Tuesday, February 28, 2023



I’m often tempted to jump through the TV screen armed with a pair of scissors when I see cooks or chefs with their long hair flowing freely while they prepare food! Their hair should be tied up and away from their face, and from the food being prepared for human consumption!  Often I’m tempted to tear my hair out when I can’t decipher notes I’ve written to myself. One good thing about my indecipherable notes is, I guess, if I can’t read my own writing, no one else would be able to do so.

Conquering the art of keeping a straight face when someone is talking absolute dribble is a talent that takes years to successfully cultivate. The temptation, in many instances, not to verbally respond to the dribbler can be very difficult to achieve. 

When I was about 11 years old the temptation to take flight from our family doctor’s waiting room was overwhelming. The reason for my being there was I had a mouthful of very painful ulcers. For one reason or another, I wasn’t accompanied by my mother or grandmother. To make matters worse, when surrounded by adults unknown to me, resembling the MGM lion, my stomach began to roar. It grumbled and growled as loudly as humanly possible. I was a shy kid as it was without an out of control, noisy stomach.  On a scale of 1 to 100, my embarrassment was at the level of 200. Breaking all records!  With held breath, although the temptation to flee was powerful, somehow, by the seat of my pants, I remained glued to the seat.

One morning while motoring back from the mainland to Newry Island in my island boat, the 21ft De Havilland Trojan, a clown fisherman decided he wanted to race me. Acting like a brainless idiot, back and forth, around and around my boat he went churning up the waters, trying to egg me on…trying to tempt me into joining him in his childish, dangerous game.  Gritting my teeth, I ignored his idiotic behavior.  However, things were vastly different when I arrived safely on the island.  Looking smug, he approached the resort bar where some of my guests were mingling.  In front of everyone I didn’t resist the temptation to let the fool know exactly what I felt about his reckless actions.  In no uncertain terms I told the fellow what I thought of him.  He swiftly left, red-faced with his tail between his legs.  I never did see him again.

The temptation to respond is strong when someone makes assumptions about you. Oddly, it’s mostly those who don’t know you well who do the assuming.  They think they know you better than you know your own self.  In most cases, it’s probably best to bite your tongue and walk away.  My tongue bears many scars.  It’s a wonder I’ve not bitten it in half.  I’m sure I’ve been close to doing so many times. After all the biting, I’m amazed I still have a tongue.

When my late brother, Graham and I were kids good table manners were instilled in us. Gluttony at the table was not allowed, whether in our own home, or elsewhere.  Reaching across the table to grab an enticing, delicious-looking cupcake, rather than take the closest one was frowned upon.  We ate what was put in front of us. We waited until everyone was seated before beginning to eat. 

Previously I’ve mentioned my first job was as a legal secretary at a firm of Gympie solicitors, a position I held for five years.  It was a tradition on each of our birthdays for the staff to supply, for morning tea, a raspberry jelly and cream layered sponge cake, purchased from a local shop. Our boss’s wife, who also worked in the office, on her birthday, always supplied a delicious Pavlova she’d made.  The temptation to dive in for a second slice of her scrumptious pavlovas was great, but those home-taught table manners won out in the end!

Mango-Cointreau Pavlova:
Preheat oven 150C. Using a 20cm cake pan, draw circle on baking paper. Flip paper so outline is on underside; place onto greased baking tray. Place 6 room temp egg whites and pinch of salt in mixer fitted with whisk attachment; whisk to just before stiff peaks. With motor running, add 330g caster sugar, 1tbs at a time, whisking until sugar is dissolved (about 10-15mins) and mixture is thick and glossy. Add 1tsp white vinegar, 3tsp cornflour and 2tsp vanilla extract; whisk until combined. Spoon into centre of circle. Using a small palette knife, spread evenly to diameter of circle, leaving a swirl finish on meringue. Place in oven; reduce temp to 100C. Bake 1 hr45 mins-2hrs or until outside is crisp and dry. Turn off oven; leave meringue inside to cool for at least 3hrs. Once cooled, remove from oven. Cointreau Syrup: place 220g caster sugar and ¼ cup (60ml) water in saucepan over med- heat; stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to simmer; cook 6-7mins until dark golden caramel. Remove from heat; carefully tipping pan away from you, gradually pour in 180ml Cointreau. Return to low heat; simmer 2mins, or until combined and syrup forms. Transfer to a bowl; cool to room temp (add a little water if caramel is too thick). Place cut cheeks of 3 mangoes, flat-side up, on wire rack sitting on large heatproof tray. Scatter mango with an even layer of caster sugar.  Working gently with 1 mango cheek at a time, brown under grill (or with kitchen blowtorch) until caramelised and golden.  Place 400g thickened cream, 250g sour cream, 1/2c icing sugar and 2 tsp vanilla in mixer bowl; whisk to soft peaks. Place pavlova on serving plate, spoon over cream and top with bruleed mango. Drizzle with Cointreau syrup.  

Saturday, February 18, 2023



A scene from "The Blue Lagoon" starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston

                                       Looking across from Outer Newry Island to Newry Island



Stop jumping up and down.  I’m quoting...repeating something I read somewhere.

Point your fingers at Albert Einstein, not me. He is the guilty one. In a 1929 interview dear Albert, in reply to a question, stated; “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles (embraces) the world. 

A couple of years later Einstein repeated his belief, confirming what he imagined to be true. He embellished upon his original utterance by adding; “stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.”

My imagination ran free and unfettered when I was a kid.  As an aside, sadly, I do believe children of my generation enjoyed running free and unrestrained outdoors more often than present generations do. Our imagination had no boundaries. My imagination was fueled, too, by my love of books/reading, and for never missed movies at Saturday afternoon matinees.

The original Jean Simmons-Donald Houston 1949 version of “The Blue Lagoon” (which, by no stretch of the imagination, was far better than the 1980 Brooke Shields-Christopher Atkins version) stirred within me a desire to live on a tropical island.  To my delight, years later there I was living on a tropical island…e.g. Hinchinbrook Island.  On the island I wasn’t alone. I had staff sharing my daily adventures.  A couple of years later I landed on Newry Island. On Newry a lot of the time I was a female Robinson Crusoe, and Man Friday was missing in action every day of the week, not only on Fridays. Except for my two cats, Pushkin and Rimsky who shared my life at the time, and when guests came to enjoy the island’s ambience and my seafood barbecues, alone I was.  Pushkin and Rimsky loved the barbecues, too.

When I was a little girl my imagination was also triggered by “The Red Shoes”.  Frequently I imagined I was a ballerina like Moira Shearer aka “Victoria Page”, the lead character in the 1948 movie.  Many times I’ve watched “The Red Shoes”.  It remains, to this day, on my recorded list of movies.

A school mate and I knew our limitations.  Not once did we imagine we were Olympian sprinters like Shirley Strickland and Marjorie Jackson.  Our talent as athletes was non-existent.  Come the Gympie State High School annual sports day we high-tailed it to the female toilet block to hide out for the duration of the foot races.  To our dismay, a teacher, aware of our devious plan, discovered us shortly before the race was to commence. Knowing we didn’t have a chance in Hades in the foot race, my friend and I joined hands. We skipped along at the tail end of the race, giggling all the way.  Never in our wildest imaginings did we imagine we could have enjoyed a foot race so much as we did that one, that day.

John Lennon asked the question…”Imagine…”  We should reflect, and reflect often, upon the lyrics in the hope, with knowledge, humans could come together as one.  Imagine!

Imagination is wonderful, free, and infinite.  The quest for knowledge is limitless…an unquenchable thirst.  By blending the two one could become invincible…unstoppable.

In my imagination I win the lottery. What fun it would be if it came into fruition!  Perhaps if I allow my imagining free rein eventually my winning the lottery will become a reality!  Imagine! 

I wish it’d hurry up. I’m not getting any younger, which, of course, is not unique to me.  I’m not Benjamin Button, who was a figment of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s imagination.


Garlic Button Mushrooms: Mince  4-5 garlic cloves. In pan, heat 3tbs butter or olive oil over med-high heat; add 500g button mushrooms; cook 4-5mins, until mushrooms start to brown on bottom. Flip; cook 3mins without stirring.  Reduce heat to low. Add 1/2tsp onion powder, 1tsp smoked paprika. 1tsp Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Cook 1min.  Add garlic and 2tbs lemon juice; cook 1min, stirring frequently.  Adjust seasonings.

BBQ Moreton Bay Bugs: Prepare bugs; lay 8 bugs on their back; using scissors make incision at base of tail, being careful not to pierce flesh; then cut along either side of shell covering the abdomen. Remove and discard shell to reveal the flesh. Parsley Butter; place 200g softened butter, 1/4c chopped parsley, 1tsp black pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves in bowl with 1tsp salt flakes. Heat bbq or char-grill pan to med-high heat. Add 3 halved limes, flesh side down; grill 5mins, or until blackened; set aside.  Add bugs, belly-side up; spread 1tbs parsley butter over flesh. Cook, (covered with foil if using grill pan), 10-12mins, or until bugs are cooked through; arrange on platter with limes, and remaining butter. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

BBQ Prawns with Mango Salsa: Grab some prawns; thread 3 peeled, with heads and tails intact prawns onto each skewer. Process 3 chopped mangoes, 2 chopped long red chilies, 4 sliced spring onions, 2 chopped eschalots, 1 bunch each chopped coriander and mint leaves, 80ml white wine vinegar and 80ml olive oil until roughly chopped; season. Transfer half salsa to bowl; set aside. Process remaining salsa with 2tbs oil and 2tbs vinegar until smooth; pour over prawns; marinate 2hrs in fridge. Heat bbq to high; cook prawns 3mins each side; season; serve with reserved salsa.   




Saturday, February 04, 2023



After Cyclone Winifred had ripped a path through the area from Mission Beach, Dunk Island and surrounding areas south to Hinchinbrook Island during the last weekend on January, 1986 a huge amount of repair work needed to be carried out, not only on the island, but on the mainland. I understood the mainland towns, surrounding farms and areas north of the island required more urgent assistance than we, on the island did, as Hinchinbrook Island had received the ‘tail-end’ of the cyclone. Also, I knew because of this fact, we would be last on the list in getting building materials. I understood and accepted the situation. The island had lost its jetty during the ‘big blow’. The only other damages caused were fallen trees and broken tree limbs etc., and some minor damage to the guest cabins.

The lessee of the resort who had hired me to manage the resort, also owned and operated an engineering-construction company decided to dispatch a couple of his workmen to help me on the island with the re-building and renovations.

At this point in time, the resort was closed, not to be re-opened until 8th March. During the resort’s closure it would a perfect opportunity to carry out, not only the re-building of the jetty, but the construction of the elevated timber deck around the resort poo,l and the many other renovations and maintenance jobs that desperately needing doing.

A working plan was put into place of what needed to be done and the materials were ordered to enable the work to be carried out once the necessary timber, roofing etc., arrived. As I mentioned above, I realised I would be on the end of the list of the hardware stores and timber suppliers, but the sooner the materials were ordered, the sooner I would creep up the list.

There was enough work to be done around the resort while waiting for the new material to arrive, so the few staff members I had on hand in readiness for the reopening of the actual resort operations was kept busying doing one thing or the other.

I donned my cook/chef’s hat and volunteered myself as chief cook for us ‘workers’, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner each day for about 10 in total. I was never sure how many mouths I had to feed as people seemed to be coming and going all over the place.

At one stage, I had the Pioneer Group from the Army, They had been sent to me to assist in the clearing of the walking tracks of fallen trees, branches etc., and whatever other jobs I could find for them during their few days stay. So, when the Army was in residence the island population grew. Without fail, I always set a spare setting at the dinner table and I always plated an extra meal, never intentionally. Subconsciously, it just happened that way, day after day, night after night. This habit of mine became a bit of a joke amongst my fellow island dwellers. We named our invisible guest, “Mr. Walker – The Ghost Who Walks…aka The Phantom”.

Much to our surprise and delight, we found a large boulder at the end of Orchid Beach, the main beach of the resort. We reckoned it was the “Skull Cave” as there was a huge, deep indent in the boulder, reminiscent of a cave. One’s imagination does tend to run wild when living on a tropical island!

Over pre-dinner drinks late one afternoon, the two workers who my mainland-based boss had sent me, and who I had grown to dislike immensely, announced that the very next day they were going to take the roofs off all of the cabins!

To explain my growing dislike of these two men…they never once thanked me for a meal. They would finish eating, push their plates aside and immediately leave the table without a word. I didn’t expect them, or anyone else, for that matter, to get down on their hands and knees in gratitude or servitude, but a simple “Thanks for dinner, breakfast, lunch or whatever” would have been nice. It’s simple good manners. Everyone else helped with the washing up at night, but the two men never once offered or pitched in.

Further to my disgust, I learned from the others that they sat up on the verandah of the staff quarters and threw their empty glass beer ‘stubbies’ down over the rocks below, which bordered the waters of Mission Bay. Upon learning this, I promptly put a stop to their thoughtless, ignorant practice. Do I need to explain any further what sort of clowns they were? No…I thought not.

When the two “clowns” announced their grand plan to de-roof the accommodation cabins during the tropical north Queensland “wet season”….the monsoonal trough was still skirting across the top of Queensland bringing regular nocturnal heavy downpours…I saw ‘red’. There was no sign of the new roofing material arriving. I had no idea when it would arrive. It could have been weeks away, for all I knew.

Those two men had already failed to follow my instructions over the first load of timber that had arrived to the island. After all, you must bear in mind, I am a woman…what would a woman know about such things?

They went against my instructions about the timber. Because they did what they believed was right and what I instructed them not to do, the timber ended up on the ocean floor! I was highly amused at that outcome…not!  And after that debacle, I had them informing me of their latest brain-wave.

“Let’s take the roofs off the cabins, even though we haven’t got the new roofing material,” they brazenly announced. “We’ve got nothing else to do, so we will take off the roofs.”

I exploded. I went ballistic! I could not fathom their reasoning. Calmly, at first, I pointed out to them the foolishness of such an idea. I suggested they do some painting around the resort accommodation and restaurant. There were cans and cans of paint in the island work-shed and there were many areas that needed fresh coats of paint. They suffered from selective hearing and continued with the discussion of their plans to de-roof. One thing I cannot stand is ignorance.

Their obvious dislike of having a woman instruct them was obvious. I spoke. They didn’t hear. I sat in front of them. They didn’t see me.  Obviously, they thought I was a bitch.  I knew they were ignorant idiots.

It was at such a moment, I exploded. The full force of my wrath burst forth. I’d kept a lid on it for quite some time, as is my way, but when the pressure builds up to a point of no return there is nothing I can do to stop the fury. I fired them on the spot, ordering them to pack up their gear and be off the island first light in the morning. They had their own boat, so this was achievable.

I rang Brisbane head office to organize their final pays. I could have ordered them off the island there and then, but dusk had fallen and I wasn’t going to put myself in the position of being responsible for their drowning at sea, even though I felt like physically drowning them myself,!

Early the following morning, I was woken by the sound of their boat motor starting up. That was the last I heard of them.