Thursday, February 07, 2013
MY MOUNTAIN GREENERY
Here on the hill upon which I dwell (actually, it’s a plateau) we have it pretty good – in the Aussie vernacular.
Situated about an hour from Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, and about 45 minutes away from the Gold Coast (less to some areas of the coast), we sit just on the outer rim of the thick of things; or on the Scenic Rim as the area is now called. Tamborine Mountain is close enough to - but far enough away from the madding crowds…just how I like it. Very rarely do I go off the mountain. These days I don’t enjoy or like the hectic pace of the cities; the hustle and bustle; or the impatient pace on the motorways. If the truth be known, I never much cared for it; I left the frenetic city-style of living a long, long time ago, with barely a backward glance, when, early 1979, my ex-husband and I escaped the city for the sunny shores at Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast. After seven years living on the Sunshine Coast, I bade it adieu, and I headed further north to the islands and other areas beyond the Tropic of Capricorn.
I could, however, happily live back on the Sunshine Coast, around the Noosa-Sunshine Beach area. I love that part of the world...always have; and I always will.
I ended up back in south-east Queensland after many years and here I am these days, perched atop Tamborine Mountain. I’m reminded of that old song “Wolverton Mountain” recorded by Claude King; released in 1962. Yes! I’m dating myself! On that thought, or, on another concept of “dating myself” – something that would be difficult to do, I imagine - I’ve not been on a date in years – and I have a feeling the status quo shall remain…thankfully! I’m not into “dating”; I don’t think I ever was. As a teenager I never dated just for the sake of dating…and that philosophy has continued throughout my life….but I do digress…’tis a habit of mine – so please bear with me – or not!
Tamborine Mountain is an 11 square miles aka 28 square kilometers plateau; 8kms in length by 4kms in width; 600 meters or 1,968 feet above sea level; the mountain's population as at the time of the 2011 census stood at 7,030; some could have been sitting.
The origin of the name “Tamborine” is an Anglicised version – “Jambreen” - of an Aboriginal word. The meaning of the word is “wild lime”. Finger lime trees have grown on the mountain and its surrounds long before European settlers. The first European settlers ventured forth upon the plateau in 1878. The first white settler was John O’Callaghan. He cleared his portion of land for agriculture; but much of the timber and native plants – the rainforest - were left alone, fortunately for future generations to enjoy. A road allowing tourists to visit the mount was opened in 1924.
The first time I tried Finger Limes (pictured above) was at the dairy farm of relatives in Canungra, a small country town at the base of Mount Tamborine on the western side. I was around nine years old at the time.
A lava flow from a volcanic eruption 22 million year ago was the origin of this plateau. Mount Warning as it is now known erupted; and because of that wonderful overflow we have fertile red volcanic soil; a gardener’s dream. Avocados, kiwifruit, rhubarb, amongst much, much more grow in prolific, healthy abundance. Our climate here on the hill is sub-tropical with a relatively high annual rainfall; normally, our temperatures are four or five degrees cooler than the surrounding lower grounds. Tamborine Mountain is a spur of the McPherson Range.
We have spectacular views across the lowlands to the coast on the east; and across the valleys to the mountains of the Great Divide on the west.
When I first came to Tamborine Mountain, I was one of the chefs/cooks at the Eagle Heights Hotel/Resort...a photo of the complex is shown above. (I'm not a qualified chef, but I've cooked and been the head and sole cook in many restaurants and resorts through my travels along life's path) The story regarding the original owner of the resort (then home/manor, in a manner of speaking) has it that the building was originally built for Mel Gibson...and was to be a retreat for him and his large family. I'm not really sure if that's myth or reality; but it makes for a good tale!
Like a magnet, Tamborine Mountain’s natural beauty draws creative folk into its fold; and soon after discovering Tamborine’s many features, they set up camp; well, homes! Artists, writers, poets, potters and sculptors find the mountain’s ambience starts their creative juices flowing; and to the hill they flow.
Judith Wright, the well-known and respected writer/poet/environmentalist/campaigner for Aboriginal Land Rights made Tamborine Mountain her home in 1948; and here she remained until 1975, nine years after her beloved lover and then later, husband, Jack McKinney, philosopher and writer, passed away. Their daughter, Meredith, was born here on Mount Tamborine in 1950.
Born in 1915, Judith Wright passed away in June, 2000. The home of Wright and McKinney - “Calanthe” (the name of a white orchid that blooms on Tamborine Mountain) remains in Long Road to this day as a reminder. Judith Wright was the first President of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
Lyrebirds - Judith Wright
Over the west side of the mountain,
that’s lyrebird country.
I could go down there, they say, in the early morning,
and I’d see them, I’d hear them.
Ten years, and I have never gone.
I’ll never go.
I’ll never see the lyrebirds -
the few, the shy, the fabulous,
the dying poets.
I should see them, if I lay there in the dew:
first a single movement
like a waterdrop falling, then stillness,
then a brown head, brown eyes,
a splendid bird, bearing
like a crest the symbol of his art,
the high symmetrical shape of the perfect lyre.
I should hear that master practising his art.
No, I have never gone.
Some things ought to be left secret, alone;
some things – birds like walking fables –
ought to inhabit nowhere but the reverence of the
Woman To Child - Judith Wright
You who were darkness warmed my flesh
where out of darkness rose the seed.
Then all a world I made in me;
all the world you hear and see
hung upon my dreaming blood.
There moved the multitudinous stars,
and coloured birds and fishes moved.
There swam the sliding continents.
All time lay rolled in me, and sense,
and love that knew not its beloved.
O node and focus of the world;
I hold you deep within that well
you shall escape and not escape-
that mirrors still your sleeping shape;
that nurtures still your crescent cell.
I wither and you break from me;
yet though you dance in living light
I am the earth, I am the root,
I am the stem that fed the fruit,
the link that joins you to the night.
Grilled Prawns with Finger Limes: Grab 1—12 large king prawns, unpeeled with heads left on. Preheat covered grill or grill pan to medium-high. Using a sharp pair of scissors, cut down the middle of the king prawn tail shells to reveal and remove the central vein. Season prawns liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until just done. Transfer to a platter to rest a few minutes. In a small mixing bowl, combine ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, juice of half lemon, and half a bunch of basil, roughly chopped. Cut one end off 5 finger limes and gently squeeze the tiny juice pellets ("lime caviar") out of the rind into the bowl; season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over rested prawns and serve immediately.
Raspberry-Hibiscus Flower-Finger Lime Sorbet: Pour 500 ml stock syrup (equal quantities of water and sugar and a little glucose, brought to the boil for 2 min on the stove), 1tbs Wild Hibiscus syrup and 1 punnet rasperries into ice cream machine; allow the mixture to churn until it becomes thick. Leave sorbet in freezer to set 1 hour. Garnish with finger limes.