Monday, January 30, 2017


Gympie's Kidd Bridge..(once known as the "Channon Street Bridge - from 1893 until 1961)

River Heads, Hervey Bay
Fraser Island
75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island
Two of my staff on the little Topper doing a bit of "sailing" on the resort's pool (They copped a serve, too!)

Along with other myriad sage words of advice given by our mother and grandmother, and the many Life’s lessons my brother and I were taught by the same good women, we were told not to be show-offs; not to make exhibitions of ourselves in public, or, for that matter, in private.  We were taught there was nothing attractive about being a blowhard...prudent lessons to live one’s life by...even nowadays. 

I still recoil and walk away if I find myself in the presence of a show-off.  They receive no acclamation or applause from me.

When we were little kids, along with other interested parties of varying ages, often during Gympie’s many floods, my brother and I stood in awe alongside our Nana* while we watched the rapidly running Mary River increase in height as it wantonly immersed the Channon Street Bridge. 

(The Channon Street Bridge, which was christened such in 1893, since 1961 has been known as the "Kidd Bridge").

The quickly-flowing water was on its way, via Maryborough, to River Heads. There it would empty into the Great Sandy Strait where Fraser Island basks in peaceful repose. 

(The 1976 movie "Eliza Fraser", starring Susannah York and Trevor Howard was about Fraser.  In 1836 Eliza Fraser and her husband became shipwrecked on an island, and lived with the island's Aboriginals for a time....henceforth, the island was the named - "Fraser Island" )

Mary River’s source is at Booroobin, west of Landsborough. Quite a major system, the river travels approx., 226kms before reaching its final destination.  

Our entertainment pleasures were simple in those days of the Fifties - and cheap! 

One such day while watching the rising river, a plump, freckled, ruddy-faced, ginger-haired kid skylarked on his bike among the crowd. He was being a damn nuisance, and an idiot.

Acting like he was the star attraction he was ignorant to the fact he sprayed people with muddy water; that they were forced to move to dodge his grandstanding behaviour.

He wasn’t getting his kicks on Route Sixty-Six, but on Channon Street. He wasn’t wary of the Mary!

Nudging my brother and me, Nana whispered quietly: “He’s just showing-off! He’ll soon come to a sticky end. He’ll get his just desserts!”  

As if on cue, seconds after Nana’s prediction the kid hit an unexpected hole or a disguised impediment of sorts. 

Gurgle!  Splutter! Splutter! He and his bike ended up in the drink, sucked under as if by quicksand.

Unharmed, he soon re-surfaced even ruddier of face.

While everyone watched on in amusement he left meekly with his wet tail between his legs. No sympathy was offered.  Muffled laughter could be heard, instead.  Witnessing the would-be circus clown make a spectacle of himself on his bicycle had been an unexpected delight.  

It served him right for being a show-off. Maybe he learned an important lesson from his embarrassment. 

Do show-offs get embarrassed? 

There’s always a schoolyard show-off.  They’re everywhere; schoolyard or not; no matter what the age. 

Run for your life! Nowhere is safe from the braggarts.

If or when we showed signs of getting too big for our boots we were promptly and firmly told to wake up to ourselves. Either that or we were taken to Quatie’s Shoe Shop to be fitted for a new pair of shoes!

When I was managing the resort on Hinchinbrook Island I had three guests who have remained in my mind because they were inglorious poseurs.

One boasted, without humility, he was Melbourne’s most eligible bachelor. These words of self-praise were uttered within 30 minutes of his arrival at the resort!  His announcement didn’t alter my opinion of him.  Figuratively speaking I sent him to a shoe store for a down-sizing.  

Another, adorned in gold chains, glistening, perfectly-formed white teeth, waxed chest and fake tan believed he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  He soon became toast. 

I had to laugh when I heard a couple of weeks after his departure from the island that Ansett Airlines (I knew I had a few good reasons for liking that now-defunct (sadly) airline company) misplaced his luggage.  I'd hoped the pompous clown's luggage ended up in Bombay, the official name in the city in 1986.  In 1995 Bombay's name changed to "Mumbai".  (Perhaps Ansett sent the luggage there on purpose!  three cheers to Ansett)!

Another likely lad (read “cocky lad”) thought he was too grand to follow the resort’s simple safety guidelines.  Hijacking our small sailing craft, one similar in size to a Hobie Cat, he headed far out to sea.  In the dark of night a staff member had to rescue the fool. 

Upon his safe return I rewarded the arrogant buffoon with a serve.  The serve I gave him wasn’t his dinner, either. It might have given him indigestion for the rest of the evening, though.  Hardly a word came out of his mouth during the rest of his stay.  He didn’t go sailing again, either.  I doubt he even swam in the resort pool!   After the reprimanding he richly deserved from his little adventure, he was very meek, mild and well-behaved!  He was a fellow in his late 20s-early 30s; he should have known better.
Egos are like balloons; easy to inflate, fun to deflate!

*“Nana” is the name we called our grandmother...and that was/is our spelling of the name.  We never spelled it “Nanna”.

Parsnip-Parmesan-Sage Bread: Sift 225g S.R. flour and 1-1/2tsp salt into a large, roomy bowl. Coarsely grate 175g peeled parsnips into flour; toss around a bit; add 50g cubed Parmesan and 2tbs chopped fresh sage. Lightly beat 2 large eggs and 1tbs milk; add to ingredients, a little at a time, mixing evenly with flat-bladed knife, making a rough, loose, sticky dough. Transfer to well-greased baking sheet; pat gently into 15cm rough round; make a cross over top with blunt side of knife; scatter surface with Parmesan shavings and a sprinkling of flour. Dip a few whole sage leaves into olive oil; scatter over bread; bake in preheated 190C oven, 45-50mins, until golden and crusty; serve warm.

Sweet Potato-Sage Bread:  Stir to dissolve, 4-1/2tsp active dry yeast in 1-3/4c lukewarm water. Mash cooked sweet potatoes to make 1 cup. Place in bowl with 1/2c softened butter, 1/3c honey, 1 egg, 2tsp salt, 2-1/2c whole-wheat flour and 1-1/2tbs chopped fresh sage leaves; mix with spatula until smooth; stir in enough white bread flour to form a soft dough. Turn dough onto floured surface; dough will be very sticky. Continue adding bread flour while kneading until dough is tacky, but doesn’t stick to fingers; knead about 10mins, until elastic. Spray a clean bowl with oil; add dough; leave to rise until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down; divide into half; shape into oval loaves; place in two greased 9x5-inch loaf pans; cover; let rise until doubled. Bake in preheated 190C oven, 30-35mins.

Pretentious BLT: Whisk together 4 eggs, 3/4c cream and 1/4c chopped chives; season. Lay 4x1-inch thick crusty bread slices in mixture; soak each side, 3mins. Add butter to large pan; when sizzling add bread; cook 3-4mins per side. Serve spread with avocado; topped with lettuce, tomato slices and crisp bacon rashers.  

Booroobin...the source of the Mary River.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


The good old Aussie Lamingtons

Chocolate Bavarian Pie

(I preface this post, which is written in humour, with – This post is in honour of Australia Day, which annually falls on 26th January.  I’m not one who wants to change the name of Australia Day, nor am I one of those who want to change the date of Australia Day.  I’m also not one who wants to change our Australian flag.  I’m happy with Australia Day the way it is; on the date that it is. I’m also happy with the Australian flag the way it is – I’m proud of our Aussie flag – I’m proud to be an Aussie. My opinions are my own – I won’t change them, either).


Fair dinkum - the heat is killing me! Strewth! I’m already knackered –zonked; stuffed - and January’s not yet over; neither is the tennis!

The Aussie Summer of Tennis began after Chrissie, on New Year’s Day, and doesn’t finish until this coming Sunday with the blokes’ singles’ final.   

Will I hack it until the end?   No worries!  She’ll be apples!  Of course I’ll hang in there until the last ball is hit!  I won’t pull the plug until it’s done up like a dog’s dinner.  Anyway, I’ve got a rip-snorter of a pozzie to watch it from.

Actually, my non-stop activity began before the tennis with the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. 

All that marching while blowing on bagpipes in between belting the whatsits out of the drums took the wind out of me sails. I tried to snare a kettle drum, but ended up with the bass drum!  Holy Dooley!  It weighed a ton!  I dropped it, just missing me big toe! The drum’s still rolling down the hill, headed for the Gold Coast!   That’s the drum!

Then I grabbed a trombone.  You may well laugh! You try blowing a trombone without whacking the head of the bloke in front of you!  He wanted to dob me in to the bandmaster, but I told him where to shove it...if you get my drift!

Finally I nicked the flamin’ cymbals, but that didn’t turn out well, either. I ended up with squashed fingers and thumbs. 

You think that’s funny, too?   Boy! You’re easily amused!

You can rubbish me to your heart’s content if that’s your bag.  I won’t chuck a wobbly, but you try marching in step while playing an instrument, while keeping an eye on the galah coming up the rear, as well as the boofheads in front and to the side of you!  

No bull!  Deadset! It’s hard; particularly when I’d not had any brekky, or a kip in the arvo! 

Gimme a break! Knowing I had a month of tennis ahead of me I had considered bailing out, but being the trouper that I am I decided to give it a burl, and I gave it a fair go, I reckon. 

I even tried to do the Highland Fling! Just quietly, between you and me, that didn’t turn out well, either.  I’m a hobbling train wreck. What with me bruised thumbs, sore lips, twisted ankles, wonky hips – I’m not worth a zack. (Either that or I’m not a full quid)!  Hold your horses! There’s no need for all that nodding!  There’re no flies on me...I know what you’re thinking!  I wrote the script!

Last year the bozo down the road told me he used to be a beefeater.  I thought he was yanking me chain and meant he used to wear one of those funny, sissy outfits while prowling around the Tower of London, and stalking Queen Liz on the side.

I’d always thought he was from Whoop Whoop. But then, I woke up to meself, and was gobsmacked at me own stupidity. 

What a dingbat I was!  What a galah!   

No dramas, happens to us all at one time or the other...doesn’t it? You know!  It was one of those old brainfade moment - we all have them, you know!

The bloke meant he ate beef!

With all the flamin’ earbashing that goes on these days about what we should eat and what we shouldn’t eat (it changes from day to day, depending on which way the wind blows); what’s going to kill us and what’s not going to kill us; what’s going to grow hairs on our chest, or what’s going to give us a spare tyre (I could use a couple of spares for my car), I decided the “experts” could put a sock in it. They could pull their heads in and rack off. 

It’s their way - all the contradictions, fuss and noise – the telling us what to do and what not to do - of an making moolah.   

They change their tunes so often you’re flat out keeping up with them.  It’s a wonder Sony Music hasn’t signed them up!

One day “this” is good for you; and the next it’s not; and then “that’s” bad for you, and then, blow me down, it’s the best thing since sliced bread!  Sometimes the “experts” make me as angry as a cut snake!

Rafferty rules abound – they’re out of control!

No wonder so many people are going around shaking their heads; it’s not from denial, but from confusion. 

I tell no porky when I say a beef eater I shall remain with no outfit necessary, particularly in this heat. 

Like with everything, I eat red meat in moderation.  I don’t eat it every day; I don’t have it for chow every week. Sometimes it’s even longer between serves.  But when I feel like having a steak or similar, I will and I do.  I don’t need anyone to tell me whether I should or should not!

When I feel like chomping on chicken or seafood, I do that, too.  And if I feel like eating vegetables only....defiantly, I do that, also   I don’t eat a lot of processed foods; nor do I eat take-away food.  

Unless, of course, if you take into account the other day when I made some sangers for myself and took them outside to eat.

Hey!  I’m not bonkers, you know! I don’t need to constantly have the ever-changing food/diet info shoved down my throat all the damn time.

Fair suck of the sav! If I want to be a nutty fruit loop and eat only fresh fruit and raw nuts on any given day, that’s my choice!  If, on another day, I want to be an old cow and just drink lots of milk, eat butter, loads of cheese and ice cream, I will!  

If I want to chomp on a meat pie, or perhaps some chocolate, dark, of course, I’ll do that, too.  God help me if I feel like munching on a freshly-made, dipped in chocolate, desiccated coconut-coated delicious lamington or two!   Off to the Naughty Corner with me!
If I want to eat meat, fish, lentils, rice and vegetables (all together or separately)...I will.  It’s my choice.

Oh! Stop me now!  But not before I allow the thought of caramelised bananas drizzled with maple syrup flood my mind!  After all, I didn’t have to apply for a job as a banana bender...I was born into it! It came naturally!

I’m not allergic to anything...other than some humans, that is!

For Chrissie lunch I broke from tradition.  I’m allowed to do that.  I asked myself if I could, and I said “Yes, of course, you can!”

My lunch was a Bobby Dazzler.  

I dined on the best beef fillet I’ve had in yonks; bought from our own North Tambo Butchery. 

Crikey! It cost me an arm and a leg.  I almost choked when told the price as the butcher handed it over to me when I picked it up on Chrissie Eve; but I hid my surprise, and with a smile, I said, “Righty-o!” as I paid for it.  I couldn’t very well complain because I had placed the order a couple of weeks before.

However, I kid you not - it was worth every cent – and dollar! Too right, it was!  

It was so tender and juicy I almost didn’t need to put my teeth in!  

Grilled to medium-rare, I accompanied the 1-1/2 inch thick steaks (being a guts I had two was Chrissie lunch, after all) with spiced potato wedges (regular potatoes and kumara/sweet spuds), steamed greens and a rich, red wine sauce laden with mushies, it was a meal to dream about.  No bull!  

In keeping with the non-traditional, I had a yummy Chocolate Bavarian Pie to top it off...the lunch, not the steak, silly!  

It sure was good tucker –  grouse dinnies!  

If I go missing over the next couple of days, it’ll be because I’m on the lamb!

Hooroo!  I’m off like a prawn in the midday sun.  

Me and me cobber down the road are gunna sink a few tinnies while we shoot the breeze.

Happy Straya Day!

Australia Day Lamb Chops: On cutting board, “mush” together, using side of knife, 1 large minced garlic clove and 1/4tsp salt to make a paste. Add 1/2c pitted green olives, 1/4c sun-dried tomatoes, 1tsp drained capers and zest of half lemon to the board; chop roughly; not too fine. Rub 6 lamb cutlets/chops with 2tbs olive oil; season. Mix together 2tbs honey and 1/2tbs chopped parsley. Heat bbq plate or grill pan on high heat. Sear chops/cutlets, 3-4mins per side. When they come off the grill, brush on both sides with honey mix; rest lamb.  Put 2 handfuls of rocket in large bowl; squeeze half lemon over top; add 1tsp olive oil; season; toss to combine. Leave the tapenade on cutting board; place cutlets neatly on top; place rocket salad on the side.  Save washing up – it’s on board to eat off the board!

Waltzing Matilda Lamb: Trim 1kg whole lamb rumps. Cut into wedges 1 red capsicums, 1kg Jap pumpkin and 2 red onions; toss wedges with 2tbs olive oil; place on lined baking tray; cook 25mins or until golden; add 250g Haloumi, cut into 2cm pieces; drizzle with balsamic vinegar; bake further 15mins or until cheese is golden. Rub lamb with olive oil; cook 2mins on both sides, until browned; rub browned lamb with chopped rosemary leaves; put into roast pan; cook in 180C oven 15-10mins or until cooked to your liking; then rest lamb 10 mins. Slice lamb; serve with the roasted vegetables/haloumi and a green salad; drizzle with a balsamic reduction.  

Balsamic Reduction No.1 - In a small saucepan, bring the 1 cup of quality balsamic vinegar (or the whole bottle – contents only, of course!) to a boil over medium heat, then bring the heat down to low and allow it to simmer until it reduces by half. The longer you let it go, the thicker it will get; the choice is yours. Allow it to cool.   

Balsamic Reduction No. 2 - -whatever amount of vinegar you decide to reduce, you will end up with about less than a quarter of the original amount in syrup. Pour the balsamic into saucepan; heat pan to high. Whisk briskly. Once it starts boiling, keep whisking constantly to prevent burning. The vinegar naturally sweetens when reduced, but you can sprinkle in a little sugar, if you like, to taste.  Reduce half, or until vinegar takes on a syrupy consistency.  Be very careful it doesn’t burn.

Perfect Australia Day Steak: Preheat char grill to med-high. Coarsely crush, 2tbs whole black peppercorns, 2tbs dried green peppercorns and 1tbs Szechuan peppercorns. Transfer to a plate. Lightly brush each side of 4x200g trimmed sirloin steaks with lightly egg white of one egg; press into peppercorn mixture to coat; season and set aside.  Toss 8 sliced portobello mushrooms in minced garlic, or rub with 1 halved garlic clove; place in bowl; toss with 2tbs ex-virgin olive oil; season; Char-grill, 2-3mins each side until charred; set aside to cool.  Grill steaks, 6-8mins,turning once for medium-rare; rest, loosely covered with foil for 5mins. Meanwhile, toss mushrooms, 4 shredded spring onkons and 200g fresh, baby spinach leaves together.  Whisk together 1tsp Dijon mustard, 1tbs balsamic vinegar and 2tbs ex-virgin olive oil; season, then toss with the salad. To serve - divide steaks and salad among 4 plates.

Aussie Day Vegie Burgers: Mash 1x400g rinsed, drained chickpeas and 1x400g rinsed, drained cannellini beans in a bowl using a fork. Stir in juice of half a lemon, 1tsp ground cumin and 2tspn soy sauce, then add 1 finely chopped onion, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1 finely grated carrot, 1/3c black sesame seeds,1/3c crushed roasted peanuts, 2tbs chopped, flat-leaf parsley, 1tbs finely chopped mint leaves and 1c sourdough breadcrumbs. Season and combine well, then shape mixture into 6 patties. Transfer to a lined baking tray, cover and chill for 30 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile combine 1c thick Greek yoghurt, 1/2tsp wasabi paste (or to taste) and juice of half a lemon. Taste – add more wasabi, if desired; season. Heat 2cm oil in large pan over med-heat. In 2 batches, cook patties for 2-3mins each side until golden and warmed through; drain on paper towel.  Cut in half 6 wholemeal burger buns; toast each half.  Fill buns with lettuce, patties, tomato slices, Swiss cheese slices...whatever your heart desires, and taste dictates!

Aussie Tim Tam Brownies: Preheat oven 160C degree; line a rectangular pan with baking paper. Combine 1c plain flour,  3/4c cocoa, 1c brown sugar and 1tsp baking powder. Mix well. Melt 180g butter and 200g dark chocolate; pour into dry mix with 3 beaten eggs; mix until smooth. Dab about 4 heaped tablespoons of the batter onto base of the pan; smooth out. Lay entire packet of dark-choc Tim Tams over base.  Top with remaining batter; smooth over, hiding the Tim Tams; bake 30-35mins; when cool, slice into blocks; dust with cocoa powder. 

Monday, January 16, 2017


Central Hotel, Normanton
The Purple Pub, Normanton
The Albion Hotel, Normanton

Outback Stockman

The stockman's face glistened under the torrid outback sun
Weather-beaten wiry and worn, his teeth tobacco-stained
Alone he rides o'er the dusty dry land his day never done
His love of the vast brown land remains forever ingrained

Parched by day the unforgiving copper luminary beyond
Unrelenting in its punishment upon all that wander below
As if obeying the devil's command it does eagerly respond
Silence is broken by bellowing cattle and the call of a crow

 (Graphite drawings and poem by me)

The heat and humidity we’re experiencing here at present is very oppressive.  The not so good news is from Wednesday or Thursday forth it’s going to get even hotter.   

Whoopee!  I can’t wait!  I might put the oven on in the meantime!!

These temperatures, of course, are nothing new.  It is summer down here in the Land gets hot in summer; every summer it's gotten hot as far back as I can remember.   

When I was younger, as it is with many other things when one is younger, the summer heat didn’t faze me; but now that I’m older and am growing older as each day comes and goes, my tolerance for heat is diminishing...rapidly.

Yesterday I was sharing similar sentiments with an empathetic young woman.  She was empathetic because she, too, was sweating like the proverbial “pig”. (The poor old pigs cop the blame, when the truth is, pigs don’t sweat much. The origin of the terms refers to pig iron...a form of smelting, which requires high heat...hence the link to sweltering, I guess).

The young woman told me she was from Canberra, to which I replied; 

“Canberra has been copping the heat lately, too...but, I guess, it’s a dry heat, not humid...” 

We conversed for a brief while as we almost melted into puddles on the car park bitumen. 

I’d shot out early, at 7 am, to our local supermarket and newsagency. Primarily to beat the heat, but also to be back home again in time for the commencement of the tennis, the Australian Open.  While this heat (and the tennis) sticks around when or if I need to go out again that is the time I’ll be venturing forth from my four walls.

After my chat with the friendly young stranger my mind, with a mind of its own, returned to the time in early November, 1989 when I was acting as relief manager at the Central Hotel in Normanton....out in Queensland’s Gulf Country...way up western Queensland. 

Normanton, having a tropical savannah climate, has two distinct seasons.  One is the very hot and very humid “wet season”; the season when the monsoon trough usually pays a visit from December to March, bringing with it the torrential downpours (or it should); and the other is the hot, dry heat through the “dry season” that runs from April through to November.

Temperatures in November are around 36C (98F); sometimes higher; sometimes not much lower.  Of course, as summer gets into full swing it becomes even hotter, and the humidity even more overbearing.   

During April to November it’s a “dry” heat. 

Normanton’s “cold” winters crash to a low of around 29C (84F) during mid-winter which is July.

When I was in Normaton in November I really didn’t need the use of a bath towel.  (Certainly a saving on the laundry bill)!  A moment after stepping out of the shower I was bone dry – no towel required!

After living in Normanton for a while, my eyes felt a little gritty because all moisture was not only absent from the hot, dry climate, but it had been sucked out of me, too!  I wasn’t used to the “dry heat”, having lived most of my life on or near coastal areas.  This was all very new to me.

At the end of my stay in Normanton I flew back to Cairns by light aircraft. As I saw tropical Cairns looming in the distance to the east, to my surprise, I found myself looking forward to the humidity!  I was sick to death of Normanton’s dry heat.

While managing the pub, I was also dog-sitter for the two golden retrievers, the dogs owned by the managers whose duties I'd stepped up to the plate to perform while they were away on holiday.  

Each day, after making sure the dogs had attended to their respective ablutions, I made sure they remained in my accommodation unit (the managers’ abode) in air-conditioning comfort.  When I returned in the afternoons to shower and change for the evening session, “Duke” and “Duchess” would be let out to do what they had to do before I brought them back inside again.  There they would remain until I returned home after I’d closed the pub later in the evening; and then they’d go through their routine once again before we all settled down for the night.   

Some habits become habitual.

My time at the pub in Normanton was an interesting, learning, fun adventure.  An adventure I’m glad I had the opportunity to experience. 

Almost half of Normanton’s population of around 1,460 (as at 2011) is Aboriginal - indigenous Australians; many of whom drank each day at the “Mango Lounge”.  The “Mango Lounge” was just off to the side from my abode.  A couple of large mango trees gave necessary, much-needed shade to the drinkers.  The majority of those, if not all, who drank at the “Mango Lounge” chose not to drink in the pub.  It was their pub “lounge”.

Each morning before I opened the pub I made a point of sitting down with my “Mango Lounge” regulars to have a chat with them.  They always put the “ hard word” on me for free drinks and cigarettes, but I never succumbed to their sweet talking. 

Laughingly I’d tell them:  “I didn’t come down in yesterday’s shower!” (even though no rain had fallen for months)! 

Or I’d say: “You guys had better come up with new stories; you told me that one yesterday – it didn’t work then; and it sure won’t work today...or tomorrow!” 

“Aww! Missy!” They’d chorus.  “Okay, Missy!”  And we’d all laugh.  I enjoyed those moments crouched down on the red soil, listening to their stories.  They were a happy lot.

I told them I didn’t mind them using the “Mango Lounge” as long as they kept the area clean and tidy; for them not to leave any litter around because I didn’t want the cops coming down on me; and, in turn, on them.  I said I was sure they didn’t want either to happen.  If that were to eventuate the “Lounge” would be shut down – forever made out of bounds to them.

They’d been using the area for years apparently. The police kept an eye on them, from afar.  The “cop shop” was just up the road a bit from the pub, within easy walking distance. 

There was never any trouble when I was at the pub, other than one time. But that was caused by a couple of interlopers one Saturday morningThe brawl that never really got off the ground started on the footpath up from the "Mango Lounge". It was quickly broken up by my "Mango Lounge" regulars.  I told the would-be brawlers to move on before the cops arrived. They did as asked, without a backward glance.  And the cops didn't arrive.

Pleasantly, each day I’d remind the group to keep the “lounge” tidy...that, by doing so, was to their own benefit.  Did they want the cops to draw the curtain  - shut the lounge down, and move them on?

 “Oh, no, Missy!” they'd reply in melodious unison.  

Clean and tidy they kept it. I could tell by their beaming smiles they were extremely proud of themselves for doing so...daily.  And almost daily, when I passed by, with wide smiles they would point to their handy work, to ensure I'd notice their handiwork!

On any normal day, by noon or thereabouts, the “Mango Lounge” was vacated...and no mess was left behind.

The Central Hotel had the main public bar, and it also had the “Black Bar”. 
There was no political-correctness back in 1989...and there was no need for it.  Political-correctness probably still doesn’t exist in Normanton. 

There was nothing derogatory, belittling or racist in the bar’s name.  The town’s Aboriginals themselves so christened it. 

Others who chose not to frequent the “Mango Lounge” drank in the “Black Bar”.   

Many chose the “Black Bar” over the public bar; preferring “their bar” to the public bar even though they were welcome to drink in the main bar. 

Some drank only in the “Black Bar”; others meandered between it and the public bar, depending on the day and who else was drinking in either or both. And some drank only in the public bar.  No whites drank in the "Black Bar", or the "Mango Lounge".  I probably was the only white who spent time in the latter.  I doubt very much the managers who I was relieving ever stopped there for a chat.

Normanton is surrounded by cattle stations.  Many Aboriginal stockmen worked on those stations.  They didn’t come to town often, but when they did, some drank at the Central Hotel, either in the “Black Bar, or in the public bar, never at the "Mango Lounge".

I’ve written about this before, but a special vision - a special moment - remains embedded in my mind. The day one of the most striking men, if not the most striking man I’ve ever seen, walked into the public bar of Normanton’s Central Hotel.

He was a tall, proud black man, probably in his 50s, at a guess. The stranger bore a pepper and salt, trimmed, pointed beard that suited his imposing stature and highlighted his high cheekbones. His back was as straight as a die.

I found myself mesmerised by the man.  He was oblivious to his impressive presence; but, to me, an aura appeared to surround him. 

I asked my staff who he was, but no one knew his name. They told me he was the head stockman on one of cattle stations. They also told me he didn’t visit the pub often. 

I only saw him once during my time in Normanton, but the image of that noble, dignified gentleman standing in the bar that one day has always remained with me.  He may have not stayed in the bar for long, but my memory of him has stayed.

There are three hotels in Normanton - The Central Hotel, the Purple Pub and The Albion Hotel.  

The situation may have altered now, but in those days of the late 1980s-early 1990s, the Purple Pub was the chosen hang-out of most the black community, rarely were any of its patron white; at the Central Hotel, blacks and whites were welcome.  The owners of the Purple Pub and I got along very well.

At the Albion Hotel, across the road from the Central Hotel, the then owner welcomed whites only. No Aboriginals were allowed in the Albion.  I had a couple of dealings with the guy who owned that pub...I didn't like him.  

There is a word that fittingly describes people like that fellow!