Posts Tagged With: slide show

Raining again….. So let’s bake bread

Yesterday it rained again. I cannot remember how many days in a row we have had steady rain. Not torrential this time, just continual, life-giving, refreshing rain. The garden is glowing and growing I look out the window and see all the plants pushing and shoving each other as they spread and muscle for space. The aggressive quick-growing types overpowering the dainty shy individuals. The lawn is lush and thick and needs mowing. The lawn mower man is finding it hard to keep up with his clients.

So what will I do today?

A friend and I have talked of making home-baked bread. Not in a machine, but from scratch, the old-fashioned way. The time has arrived.

Many, many years ago when I lived and worked on a farm in New Zealand I did all those domestic things. Preserved fruit and vegetables, made jams and chutney, baked cakes and biscuits, sewed and knitted the children’s clothes, had a large vegetable garden, milked cows and baked bread. I feel exhausted just writing all this down. I was a veritable domestic goddess, well not really… 🙂 . It was the expected norm back in the 1960’s.

June has been wanting to have a go at bread making so we gathered together our bowls, primed our muscles and mixed and kneaded with gusto and giggles. How long did it say to knead? Ten minutes, oh boy, we watched the minutes tick by. Finally it was ready to put in a warm place to rise. But where is a warm place? Houses in Queensland are not designed to have warm places, no airing cupboard, no sun shining through the window today. Finally we decided to put the heater on in the small back room and shut all the doors and leave our bowls of dough to multiply.

Time to recover with a cuppa and a sit down…

45 minutes later we peep under the tea towel, the dough is doubled in size and plump and shiny. Another light kneading then shaped and onto the baking trays. Back to the warm room, another 30 minutes. Bread making is an all morning marathon. Finally they are ready to go into the oven at 200c for 30 minutes.

The moment has arrived, our bread is born and appears golden and crusty from the oven.

Now comes the best part. Our men turn up, Jack with camera in hand, Rex with the electric bread saw, to sample the fruits of our laboured muscles and sweating brow (I exaggerate a bit!). The salad is made, the prawn omelette waits as Jack takes the photos. Then we sit around to enjoy the meal and raise a glass to the breaking of the bread and sharing good times with friends.

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Today the sun is shining so I am going to go into the garden and have a talk to my plants.

Hope you are all having a good day 🙂


Categories: Australia, baking bread, Goldcoast, Queensland | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

Summer storms, swells and challenging surf

The temperature climbs up to and over 30 degrees and the humidity rises.

Summer has arrived in Australia.

A dangerous swell is forecast and people are warned to stay away from the ocean. King tides are eroding the sand dunes in front of million dollar properties causing concern to the owners who demand the city council “do some thing about it”…..

The council refuses. I applaud that decision…

It is a brilliantly sunny day so I take my camera and bike to the beach to record a photo essay of “my” beach in one of its very capricious moods.

Welcome to my home town…

Burleigh Beach, Queensland, Australia…

Burleigh Beach

Burleigh Beach

This is the popular corner of the beach for families. The area safe for swimming is marked by red and yellow flags and has surf life savers patrolling. The hill is Burleigh Heads National Park, with walking tracks around the ocean front and up through the bush it is a popular place for walking and jogging. To complete a perfect day out there are free BBQs and grassy park areas for picnics or just relaxing.

Burleigh Heads is a top surfing spot, it produces clean sweeping waves and surfers flock here when the swells are forecast. International surfing competitions are held here in March.

That night a storm cell swept across our North-East corner bringing thunder, lightning, winds and in some places hail. The Goldcoast missed the storm centre with only 5mm of rain falling, but the thunder roared and crashed making me shudder and the lightening flashed across the sky for hours.

I am pleased to be under a roof during this season and Matilda will wait a few months before we hit the road again…

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

burleigh beach

I tried very hard to insert a slide show, but it didn’t happen 😦

Categories: Australia, Burleigh, travel | Tags: , , , | 28 Comments

Sunrise walk along the beach

On Friday I approached Mackay with caution. I planned to find my way to the Art Space. Now I have a very poor sense of direction: directionally challenged I believe the phrase is, and without a navigator it could be a difficult assignment. Cities and heavy traffic have a way of confusing me. Miraculously, with the help of signs pointing the way at every corner, I found it and what’s more I fluked a free parking spot right outside the gallery. What an excellent start to the day. Art galleries, museums and botanic gardens are always a top attraction for me, so this time I decided to see what was on show at the Art Space.

An exhibition by the artist Jenny Sages “Paths to portraiture” was on display. Her work overwhelmed me. Huge canvases, some just a persons face and larger than life, in fact the canvas would be about 4-5 foot square with the face covering the canvas, others where life-size portraits of the person. The technique I have never seen before. She pours molten wax onto the canvas then when it is dry the portrait is etched into it and oil colour is then brushed, scrubbed and manipulated into the wax. The finished effect is very tactile and life-like. An art critic on a video showing Jenny at work described them as a “speaking likeness” and as I stood in front of each one I did expect them to talk to me. (click here to see the video that was on show at the gallery).

Back onto the Bruce Highway and mile after mile of road works , many just one way sections with long queues waiting their turn to get through. It must be my lucky day as with the exception of one 5 minute wait, I caught the traffic controller person with the go sign facing me at each one way section…

I estimated approx 60-70% of the area I drove  today was almost finished, many sections just had the white lines to be painted, or still in major repair mode. It makes me wonder where is the money coming from??? When finished it should be a pleasure to drive along…

After an uneventful 237 kilometre drive I turned into a side road running parallel to the Bruce Highway and along the ocean front. Along this road lies hidden the small hamlet of Clairview. Approximately 50-60 cottages nestled right on the beachfront. During storms or high tides the ocean invades their garden space. They do have a free over-night rest area but I decided to stay at the caravan park. It has its own pub which is also a hangout for the locals. Having stayed here a few times it is another of our favourites.

It didn’t disappoint me, I had a site almost on the beach and the cooling breeze coming from the ocean was pure bliss. Also being Friday it was fish and chip night….

With the sound and smell of the ocean and the cool breeze I had a very good nights sleep…



This morning I woke early with the sun just appearing over the silky oaks and date palms lining the beach in front of Matilda and couldn’t resist grabbing the camera for a walk along the beach as the sun rose. I had a companion join me….

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Categories: caravan park, slide show, travel | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

The rain it came…

What a satisfying sound it is to be laying in bed and hear the rain start to fall. I fell asleep thinking of the plants relishing the moisture…

It rained all night and I hurried outside as soon as I woke up. The rain gauge recorded 35mm had fallen. I wandered around the garden with my camera to catch the freshness of the rain drops on the flowers and foliage. Every thing had a sheen and glossy glow of happiness.

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Matilda Update

The reconditioned gear box is finally installed. This weekend she will be going for a long trial run. Then, hopefully I will be able to bring her home….

Watch this space…..

Categories: garden, photos, slide show | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

We are home, after a 24 hour train ride…

The train pulled into the station at Townsville at 4-00pm. It was a long train 20 carriages, including the engine, one restaurant car in the first class Queenslander area, one buffet/dining car and a lounge car for the rest of travellers. Quite an impressive sight as it rolled in.

Our cubicle was the last one before the dividing, locked door into the first class Queenslander compartments it was a walk along the corridor of 5 carriages to the dining car. But that is ok, as it is exercise and an insight to the other passengers as I “sticky beak” into the compartments as I walk by.

After settling in we walk to the dining car for dinner. I remember this meal well from the earlier trip I did in 2005. It was one of the tastiest train meals I have ever had. The cooking is all done onboard in a minute galley kitchen, about the size of an average walk-in-wardrobe. No pre-cooked, packaged meals here. The meal comes up to my expectations. The roast beef just melts in your mouth and freshly cooked roast vegetables are the accompaniment. A small glass of wine and a beer for Jack and we watch the sun slowly disappear and darkness descend. We are feeling relaxed and happy to be on the way home.

The cabin is converted to a bedroom when the staff come round and let down the top bunk.

At 9-30pm as I lay there I listen to the very noisy clatter and clang of the wheels. The carriage shudders and jerks along and I think to myself “this is going to be a long night…”

Sleep is such a strange thing. You cannot make yourself go to sleep, and when it does over take you, you cannot, actually recall the moment of dropping off. So it was with me, after thinking I would never get to sleep I suddenly woke up to find it was 2am and I was needing to visit the toilet. Returning to the bunk I noticed a change in the tempo of the train, now the wheels were whispering and rushing headlong through the night and the carriage had a gentle sway and rock like the cradle in the tree-top. I soon slipped back into sleep.

Another sunny day dawns outside the window, but inside the cabins the temperature is kept at a rather uncomfortable air-conditioned level.

There is a choice of continental or full English breakfast. I resist the temptation of the bacon and eggs…

The staff is extremely efficient and friendly, I chat with them in the buffet car and am amazed to find they are catering for 200 passengers in that small cubby hole of a kitchen.

One of the main benefits of travelling in a train is the fact that you can wander around. Spend time in the lounge area, which is much warmer than the cabins, talk to fellow passengers, drink copious cups of coffee. Walk the 5 carriage walk each time you go for a meal or coffee. Watch the scenery roll by and attempt to capture it, unsuccessfully, on the camera, but it is fun and time-consuming trying.  Then of course we had books to read and the computers with us, but no internet!!!!

The scenery mesmerised me, the tinge of drought colours the land gold. I read a page or two of my book but my eyes are drawn back to the unfolding vista. As the hills of the Glasshouse Mountains pierce the horizon the land turns greener. The train slows for a bend and I try to catch the fleeting glimpse of the engine.

The road, that I should be driving along, snakes along-side the tracks, occasionally veering off to pass through another small settlement, a cluster of houses, a pub, garage and sometimes a country store. Then it returns trailing the rail line.

The 24 hours did actually seem to fly by and before we had time to get bored the train was pulling into Brisbane. Change to one more local train to take us just over an hour to the Goldcoast and we were greeting and hugging our friends who had come to meet us from the train.

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Categories: Australia, australian travel, photos, slide show, Sunlander, train travel, travel | Tags: , , , , | 19 Comments

A Tropical Experience

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It is very difficult to capture the atmosphere of a place with photos. The photos show the beauty of it, but it is the smells and sounds, the feel of the soft, warm tropical breeze brushing over your skin, the foliage rustling, the constant squeaking of the bats and their offensive, putrid smell, the flash of a bird and butterfly as they float by that add so much more to an experience.

I look at these photos and I am transported back to this unique place.

Tumbetin Lodge was built in 1934 and is predominately constructed with silky oak it was originally a school room for the Roman Catholic Church. Now it is a delightful café, information centre and art gallery. It was our first stop for a reviving cuppa and delicious savoury muffin. What a great way to start our exploration of the gardens…

Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, Palmetum, photos, slide show, Townsville, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments

Queens Gardens Townsville Botanical Garden

I have shown you a video of the rainforest part of Queens Gardens but there is so much more, ( and I took 100’s of photos ).

In Botanic Garden terms it is small and compact, but there is so much to see and it is beautifully maintained. A team of gardeners were working and we took a few moments to chat with them. Not many people around but the few that were here were making the most of the perfect weather and peaceful garden.

So come stroll with me, here is a slide show of more views of this garden.

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The photos of the family and the gardeners were taken by Jack. He is very good at capturing people. You can see more of his photos on jacksjottings

He has just posted a poem on aging, it is very good, worth having a look at…

Categories: Australia, botanic gardens, Castle Hill, photos, slide show, Townsville | Tags: , , , , | 13 Comments

Camping experiences…

Sussex Inlet, originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Moving on from Canberra home is now getting very close and like the horse turning for the stable we are starting to speed up and this week have had a variety of camping experiences.

First was a delightful hidden gem off the main road that a passing traveller told us to visit. He said the Bowls club does fantastic meals. What more incentive do we need….It seems it is not so hidden as it is only a short drive from Sydney and a favourite with fishing folk. We managed to squeeze into the second van park we called in and it was a beauty, clean, large showers, pool, and only 5 minute walk to the above mentioned Bowls club. Yes the meals were fantastic, in fact they were such large servings that we only ordered one veg and tofu stir fry and shared it. It was delicious…

Next along the way we found a Forest Park, Killalea was overlooking Shoalhaven. This will be peaceful we thought, but needed the GPS to find our way through the myriad of new sub divisions opening up. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was it is now Saturday. Yes you guessed it, the other half of Sydney had found their way here too. That is a slight exaggeration, but luckily,there was a couple of small sites left. This is  a different camp to any other we have been in as it was filled with family groups, and they had tents the size of small houses. If not a family it was groups of surfing  types as this is a top surf area on this coast. We were the only grey nomad in camp. As evening came the fires were lit in the fire places provided and the blokes stood around with beers in hand watching the steaks cook and the smell of wood smoke and burning steaks wafted around in the evening air. All the “ankle biters” were bonding together running around getting their fill of the great Australian outdoors.We enjoyed our “happy hour” watching all the activity. We had been for an hours walk through the rainforest area to the river mouth and then on to the beach. It included  a steep climb so we were ready for our relaxing time and we slept very well once all the kids had been rounded up and put to bed…

Then came a stay in the Nan Tien Buddhist temple. An imposing place, it is the largest in Australia and is beautiful. The architecture is pure asian and walking around the gardens and the lotus pond was a very relaxing experience. We really treated our selves here as they have hotel style accommodation and the dining room serves delicious vegetarian buffet meals. It was the calm before the storm as now we faced the daunting task of driving into Sydney. Just the thought of it had me tensing up and I could feel the stress levels raising. Jack did a good job of navigating and at 3pm we pulled off into a suburb called Sutherland. Not a good time as the train had just pulled in and hundreds of school kids came pouring out and of course hundreds of parents in cars where there to pick them up. What confusion for us, we didn’t know where to go, so just kept going ahead till we spotted a parking place. Phew!!! Not tourist friendly in this city, no tourist info places, the nearest we were told was the top of the Bulli Pass… So we went to the library. She sent us to a camp ground just out side town, only problem it was for permanent people only. They said the only one in the area was 30km back south at Heathcote. It was now 5pm, rush hour. I rang and yes they had one spot left. After a couple of wrong turns and getting into the side streets we eventually found it. Oh dear it was on a narrow strip of land with the main Princes Highway on one side and the main train line to Sydney on the other. Thank goodness we had that night in the temple.

With ear plugs in we actually had a reasonable nights sleep and on reflection decided it was in a good position as the train station was just at the end of the camp ground and a row of small shops across the road had some good little restaurants and take aways.The facilities were clean and the permanent people were friendly. So we decided to stay for 3 days and visit the relatives.

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Categories: australian travel, camping australia, Camping grounds, National Parks | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Inverleigh Australia day 2011. Couch surfing again…

We were staying at Inverleigh, a small town 20km west of Geelong, with a population of approx 1500, on January 26th, Australia Day. Christine and Keith, our couch surfing hosts, were among the organizers of the community breakfast to celebrate Australia day. So we were invited to go along.

This is one of the very best parts of couch surfing, you get to join in with the family and community you become part of for a few days. This is a way of really getting to know an area. Seeing the tourist areas and Australian icons is an important and interesting part of travel but meeting and talking to people is what brings Australia alive.

I went along early with Christine to help set up the hall, chop fruit etc. It is a very friendly community and we were made to feel very welcome. Approx 300 people turned up. Last year was the first time they had run this event and this year more turned up so they had to rush off at one point to get more bacon. The children enjoyed face painting and the jumping castle. When every one had finished breakfast they rounded up all the cubs and girl guides and they sang “Advance Australia Fair” and every one joined in.

It was another of those special moments that happen when you are travelling and I felt quite emotional standing there sharing it with this lovely community.

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Categories: couch surfing, slide show, travel, Victoria | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nullabor

The Nullabor , originally uploaded by gypsy woman1.

Well we have done it….

Nullabor, the word is surrounded with an aura of adventure and mystique. An endless, treeless plain stretching to the horizon under an azure blue sky with the sun beating down. But in a way, to start with, it was an anti-climax. The adventure part has gone with a dozen emergency phones at regular intervals, parking bays every 20 to 30 ks, road houses with petrol and all basic supplies and friendly staff approx every 300ks.Also good free camp spots and an excellent road surface, no bulldust to be seen. The landscape was an ever-changing vista. The first part was still the eucalypt forest we had seen at Norseman and Kalgoorlie. The eucalypt trees were shimmering with new growth and some of them were flowering. We were told that there had been an unusually high rainfall during spring. Last month had double the YEARS total.( Weather patterns are strange every where. WA was suffering from its driest winter ever.)

Gradually the trees thinned out and golden grass waved in the breeze, dotted with more stunted trees, shrubs and salt bush.

The first night we stayed at Caiguna Roadhouse caravan park. A very basic van park. Next day the weather continued fine and sunny with a light sea breeze keeping the temperature to approx mid 20’s. What a lovely drive, we averaged approx 300ks a day. The scenery was still interesting and varied. Every so often a dead tree would be festooned with “things” ie a shoe tree, a hat tree even a bra tree, gave us some thing to watch for and of course always the possibility of seeing a native animal, but we didn’t.

Second night we found a beautiful free camping spot in the bush. Tracks led off from the highway and wound back through the bush with pockets of shady areas to camp in.I cooked all our remaining vegs for dinner as tomorrow we go into SA. That night there was a stunning sunset.

Third day dawned fine again and today we crossed the border into South Australia . Along here the road runs close to the ocean and we took the side trips to the lookouts over the Bunda Cliffs. They stretch 200kms and tower 90 metres above the Southern Ocean pounding in on the rocks below. Awesome sight….

As we approached the Nullabor Roadhouse, our camp for the night, the landscape flattened out to the iconic “treeless plain”, stretching to every horizon.The roadhouse was again a very basic, gravel parking lot, but we did manage to get under one of the three trees in the area.

At 2am we woke with a wind roaring across the plain and shaking Matilda frighteningly.We moved all the equipment down from the top shelf and pulled the pop top down. At 5am we woke to the sound of thunder and a storm with heavy rain passed over. When we looked out at 6-30 and started packing to move on, the sky was very black and stormy looking.

We now found out what the Nullabor can throw at you and how it can change so suddenly. The very strong wind was blowing from the north-east, across the desert area, and was like a hot blast from an oven. It would dehydrate you very quickly if you had to walk out into it. The sun beat down and we were very thankful we had air con. Even with that on the van was hot and uncomfortable, but Matilda just kept going at a steady 100kms/hr. We did have one side trip when we went down to the Head of the Bight lookout that was $5 entry and in the whale watching season is a perfect view-point, but the season is now ended. The treeless plain stretched for approx 100ks.

We were very pleased to arrive at the Ceduna Roadhouse at 4-30 and go into their air-conditioned cafe. We bought an iced coffee and took our books in and settled in a corner till the temperature started to cool down.

So we have experienced the Nullabor and I wasn’t disappointed with the trip, but don’t think we will be doing it again….

Next day it was another complete change of weather with the temperature dropping to 21deg and as we drove down the Eyre Peninsular even had a few showers.

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Categories: australian travel, camping, The Nullabor | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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