Wednesday, November 25, 2020



Taken for my Sweet16th Birthday...I'd just cut my hair...having had long plaits until then.  I'm not sure if I've ever been "sweet"!

Summer, 1961......Even shorter hair...on Mooloolaba Beach

Me on the left with my workmates at Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors, Gympie....(Growing my hair once more). Three of us remain good friends to this day....

Two views of Laguna Bay, Noosa Heads' main beach

And, the above video clips are the reasons why we didn't need to go to a gym!!


After completing primary school at Gympie’s Central School, which was situated a short distance up the road a bit, and around the corner from my childhood home, I attended Gympie State High School.  As mentioned in previous posts, I left high school at the age of 15 years, about three months before my 16th birthday.

Uniforms were not part of primary school, but they were compulsory items of clothing at high school.

There were a few grumbles about the non-flattering uniforms, but that didn't matter. The grumblings were ignored.   At least, the uniform ruling about uniforms saved on the purses of our parents. Wearing of the unattractive uniforms, no doubt, eased peer pressure in that we didn't feel we had to 'keep up with the Jones', or the doctors’ and solicitors’ kids.

At high school uniforms were the rule, so I conformed.  No choice was given.  I doubt it did me any harm, even if the uniform wasn’t becoming.  We weren’t meant to be ‘fashion plates’ at school, anyway.

I don't think it hurts the kids to wear school, and for sport.   

I've not worn a uniform of any description since my high school days...which, as I am sure you are aware...was many eons ago.  During my working life I never wanted to wear a uniform.   

At my first work-place after leaving school, the legal office, my workmates and I had a brain-wave one day.  Believing we had a world-shattering idea, we decided to design and make a uniform for us to wear to work each day.

 “It will save us money” was the reason we came up with to convince ourselves.  Into our “Christian Dior” mind-set we delved.  After agreeing upon a design, off to the haberdashery we went to purchase the necessary material etc.

I think we wore our smart, dark green, sheath-dresses with their crisp, white collars and white buttons down the front about two times...three at the most...before we discarded them.   The wearing of the smart, crisp uniforms didn’t last out the week!

Uniformity was not what we wanted.  It wasn’t who we were.

When I was cooking in restaurants I created my own "uniform" because I didn't want to conform.   Self-taught, I wasn’t a “ticketed” chef”.  I didn’t have the “papers”...just a huge pile of recipe books, an open mind, an imagination, and the will to do cook well.

 My belief was, I hadn’t earned the right to wear a chef’s uniform.  My “uniform”, when I cooked in restaurants, etc., was a pair of  leggings (usually black) with a longish white tee shirt. 

In the early 90s, the boss of a company I was employed by at the time.....Morris Catering (Morris Corporation, Australia)....told me during one of his visits I had to wear a chef’s outfit.  He told me he would organise a uniform to be sent to me after he’d returned to the Head Office in south-east Queensland. 

However, I stood my ground.  He changed his tune when I told him I wouldn’t be doing so, and when I explained to him my legitimate reason for my firm stance.


“Schoolies’ Week”:  Where school leavers toss their uniforms, and sensibilities to the wind, and into the ocean!  I think “Schoolies’ Week” is a load of hogwash!  

I'd already been working a couple of years earning my own living at the age of these kids are who go crazy...out of coastal areas this time each year!  

Schoolies' Week may bring a lot of money to the coastal communities, but it also brings added pressures and problems.   All one has to do is read the daily newspapers and watch the daily news’s going on presently....

What occurred at Noosa Heads’ main beach last weekend is a prime, disturbing, frustrating example.  

A popular beach on the Sunshine Coast was closed for cleaning and safety today after scores of school-leavers trashed its sands. Broken glass and rubbish lay strewn across Noosa's Main Beach, with sections of the sand taped-off and Nippers cancelled.

When I was a teenager working in a legal office in Gympie, without fail, every weekend during the spring/summer months, about three, sometimes four girlfriends and I went to the coast, either Mooloolaba or Noosa. Noosa became our beach of choice after a year of frequenting Mooloolaba.  Noosa Heads was (still is) also closer to Gympie.   

From the ages of 15 and 16 years forth, off to the coast we did go.

We spent the days, from early morning, sometimes hitting the beach at 6am, until late afternoon as the sun made its western descent, surfing (body-surfing, and board). 

Summer nights were spent dancing our feet off at the dances, and various record hops.

On long weekends, midnight-to-dawn record hops were organised.  Dancing through those evenings was the norm.  We’d attend the earlier record hops first, before moving onto the late ones, later. 

I remember a few instances where I had blisters on the soles of my feet from 'rockin' & rollin' all night long...twisting the night away!  Shoes weren’t mandatory! Regularly they were kicked off half way through the evening as we kicked up our heels.  Oh! How we loved to we loved the music!

We certainly didn’t need to go to a gym to exercise.  We walked everywhere; we swam; we surfed; we danced.  Rarely were we still.

Alcohol wasn't part of the equation, neither were sex and drugs.  Not within our group of fun-lovers, anyway.  Looking back, I guess we were fairly innocent...but there was no harm in that.  The surf, sun, sand and music were our drugs.  We needed no others.

When alcohol was present, binge-drinking definitely didn’t play a role in helping us have fun.  The legal drinking age back in the time I am describing was 21 years.  We weren't supposed to be drinking.  During Gympie’s ball season there were always pre-ball and post-ball parties...and I attended all the balls, and all the parties.  

Although not totally abiding by the rules, my group of friends and I respected the rules. and we didn't abuse them when we had an alcoholic drink.  Alcohol wasn’t a necessity.  We knew how to have fun without it...and we did...have loads of fun.

I know in my case, and that of my mates, we still had our parents to answer to if we stepped over the line.  We still had to return home after a night out...and had to face our parents.  A friendly, happy parent is far more pleasant than an angry, disappointed one!  You can guarantee our respective parents would have heard about our behaviour...if we’d stepped out of line...somehow or other.  There were lots of 'bush-telegraphs" and “bush-tom-toms drums” around in those years.

I'm not saying we were a bunch of prudes...goody-two-shoes...we weren't...but we had respect for our parents, and our own self.  We understood where the lines were.

Many of today’s young people appear to lack respect for their parents, themselves. and/or each other, scoffing at authority.  A lot of the time, I believe the blame belongs to the parents.  It falls squarely on the shoulders of the parent/s.   Adults have to be the “adults”...from the moment their child is born...if not before.

When I first relocated to this mountain, I cooked in a resort/hotel restaurant on the northern end of this plateau.  On weekends, a 16 year old girl, who was still going to school...who was very “young: in many ways...was doing work experience in the kitchen, and table service in the restaurant. 

Almost bursting with excitement, she was heading off to the Gold Coast for 'Schoolies' Week'.  

Her parents loaded up the boot of their car with booze for their child to take to the coast.  To the Gold Coast they drove the lass, depositing her there before returning back home to this area up here on the ‘hill”.  

What a great message!  What a tremendous example,  I thought!  (Hang on! I'll take my tongue out of my cheek, and remove the sarcasm!)

To my way of thinking Schoolies’ Week is all a bit sad and crazy...reckless.  Try as I might, I fail to understand “Schoolies’ Week”; or the reason for it.   I know if I had kids attending 'Schoolies' I'd be worried sick.  I would hope that I had instilled in them good values, and they had the good sense to remember the values, and retain pride in themselves. 

There are too many dangerous traps for kids today to fall into, and too many bad characters around who prey on them, looking for the slightest, tiniest chink in their fragile young armour.

Perhaps, I sound like an old be the words of Popeye...”I yam what I yam...”

Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Preheat oven 200C .  Peel...optional...the only vegetables I peel are onions and garlic) and cut 2 sweet potatoes/kumara into thin slices.  Place 2tsp minced garlic, 1tbs olive oil, 2tbs melted butter, 1/2tsp garlic salt, 4tbs grated Parmesan and 1/2tsp Italian seasoning in a Ziploc bag, or bowl; mix well. Add sweet potatoes; shake/toss until well coated. Lightly butter a baking dish;  arrange coated sweet potatoes into a spiral. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan.  Bake sweet potatoes 30-35mins. Serve warm; sprinkle with thyme, if desired. 

Miso-Ginger Sweet Potatoes: Preheat oven 218C. Cut 2-3 sweet potatoes (kumara) in half lengthwise; place on baking paper-lined baking tray, cut side down. Brush or spray  skin sides with olive oil. Roast 30-40 mins until fork tender (check at 30 mins, keeping in mind they need may need longer if very large).  When tender, flip over and broil if they need more caramelisation. While they are roasting make the Shallot Ginger Miso “butter”. Heat 1/4c olive oil, butter or ghee ( or coconut oil instead of the olive oil, if preferred) over med-low heat, add about 1/2c finely diced shallot; carefully sauté until golden, stirring often, about 5-6mins. Add 2tsp finely minced ginger; cook 2-3 more minutes. Add 1tbs miso; using a fork, mash; add to the mixture, breaking it up as much as possible. It won’t get creamy, just mash the miso as best you can with the fork into the tiniest little bits; let these bits get slightly crispy, sautéing 2 mins or so. Turn heat off. When sweet potatoes are caramelised to your liking, place on a platter flesh side up, reheat the miso butter; pierce the flesh in a few spots using a spoon, (so miso butter can get down inside); then spoon a tablespoon or two of the sauce over each one, making sure to include the flavourful “brown bits” ( shallot, ginger, miso). Sprinkle with a little salt;  sprinkle with chopped green stalks of shallot.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020



Two Views of the Hinchinbrook Channel

Television commercials can be annoying and disruptive.  Some are downright stupid.

There are a couple of exceptions...for me, anyway.

I adore the TV commercial featuring the cocky little quokkas rocking out “Holding Out For A Zero” (a twist on Bonnie Tyler’s song, “Holding Out For a Hero”).

The ad stars Buddy, the Quokka, and his cheeky, happy band members. A far from drab Jerry the Crab is the rocker quokka band’s guitarist.  Having side sliding down pat, Jerry plucks a merry tune on his guitar. Whenever the ad comes on I cease doing whatever it is I’m doing just to watch the entertaining, cuddlesome chaps who always bring a smile to my face. 

Similar applies to the “Walk Like a Ram” RAMS’ ad.  The swaggering ram strutting his stuff, with his butt swaying in tune to the music, and a knowing smile on his face, has me under his spell.

 It’s no crock, the quokkas and the ram make my spirits soar.

One night, when I was manager of the then resort on World-Heritage-listed Hinchinbrook Island, national park rangers on the mainland caught a giant crocodile, the largest they’d ever seen.

In the darkness rangers and croc fought an all mighty battle in Meunga Creek, a creek 5kms north of Cardwell.  

After many hours grappling the angry, enormous croc the rangers were the victors in the protracted battle.

They christened the rapacious, aquatic monster, “Big Charlie”.  Having not given in without a fight, “Big Charlie” was minus a couple of teeth at war’s end.  His teeth were yanked out by the mesh nets used to trap him.  Once trapped, the rangers loaded the giant, carnivorous creature into a sturdy steel cage on the back of a truck. Cranky “Big Charlie” was transported to a wildlife farm outside of Port Douglas.

Bredl’s Reptile Park in Cardwell didn’t have ample room to house the monster.

Word came through “Big Charlie” had settled comfortably into his new home.  At first, his neighbours were wary of him. Eventually, when he spun yarns of his capture, they became “Big Charlie’s” captive audience.  His missing teeth didn’t cause a lisp, nor did they hamper his enjoyment of food.

That action-packed night was the talk of the region over the following few weeks...and months.

One of my island staff members had previously worked at Bredl’s Reptile Park in Cardwell.  “Skirt” aka Steve was handy to have on the island because he loved snakes.  He enjoyed being the island’s snake handler. With snakes he had an affinity.  A similar affinity I did not, and do not have. To be bluntly honest, I hate snakes.

“Skirt” willingly shared his vast knowledge about reptiles to interested, intrigued...and some fearful...resort guests. The snakes he caught he kept in secure wire cages up at the staff quarters.  Needless to say, “Skirt’s” co-workers weren’t keen on sharing a room with Skirt and his slithery mates.

After a short while, the snakes were transported across the ocean to the wildlife park in Cardwell where they were welcomed with open arms.  A fresh, live, healthy stock for venom-milking purposes was always necessary for the reptile park.  A very important service was being served.

Crocs in big numbers inhabit both the Hinchinbrook Channel, and the many meandering, mangrove-fringed waterways running from Missionary Bay through to the island’s interior. Advice to be’s wise to stay aboard the boat when cruising, and/or fishing in those areas.  If you value your limbs wait until you get back home, or to your motel room before getting wet.

 I’m sure some of “Big Charlie’s” offspring and relatives are still lurking around the waterways. 

And that, my friends, ain’t no crock...but those long-snouted critters are crocs...and are not to be messed with!


Picnic Hamper Treats;

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad: Dressing: Combine 1/4c olive oil, 3tbs fresh lime juice, and a little salt; shake well.  Put 2c cubed watermelon, 1c sliced cucumber, ½c cubed feta, ½ avocado, cubed (toss avocado in lemon or lime juice to keep it from browning), 10 torn mint leaves in suitable container, Just before serving add 1/2c shelled pistachios; pour dressing over salad; toss gently.

Curried Chicken Wraps: Preheat oven 175C. Place 3 split (1-1/2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on oven tray; rub olive oil into skin; sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast 35-40mins, until chicken is just cooked. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard skin; shred chicken into pieces. Dressing...process until smooth, 1-1/2c sour cream (mayonnaise if you use it...I never use mayo...never have), 1/3c dry white wine, 1/4c chutney, 2tbs curry powder and 1-1/2tsp salt. Combine chicken with enough dressing to moisten well; add 1c medium-diced celery, 1/4c chopped shallots, white and green parts and 1/4c raisins; mix well. Chill a few hours; then add 1c roasted, salted, chopped cashews. Take 6 tortillas, fill centre of each with mixture; fold 2 sides over filling; roll from bottom to top; cut in half diagonally.

Blueberry Cake: Preheat oven 162C. Beat 2 egg yolks and 1/3c milk. Dredge 2c blueberries with flour to thinly coat. In bowl, sift together 2c plain flour, 5tsp baking powder and 1/2tsp salt; add 1c sugar, beaten yolk-milk and 2tbs melted butter. Beat well. In separate bowl, beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Add egg whites and blueberries to the flour. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon to combine. The batter will look somewhat dry, but it will rise and become cake-like in the oven. Turn mixture into well-greased cake or loaf pan. Bake 45 mins, or until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Let cake cool 15mins in pan, then transfer to wire rack. 





Saturday, November 07, 2020



Over the past few weeks...and more particularly from 28th October through until 6th November, I was doing a lot of stewing and mulling!  I should have made some mulledwine to ease my stress, anxiety, frustration and anger!   

For a period of 10 days as described in the dates mentioned above, I was without a phone connection.  I experienced intermittent internet connection, followed by 36 or so hours of no internet whatsoever. To top things off, I had no access to my Telstra TV...streaming services.   Services I pay for...and services I was not receiving.  I've been a Telstra customer since before the Last Supper, and I always pay my account before the emailed account arrives in my mailbox.  I always pay my bills...before the due dates!  Old habits are hard to break!

I do not have a mobile/cell phone.  I do not want, and have no need for a mobile phone. I have no desire to be talking on a phone when wandering up and down the aisles of the supermarket, or when I'm driving.  Landline suits me just fine, thank you very much!

In this humble little cabin I rent mobile phone reception is such that to take or make phone calls I would have to go outside to do either.  With my problematic mobility problems...having to do so is not convenient, nor is it comfortable.

What is the point having a communication’s company if you’re unable to communicate with them? 

And when one does manage, after hours of waiting in a queue, one ends up talking to someone in India and/or the Philippines who has little command of the English spoken and/or written word!!!

Eventually, on Friday afternoon, 6th November, a technician arrived! Glory be!  Glory days!!!!!!

On Friday, 30th October I had been informed by Telstra, in India, that a technician would arrive on 9th November!   I was also informed Telstra would send me an “interim mobile phone” use in the interim...and it would be delivered to me on Monday, 2nd November.  I’m still waiting......Apparently, it is an immobile, interim mobile....

To make the call on 30th October I imposed upon the hospitality of neighbours, and I used their phone to TRY to talk with someone from Telstra.  It was a chore that took me over three hours, after I’d spent the same amount of time the previous day on the business phone of our local newsagency, waiting in a queue.  I waited and no avail.  Finally, I waved a white flag of surrender.  I couldn’t tie up their business phone any longer!  I didn’t want to impose further upon their goodwill and generosity.

Without my two furry two beloved best friends...I would have completely lost it!!!

There is a lot more to this story...but enough is enough has exhausted me, and I am sure my telling of it, even if only part of it, is exhausting you....


However, now that I have begun to regain some of my sanity, on a lighter note to what I’ve been mulling over...yanking my hair out over (I’ve two strands left. I’ve no need to visit a hairdresser)...I shan’t burden you further with my burdens. 

As it is, I’ve already been a big enough nuisance to others. Now they run and hide when they see me coming.  It’s time to lighten the load.  I wonder if a visit to the dump will help!

Every time I hear Paul McCartney & Wings' “Mull of Kintyre” a wide smile spreads across my face, and a fond memory floods my mind. 

Upon hearing the melody I’m always reminded of a highly enjoyable evening in the early 80s when my then husband, now late ex-husband, Randall and I were entertaining two guests for dinner at our home in Sunshine Beach, which I’m sure you all know, is on the southern side of the Noosa National Park, up on the Sunshine Coast. 

Our house, which we were in the midst of renovating at the time, sat high on the secondary dune line.  Lush vegetation covered the north-eastern slope to the street below.  From our kitchen window, our open-plan dining/living area, and from the wide timber deck that ran the width of the house, the view to the never motionless Pacific Ocean was always intoxicatingly inviting.

One of our dinner guests on that particular mid-week evening was a local solicitor.  His partner in crime was the head honcho of a Sunshine Coast property development company.  Naturally, music played throughout the evening.  Music held a special role in our lives at all times.  Our record and tape collection was vast and varied.

When the pipers of “Mull of Kintyre” burst forth, accompanied by McCartney belting out the tune, up went the volume.  Out on the deck the four of us joined in.  No kilts were necessary.  We swayed and sang along with the wonderful piece of music...quite loudly we were to discover.  After all, we had to make ourselves heard above the bag pipes!   

Having unconsciously floated away from Sunshine Beach, we’d become lost in the south-western tip of Scotland’s Kintyre Peninsula.  If we’d thought to look, it would’ve been the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland we could see, not the Sunshine Beach headland. 

Of course, being right into the swing of things, we replayed the song over and over....and continued singing along, over and over...

Unexpectedly, to our surprise, we discovered an uninvited stranger dressed in blue standing at the top of our interior staircase! 

A cranky old bloke from two doors further along the street didn’t like our singing, so he’d called the cops.  I admit we weren’t any threat to the Tabernacle Choir or to Paul McCartney & Wings, but we weren’t that bad! 

With a grin from ear to ear, the cop told us he quite liked our rendition.  He also told us he had knocked on our front door, on the lower level, and had yelled out to us.  Of course, we didn’t hear him over the music blasting out from our stereo, or over our joyful singing!

Laughing, the cop told us to “keep it down a bit!” 

We offered him a Scotch, but he politely declined; went back down the stairs; exited our home, and went on his merry way...not made merrier by ingesting any Scotch whisky, by the way. 

To my surprise, a few weeks ago I heard, and saw, a lone piper playing “Mull of Kintyre” as he strolled along the road out the front of this property...the road that runs along the top of this plateau upon which I live. 

I smiled, as the happy memory of the night in Sunshine Beach flooded my mind.


Dundee Cake: Cut 350g dried dates and 200g prunes into 1cm pieces. Combine dates, prunes, 300g raisins, 200g sultanas and 250ml whisky in bowl. Cover; set aside, stirring occasionally, 4hrs to macerate.  Preheat oven 160C. Line base and side of round 22cm cake pan with 3 layers of non-stick baking paper; allow reach 5cm above edge of pan. Beat 250g room-temp butter, 200g firmly packed dark brown sugar, 60ml treacle and 1tsp finely grated orange rind until pale and creamy. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time; beat well after each addition. Add 375g plain flour, 1tbs cardamom, 3tsp cinnamon, and1-1/2tsp nutmeg. Fold to combine. Stir in fruit mixture and 100g toasted, slivered almonds. Spoon mixture into pan; smooth surface. Tap pan on bench top to settle mixture. Arrange 120g whole blanched almonds on top. Wrap outside of pan with 3 layers of newspaper, rising slightly higher than the baking paper. Secure with kitchen string. Bake...covering with foil if necessary to prevent over-browning... for 2-3/4 to 3 hrs, or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Remove from oven; brush with 2tbs extra whisky. Set aside in pan to cool completely.

Scotch Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding: Butter 8 crust-less bread slices on both sides; liberally spread chunky orange marmalade on 4 of the slices. Place the other slices on top to make marmalade sandwiches. Put sandwiches into a large baking dish in rows. Heat oven 160C. Beat 300ml full-fat milk, 250ml double cream, 3 large eggs, vanilla, 4tbs golden caster sugar and 1tbs whisky together until smooth consistency; pour over the sandwiches. Leave to soak for 30mins. Pop the dish into oven; bake 45-60mins until the bread starts to break through the custardy top. Serve warm with double cream, or vanilla ice cream.

Mulled Wine: In large saucepan combine, 750ml bottle of dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Merlot), 1 orange, sliced into rounds (peeled if you prefer a less bitter drink), 8 whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, 2tbs sugar, honey or maple syrup (to taste) and 1/4c brandy (optional...or your favourite liqueur). Heat over med-high heat until just barely reaches a simmer. Avoid letting it bubble.   You don’t want to boil off the alcohol.  Reduce heat to low; cover; simmer at least 15mins...or up to 2 or 3 hours....being careful not to let it bubble or boil.  Strain using fine mesh strainer; remove and discard orange slices and spices.  Taste and add extra sweetener, if needed.  Serve warm, topped with favourite garnishes...such as orange slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise...mull it’ve come up with something that suits your taste!