., was just as exciting, for me, anyway.
The big weekend dawned.
With enough food and bar stock to satisfy the madding crowd for days/weeks on end, if need be, I was ready.
I took my boat across to the ramp at Victor Creek to pick up the commodore and his girlfriend. Out of character, instead of sailing from Airlie to Newry, they came by road, which I thought was a bit odd, but I kept my thoughts to myself. As it is with some people the three of us struck an immediate accord. It felt as if we’d been mates for years.
Friends of mine from Mirani, a sugar cane growing area a little west of Mackay, came to the island for the weekend to witness the culmination of the big race. They also had a holiday home at Seaforth...the little township about four kilometres from the Victor Creek boat ramp. Doris and Ivan kindly stored most of my possessions at their home in Seaforth, rather than me having to transport all my worldly possessions across to the island. It was an easy and welcome solution.
As an aside...the late, great, world-renowned Australian soprano/opera singer - Dame Nellie Melba spent the first year of her married life in the house pictured above. It is situated at Marian, in Mackay's Pioneer Valley...an area just before Miran, where Ivan and Doris had their cane farm. The home is open to the public for tours. I drove past it a few times when I managed a motel on Nebo Road, Mackay, in the early part of 1998. I'd steal a couple of hours to escape to Eungella (up on the range) on a Sunday, when possible...but I never had the extra time to take a look inside the house.
Race fever was rife. Preparations were completed....ready, set...here we go!
Intense excitement heightened as the winner crossed the line late afternoon.
There was only one winner. The result could not have been any other way.
His boat was the sole boat in the “race”!
Even with only one winning boat and skipper celebrate we did. Champagne and Margaritas flowed. Jimmy Buffett would’ve been thrilled. I’m sure he would have joined us in person if he’d known about the festivities. His songs and a load of other music filled the air. We partied like it was 1999!
Eat your heart out Sydney to Hobart!
What a memorable night it was - the night I crowned the Inaugural Airlie Beach to Newry Island Yacht Race winner. The losers were the yachties who’d not entered.
I learned later the reason for the lack of entries. The sailing fraternity who annually spend winter in the northern waters had already left. En masse, they were homeward bound, and long past the waters surrounding Newry Island. Summer and the cyclone season loomed. I should’ve organised the race a month or so earlier, but the idea hadn’t hit me at that stage.
However, we on the island that weekend, few though we may have been, were the winners....we had ball! The stereo was pumped up to the limit...the bongo drums came out to play, as did the guitar...and, as there was no stopping us...so did the tambourine!
In my defence...four years previously when I was managing the Cape Richards’ resort on Hinchinbrook Island I did host a hugely successful yacht race between Townsville and the resort. Well over 300 people and myriad yachts descended upon the resort that great, memorable, fun weekend.
Prawns with Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Heat wok; add 1kg large green prawns, deveined, unshelled, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1c undrained, sun-dried tomatoes in oil. Toss over high heat until prawns are beginning to turn pink. Add 1tbs Szechwan peppercorns, 8 sliced shallots, 100g snow peas and 1 red capsicum, sliced lengthwise; toss, 1min, over high heat; add juice of 4 limes, julienned zest and 1/2c dry white wine. Toss 2mins; serve with rice/noodles.
Coral Trout with Kumquat Sauce: Grab 500g fresh kumquats, reserve a few for garnish; peel rest and lightly crush, removing seeds. Place 100g sugar in heavy-based pan with 2tbs water; dissolve over med-heat; boil to a light caramel. Add crushed kumquats as soon as caramel forms. Mix 25g cornflour with a little water or juice; add to mixture. Bring to boil; add 1/2tsp five spice powder; strain; keep warm. Season 200g coral trout fillet per person; cook quickly; don’t overcook. Pour sauce onto plate; place fish on top; garnish with reserved kumquats.
Champagne Salmon: Place 4 salmon fillets in pan in a single layer; add 2c champagne, 1/4c lemon juice, 1tbs zest and water to just cover fillets; remove fish; bring liquid to boil. Lay fillets skin side down back in pan; top with thinly sliced onion, 1tbs capers, 1tbs sliced olives, 4 sprigs tarragon, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low simmer; poach 4-6mins; remove fish etc., from liquid; drain; serve.
Margarita Pie: Add 6tbs melted butter to 1-1/2c biscuit crumbs (as you do for cheesecakes); press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie dish. Combine 240g room-temp cream cheese and 1/3c sugar; mix until smooth; add 1/3c fresh lime juice, 2tbs tequila, 1tbs orange liqueur and 2tsp lime zest; mix until completely combined; fold in 240g whipped cream and 1-2 drops green food colour. Spread evenly into crust; chill several hours until firm. Serve topped with whipped cream and lime zest.