Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Cape Richards,...the resort that is no longer...and Orchid Beach, Cape Richards
Goold Island

The report a few weeks ago about an eight year-old girl bitten on her foot by an angry goanna - it took two people to wrestle the monster off the child - and another, a couple of weeks later regarding a man who had a battle with a giant monitor reminded me of a few incidents when I was manager of the then resort at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island. 

Monitor lizards, large, medium and small roam the island undisturbed, relishing the pristine habitat, as they should.  A large monitor lizard is not something one would enjoy being confronted by, particularly a small child. The little girl would’ve been traumatised.  Her terrifying experience will linger long in her mind...if not forever.

Generally, the carnivores prefer to stay clear of humans.  Goannas have acute vision, but their ability to recognise – differentiate - objects by sight is limited. 

To a goanna a stationary human could be a tree.  The lizard can’t see the forest for that one, single tree. If startled, the monitor is capable of mistaking a human for a tree. 

Erroneously, a panicked goanna would scale the main trunk (human) in an effort to seek safety – not a pleasant experience for anyone - child or adult. They are not to be messed with; goannas are not soft, cuddly creatures.  

Early one morning while in my office at the resort I heard screaming issuing forth from the rear side of the main building that housed the restaurant, bar, kitchen, cold room, store room, small resort shop and the office. 

Dropping everything immediately, I raced outside in the direction of the shrieking. 

A staff member, loaded to the hilt with bed linen from guest cabins received the shock of her life as she entered the laundry.  Two goannas had been having a wrestling match high up in a tree near the laundry’s entrance. Losing their grip both landed on the poor lass.  She was lucky not to have suffered any injuries from their powerful, sharp claws and teeth.

Young parents, enjoying the ambience of Goold Island, across the way from Hinchinbrook, had their tranquillity shattered during their visit to the uninhabited isle.  Temporarily, they’d left their baby, on a rug, on the sand well above the watermark while they dipped their toes in the Coral Sea. 

Hearing their baby’s distressed cry they sped back to discover a goanna nibbling one of the bub’s fingers.  Luckily, no serious injuries were caused. 

I had serious heart to heart with a resort guest one evening when she arrived at the restaurant to dine. 

A doctor from South Africa, she was a woman in her early 40s, both old enough, and educated enough – one would think - to know better.

Guests had dobbed her in for her reckless behaviour towards a monster monitor during the day. 

I didn’t mince words when pointing out her aggravating the creature wasn’t a clever pastime. 

Commonsense is rare in some.

Displaying further ignorance, she asked if I’d have a staff member remove an innocent, harmless little gecko from her cabin!  

Request denied!  

Upon reflection, I should’ve replaced the gecko with a goanna.

My late brother, Graham (whose birthday it is/would have been today...28th February) and my chef David copped a tongue-lashing from me one day, too.  They stood there like two little schoolboys being reprimanded by a very angry headmistress...both with lowered heads as I blasted them, telling them they were both old enough and ugly enough to know better!  

They'd not seen or heard me coming.  I'd caught Graham and David feeding eggs to a massive goanna on the deck out from the cold room, to see how many it would swallow in one sitting.  A goanna will just go on forever...a bit like the theme song from “Titanic”!  

Goannas don’t know when to stop – feed them...and they will just go on and on until they’re about to explode.  This big fellow’s belly was already bulging when I arrived, unannounced on the scene.  

Not only was it the most senseless game being played out by the fellows, but it was a waste of eggs, too.  We were on an island, after all...and couldn’t “just pop down to the store” when we ran out of supplies!

Wound up and angry, in no uncertain terms, I also pointed out to the likely lads the foolishness of their bit of fun...encouraging a goanna...who would probably go and tell the rest of its mob that free food was on offer at the restaurant...wasn’t in anyone’s best interest.  The resort would have had permanent guests – bookings not required!

I now smile to myself every time I think of that morning. The guilty looks when they got unexpectedly nabbed...caught in the act!  I wish I had a photo of their faces while they were being duly and descriptively reprimanded.  They skulked back to work, heads lowered in shame and remorse.

A number of times I've prepared (when I was cooking in restaurants)...and tasted for the sake of tasting...a variety of out-of-the- norm “foods” e.g. crocodile, emu, frogs’ legs, escargot aka snails, eel, etc. However, I drew the line at goanna, gecko, and snake. 

Once, I did, as a joke, put Witchetty Grub Soup on the menu at a venue in which I was cooking. 

My behaviour needs monitoring, I guess.

Protein is good for us, but, personally, I prefer my protein from different sources than those above!


Orange Chicken Balls: Combine 1/4c milk and 1/4c Panko breadcrumbs; let sit 5min. Combine 800g minced chicken, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2tsp minced fresh ginger, 2tsp minced onion, 2tbs soy sauce, salt, pepper and soaked breadcrumbs. Mix with your hands; shape into balls, 2-3tbs per ball. Place in greased mini-muffin pan/or baking dish; bake in 230C oven, 15-20mins, until cooked.  Sauce: Add 1-1/2tsp each olive oil and sesame oil in pot over med-low heat; add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1tsp minced fresh ginger; cook, stirring, about 2mins until golden; add 1-1/2tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste, 3/4c orange marmalade and 1/4c hoisin sauce; cook until thickened slightly. Transfer balls to bowl; pour over sauce; toss to coat. 
Salmon & Puy Lentils: Put 200g Puy lentils in saucepan with 1 bay leaf and enough cold water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer; cook 30 mins/until tender. Season; add 200g fresh, chopped green beans; simmer 1min.  Drain; discard bay leaf. Stir in 25g chopped Italian parsley, 2tbs Dijon, 2tbs chopped capers and 2tbs olive oil.  Preheat grill to hot.  Slice thinly 2 lemons; arrange slices on foil-lined grill pan; place 500g salmon fillets and 1 finely-sliced fennel bulb on top; season. Cook under grill 10 mins, or until salmon is cooked. Place salmon on top of lentils and fennel slices, garnish with dill sprigs.
Protein Bars: Line a 9-by-13-inch glass pan with paper, letting it hang over the sides. Set aside. Combine 2c crunchy peanut paste, 1/3c honey and 1/3c chocolate milk in a medium heatproof glass bowl; place over a pot of simmering water. Allow mixture to become warm and smooth, stirring to completely incorporate. Remove from heat; set aside. Mix 2-1/2c rolled oats, 1/2c flax seeds, 2tbs chocolate protein powder, 1/3c dried cherries or cranberries and 1/4c mini-chocolate chips in a bowl.  Pour peanut butter mixture into coat mixture; stir until well combined. Transfer to prepared pan; press into an even layer. Sprinkle over more mini-choc chips, lightly pressing into base; freeze for 15mnis to allow mixture to set.  Remove from pan; cut into 24 bars; transfer to airtight container; freeze

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


I'm not going to put up any of the distressing pictures from the present devastation and heartbreak our farmers are experiencing in North West Queensland

Oh!  How I wish I was rich!  One thing is certain - I wouldn’t be flying around in a private jet with money clandestinely hidden away in the Caymans! 

I get so annoyed when I say I’d like to win a major jackpot in the Lotto, and the reply I get from some people is (usually uttered with a tinge of disdain in their voice) – “Oh! That’s too much for one person!” 

The way I is not too much for one person.  I, personally, don’t need a lot.  I don’t need a huge house or large fancy car.  I have no desire to go on cruises, or travel overseas or locally.  My needs are simple and humble.   

In winning a major lottery jackpot I could help so many people in need who desperately need help.  I’d not shout my philanthropy from the rooftops...I’d do it quietly, privately.  It would be my own business. But, boy, oh, boy...I’d gain so much pleasure from doing so.  I guess that makes me selfish...I’d be having so much fun doing so! 

Last week I had my visa and passport stamped to enable me to drive down to the lovely rural township of Beaudesert; a town about 30 minutes drive away, down off this mountain, to the west. The township is growing rapidly.

 I packed the Minties, tossed in a couple of bottles of water, a couple of oranges, some sweet biscuits, along with a cut lunch; a tent, rug, thermos, esky, dinner set and cutlery.  You see, I’m not well-travelled; nor do I travel well, or often.  Being an ex-Brownie and Girl Guide I like to be prepared.  One never knows...I’m a “just in case” kind of person.   You do realise, of course, the above is a slight exaggeration!

While I was at the dentist in Beaudesert I spoke with a lady who told me she and her family were farmers further out from Jimboomba, a rural area, not far from the town.  Sadly, the lady told me they’d received none of the welcomed rain we, here up on the hill, had done the previous week. 

If I were rich, it would be our much-in-need farmers I would be helping, of that you can be certain.  They’d be on top of my list.

On the road into Beaudesert my spirits lifted when I drove past paddocks filled with cattle and their calves nonchalantly minding their own business, ignoring me completely. A smile spread across my face re-awakening memories from my childhood – of the carefree times spent with friends at their parents’ dairy farms in the outskirts of Gympie. 

However, simultaneously, as I watched the cattle grazing, my emotions were conflicted - very raw.  

Horrific images of the dead and dying cattle on properties in north-west Queensland tormented my mind; as they have been since the catastrophe hit in our northern and north-west regions.  And, the problems our farmers elsewhere in this country are facing day in; day out...year in; year out.

I can’t begin to understand, or even imagine, what our farmers are going through; and go through year after year, faced with adversity whichever way they turn. 

Deep sorrow dwells heavily in my heart when I think about the devastation our farmers are faced with after the unforgiving deluge and flooding in our state’s northwest.  Seeing pictures of the thousands of dead cattle tears my heart into pieces.

Grave concerns for the mental welfare of our affected farmers must be of urgent, upmost importance. They need help, urgently, in many, many ways. 

Our farmers are the backbone of this country. If we lose our national herd, we are stuffed! 

Our farmers can’t win!  It’s either drought, bushfires, or floods. They can’t take a trick, no matter which way they turn. 

Dorothea Mackellar, in 1914, at the age of 19, wrote “My Country” - her poem about our sunburnt country...of droughts and flooding rains.  Her poem was first published in 1918.  It became a staple of our childhood learning.  Her words are part of this country’s tapestry...and ours...each and every one of us.

We need our farmers.  Don’t be fooled into believing otherwise.  They need our support.  Support them, we must; not only now...but always.  

Our food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves, or the refrigerated sections of our supermarkets.  It comes from the back-breaking, never-ending hard work and dedication of our men and women of the land. We MUST support our Aussie farmers. We MUST buy Australian-grown and produced more than ever. 

Let’s not depend on imports from countries whose agricultural practises are questionable.   The full effects of the disaster up north haven’t begun to be felt.  With your help, my help – our buying “Australian” we will be assisting our most-deserving farmers.  If you are unable to donate...purchase only Aussie... not imports.   

Reach out......

An aside....A couple of months before Christmas when handing my rent to my landlord...I dodge him as much as I can – he is a man who thinks he knows everything – even better he “knows” he knows everything.  He doesn’t let you get a word in and continually talks over you.   Therefore, because he is such an annoying individual, I try only to have dealings with him once a month when I hand him the that I always pay around 10 days in advance.

On that particular day, silly me, without thinking, said to him...”It’s terrible the hardships our farmers are facing...”

As is his habit, he immediately butted in and talked over me.  His response to what I’d begun to discuss...was...”Oh!   We don’t need farmers in this country.  We don’t need to depend on farmers...we can import everything.,,”

I couldn’t reply...I didn’t trust myself to reply.  Without a saying one word, I immediately turned on my heel, and entered my converted dump of a shed! 

If I’d lingered a second longer I would have taken his head off with my walking stick.   
Anger still rises within me when I think about what he said that day... I’m feeling anger as I write about it now.

To prove I don’t make up stories....he repeated as much the afternoon of the Australia Day lane party.  The people I was conversing with at the time couldn’t believe what had come out of his mouth!  The looked at me, stunned that such words would come out of his mouth...he added - "Farmers!  Farmers have millions of dollars!"

It really is a wonder he still has a head attached to his body!

Rib Eye with Roast Sweet Potato Medley: Preheat oven 200C.  Line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Combine 400g each chopped Gold, Purple and White sweet potatoes evenly on trays. Toss with olive oil to coat; season. Bake 35-40mins until golden and tender.  Drizzle 4xbeef rib-eye steaks with extra olive oil. Season both sides. Cook steaks in a large oven-proof frying pan over med-high heat for 2-3mins each side until browned. Transfer pan to oven; cook for about 5mins. or until cooked to taste. Rest steaks for 5mins; serve with sweet potato medley and seeded mustard.

Herb-Crusted Topside Roast: Preheat oven 240C. Arrange 12 French shallots, peeled and halved and 3 large chopped carrots in roasting pan.  In bowl combine 1tbs olive oil, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2tbs wholegrain mustard, 1/4c finely chopped thyme, rosemary and oregano; season. Spread over 2kg piece of topside roast.  Place beef on top of vegetables; pour 1-1/2c beef stock and 1/2c red wine around the base. Place in oven; reduce heat immediately to 200C. Roast 45-60mins.  Cover top of roast with foil if over-browning.  Remove roast from oven; set aside; cover with foil; rest 15mins. Return vegies to oven for 15mins. Meanwhile, boil 800g potatoes, cut into 3cm pieces, until tender; drain; return potatoes to saucepan; season. Mash with butter and milk/cream until smooth; then stir through 1/4c grated parmesan. Slice beef; serve with shallots, carrots, parmesan mash, sugar snaps peas and a rich gravy.  

Balsamic Veggie Pasta: Cook 375g penne pasta in generously-salted boiling water al dente according to package instructions: drain and set it aside. Meanwhile, as the pasta water is heating and the pasta is cooking, heat 2tbs olive oil in pan over med-high heat. Add 1 thinly sliced red onion; sauté, stirring occasionally, 4mins.  Add 500g fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces,1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces, and 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced; season.  Continue sautéing 4-5 more mins, stirring occasionally.  (Adding in another tablespoon of oil if needed.)  Stir in 5 minced garlic cloves and continue sautéing for 1-2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant.  Remove from heat.Once the veggies and pasta have all finished cooking, return the stockpot to the stove over med-high heat.  Add 1tbs olive oil, cooked pasta, veggie mixture,  3 to 4tbs balsamic vinegar, lots of freshly-cracked black pepper; toss to combine.  Sauté 1-2 mins, stirring occasionally, so the pasta is very lightly toasted.  Taste; add extra balsamic vinegar and black pepper if needed. Remove from heat; sprinkle over grated Parmesan; serve warm.