|Gympie Railway Station Circa 1930 (a little before my time!)|
|Gympie's old Railway Station Circa 2000...now Heritage-Listed|
|Gympie North Railway Station. It replaced the old station shown above - proving new is not always best!|
Boom Chicka Boom! Easter is here – or is just around the nearest corner as I write. If I type slowly.......it might arrive before I finish!
Clint, my Lindt bunny is hippity-hopping and a hippity-haying with glee in my fridge comfortable in the knowledge, even though Easter is on its way he has nothing to fear. Every day, not only Easter is a celebration for Clint. After the many years residing in my fridge his tenure remains secure.
I offered to take him to the “Peter Rabbit” movie. He politely declined. I promised I’d buy him a packet of Jaffas, but no amount of bribery swayed him from his determined resolve. I even waved a carrot in front of him.
When my band of girlfriends and I were teenagers as Easter Thursday came around we breathlessly counted down the hours and minutes, unable to contain our enthusiasm for 5 pm to arrive.
From the age of 15...a couple of months shy of 16...unchaperoned, my weekends were spent at the coast.
My friends and I didn’t need “Schoolies”. We were mature and capable enough to spend our weekends at the coast long before we turned 18 years of age.
At first Mooloolaba or Alexandra Headlands were our chosen playgrounds, but after a summer or two we lost our hearts to Noosa Heads. An extra enticement was - Noosa is only a hop, skip and a couple of jumps away from Gympie.
During our regular seaside sojourns we didn’t carry on like loonies, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves.
The coast – the sand, the ocean and Easter went hand in hand - hence our excitement to hit the road, Jack, when Easter Thursday arrived.
We weren’t leaving on a jet plane, but our bags were packed; we were ready to go.
From early morn to late afternoon we caught waves - and the eye of a lifesaver or three.
Our nights were spent hippity-hopping, stomping and twisting at the record hops. At the stroke of midnight, off to the midnight to dawn record hops we hopped.
Sleep didn’t play a major role during our Easter weekends. A nap here and there, in the sun, on the beach, in between surfs, sufficed.
En route to the coast we’d stop at a roadside stall to grab a few pineapples - something we did most weekends, not only at Easter.
Sometimes we travelled by train...leaving the Gympie Railway Station at 6 am Saturday morning, and disembarking at Cooroy, a little country town a few miles/kilometres inland from Tewantin-Noosa Heads. Somehow we always managed to score a ride back home to Gympie Sunday afternoons.
(The old railway station is now a heritage-listed historical site. The railway station served Gympie from 1881 until 1889. Its replacement the Gympie North Railway station is further out of town and doesn’t compare in styling to the old station).
Fresh fruit and salad rolls of our own making were constants during those sunny, fun-filled weekends. Eating healthily came naturally, with an added bonus of being far cheaper than fast-food. We had no money to waste. Fresh was best, in more ways than one.
Like the rest of my friends, at the time, I still lived at home; paid board; made my own clothes; paid my own way, etc.
Our respective wages weren’t massive. I began working in late July, aged 15years. in I turned 16 a few months later, in the November.
As previously written I gained employment as a Legal Secretary in a local law firm...starting of earning the princely, weekly sum of four pounds eight shillings and nine pence. I felt as rich as the Queen, but far more independent!
I’m not a religious person, but I’ve always eaten fish on Good Friday...from when I was a little girl forth. Never have I eaten meat on Good Friday...it’s just a tradition to which I’ve always, willingly, adhered.
Seafood wasn’t limited to Good Fridays only when I took care of the little resort on Newry Island.
Every day was a Good Day for seafood.
The humble resort’s bar was the last (only) port of call for trawlers before they off-loaded their catch at Mackay Harbour, about 60-70kms south...give or take – more or less...I’m not sure of the exact distance.
During my time on Newry Island fresh seafood was in abundance, to the delight of my island guests. Pushkin and Rimsky, my two cats were thrilled, too.
Prawns, oysters, sand crabs and fish were the daily fare.
Sadly, the resort no longer exists. National Parks took over in 2001.
No money exchanged hands between the trawler men and me during our seafood transactions. The barter system was in full swing e.g. a case of beer and/or a bottle of spirits was the more than fair exchange. It was a trade that leaned heavily in my favour, I believe.
My guests and my two furry mates were grateful beneficiaries.
The family of one of the trawler skippers had booked into a cabin for the Easter weekend with the intentions of enjoying the island’s ambience. On the Thursday prior to Good Friday, I collected the family (mother and two children) from the boat ramp at Victor Creek, Seaforth, and then ferried them, along with other guests, in my boat, the Trojan De Havilland, across to the island.
On Good Friday morning, the husband and father of said family motored into the channel between Newry and Outer Newry Island, and there he set anchor. He was spending Easter with his family on dry land.
Because he wouldn’t be tying up at the Mackay Harbour until the Tuesday, he presented me with a large plastic container, about 90cmx60cmx60cm in size, filled to over-flowing with fresh, juicy, sweet sand crabs aka blue swimmers, saying, "These are yours, Lee, to do with as you wish!"
I gave the crabs to my guests to feast upon - no charge. They couldn’t believe their eyes, or good fortune. I gained much pleasure from witnessing their pleasure.
Who needed Easter eggs when fresh sand crabs were on offer?
The Easter Bunny didn’t visit the island, but the resident koalas did, arriving on cue over the Easter weekend. They were an added enjoyment for my guests.
Hop to it! This is one weekend when it’s okay to be a bunny!
Happy Easter, everyone....stay safe...relax and enjoy whatever way you choose to spend your weekend!
(A courier has just delivered to my door an Easter parcel from my ex, Randall....upon opening it I discovered therein...12 blocks of dark chocolate of various descriptions, four packets of mini-dark chocolate Easter eggs of a variety of sorts, a bottle of anchovy fillets (he knows me well)...Remy and Shama haven’t been ignored....for them are eight small cans of fancy treats! All of this should last us through the weekend! )
Cod & Corn Chowder: Cook 125g bacon until crisp; drain and crumble when cooled. Add 1tbsbutter and 2 chopped onions to pan; cook over low heat, until onions, about 5 minutes. Add 2c water, 1c liquid from bottled oysters, 2 large, peeled, potatoes, cut into chunks, 1 chopped celery stalk, 1/4tsp dried chilli flakes; season; bring to boil; reduce heat; simmer, 20-25mins. Add bacon, 2c corn kernels, 1c milk and 1c cream; simmer10mins. Stir in 700g cod fillets, cut into 2-1/2cm chunks and pepper. Bring back to a simmer; cook until just done, about 3mins.
Lamb Racks with Goat Cheese Sauce: On a large, rimmed baking sheet, season 2x1.5kg to 2kg frenched lamb racks generously with salt and pepper. In food processor, combine 1/4c olive oil, 4 grated garlic cloves, 1/4v fresh oregano, 1tbs cumin seeds, zest of 1 lemon, and 1tsp crushed red pepper flakes. Pulse until combined. Rub mixture evenly over both racks. Arrange 450g halved carrots (or small carrots) around lamb. Let stand at room temp 30-60mins; or cover and chill overnight. Preheat oven, 220C. Roast lamb for15mins; then flip; roast another 10mins for med-rare. Stand 10mins before slicing. Meanwhile, make sauce. In blender, combine 180g goat cheese, 1/4c crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt, 2tbs honey, and 1/4c fresh basil or mint until smooth. Stir in zest of 1 lemon; season to taste. Slice lamb in between the bones; serve with the goat cheese sauce.
Vegan Savoury Easter Pie: Preheat your oven. 175C. Slice 300g mushrooms. Finely dice 1 large red onion; crush 2-3 garlic cloves. Add a little olive oil in large pan; add chpped onion; cook 6-8mins on med-heat until translucent and being to brown slightly; add crushed garlic; cook 1min. Add mushrooms; cook 6-10mins, and until a lot of the moisture has evaporated. Add 200ml vegetable stock, 1tbs balsamic glaze, seasonings and small bunch thyme; simmer gently, 15-25mins until rich, thick sauce has formed; adjust seasoning. Add 1can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained with 1tbs olive oil to blender; blend to thick puree. Wilt 2 large handfuls spinach; squeeze out excess liquid; unwrap spinach; set aside. Grease pie dish/es; line with 2-3 layers of Filo pastry; brush with oil or vegan butter between each layer; then spoon in some bean puree; smooth down with back of spoon; then top with wilted spinach, arranged evenly to cover; top with mushrooms. Scrunch up side of pastry; brush or spray with oil; cook in oven, 25-30mins, until golden brown. Serve in pie dish.
Vegan Stuffed Tomatoes: Preheat oven. 190C. Lightly grease a casserole dish with olive oil. Slice tops of tomatoes off 4-6 ripe, but firm tomatoes: chop up usable part of tops; set aside. Using a spoon scoop out the inside but, keep and put it aside (not the seeds); drain any excess fluid. Cook 2c brown rice or quinoa according to package directions (cook in veg broth for more flavour). Mix together in bowl 1 can drained, rinsed black beans, 2 thinly sliced shallots, 1/2c each diced red and green capsicum, 1/2c chopped carrot, 1c frozen corn, 1tsp chilli powder, cayenne to taste, 1/2tsp ground cumin, 1/2tsp garlic powder, 1/4c nutritional yeast; season to taste. Add the scooped out tomato flesh; add the rice/quinoa; adjust seasonings. Stuff the tomatoes with the mixture. Put tomatoes in casserole dish; cook in oven, 30mins. Once tomatoes are soft they’re done. Remove from oven; sprinkle grated non-dairy cheese on top. Set oven to grill/broil; place tomatoes under grill for 5mins, until cheese has melted; serve.
Easter Nests: Melt 1-1/2c choc chips on low heat; stir often. As soon as completely melted, remove from heat. Stir in about 2c sweetened shredded coconut. It needs to be thick, for the chocolate to completely cover coconut mixture. Lay out baking paper on bench. Drop heaped tablespoonfuls onto paper. Make a small well in centre of each to create a “nest”. Add Smarties, mini-Easter Eggs, jelly beans, or choice, into centre of nests. Let sit for to allow the chocolate to harden. This makes about 6 to 8 nests