Death By Tomato and Rural Aid

Most Aussies would have heard of the charitable organisation Rural Aid. Established in 2015 in the middle of a drought Rural Aid became known for raising funds to send road trains loaded with bales of hay (the Buy A Bale Campaign) to areas right across the nation in order to keep animals alive.

To this day Rural Aid continues to “provide critical support including water, fodder (hay), financial and counselling assistance to help farmers (primary producers) who endure drought, flood and bushfires”. Oh, and add mouse plagues to the list.

One of my favourite initiatives is the creation of the Farm Army whereby volunteers assist farmers with tasks such as building fences, farm sitting or simply by lending a hand. I ‘de love to participate in this program though I am too much like my father: my  practical and manual skills make me as useful as an ashtray on a motor bike!

Rural Aid are calling out for help in connecting the City to Country communities this Christmas. They are requesting that children make a Christmas card for a farmer, including a personal message, to remind our farmers that we value their contribution.

Here are the Instructions:

To help Rural Aid distribute them as quickly as possible, participants need to follow these steps:

  1. The cards cannot be larger than 120mm x 170mm. You could fold a bigger card down to that size but this is the MAXIMUM size we will be sending on.
  2. Do not put your cards in an individual envelope. Instead, place all of them in a bigger envelope and mail them to Rural Aid at PO Box 1342, Sunnybank Hills QLD 4109
  3. Rural Aid will have thousands of envelopes here ready to put your card in and send onto an Aussie farmer.
  4. Please ensure that all cards have a personal message written inside, and are not blank.

All cards must be at Rural Aid’s Brisbane office no later than November 17th, 2021.

So take the screens away from the Little People and set up a craft station : coloured pens, glitter, streamers, whatever it takes. If I had Little People at home I’de be rewarding them with a grazing platter with carrot, celery sticks, cheese, and olives reminding them about where our food comes from. But then my kids would tell you I’m a nag…

Not tomatoes though. I grow tomatoes. My six tomato plants are killing me. Eating them every night for three weeks so far I’m sure there is a kidney stone in the offering.

Pardon the lack of styling. Useless, I told you.


* When we used to travel as a family I was forever pointing out things to the children to keep them amused: changing topography and vegetation, landmarks and historic sites.Geez Louise, did they get the poops or what. Twenty years later, and now sitting in the back seat of the car, all I get is “Mo, do you know who is buried in that cemetery ?” or “look at that Canola field”.

Coochiemudlo Island

Or a reminder about “why we live where we live”.

Beautiful Spring weather and our fourth Donut Day (without any new Covid cases) propelled a visit to nearby Coochiemudlo Island for the first time in nearly thirty years. Such a long time ago neither Pocahontas nor Cat Balou remember having visited the island during their childhood despite it being less than ten minutes drive away from our front door, and another ten minutes by ferry to cross southern Moreton Bay. Isn’t it sad that we sometimes need a reminder of “why we live where we live”. A case of Life getting in the way, I guess….

Catching the ferry from Victoria Point is a breeze. $5.60 one way travel or $2.40 for concession and pension card holders.

The name Coochiemudlo is the English language version of the Yuggera  (First Nation) words kutchi (meaning red) and mudlo (meaning stone). You can easily spot the evidence with a natural cliff composed of iron-rich rock exposed on the south western side of the island. 

Coochie, as she is affectionately known by locals, is only 4 square kilometres in size with a permanent population of less than 800. To be honest, this is Coochie’s biggest attraction : there are no high rise, no tourist parks, no shopping centres. For entertainment there are beaches, reserves for bushwalking and a 9 hole golf course manned by volunteers. Next visit, we are packing the fishing rods and sun screen.

We lunched at the Curlew Cafe ( yes, there were curlews everywhere) followed by a visit to the Art Gallery.

The biggest social event on the Island takes place annually in July : Flinders Day, the re-enactment of the landing of explorer and navigator, Matthews Flinders, celebrated with markets, navy cadets and pirates.

It took us a little over an hour to walk around Coochie to get a feel for the place.

Back soon, Coochie, armed with cossies, buckets and fish bait.

Aussie Cuisine

Fellow blogger Cupcakecache, an American lass with a strong streak of curiosity, recently asked for information about Australian dishes. Hopefully this blog will go towards sharing some iconic Australian party foods that many of us have loved since childhood. Please feel free to contribute……

Every childhood birthday party has FAIRY BREAD on the table. We are no longer supposed to call it Fairy Bread because of political correctness (as is the case with our Fairy Penguins), but who gives a rats. It is what it is: Fairy Bread.

A slice of buttered bread covered with Hundreds and Thousands.

COCKTAIL FRANKFURTS are affectionately known as “Little Boys”. You must dunk them in tomato sauce to render them edible.

THE LAMINGTON

Australians are very proud of their Lamingtons, which are believed to be named after either Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.

They are made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture.

It is becoming more acceptable to add a layer of cream and strawberry jam between the two lamington halves but I question the need to fiddle with something that was never broken.

Over the summer months when tropical fruits are in abundance the common cry from women planning a soiree, in kitchens all across the country, is “I’ll bring the Pav”.

The PAVLOVA is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is typically covered in fresh cream and fruits, and seems to me to have been designed solely to force people to eat Kiwi Fruit.

The ANZACS may have stood together at Gallipoli and at the Somme but the origin of the pav is widely disputed with our closest neighbours across the ditch.

TIM TAMS are a chocolate biscuit that consist of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. They are insignificant on their own.

However, the TIM TAM SLAM is the perfect ending to any dinner party and consists of biting the bottom corners off the biscuit, lowering the chewed bottom half into your coffee, and then using the biscuit as a straw to suck up the warm liquid.

Personal Recommendation : For Coffee insert Kahlua or Tia Maria.

Lastly, a SHRIMP in Australia is a colloquialism for a vertically challenged human. We throw PRAWNS on the barbeque, never people, and cover them in crushed garlic and white wine, or strung together on a skewer to make a shishkebab. One glass of wine over the hotplate and one for the cook.

Cupcake, I hope this has in some way gone towards strengthening the bonds of international relations.

A Morning At Highfields Pioneer Village

Highfields is a satellite suburb of Toowoomba situated on the Great Dividing Range, approximately 135 kms from Brisbane City. First developed in the 1860s for timber felling once it was cleared it became prime dairy farming land. Since the 1960s it has become a thriving suburb with all the modern amenities and the benefit of an abundance of mature trees which add to its street appeal.

Highfields Pioneer Village is located on 20 acres on Wirraglen Road and consists of over 60 authentic and well preserved buildings, relocated from surrounding districts, and all stocked with artefacts from earlier days. My parents used to talk of Coolgardie Safes – fascinating to at last see one.

Each of the buildings is dedicated to an area of pioneer life including the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker……silversmith, blacksmith and beekeeper etc. Some of the buildings have been turned into museums – ambulance, radio, fire engine, 11th Lighthorse Brigade – and the number of old vehicles and farming equipment is fascinating even if I am totally clueless as to their use.

My favourite is The Grinke Cottage with its colourful Cottage Garden which has been entered in the Annual Carnival Of Flowers Garden Competition over the past several years in the Cottage Garden category. Just gorgeous.



So proud of myself: I refrained from taking cuttings.


The Anderson Bomb Shelter is also interesting. Over 2,250,000 were erected, many in Australia, and were made homely with bunks inside and flowers and vegetables planted in the protective bank of earth. One joker declared ” there was a greater danger of being hit by a vegetable marrow falling off the roof of an air raid shelter than of being struck by a bomb”.

There is also an old church which is to this day used for weddings.

Honestly, there is a lot to take in here and it can’t be done in a short time frame. I would like to make a return visit and may make the effort on one of the Pioneer Village’s special event days which you can read about here : http://www.highfieldspioneervillage.com.au/events

We finished the morning over hot tea and damper ( with Golden Syrup – wicked, I know) cooked by one of the wonderful volunteers.

The Highfields Pioneer Village is another attraction hit hard by Covid and an ageing volunteer base. So wish I lived closer………

Tip : Add to Must Do List.

Helping our rural communities

During recent road trips we noticed several dead gum trees that had been painted blue. Recently I learned that these blue trees were part of a project that started in 2014 to tackle mental health and suicide in regional Australia. ( refer the Blue Tree Project)

Drought Angels, a small organisation created to support Australian farmers, also  began operating in 2014. Their mission is to “provide direct and timely financial assistance, essential resources and meaningful relief for Primary Producers across Australia impacted by drought and natural disasters.”

Drought Angels run on financial donations and from a charity retail outlet in Chinchilla, in rural Queensland. After the horrendous bush fires two years my money went to Drought Angels and Rural Aid because I figured that if farmers weren’t being fed, and if their livestock weren’t getting fed, then neither would I.

Don’t worry: I’m not spruiking for $$$$$$. Believe it or not, this is another one of those stories about something good coming out of Covid. Hard to believe when half of my country is still in Lockdown……

With so many families home-schooling and adopting new teaching methods Drought Angels requested letters and artwork from children to include in the food hampers/gifts/care packages delivered to farmers. The concept was designed so that farmers felt they were receiving a “thank you” as opposed to charity, and as a tool to teach children about farming and rural communities.

Drought Angels are short of letters and creations to include in parcels at the moment and are asking for contributions from the Little People.

Creations can be sent to: 

Drought Angels 

PO Box 451

Chinchilla  Qld  4413

Believe it or not I really wish I had some Little People with whom to share some craft projects 😦

Much Needed Therapy : A Day On Straddie

North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie is an island that lies within Moreton Bay off the coast of Brisbane. It is a 45 minute vehicular ferry trip from my sandpit or half that on the people-only Straddie Flyer. At 68,000 acres it is the second largest sand island in the world. Known as Minjerribah to the First Australians the Quandamooka people are the traditional land owners and their presence is still keenly felt on the island.

Fun Fact: Originally there was only one Stradbroke Island but in 1895 it split into North Stradbroke Island and South Stradbroke Island after some bizarre events. Firstly, in 1894 the 1,600 tonne barque Cambus Wallace from Glasgow, carrying explosives, shipwrecked in a narrow passage. Five sailors we’re lost, the others managed to salvage barrels of rum and most of the explosives, although they were deemed unstable. Rum and explosives being a heady mix there was one hell of a BOOM, and further storms and strong currents led to the fragile strip of land dissolving and breaking completely away in 1898.

All ferries arrive in Dunwich. The township has a fascinating history having started as a military post, becoming a temporary lazaret, a quarantine command, and then the largest asylum in Queensland for the poor, disabled and disadvantaged. There also remains evidence of the financially rewarding Dugong harvesting industry.

Used For Boiling Down Dugongs

Myora Springs has been the meeting place of our First Nations people for eons with it’s fresh water feeding into the bay. 

Amity Point remains relatively untouched by progress and is a camper’s and fisho’s paradise.

Do you remember the Disney movie Finding Nemo? This movie featured The East Australian Current, a large scale flow of water that runs south along the east coast sweeping warm tropical waters from the Coral Sea southwards to interact with the cool temperate waters of the Tasman Sea. You know what that means? All manner of sea life including sharks – big, hungry buggers. We sat mesmerised and watched dolphins and whales at play. Look hard and you may just spot Nemo.

Point Lookout is nothing short of spectacular. The old beach shacks of days gone by are well and truly gone and the high end real estate is at such a stage that I could probably afford to purchase their letterbox and possibly a water feature or two. Despite the exorbitant prices, it is still acceptable to walk sand in through the house and barbeque on the verandah overlooking the view. It retains that holiday vibe. 


I just have to tell you that the Straddie Pub is a Must Do item on any visit to the island.

Wind burnt, sun burnt, and thrilled to have to stop driving in order to allow a koala to cross the road we returned to Dunwich for the ferry ride home.

From Dunwich back over to the mainland.

Feeling improved and in a much better head space, thank you for asking…………….

Carnival Of Flowers and The Dead Centre of Town

Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers has been extended from the usual ten day event and will now cover the entire month of September. As well as colourful public and private gardens on display there will be food and wine events, live music, art exhibitions, and yay, a movie night at the local cemetery.

For the Official Program go here : https://www.tcof.com.au/official-program-2/

I enjoy my visits to Toowoomba, less than 2 hours west of Brisbane and on top of the mountain range, and always manage to experience something new and exciting. Cinema under the stars amongst the tombstones would have certainly fit that bill as would have the High Cheese at Spring Bluff Railway with celebrity chef, Alastair McLeod. *sigh


Normally I would not hesitate to book accomodation and let the hair down a little. It was only a few months ago that we succumbed to an evening on the Fluffy Ducks in front of a roaring log fire at Toowoomba – a much needed respite from responsibility and reason.

With more of the country Locked Down than not because of this wretched Bug I’m not so comfortable roving for the moment. Local Government Areas are tending to Lock Down in a matter of hours, and despite appreciating all Toowoomba has on offer I’m not prepared to risk having to isolate amongst the floral displays for two weeks.

With the EKKA disbanded for the second year in a row – the annual Agricultural Show in Brisbane which sees our rural folk come to the city for some R and R – I hope the Carnival of Flowers is a huge success and is supported by our country cousins.

I expect to stay home in my own garden and nibble on Camembert. Not quite the same, damn it.

PS.

Change of heart. Booking a night away afterall. Toowoomba deserves our support…

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray by Anita Heiss – Book Review

This is the first novel that has broken through my brain fog, courtesy of Covid, for quite some time

Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray (River of Dreams) is an epic story of love, loss and belonging.”

Set in 1852, the Marrambidya – what we know as the Murrumbidgee – floods through the newly established township of Gundagai, leaving death and destruction in its wake. The local indigenous had warned the colonists though this went unheeded. It is a stark reminder that while the river can give life, it can just as easily take it away.

Wagadhaany is a 13 year old Aboriginal lass and considered to be one of the lucky ones because she survives the flood and lives in a settler’s home as a domestic. When she is forced to move away from her “mob” her spirit is crushed despite forging a friendship of sorts with the new mistress of the house. Her heart slowly heals when she meets a Wiradyuri stockman and she dreams of escaping from servitude and returning to the river of her ancestors, though there is danger in escaping from the white man.

Beautifully written with a nod to indigenous language, the images of rural NSW with its flocks of noisy cockatoo and the swirling currents of the river and dry plains are almost lyrical. The ugly events of our past are covered, such as the massacres, payment to workers by way of rations, abuse and mistreatment of the women, and early days of mission life. It’s not pretty.

Wagadhaany’s partner takes their twin sons camping on their first “walkabout”
to learn many of the Indigenous ways and I felt as a reader that I too was being educated in bush craft. I will never again move a log with my hands until testing first with my feet ( in case of snakes)! I particularly enjoyed the lessons gained from looking at the night sky given my recent reading about Aboriginal Astronomy.

In Gundagai today there is a sculpture of Yarri (Wagadhaany’s father in the novel) and Jackey Jackey commemorating how many of the colonists were saved during the flood in those early days.

Though not an in-your-face, aggressive look-what-you-done look back at historical events which is so very prevalent in other recent publications, this story is no less forgiving. It in no way detracts from the appalling treatment that our Aboriginals suffered but rather confirms that you can ” catch more flys with honey than with vinegar”.

Great read!

About the Author

Anita Heiss (born 1968) is an Aboriginal Australian author, poet, cultural activist and social commentator. She is an advocate for Indigenous Australian literature and literacy, through her writing for adults and children and her membership of boards and committees.

Another Must Do

With half of this country’s population in Lockdown and the rest of us either in masks or walking on egg shells it’s a little galling to admit that there have been some really good things that have come about due to COVID.

One of those is Theatre Redlands, formed last year during the worst of lockdown, by a group of experienced and passionate individuals who have formed an alliance with Redland Museum to share stories from our past.

Early in the year I attended the performance Women Of Their Word, a “celebration of Australian women poets who captured their times and experiences in verse – insights into what inspired them, the challenges they faced and the contribution they made to Australia’s emerging cultural identity”. Some of the women included Judith Wright, Dame Mary Gilmore, and my personal favourite, Maybanke Anderson. ( Never heard of her? Either had I! Fascinating – look her up.)

Last month Theatre Redlands had a new program on offer with a distinctive Queensland flavour to coincide with June 6th – being Queensland Day, when Queensland officially separated from New South Wales to become its own colony. ( I was taught at school that June 6th was D Day but I digress).

Down Came a Jumbuck is a whimsical theory about how Banjo Paterson might have come to write Australia’s unofficial national anthem ‘Waltzing Matilda’. I particularly enjoyed this given my recent trip to outback Queensland where I visited the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton.

Following intermission The Droving Days took the audience to “Pub Redlands”, the area in which I live, to join a group of retired drovers and their mates, reminiscing about horses they’ve known and ridden and tall tales of unlikely characters, all woven through with Banjo Paterson’s timeless ballads.

The recitation of Paterson’s Man From Snowy River was breathtaking. You could have heard a pin drop – the audience was enthralled.

So two things :
1. I am so looking forward to the next production from Theatre Redlands


2. There is an annual Man From Snowy River Bush Festival next April. Who knew??? Added to Must Do List.

Longreach – Lonely or Otherwise

With house guests and travels my recent reading history is abysmal.

Lonely In Longreach” by Australian author, Eva Scott, is chick lit that I picked up after having spent a few days in Longreach, 1000 kms north west of Brisbane.

I wont bore you with more holiday snaps though Longreach is home to some really big hitters in the tourist department. The Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, which opened in 1988, showcases the history and the culture of life in rural Australia. It is nothing short of spectacular : informative, user friendly, and totally fascinating.

Sitting in the outside arena watching a drover working his horses in the daily show reminded me of Errol Flynn in the 1950 movie Montana. (Yeah, I wonder about the things that go around in my head too.)

The Qantas Founders Museum is another Must Do as is the Sunset Cruise on the Thomson River.

All of these venues are mentioned in the book “Lonely In Longreach”. Which in turn had me thinking of another movie : Sleepless In Seattle. Same premise – kid worries his widowed Dad is lonely so fixes him up by signing him up to a Dating App and arranges for his choice of stepmother to fly in from the Big Smoke to give a career chat at the local high school. We all know how the story ends, don’t we?

Then I had to read “Everything Is Beautiful” by Eleanor Ray for Book Club.

Amy is a loner who suffered major heartbreak a decade ago and deals with it by collecting bits and pieces. Read: she is a hoarder with a house full of junk.

Readers were meant to be sympathetic to Amy’s situation though consensus amongst this group of readers was that Amy needed to “have a teaspoon of concrete and harden up”. Not the outcome the author was looking for, I would suggest , and I wondered if this was the Australian readers’ take as opposed to the English ( which is Ray’s ethnicity). Okay, agreed, the answer could be that my Book Club is full of neanderthals……..

Thank goodness for the coming Pop Up Book Sale fundraiser on the weekend.

NOTE:

Coming out of a three day Lockdown which had me housekeeping like crazy. I’ve deleted 350 “Followers” from Word Press. My apologies but at this stage of the game I am not in any need of nutritional or financial advice, information about cryptocurrency nor the stockmarket, and nor do I require the services of a pretty Asian lass. Don’t even start me on Life Coaches…….