Monday, February 26, 2018


For the past two weeks or so I’ve pretty much done the above to the letter.  Now the 2018 Winter Olympics have come to an end, I’m having withdrawals.

We were experiencing steamy heat.  I tried to keep my cool by way of bingeing on the Winter Olympics.    

The fearless competitors held me in awe throughout the course of the courses.  They’re all crazy!  I say that in the nicest of ways.  There is no hidden intent of nastiness or ridicule in my words. How the participants perform the breathtaking, heart-stopping feats beats me. 

The thrilling acts of skill executed are rarely accompanied by tantrums or smug, mug-lair remarks like -“I just count money; that’s all I do; I count my millions”.  (The latter was a smug, sarcastic comment made by a certain Australian tennis player of whom I am not a fan.  I also am not a fan of sarcasm and smugness).

Continuously, throughout the duration of The Games I was mesmerised as I watched the slopestyle snowboarding, the moguls, ski jumping, speed skating, bobsleigh, snowboarding halfpipe, skeleton, figure skating and the rest of the electrifying winter sports.   

The competitors are awesome, one and all. They are admirable and spell-binding. 

Many have inspirational back-stories to match.

I tried...I really did understand and “get into” the sport of Curling...but to no avail.  I’m none the wiser now, than I was before.  I’m sure there is a skill in the art of curling, somewhere...but it left me cold.

There is little that stops my imagination from running free. 

When my skating partner tosses me in the air or spins me around by my ankle with my head and body an inch from the ice during the perilous death spiral I fear he’ll let go, causing me to crack said head, and the ice; either that or I’ll take off like a Boeing 747, wiping out the spectators as I fly by, ending up, uninvited, in Kim Jong-un’s living room.  My sudden appearance would make his hair stand on end.

The luge events remind me of my childhood.

My brother and his mates built their own gravity-controlled trolleys/billy carts, without sponsorship of Red Bull.  Like Chaz Mostert, Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton and Co., who’ve followed in their wake, the lads raced at breakneck speeds down our street and neighbouring roadways. 

Their most exciting, lengthy route began in Mellor Street, up beyond where we lived.  Undaunted, they’d career down Mellor Street, past the Gas Works, our Uncle Joe’s tailoring business, the Olympia Picture Theatre and all other premises in between, culminating at the Fiveways, originally known as “Nash Gully”, at the start of Mary Street, Gympie’s main street, with not a chequered flag in sight to herald the race’s completion.   

If they’d not braked, they probably would’ve finished up in the Mary River, or further north in the town of Maryborough!

Fortunately for them, in those days of the Fifties, not many cars were on the streets.  
To help paint the picture for you - Gympie is a very hilly town. 

The boys travelled at a rapid rate along the streets and down those hills.  With no helmets, knee pads, tough footwear (the lads were always bare-footed), or any other type of protective gear – clad only in cotton shorts and singlets – it’s a wonder they lived to tell the story over dinner at day’s end.  

Other than the odd gravel-rashed knee, shin, elbow or toe, and perhaps, hurt pride, they incurred no major injuries. 

There were rare moments of sibling generosity when I was allowed to go for a ride, but never on the grand, dangerous courses the boys dared to conquer.  I was just a girl, after all.  Trolleys were a “boy thing”.  

I never put up a fight over gender discrimination – Germaine Greer or Gloria Steinem I wasn’t (and never have been). 

Broken bones, skin off my knees, nose and elsewhere weren’t battle scars after which I hankered.  Playing with my dolls, playing the piano, dancing - doing “girly” things - were more my speed - more to my liking.

 “Chi Non Fa, Non Falla”.....The English translation of the Italian saying is –

“Those who do nothing make no mistakes”. 

In my case it doesn’t entirely apply.  I do nothing, and make no mistake, I regularly make mistakes. One mistake could be admitting to my mistakes, maybe not.  I could be mistaken.  

Will I ever stop making that mistake? 

Much is taken for granted these days.  I guess similar applied in the past, but we are more fortunate nowadays – most of the time we aren’t aware how lucky we are – in that we can watch events “live” they occur...via television and other versatile visual vehicles – witness them as they occur. 

I’m referring to happenings like ice skating, dance and singing performances, sporting events etc., etc., et al.

When I was a child we had circuses, pantomimes and vaudeville shows like the legendary Sorlies that travelled around the country, of course, but, otherwise, we rarely had access to “live” occasions per se.  

Movie musicals and rare, brief glimpses on newsreels shown at the Saturday matinees and week nights spent at the pictures were our only access to the wonder of dance or the magic of ice skaters etc.  Therefore, any mistakes made by the dancers, skaters, singers etc., during their performances were not shown on film.
If a performer put a foot wrong; if a step was out of step, the scene was re-done until the segment was picture-perfect.  Only then, we, the public, got to see it.
Our expectation of perfection was fulfilled.

Who ever saw Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Ann Miller, the magnificent, stunning Cyd Charisse, and others of their ilk put a foot out of place?  No one of the movie-going audience, make no mistake about that. 

The splendid ice skaters – individuals and pairs - performing their various figure skating events during the Winter Olympics were awe-inspiring.   

Their confidence, beauty, emotion, their grace of movement while floating across the ice like a feather in the breeze stole my breath. Tears often filled my eyes. When a skater fell or made an error I gasped loudly. I felt upset for them.  I felt the disappointment they rarely, if ever, showed.

Simultaneously, I admired their determination; their tenacity as they continued their routine, not allowing a mistake to interfere with their steadfastness. Their fervour to give their all was palpable. An unshakeable resolution to finish what they’d started, what they’d trained for - had spent hour after painful hour, year after year practising - shone through.

The tenacity displayed should be inspirational to both young and old.  They are the epitome of true grit.

I hope the young folk of today were urged by their parents to watch the Winter Olympics; to watch and be motivated by young men like our Aussie freestyle/aerial skier, David Morris. 

David controversially just missed out on a bronze medal, but it doesn’t matter because David Morris is pure unadulterated gold. 

In my opinion, Morris’ interview with Channel 7’s Hamish McLachlan is worthy of being on every school’s curriculum - public and private - from primary school forth.
Not having had children of my own I may be mistaken in my opinion.  

To have the desire to aspire is not a mistake.  It’s not a mistake to inspire our children to aspire to be the best they can be.  It’d be a mistake not to do so...

Imagine how wonderful it would be if the camaraderie, the goodwill, the happiness...and the respect for matter, race, culture, colour, creed....shown during the past two weeks or so of the Olympics held in PyeongChang, South Korea extended out into the real world...and continued.....


Avocado & Cucumber Soup: Put in processor, 2 medium avocados, 2-3 chopped Lebanese cucumbers, 1/2c fresh mint, 1 small onion, chopped, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1c plain yoghurt, 1tbs white balsamic vinegar and 1tsp salt. Turn on processor; gradually pour in 2c chilled vegetable broth. Process until smooth and creamy; adjust seasonings; garnish as desired; serve.
Chilled Asparagus Soup & Salmon: In pot over low heat, add 1 diced onion, 3 cloves garlic and 1 medium, peeled potato with a little butter; cook to soften, not browned; season.  Trim/peel 3 bunches asparagus. Slice the last 1-1/2 inches of the bottom of the stalks into thin rounds; add to onion mixture. Blanch asparagus trimmings and some Italian parsley in salted boiling water, 45secs; then plunge into ice water, taking the asparagus with you.  Add a nip of dry vermouth when vegies are soft; cook until dry; add 1/4c cream; bring to boil.  Place in blender with blanched asparagus trimmings and parsley; puree; add a little water if needed; adjust seasonings. Pass through fine sieve into metal container sitting in an ice bath.  Pour soup into bowls; break up one cold, cooked salmon fillet; add to centre of soup.

Fiesta Pasta Salad: In pot of boiling salted water, cook 250g penne pasta. Drain; transfer to large bowl; toss with 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced crosswise, 6 thinly sliced button mushrooms, 300g thawed, drained frozen corn kernels and 4c steamed fresh spinach. Set aside. In a bowl, combine 1tsp grated lemon zest, 2tbs lemon juice, 2tbs x-virgin olive oil, 2 finely chopped chives, ¼ tsp chilli (optional), 1/2tsp sea salt and 1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper; whisk well to combine.  Pour over cooked pasta mixture; gently toss to combine. Serve chilled with dollop of natural yoghurt.

Watermelon Frosty: Blend together, 2-1/4c frozen watermelon cubes, 1/2c water, 2tbs maple syrup, juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes, and 1 banana. 

Golden Soup: Combine ½ chopped onion, 2tbs each peeled, chopped turmeric, ginger and 4 roughly chopped garlic cloves; chop 450g carrots into ½-inch rings. Heat oil in pot, over med-heat; add first 3 ingredients; sautế until golden. (If using ground turmeric, add when curry powder is added; start with 1tsp, adding more to taste). Add garlic; cook, 2mins. Add 2c carrot juice or veggie/chick stock, 2c water, carrots; season. Bring to boil; cover; reduce heat; simmer 20mins.  Cool; blend until smooth. Place back in pot; over low heat; add 1 can coconut milk, 1tsp curry powder, 1/2tsp cider vinegar, 1/2tsp soy sauce and 1tsp maple syrup; simmer. Season; add a pinch of cayenne, for a little heat, if desired.

Crepe Gold: Combine 1c rice flour, 1tbs cornflour in bowl; rest at least 30mins, or overnight (bring it back to room temp).  Combine 1/2c soy, 1c water, 1/2c sugar, 1/4c lime juice, 4 minced garlic cloves and 2tsp chilli paste/flakes/1 diced fresh red chilli; set aside. In pan over med-heat add 1tsp oil; gently fry 150g sliced shiitakes and 2 shallots or ½ small, diced onion until beginning to brown. Add 4 asparagus spears, cut into 3 pieces; continue frying until asparagus is crisp-tender and shiitakes lightly browned. (Use whatever veggies you like).  Combine this with 200g bean sprouts, 1 sliced capsicum, 1 each julienned carrot and cucumber and 3-4 thinly sliced radishes in bowl; dress with 2-3tbs of the dipping sauce. In small pan, heat 1/4tsp oil over med-high heat; ladle a very small amount of batter into pan; tilt pan in circular motion to coat surface evenly.  Crepe should be very thin and bubble up when it hits the pan. Sprinkle some bean sprouts over one half of crepe: cover pan with a lid. Cook about 1min; fold crepe closed; place on plate; continue process. Stuff each crepe with the veggie mixture; serve crepes with lettuce leaves and herbs. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Me, hosting my stall at the 1986 Australian Tourism Exchange, June, 1986   (photos are a little damaged)

I'm the clown on the right

Flipping Barramundi!

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) is the largest tourist exposition/convention in the Southern Hemisphere, or it was, when I was managing the resort on Hinchinbrook Island. 

The ATE is held in June each year in Sydney, New South Wales.  Back then in the Eighties it was always held in Sydney, but over the years the situation has changed.  A couple or so years ago it was held in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland.  It also has been held on the Gold Coast, as well as Melbourne, and probably in other major cities, too. The Australian Tourism Exchange 2018 is being held in Adelaide, capital of South Australia.

In my capacity as ‘sales/marketing manager’of the island resort, along with my role as “manager”, I had to attend the ATE when it came around in 1986 and 1987. 

Tour-group operators, travel agents etc., from across the world, travel to Australia to attend the five day conventions/sales/marketing exposition to learn what we have to offer in the wonderful Land Down Under.

The exposition is organized by the Australian Tourism Commission. It is a massive event.

Prior to the commencement of the exposition operators of holiday destinations such as Hinchinbrook Island, for example, had to compile a list of tour operators and travel agents they thought suited their particular product.

The Australian Tourism Commission supplied a thick booklet to operators in the Australian market – resort managers, hotels, etc., etc., et al - and upon completion of the in-depth questionnaire therein, the booklet was returned to the Commission for them to arrange the appropriate appointments between operators and marketers...matching up one with the other.
For instance, the majority of my tourists/guests who visited the resort, excluding Australian at whom the ATE wasn’t directed, were from New Zealand, America, Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Sweden - with very, very little business from Japan and other Asian countries.

Therefore, the areas from where my business originated were the areas I targeted.

At that time, the majority of Japanese tourists weren’t interested in what Hinchinbrook Island had to offer, which was little, really, other than total relaxation and exploration by long walks thrown in, if so desired. And of course, the boat trips to other areas around the island, and to neighbouring islands.

The Japanese tourist preferred to travel in groups. Very few were ‘free-independent travellers’....otherwise referred to as   “FITs”.  The Japanese desired and looked for the ‘bright lights’, the hustle and bustle of the madding crowd in such as busy areas like the Gold Coast in South East Queensland, Sydney etc.  What I had to offer on the island was not their "speed".

I concentrated on ‘my market’, the market that provided guests who where suited to my ‘product’; who were in search of a relaxed, natural, laid-back, neon-light-traffic-free environment.  

Naturally, I projected some of my marketing towards new, possible horizons, but my main focus was upon those who sought what Hinchinbrook had to offer.

Before my first ATE, I had to produce a video depicting the island’s pleasures and temptations.

I had very little time to do this because I’d been given only a few week’s notice of the pending event; before I had to jump off into unknown waters.   Time was definitely of the essence.

There was no other choice.  A video had to be done for me to offer to ‘clients’ at the ATE.  The video would have to be on continuous play in my stand on a television set while I ‘sold’ my product to the clients.

Before I go any further, the daily sessions of the ATE commenced at 9am. Individual sessions last fifteen minutes; two minutes prior to the completion of the fifteen minutes limit, a bell rang alerting both the seller and the buyer that there were two minutes left before said “buyer” moved on to the next booth/appointment. Then another bell would ring at the one-minute mark. At that point, the session would be wrapped up; the “buyer” would move on to its next appointment and the next client would move into your booth, ready to listen to your spiel, and they fired off myriad questions.

This went on, non-stop except for a one hour break for lunch.  The sessions ended at 5pm each day, continuing for the duration five days.

Often - daily - of course, the hours were extended.  Also, further business was conducted in the evening.   

There were special functions held in the evenings to that one was expected to attend.    

Marketers and clients mingled, learning more about each other and the product on offer; talks were given by invited speakers, knowledgeable in all things to do with tourism.

It wasn’t all ‘beer and skittles’…by the end of each day, and in particular, by the end of the five days, thoughts in one’s mind were fused together.  Sometimes, during sessions with the visiting "shoppers" confusion would set in whether you had already said ‘that’ to that person sitting in front of you, or were they sitting there waiting for you to start your selling pitch!
I’m sure the ‘buyers’ were going through similar confusion as we, the “sellers” were. 

The ATE was full-on for the whole five days, and nights.

Returning to my story about producing the video...

I arranged for friends from the Sunshine Coast to come to Hinchinbrook Island for a week to handle the photography side of things.

Peter and his wife, Lyn, arrived the second week in May. With no time to waste, they immediately got to work. I had to be in Sydney early June, armed and ready. 

Once the filming was completed, Peter and Lyn returned to the coast, where he developed the hours and hours of film he had taken.  I then had to help him edit the film, and there was lots of it, I can assure you.  This was in 1986, before digital cameras etc.  Hours of filming had to be cut down to a take (video cassette) of only five minutes duration. 

That, apparently, is about the limit of one’s concentration when you’re trying to ‘sell’ a product...longer than that, and you’ve lost them.  Experts say it’s even less than ‘five minutes’, but I ignored the ‘experts’, and produced a five- minute video tape of the island’s beauty; of what it and the resort had to offer.

In the short time we had to put it together, I wrote the script, chose suitable background music, and then, I had to go in search for a ‘voice-over’ expert.
All of this I had to do from the confines of the island, from a distance, by telephone between Peter and me.   It was all done by remote control, really.

Fortunately, from my 14 years spent within the fashion industry in Brisbane, I had contacts in the media – radio and television.  I called upon those I knew in search of a suitable ‘voice-over’ person.  Fortunately, I found one who could fit into his schedule the job I asked of him. 

Unfortunately, He did stuff up by pronouncing "foliage"...."foiliage", but there was no time to correct his error.  So I compromised in a very innovative way.  When that segment of the video cassette appeared, I purposely talked a little louder each time.   I doubt anyone noticed my ploy, other than wondering why I was suddenly shouting!

I had a few hundred copies of the video produced.  I still have one amongst my archives here at home.

Being a latent/closeted movie director, I planned a few ‘staged’ scenes in the making of the video.

One such scene was me admiring the ‘catch of the day’ – a large barramundi - “caught” by one of my male guests.  I organised for him to stand, gloating, proudly holding up the large fish that he'd "caught".  

Barramundi is a prized Aussie fish for you all up there in the Northern Hemisphere.  The annual barramundi closed season in Queensland starts begins annually 1st November running through to 1st February.  Possession size limits.....Minimum size....58cm....Maximum size limit....120cm.

With tricks of natural lighting, and sleight of hand, I pulled a big, whole, frozen barramundi out of one of my freezers.  It was the one my chuffed guest held.    

Those who viewed the cassette was any the wiser, as they “ohhhed, and ahhhed” when sighting the beautiful marine creature.  

My deception lives to this day…or did, until I revealed all here!

On the video, I also wanted to depict weary, but happy guests arriving back to the resort from one of the boat trips to the outer reef or elsewhere around the island waters at day’s end.

Once again donning my director’s cap, tossing aside my director’s chair, I grabbed my ‘clapboard’.  I barked orders (not quite ‘barked’ – it was done politely); arranged my “cast” on their invisibly-marked spots.

 Count-down was about to commence!

Mark (the lad I wrote about in a previous post) arrived down to the restaurant to prepare for his evening bar shift.

Immediately, seizing the moment, I commandeered him.  I told him I wanted him to help set the scene; for him to pretend he was a guest.  I wanted him to nonchalantly stroll up along the path in the background. The path led up an ever so slight incline to the guest cabins.  

In his role as a resort guest, I asked Mark to pretend to act natural - to ignore the fact the camera was rolling; for him to keep walking until I called out for him to stop.  There was no script.  He had no dialogue to learn...he just had to stroll leisurely, admiring his surroundings...happy to be alive.

The guests, excited they were to feature in the island video; copies of which would eventually go throughout the world, eagerly awaited my order for them to begin their part in the mini-Cecil Lee. De Mille production!

Each handled their roles with the expertise of seasoned stars.

Meanwhile, Mark had disappeared out of sight!  He was still walking, back to Sydney from whence he came, I think.

Lost in my own directorial prowess, in the process, I forgot to yell out to him to stop! 

I believe if I hadn’t finally realised what was happening unnoticed in the background, he would have disappeared forever.

The island is 245 square-miles in area, with the resort situated on the far north-eastern tip of the island at Cape Richards on a mere 22 acres.

To this day, I am certain he would never have been seen again, or at least, not for a couple of months or so. And then, if he was found, he’d be completely unrecognizable!  
Tarzan lives!

The scene still causes me to smile when I remember that particular afternoon.   Poor Mark...he caused much humour...good-natured mockery directed his way.