Sunday, September 17, 2023



Eungella-Pioneer Valley, West of Mackay

Mr. B and Lady...Two of the wallaby residents of Hinchinbrook Island Resort

Kangaroos on the beach at Cape Hillsborough

“They behaved like animals”…the oft stated statement describing the misconduct of some homo sapiens/humans is way off base.  It’s insulting to animals. “Homo sapiens” means “wise man”.  However, there’s nothing wise about misbehaving humans. 

Through the years, since I was a small child, countless special, memorable, cherished moments I’ve spent with animals.

An exceptional occasion occurred in early 1998 when I was living in Mackay. As an escape, if only for a few hours, often on Sunday mornings I visited Eungella National Park up on the Clarke Range at the end of the Pioneer Valley, 80kms west of Mackay.  One morning, while sitting on the banks of a gently flowing stream in quite reverie absorbing the beauty and atmosphere of my surrounds, without warning, to my surprise, and utter wonderment, a platypus appeared before me.  I dared not move an inch…not a finger, nor toe. Transfixed, I watched the magnificent, unique little creature.  As one in a peaceful, magical world of our own, the Ornithorhynchus anatinus watched me in return, not at all concerned by my presence, nor I by its.

On Newry Island I lived alone.  Holiday-makers visited, of course.  Even when there were no resort guests, in truth, I was never really alone because my beloved furry companions, Pushkin and Rimsky, shared the island ambience with me.  Other inhabitants of our water-surrounded corner of the world were koalas, echidnas, possums, eastern grey kangaroos, wallabies, gliders, white tailed bush rats and marsupial bush rats.  Much to my two furry mates’ delight the possums frequently used the awning out from “our” upstairs’ quarters as their evening playground. Pushkin and Rimsky never bothered the native fauna, and vice versa applied.  All were good mates from a respectful distance.  

My other island paradise, Hinchinbrook Island, was a wallaby haven. There were no larger-in-size kangaroos on Hinchinbrook.  The wallabies claimed the island as their own, ensuring no guests arrived, or left, not understanding the fact.  Randy Mr. B, the lead wallaby, had no shame. Mr. B frequently made unwelcome, amorous advances towards Flowerpot and Granny, two of his female neighbours.  He didn’t care if his unwanted approaches towards the ladies were in front of blushing guests or not. 

I never thought I’d rue visiting Cape Hillsborough Nature Tourist Park Resort, but one Sunday I almost did. At leisure, a friend and I were enjoying morning coffees out on the ground-level deck.  When my friend started spluttering I thought she was choking on her scone (of the baked variety, not her head).  My arm was hanging over the back of my chair. I felt something tugging at one of my fingers. Turning, I received the shock of my life.  A large kangaroo buck was doing his best to steal the ring off my finger!  The roo almost caused me to rue my visit, but, instead, I laughed, and shoo-ed him off.  Giving me a rueful look, “Skippy” signaled to his mates who’d been standing by witnessing the failed heist. Away the mob hopped, giggling, no doubt in search of other unsuspecting victims.

As I exited the amenities block at the Emu Park Caravan Park, a group of inquisitive emus, without forewarning, greeted me. Their presence certainly wasn’t what I expected during my visit to the Capricorn Coast.

A few years later, while driving a little Suzuki four-wheeler along the bush track between Collinsville and Glenden, another shock was in store for me. Lost in a world of my own, driving around a bend, I almost leapt out of the car when I came eye to eye with an emu at my driver’s side window. I’m not sure who was most startled, the emu or me. By the look on his face, it was clearly apparent, the emu, like me, wasn’t expecting company on the desolate country track. Old Man Emu tossed me a final shocked look; one that matched my own. Not taking a backward glance, with his long legs barely touching the ground, he rapidly sped off into the distance across the vast, open landscape.  Upon reaching home, after catching his breath, I bet he had a feathered, tall tale to tell.

Through the years I’ve come across quite a few goats and asses, too…as well as some of the four-legged variety.

Pumpkin-Spinach Scones: Dice 700g pumpkin into bite size pieces; drizzle with olive oil; bake approx 20 min. Cool slightly; set aside. In food processer, whizz 4c S.R. flour and 100g chilled cubed unsalted butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Alternatively, place flour in bowl; using fingertips, rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Make well in centre of mix; pour in 375ml milk; mix well until just combined. Don’t over-mix. Add roasted pumpkin, 1c loosely packed chopped spinach, 1/4c chopped chives, 180g grated tasty cheese, and 1/2c crumbled feta; combine; don’t over-mix. Place mixture on floured bench; roll into long log, about 30cm x 10cm. Cut in half long ways down centre; then cut into 6 sections, making 12 scones. Place shaped scones on lined oven tray; bake 25-30mins. 

Coconut Scones: Combine 1c desiccated coconut and 1c warmed coconut cream in small bowl. Let stand 20mins or until mixture has thickened slightly. Combine 3c S.R. flour, 2tbs icing sugar and 1/4tsp salt in bowl. Add coconut mixture and 1/2c milk. Use a knife to "cut" coconut mixture and milk through flour mix to a soft, sticky dough. Turn out dough onto lightly-floured surface. Knead briefly until smooth; shape into a 2cm-thick round. Using a 5.5cm cutter dipped into flour, cut rounds from dough. Place scones side by side on prepared tray. Brush tops with milk to glaze. Bake 12-15 mins, until golden, and well risen. Serve scones with jam and cream.

Saturday, September 09, 2023



Upon looking in the mirror one Monday morning in 1971 after I’d spent the weekend at Tangalooma Resort on Moreton Island I saw red.  Having spent far too long under the hot, summer south-east Queensland sun, I looked like a cooked lobster or crab! What a silly prawn I was to have been so careless.  Even more embarrassed was I when I began to peel like a bunch of bananas.

Dining out in restaurants wasn’t the “thing” when I was a kid.  Actually, back then there were no restaurants in my old home town, only small cafes.  The opening of the Dorith Restaurant in the early 60s was a major, exciting step forward into the “modern” world for the Gympie townsfolk. To dine out, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, was daunting to a shy, young lass just beginning to tip her toes into the unknown, adult world. Until I gathered up courage, I viewed the Dorith from afar. 

A friend and I had not long turned 16, and were on our first unsupervised visit to the “big city” aka Brisbane.   For lunch, we chose to dine at Christies, a popular venue in Queen Street at the time.  My friend ordered toasted sandwiches. Inhaling deeply, bravely I decided to try my luck, test my nerves…swallow my embarrassment; bite the bullet…in this instance, the spaghetti.  

In a case of do or die; or choke and die, I chose Spaghetti Bolognese.  With fork in hand, surrounded by strangers, I tackled the tangled mangle of strands before me. I managed to swallow the spaghetti with finesse, no mess, and no embarrassment.  Not a strand went astray. Whew!

A few years after conquering the art of eating spaghetti while in the company of strangers, I resolved to test my mettle out in the public dining field once again. Determinedly, I dared, again, to tackle the unfamiliar, resolving to stick to my guns until my embarrassment subsided, and success was achieved.  My challenge was to conquer handling chopsticks, without dropping food, poking out my eyes, or those of fellow diners. I figured the best way to achieve my goal was tackling the challenge while I was in the presence of strangers. Taking deep breaths, alone I ventured forth into the unknown, a couple of times a week. Off to lunch at one of the many Chinese restaurants in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley to teach myself the skill I went, head held high.  With unwavering firmness of purpose, I managed not to make a total fool of myself, nor did I turn the colour of beetroot during the process…not that I can recall, anyway. 

The following is a prime example of…“you can’t take me anywhere”.  

A number of years ago, I managed, at the commencement of an evening of “firsts”, to spill my first glass red wine down the front of my new, cream, woolen jumper. Luckily, I was the one wearing it, and not someone else.  Not only was it the first time I’d worn the jumper, and the first time I’d been invited to the home for a night of pleasant dining, wining and conversation, but, also, it was the first time I met the other guests. The spillage caused the colour of my face to match that of the spilt Shiraz, but I forged forth, pretending I’d resurrected the tie-dyeing craze of the 60s-70s.

To top things off…the other day after a brief visit to my nearby neighbours, my car battery decided to cark it. My poor neighbour, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, even though my dilemma occurred at his place, had to push my car, with a totally useless me at the stirring wheel, out of his yard, and down the road a bit to push-start it.  I needed a kick-start, too…still do.  Feeling like an idiot, I turned scarlet.  Embarrassed I was for having being the cause of his unexpected, excess exercise that morning. Mingled with my redness was a great deal of gratitude for his thoughtful assistance.  No wonder he’s dodged me ever since!

Colour flooded my face when, after about a year of calling a neighbour of long ago, Pat, I discovered her name was, in fact, “Dee”…Dee Pending, not Pat Pending!  Mr. and Mrs. Collins who lived next door to Dee didn’t give the future much thought when they named their son, “Tom”.  Tom was a popular feature in cocktail bars. Every time the barmen called out his name he flushed a brilliant shade of red as he ducked for cover.

Beetroot Curry: Slice 500g beetroot into slices of about 3 mm in thickness. Once sliced, julienne the beetroot slices into batons. Place julienned beetroot in a saucepan, with ¼ red onion, sliced, sliced green chilli, 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 5-6 curry leaves, 1/2tsp curry powder, 1/4tsp turmeric, 1/2tsp cayenne, and 1/4tsp salt; combine well. Stir in 1/2c coconut milk and 1/2c water. Place over med-high heat; stir occasionally, until it comes to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cook, covered, about 5mins. Uncover; cook further 5-10mins, stirring frequently, until beetroot is al dente.  Cooking time will vary depending on beetroot thickness and size. Add more water or coconut milk, if needed.  Serve with rice.

Berry Delightful: Combine 3c mixed red berries (cut strawberries in half), 2tbs sugar, 1tbs fresh orange juice, 1tsp finely grated lemon zest, 1tsp lemon juice, 1tsp fresh lime juice, and 1 sprig of basil, torn into pieces, in heatproof bowl; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place over a large saucepan of simmering water; cook 10mins. Let cool 15mins. Chill until cold, about 4hrs. Divide fruit and juices among bowls; drizzle with a little x-virgin oil; garnish with basil leaves and freshly ground black pepper; top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


                                                         230 Spice of Life ideas | bones funny, senior humor, funny quotes


A disclaimer: Not wishing to incriminate myself; at the risk of being sued, or worse…some details of the following tale have been purposely disguised, made vague, or eliminated completely.  To protect the innocent, no names have been divulged.

A few years ago, when I was living somewhere in North Queensland, one of my co-workers at the time invited me to join his wife and him for dinner at their home.  Their home was just up along the road a bit from where I lived, but it was the first time I’d paid a visit, invited or otherwise.  I was looking forward to a night of culinary delight…to a meal being prepared by someone else for a change.

To my disappointment the dinner served that evening was the most tasteless, uninspiring, bland, boring meal I’ve ever had.  However, you would’ve been proud of me…I was on my best behavior. No comment did I make in reference thereto.  Politely, I contributed to the conversation while hiding my feelings as I ate what was placed before me. I did not air my despair about the fare.  A major effort was required to swallow a single morsel, even with the assistance of a glass or three of red wine.  

The wife was a vegetarian. There’s nothing wrong with being a vegetarian.  I’m pretty close to being one myself these days. I’m probably only about one mouthful away from being a fruitarian.

However, in this case, not only was meat eliminated from the meal but, so too, was flavour. No seasonings of any description …no spices, no salt, no pepper; not a drop, not a sprinkle of anything…nothing were present. 

I bit my tongue (it was more flavoursome than the meal), and ploughed on through, silently telling myself to never accept another dinner invitation from the couple if the wife was the cook.  It was very difficult to keep a pleasant, upbeat, convivial conversation going during the worst meal I’ve ever had.  Conveniently, the next time I was invited to dine at their home I had another engagement.  There is only so much torture one person can handle before cracking completely!

“Variety is the very spice of life”, so said English poet William Cowper back in 1785.  A century or so prior, dramatist Aphra Behn had a similar thought when he said, “Variety is the soul of pleasure”. And, way before those two brainiacs latched onto the idea, Greek dramatist Euripides kicked it all off with his most simple adage…”a change is always nice.”  It takes the Greeks to keep it concise, but comprehensive.

I confess I’m a bit of a fraud these days; more than a “bit”.  Okay!  Lock me up and throw away the key! But, at least I admit to the error of my ways.  Contrary to what some may think…probably because of the recipes I’m constantly sharing, and from the tales I’ve related of various culinary adventures I’ve had in the past…my remaining pots and pans need reminding of their purposes in life…those I’ve not already given away, that is. Nowadays, I do very little cooking, spicy or otherwise.  Through the years I did enough cooking to cover two or more lifetimes…enough is enough already!

An orange addict I am.  Every morning I juice oranges, with a lemon added to the delicious mix.  This is something I’ve done for many, many years. Guilt would descend upon me if my habit was broken.  I admit to my orange addition. It’s a worthy one because, touch wood, I’ve not had a cold since 1998…and that is the gospel truth.

It might be a bit cheesy, but I love cheese, too.  Milk also plays an important role.  In the mornings…not too early on chilly winter morns…a large mug of coffee made on milk warms the cockles of my heart.  So, too, for variety, does a large mug of Milo made on milk.  A big kid I am…still going through my first childhood.  I love Milo, and have done so since I was a kid.  

Like with life, food can become boring if one doesn’t spice it up a bit.  Don’t go overboard, though….    


Kolokithokeftedes aka Greek Zucchini Fritters: Grate about 500g unpeeled zucchinis; sprinkle with salt; transfer to clean tea towel and squeeze out liquid by hand, removing as much liquid as possible. Combine zucchinis, 3 thinly sliced eschallots, 1/4c finely chopped fresh dill, and 1/4c finely chopped fresh mint; season with salt and pepper. Add 1c crumbled feta cheese, 1/4c grated Parmesan and 3 eggs. Mix until well combined. Gently mix in 3/4c plain flour, being careful not to overwork the mixture.  Add more flour if mixture is appears to be too moist. Heat 2tbs olive oil in large pan. Scoop spoonful of mix; add to hot oil. Press down lightly on patty to flatten. Repeat process; don’t overcrowd the pan.  Pan fry 3mins; then flip using spatula. Drain on paper-lined towel to rid excess oil. Serve warm.

Briam aka Greek Roast Vegetables: Cut 1/2kg potatoes into slices (peel, if preferred). Slice 1/2kg eggplants and 1/2kg zucchinis into 1cm slices. Cut into chunks, if preferred.  Chop 1kg tomatoes, peeled, if preferred (or use 3-4 cans strained, chopped toms).  Chop two green capsicums. Layer bottom of large baking pan with tomatoes; season. Place rest of vegetables on top; season well. Don’t layer too deep. Sprinkle 1 sliced red onion and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves over top; add remaining tomatoes.  Season well; sprinkle over Italian herbs; garnish with chopped parsley; drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil; bake in preheated 200c oven, 1-1/2 to 2hrs. Uncover halfway through cooking; toss vegies, (not out the window!); continue baking until coloured. Serve with feta cheese and crunchy bread.  Yum! Yum!  


                                      Spice Of Life Quotes. QuotesGram

Friday, August 04, 2023


 Elderly people spending time together. Senior friends talking and sitting at table, enjoying tea time. Aged women and man meeting at home, in cafes or restaurants Elderly people spending time together. Senior friends talking and sitting at table, enjoying tea time. Aged women and man meeting at home, in cafes or restaurants old friends stock illustrations



Calm down!  Don’t get your knickers in a knot! Time is flying by at a rapid rate of knots, but it’s not yet New Year’s Eve.  However, that being so doesn’t make the words of “Auld Lang Syne” less pertinent.  Old acquaintances should never be forgotten. (Some won’t allow us to forget them!) In the words of another song, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”…nor can we replace them.

There is no point me being carted off into witness protection, or for me to go into hiding, I’d still be found.  I’m a bit of a hermit… recluse, by choice.  Retreating into my shell, I tried to become a snail. That failed, so I took a step further.  I morphed into a turtle, barely poking my head out from the carapace, the hard protective shield. That hasn’t worked either. In the story I’m about to relate, I’m not complaining.  An emotional roller-coaster ride, I’ve been on of late, in more ways than one.

A friend from my childhood days, and beyond, phoned me. Previously, I’ve mentioned her in tales I’ve related.  When we were teenagers, she and I spent our weekends on the beach and in the surf at Noosa. 

There is no doubt if I’d not been laying down when I answered her phone call, I would’ve fallen down.  As it was, my jaw hit the ground…almost a mission impossible, I know. Someone with whom I began my school days, and with whom I continued from Prep 1, through to primary, to scholarship years, and to High School, tracked her down in search of me! This current day “Sherlock Holmes” and I not only shared school classes through the years, but we also became co-workers/conspirators in our first jobs when we became legal secretaries at the firm of Gympie solicitors, then known as “Tozer & Jeffery”.

Shortly after I moved to live and work in Brisbane at the end of July, 1965, my ex-school friend, and work-mate arrived in the city, too.  I arranged for her to move into the flat adjoining mine in Booth Street, in the suburb of Toowong.  After our years as friends from Prep School through to our first jobs, we then became neighbours in the city.  A year or so later, new adventures beckoned.  Both of us went our separate ways.  We lost contact.  That was 57 years ago!  More than half a century ago….

My long lost friend, her husband and family were coming to the mountain to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary, as well as her husband’s 80th birthday.  Having grabbed her magnifying glass, my friend donned her deerstalker cap. She was on a mission to find me.  I didn’t stand a chance.  Out of the blue she found me.  My hideout had been discovered. My disguise lifted. I waved the white flag of surrender…and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

A lengthy, fun phone conversation ensued. I learnt my old friend and her family was arriving the following week. We set up a time to meet at a café.  After 57 years, at 9.45 am, on 18th July, 2023, we met at Elevation Café.

With the many hugs and smiles shared the past years swiftly disappeared. There we sat, sipping on coffees, indulging on carrot cake, lost in a world of our own. Having lived up and down the eastern sea board of Queensland, they now live in Warwick, south-west of Brisbane.  The genuine, sincere love and respect the couple has for each other is obvious, inspiring and heartwarming.

What a wonderful, joyful time we shared a few weeks ago, reminiscing, catching up on what has gone on since we last spent time together.  Of course, it was impossible to cover all that has occurred in the past from when we were kids to now. We’d need a year and more of Sundays to do that! 

From the first phone call informing me my friend was on a relentless search for me…from when we spoke on the phone, up to, and after, our café interlude, my mind has been in a constant whirl.  So many memories are bouncing off its walls.  I have a very good memory. Of late it’s been working overtime.  Myriad fun times we had in our teenage years.  I’m not sure how we got any work done at Tozer & Jeffery, but we must have, because we didn’t get fired! 

There are many tales to be told…but not today….

Carrot and Pineapple Cake: Preheat oven, 177C. Lightly grease and flour 2x9-inch round cake pans; line bottom with paper. Sift 2c plain flour, 2tsp baking powder, 1tsp baking soda, 1-1/2tsp cinnamon, 1/2tsp salt, 1/2tsp ground ginger, and 1/4tsp ground nutmeg in large bowl. Whisk 3/4c (165g) light brown sugar, packed, ½ (100g) granulated sugar, 4 large room temp eggs, and 2tsp vanilla in another bowl. Stir in 2-1/2c finely shredded carrots, 1c (165g) drained, crushed canned pineapple, and 3/4c walnut pieces.  Add flour mixture; fold everything together until just combined. Divide mixture between the two pans; smooth top.  Bake 25-30mins in centre of oven.  Cool cakes in pan 5mins; then invert onto wire rack; cool completely before frosting. Frosting: Using hand mixer, beat 454g softened, full fat cream cheese and 1c/227g softened butter until smooth and creamy.  Add 4c/480g icing sugar 2tsp vanilla, 1tbs orange zest and 1/4tsp salt. Beat on low until just incorporated; turn mixer to high; beat about 1min until well combined. Spread one cake layer with 1/3rd of frosting over the top. Place second layer on top. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Garnish with toasted walnuts, if desired.   Chill for at least an hour before serving; you can chill the cake for as long, too.