|Rose Bay, Bowen|
|Gloucester Island...looking out from Rose Bay|
|Oystercatcher ("Wong" bird)|
|These two photos are of Bowen township|
|Just up around the corner to the right in this pic for a brief while I managed a resort...another story...for another day|
Prompted by Wednesday Words from a couple of weeks ago...I’ve expanded on what I wrote at that time....the cabin did exist, as did my visits...and now that I'm going through withdrawals from the withdrawals I was suffering last week....caused by the completion of the Olympics...I felt it time to post another post...
Whenever I could, which wasn’t often enough, like a kidnapper hidden in the cloak of darkness I abducted myself as soon as I possibly could get away. Time was of the essence in my escape. I had everything timed down to the second; maybe minute.
Come rain, hail or shine, with my overnight bag packed and thrown on the passenger seat of my car, I was off to the coast, 84kms away – off to Rose Bay, Bowen. As much as I enjoyed my life and job in Collinsville, the lure of Bowen’s beaches was impossible to ignore.
I travelled light, needing little in the way of clothing. It was the beach, after all!
Bowen’s beaches are glorious.
Loretta, my friend and staff member lived across the street from me in Pelican Street, Collinsville. At the time, I was Chef/Manager of the Mess/Canteen, as well as manager of their accommodation supplied to the single men...the miners at Collinsville Coal. In the past I’ve written often about my experiences in Collinsville.
Within 30 minutes of my arrival in Collinsville, Loretta bounded across the street to introduce herself and welcome me to the town. And Loretta did “bound”...she bounced around like the Energizer Bunny. She was a trusted, hard-worker, one who never understood the word “slow”. She was as bright as a button. Very soon after our first meeting we became firm friends as well as solid work buddies.
Loretta loved animals. She had two large dogs of her own. The weekends I went away she would go across to my house to feed my two cats, Pushkin and Rimsky, and Missy, my cocker spaniel. She’d spend some time with them so they knew they’d not been deserted.
Missy was actually my brother’s dog, but because Graham couldn’t have a pet where he lived in Mackay, for the last five years of Missy’s life she lived with me and my two furry rascals. Missy was my “ward”. She was a lovely dog – a black and grey cocker spaniel...not a golden spaniel.
My first and only port of call when I arrived in Bowen was Magee’s supermarket; these days known as Magee’s Supa-IGA. There I stocked up on supplies I needed to see me through the weekend. In truth, I always ended up with enough supplies to feed the populations of Bowen and Collinsville combined!
I like Bowen. I love its wide streets with their deep gutters built to cope with the torrential tropical, monsoonal downpours. Bowen is a nice little town, often ignored by many; which, in its way, is a good thing, I think. Bowen hasn't succumbed to the touristy make-overs! No botox for Bowen!
More often than not a thick, juicy steak was on my list, along with salad vegetables and fruit. Magee’s own liquor outlet was attached making shopping conveniently simple. My shopping trolley was always loaded with interesting, tasty, tempting goodies when I walked out of Magee’s. I succumbed to temptation without guilt!
With my hamper filled with more than enough food to last me the weekend (as well as extra treats to take back home with me...items that were unavailable at the small, locally-owned supermarket in Collinsville), along with a couple of bottles of quality red wine, preferably Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon (one or the other or both) to wet my whistle, I continued forth with no further stops to delay my arrival at the beach.
When at the liquor store I usually added a six pack of Crown Lager...just in case...and if Scotch was on special, I’d throw in a bottle of that, too...carefully, of course. Liquor was cheaper at Magee’s store so it was sensible to stock up in Bowen because of the higher prices for similar items in Collinsville.
In case you’re wondering...no...I didn’t guzzle all the liquid purchases during my weekend stay. Most of my stocks, liquid and otherwise, journeyed back to Collinsville with me.
My weekend supplies did include a block of sharp cheddar, a round of Brie or Camembert (or both), a chunk of Stilton or a Blue; as well as Jarlsberg, a smoked cheese and/or Edam/ Water crackers, black and green olives, and some pâté, too, were tossed in for good measure.
To my constant amazement, as if by magic, dark chocolate-coated ginger or a block of almonds and dark chocolate (or both!) landed in my trolley...every time...without fail. I never understood how that happened!
My planning was organised to the letter. My unchangeable, consistent agenda was set in cement.
Once I arrived at my destination and I’d parked my car in its designated spot, there the car would remain, unmoved, until I departed for the return trip home to Collinsville. I had no intentions of going anywhere – I had enough food etc., to last me a year, anyway!
For my getaways I always stayed in the same cabin - “Laguna” by name.
Free-standing with more than three arms’ length between neighbours, the one bedroom dwelling graced the foreshore with a view across an inviting sea to stately Gloucester Island. It wasn’t glamorous, fancy, five-star accommodation, by any means. Some probably would class it as one-star. In my opinion it was 100-star. The cabin presented well. It was always sparkling clean, neat and tidy. It suited me down to the ground...or to the sand. The view and its surrounds were incomparable.
On the small, front verandah I’d sit, sometimes reading, sometimes not, but always savouring the vista, the sea air and the sound of the Coral Sea as it gently caressed the shore. Kenny G regularly played in the background, never intrusively. The mood was mellow.
Nothing could disturb the tranquillity, not an inquisitive seagull or three, nor a pair of dapper oystercatchers (known as “Wong birds” when on Fraser Island); not even the well-mannered Kenny G.
It would’ve taken an army of thousands to stop me from spending at least one weekend a month chilling out in my cabin with the beach and ocean its nearest neighbours. Each time upon my arrival, not unlike the open arms of a loved one a clear as crystal sea, as green as a sparkling emerald, fringed by dancing white froth as it rippled upon the golden sand welcomed me.
On the verandah railing a bleached piece of coral I’d found during an earlier visit remained untouched, patiently awaiting my return; and return I did, often. The moment I approached the cabin, peace transcended; enveloping all within its midst in serene calmness. I felt I was in the comforting embrace of a soft lambswool rug.
All was well with the world....every time I visited “my” cabin by the sea.
Olive Cheese Bread: Chop 1/2c kalamata olives and 3-4 garlic cloves. Combine 2-1/2c plain flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp salt, 2tbs minced onion and 1tsp dried thyme; then add olives and combine. In separate bowl, combine 2 eggs, 1/4c olive oil, 1/2tsp lemon zest and 1c milk. Add to dry mixture; don’t over-mix; clumps are good. Fold in 1c sharp or x-sharp cheddar, grated; place in greased loaf tin. Sprinkle top with cracked black pepper; bake in preheated 175C oven, 55-60mins or until done; serve warm with cream cheese.
Marinated Cheese: Slice 2x240g blocks of cheddar into 20x1/4-inch slices; cut 2x240g pkts softened cream cheese into 18 slices; sandwich between cheddar slices; use knife to spread evenly. Create 4x6-inch long blocks; place in dish. Combine 3/4c chopped, roasted peppers, 1/2c olive oil, 1/4c white wine vinegar, 1/4c balsamic, 3tbs chopped shallots, 3tbs minced parsley, 2tbs minced basil, 1tbs sugar, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1/2tsp salt and 1/2tsp pepper; pour over cheese. Cover; chill overnight, turning once; drain excess marinade. Serve cheese with bread or crackers.
Cheese-Olive-Bacon Muffins: Preheat oven, 190C. Grease muffin tin. Combine 200g S.R. flour, 1-1/2tsp baking powder and 1tbs fresh mint, finely chopped. In second bowl, combine 150ml x-virgin olive oil, 220ml milk, 1 egg and 110ml warm water. Combine with dry ingredients; add 1 small, finely chopped onion, 90g kalamata olives chopped small and 240g finely chopped Haloumi. Spoon batter into prepared tins; top with extra Haloumi, finely chopped and chopped kalamata olives. Bake for 20-25mins, or until golden. Cool in tins, 5mins; serve warm.