Sunday, January 16, 2022



Two images of Grasstree Beach, East of Sarina...South of Mackay



A friend phoned me the other day. It wasn’t an unusual occurrence. We’re in contact every so often, by phone and email. He and I have known each other for 62 years.  His wife and I have known each other longer.

At the tender age of 17 he arrived in Gympie as a brash young radio announcer fresh from the hallowed halls of Radio 4BH, Brisbane, where, for the previous couple of years, he’d cut his teeth as a panel operator, aka panel op, under the expert tutelage of the legendary DJ, Bill Gates (not Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, but radio luminary Bill Gates who, in 1959, discovered the brothers Gibb). 

Shortly after their discovery the brothers were named “The B.Gs”.  A little while later the lads became known as “The Bee Gees”, and the rest is history.  At the time of their discovery Barry Gibb was 14, and his twin brothers, Robin and Maurice, were 10 years old.  

Back in those days and years, every Wednesday night Bill Gates hosted record hops at the O’Connor Boathouse. The iconic O’Connor Boathouse was situated on the banks of the Brisbane River at Coronation Drive, North Quay, an inner city suburb.  The Boathouse record hops were very, very popular.

Oh!  How my friends and I wanted to join the bopping throngs at those record hops, but living in Gympie, 170kms (105 miles) away, and with not a car between us, attending wasn’t possible. Mondays to Fridays we had jobs we valued, and attended each day, so “Sickies” were not part of our vocabulary. 

A piece of trivia in case you’re ever a contestant on “The Chase”…The O’Connor Boathouse was built in 1910. The boathouse, the hub of rollicking nights of rock and roll, and the centre place of many a budding romance, became victim of arson in 1968. A few years later it was demolished entirely to make way for the Riverside Expressway.

 Sadly, my friends and I never did get to do the Hucklebuck, The Watusi, or The Twist at the Boathouse. And, the only Mashed Potato we had was for dinner…or with the delicious meat pies we sometimes devoured for lunch at Patrick’s Café, Mary Street, Gympie.

Back to my good old mate…On his arrival in Gympie didn’t know anybody. Even so, he wasn’t at any time like a fish out of water.  Very soon he and I, both being keen attendees at the local dances and record hops (some of which he was the DJ), became good friends. Our friendship has lasted through the years.

When he first came to town he boarded in a home in the street up behind where I lived.  With his bright, lively personality he was hard to resist. In no time at all he had a band of friends gathered around him.  Both my mother and grandmother almost adopted him. Thinking the world of him, they took him under their wings. Quite often he sat at our dinner table.

 In 1964 he left Gympie to take up a position as a radio announcer at 4MK, Mackay in North Queensland. He returned briefly to Gympie in 1965 to wed the love of his life.  A Gympie lass I’d known for years became his wife. Directly after their wedding, the young couple returned to Mackay. Within a few years, a son and three daughters joined their happy, loving home.

Mackay is where he continued his radio career, ending up in managerial positions at at 4MK.  For a while, he jumped borders across to the TV world where he became manager of Channel 10 in Mackay.  After a while, Radio Station 4MK lured him back. There he held an executive roll for the last couple of years of his working life.

Since retiring in 2010, my old friends have lived, beachside, at Grasstree Beach, south of Mackay. He spends most days fishing and gardening. Both he and his wife are heavily involved in community affairs. He is a life member of the Mackay Apex Club, and an honorary member of the Sunrise Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.

When their first child was born, in the early 70s, I was visiting my brother who lived in Mackay.  I’ve always been proud of the fact I was the first person outside their immediate family to be informed of the birth.

Nostalgic?  Yes, I am.  Am I grateful for having old friends? Sure am! These days, not only are we old friends, but we are old old friends, together heading up there in the years surrounded by luggage (not baggage) overflowing with memories...


Potato Cakes: Boil 800g potatoes. Gently fry 2tbs finely chopped onion until translucent. In bowl, combine mashed potatoes, 2 eggs, 1c diced ham, bacon or pancetta, onions, 2tbs butter and2tbs chopped chives; season. Adjust texture with a bit of milk if necessary, Preheat oven 190C. Line baking sheet. Using ring mould, place on sheet; sprinkle with breadcrumbs; scoop mixture to shape the cakes, about 3cm thick. Press down slightly; finish off with a thin layer of breadcrumbs; remove ring mould; repeat process. Bake 10mins or until golden; serve warm with grated Parmesan sprinkled on top.  Add a little grated Parmesan when preparing the mixture, if desired.

Fisherman’s Pie: Topping: Boil 1kg floury potatoes until tender. Drain well; return them to pan they were cooked in; cook over med-low heat until dried out, 2-3mins. Add 1/2 c butter; mash until smooth; then add 120ml warm milk and 2 egg yolks; mash until smooth; season.  Preheat oven 180C. Filling: Heat 1tbs olive oil in pan over med-heat; add 1 sliced leek and pinch of salt; sweating until softened, about 6-8mins (the leek that is, not you!); set aside.  Melt 3tbs butter in saucepan; whisk in 3tbs plain flour or cornflour; cook 2-3mins, until blonde in colour. Whisk in 500ml milk and 100ml cream in a slow, steady stream until thickened. Bring to simmer; cook steadily 6-7mins, whisking frequently. Fold in 300g white fish fillets of choice, 300g raw prawns, 200g frozen peas (thawed) and leek; season. Spoon into baking dish. Spread mashed potato over top, flicking it to peeks with a spoon; Scatter chopped dill or parsley on top. Bake for about 45mins until browned on top.  



Saturday, January 01, 2022




Yep!  It’s me! Here I am again! I’m kind of like the proverbial bad penny, aren’t I? I keep turning up…you can’t get rid of me.  I can’t take a hint!  On top of that, a New Year arrived while we were off doing whatever it was we were doing over the past few weeks. 

I guess, for some, 2022 arrived with not as much fanfare as previous years. Whether accompanied by a fanfare of fireworks, whistles, streamers, and all the “carry-on”, or not, arrive 2022 did.  No doubt it has come with a multitude of surprises up its sleeves.  I hope we’re prepared.  I hope the surprises are pleasant surprises; none of the other kind.  We’ve had more than our fair share of them. 

It’s time for good news.  Like everyone else, I’m weary of the constant gloom and doom.

 My New Year’s Eve celebrations were non-existent, by choice.  Even when I was at my high-kicking best, I preferred to see the New Year in quietly, aside, away from the madding crowd; alone, lost within my reverie; apart from the boisterous revelry. All the tearing around kissing and hugging strangers shortly after the stroke of midnight never floated my boat, whether at sea, or on land.  To me, the behaviour has always seemed false. 

2021 was memorable, of that there is no doubt.  In many instances the year left its mark where a mark was not needed nor wanted. 

On reflection, during the past year, I only struck two rude people…figuratively speaking, not literally, of course.  Deserving a medal, I displayed self-control, realising they weren’t worthy of my time, or energy. Rudeness is not called for, anywhere, anytime, by anyone, towards another, or others. Such unpleasantness displays an over-inflated ego; a false belief in one’s own importance. My hope is boorishness directed at our front-line folk…rudeness towards those serving the public, in all areas; in every field…ceases in 2022. Those who believe it’s clever to be rude to others should make a New Year’s resolution; one that resolves to erase such ugly, ignorant, crude behaviour from their playbook.  

Tuesday evening prior to Christmas Day I attended the annual Christmas party hosted by my landlords up at their home.  As in previous years, it was a fun evening spent with nice folk, all of whom were spread out in the long, wide verandah surrounding two-thirds of the home. Most of those in attendance I only meet up with once a year.  And, each year my memory skills are put to test remembering their names!  

Such a social gadabout, I’m not!  The truth is, I shouldn’t be allowed after the sun has set.  No doubt there are some who would venture to say I shouldn’t be allowed out at any time of the day or night.  I’ll curtail my movements in 2022, and only venture as far as my letter box. 

On the Monday after Boxing Day I did step over the line, once again, getting my passport checked before doing so.

 Friends of mine from Townsville (North Queensland) and I, along with their beautiful, friendly little Frenchie named, “Rosie”, enjoyed a joyful interlude at Mountain Brew, a local café, which allows animals of the four-legged variety, as well as those of the two-legged variety.

During the mid-to-late 80s when I managed the then Hinchinbrook Island resort, and when the husband was a single, young lad-about-town (or island), he was my chef.  He prepared many delicious meals for our guests, and for his co-workers. To this day his joie de vivre remains; and, remain a good friend, he always will.

My Festive Season, other than the party mentioned above, and my sojourn at Mountain Brew, was otherwise spent quietly with my two furry besties, both of whom held court while I did crosswords, read, binged on tasty treats (as did they,) and on a series of favourite series (so did they).  I decided it was justified to watch “Justified”, again; and I’ve not been disappointed.   

I spent a lot of time over the kitchen sink, too…devouring mangoes….the only way to eat mangoes, in my opinion.

Sleeping was also on our agenda.  We fulfilled each activity to the best of our ability.  Our performances merited top scores for perfection.

The other day a friend told me she attended a rather raucous “knees up, Mother Brown” New Year’s Eve shindig.  At evening’s end, knowing she’d had more than a few cocktails too many, she took a cab home.  On the way home she passed a police checkpoint, but being a cab, the cops waved it past.  My friend arrived home safely without incident, which was a surprise as she’d never drive a cab before, and was not sure what to do with it.  The cab is still in her garage.  


HAPPY NEW YEAR…ALL THE VERY BEST FOR 2022!  May happiness and good health fill your days and nights…..


Corn Fritters:  Mix 2c corn (drained canned, or fresh off cobs) ½ flour, 1 egg, 1/2c grated cheddar cheese, 1/4c cream cheese, 2 diced jalapenos, 2 crumbled cooked bacon rashers, 1tsp smoked paprika, 1tsp ground coriander, 2 sliced shallots stalks (or small diced onion), and juice and zest of lime or lemon.  Heat 2tbs olive oil in pan; for 1/4c patties; cook until golden on both sides.

Avocado Pasta Salad: Cook 500g penne pasta; drain; run cold water over it to cool it. Meanwhile cook 4 bacon rashers; drain and cool before crumbling. Combine 1 large avocado, diced, 1c diced tomato and Creamy Guacamole Dressing…Puree until,1 medium avo, 1 small jalapeno (remove seeds for less heat), 1/2c coriander, juice of 1 lime or lemon, 1 small white onion, 1 garlic clove, 2/4c buttermilk 1/4c Greek yoghurt (or mayo, if preferred.  I never use mayonnaise), 1/2tsp cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Store in fridge; it lasts a couple of days.  

Easy Mango Mousse:  Cut 2 large ripe mangoes into cubes.  Place mango, 450g Greek yoghurt and 40g condensed milk in blender; blend until smooth.  Pour into individual serving bowls, or into dish/bowl; chill at least 4hrs, or overnight.