Dry To Dry : The Seasons Of Kakadu – Book Review

Frank Sinatra popularised a song in the late 60’s that contained the lyrics “Regrets, I’ve had a few But then again, too few to mention”. My Way – can you hear it playing in your head now? – has recently been knocked off the top of the charts as the most popular song to have played at a funeral. As at last October the perennial favourite dropped to number two in the annual rankings, being replaced by Gerry & The Pacemakers’ You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Anyway, I totally get the sentiment. Even with Covid my life has been blessed. My only personal regret is not having made it to the Northern Territory to visit my daughter due to border closures, especially following the arrival of the country’s finest project, young Harry Kilom.

Kakadu National Park is in the Northern Territory, roughly 180 south east of Darwin, the capital city. It covers an area of 19,804 km2 making it the second largest national park in Australia. It is the size of Wales and nearly half the size of Switzerland to give you some perspective.

Our First Nations people have occupied the Kakadu area continuously for at least 40,000 years. Kakadu National Park is renowned for the richness of its Aboriginal cultural sites as well as the diversity of the fauna and flora. Its cultural and natural values were recognised internationally when the park was World Heritage Listed.

Dry To Dry : The Seasons Of Kakadu won an award in the 2021 Children’s Book Council Of Australia for “books which have the prime intention of documenting factual material with consideration given to imaginative presentation, interpretation and variation of style.

Written by Pamela Freeman this book explores the changing seasons of Kakadu – the Dry and the Wet, then back to Dry – and how this impacts on the animals and plants that live in the region. Liz Anelli’s illustrations are simple though easily recognisable even by younger readers.

Each page includes a simple storyline about the environment in its various stages and in a different font at the bottom of each page is a paragraph of factual information, though still in language for younger readers to understand.

Interestingly, although we label the seasons of Kakadu the Dry and the Wet our Indigenous people believe that there are indeed six seasons. This is important because following the seasons is vital for their food supply.

One of the greatest dangers to the natural environment of Kakadu is the Cane Toad, imported in the early 1900’s to combat beetles hurting our sugar cane industry and which are poisonous to our native birdlife and marsupials. A note at the end of the book gives thanks to “the native water rats who have figured out how to safely eat cane toads”.

This is one beautiful children’s book and if you are unable to visit the NT it isn’t a bad substitute. Young Harry Kilom just loves the baru – crocodiles.

( For Gum Trees And Galaxies Gaia/ Nature Reading Challenge ).

Traditions : New & Old


When I was a child the dinner table was the source of good food for nourishment of the body as well as the venue to share the days events, whether they be local, national, or international, as nourishment for the mind. That hasn’t changed any with a number of visitors sharing my table over the past few weeks to celebrate and commiserate the last 12 months. We’ve been able to solve the problems of the world over Turkey Pies, play Trivia over Ham Croissants and to solve each and every crisis in the world over Sweet Potato Casserole ( courtesy of blogger Murisopsis).

No Christmas seafood this year as the thought of queuing for three hours in the middle of a Pandemic held no appeal. Cross that Christmas tradition off the List.

We were sharing our earliest memories of Christmas one night and my brain went back fifty years to making White Christmas with a cousin on Christmas Eve. Never ate the stuff myself – far too sugary – but the memories of mixing, taste testing, and family are vivid. It was a tradition throughout childhood.

With the arrival of the first grandchild the mother was interested in instigating such a tradition for little Harry Kilom for next December when he is more human and less  “pooh-and-spew.” A tradition is “a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past.”

The child’s aunt, Cat Balou, last year instigated a calendar featuring said child with a new meme for every month which was distributed amongst the family.

It seems we have a new family tradition with the creation of another calendar with a monthly meme for the coming year.

Here’s to Family, Fun and Tradition, both new and old, for the New Year. Blogging Family included.

Salute!

The Week That Was And Old Age

It was Melbourne Cup earlier in the week, Australia’s iconic horse race which literally stops a nation. Melbourne, in lock down for some 280 days due to Covid, opened up for 10,000 questionably fashioned party-goers at the racetrack – as opposed to the usual 100,000 plus- none of whom looked like they were a day over 25 years of age. I didn’t watch the race, didn’t pull a cork out of any bottle, and am unable to name the winning horse.

Is this a sign of old age?

The Beersheba Re-enactment ( for the anniversary of the Charge in 1917) at the Laidley Pioneer Village was interesting and well done, though I was disappointed with the lack of spectators. These dedicated horsemen and women are passionate about both their history and their horses and I would have thought that the event would have attracted scout groups, girl guides, and high school groups as history via a whiteboard and text book never worked for me. Neither did Shakespeare.


Saved a baby crow fresh out of the nest. Spent the morning on the phone to the Wildlife mob as he was wobbly on his feet and the other larger birds were overly interested. Did you know that walking on the ground for a week or two is what baby crows do? It was just unfortunate that this was the same day the first Brown Snake of the season slithered by the back door.

Went to the theatre to see Mamma Mia last night. Wonderful to get caught up in the joy of the music, and….da da…enjoy it maskless. Last live performance was four months ago when masks were compulsory. Do you know how depressing it is not to be able to sing along with a favourite performer? And I mean depressing. I would have been happier listening to a CD and ordering a pizza at home it was so sad.

So energised by the music and dancing – and that was just the audience, not those on stage – that I vowed to open a bottle of bubbles when I made it back home.

Didn’t happen. Too tired.

I’m just getting old, I tell you.

World Wombat Day

Today is World Wombat Day and a little way back I shared some popular Australian children’s books based on these special marsupials. Go here : https://brizzymaysbooksandbruschettasite.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/wombats/

Firstly, five fascinating Wombat facts : 

  1. Wombats are stocky and close to the ground. That does not stop them from running at speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour which is just under retired sprinter Usain Bolt’s fastest recorded speed.
  2. A group of wombats is called a ‘wisdom of wombats’ a ‘mob of wombats’ or a ‘colony of wombats’. 
  3. The name wombat comes from the Darug language, spoken by the Traditional Owners of Sydney.
  4. The southern hairy-nosed wombat is the state fauna emblem of South Australia. And my favourite :
  5. Wombat poop is different to any other animal’s, because wombats are famous for doing cube shaped poop– pumping out around 100 of these a day. It’s all to do with their slow digestive system.

In recent months I’ve shared my developing interest in Aboriginal Astronomy and related artwork. Our indigenous could tell the weather for food finding purposes by watching the night skies. For example, moon haloes, or rings around the moon, are used by Aboriginal people as a weather predictor since ice crystals indicate high moisture levels in the atmosphere.

Many of the Dreamtime legends are depicted in the stars.

Here’s Ngarga warendj, the dancing wombat by artist, Mick Harding.

Warriin the Wombat is a solitary fella. He is a vegetarian who spends most of the day in his burrow and feeds at night. In our Taungwarrung creation stories, Warriin and Marram the Kangaroo were good mates. One day they had a fight because Warriin would not let Marram into his burrow. Marram cut off Warriin’s tail with his axe. Warriin was so mad he threw a spear at Marram and this became stuck in his back end and is now his tail”.

                 – Mick Harding  of the Yowong-Illam-Baluk clan.

This Week In Books

A successful weekend having secured some fifty odd books at the local Rotary Club Bookfest (fundraiser). The $2 Mystery Boxes are perfect for the rotation of books through the Little Community Library, and if I manage to get through a handful that’s a bonus. Total expenditure : $4. I’m laughing:)

Many years ago, before I became bogged down with responsibility, I started collecting (in addition to anything Errol Flynn) books that were turned into a movie and visa versa. After a thirty year hiatus I’ve rekindled this interest and was excited to pick up a copy of the novel Run Silent Run Deep by Edward Beach, published in 1953, at the sale. The movie followed in 1958 starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster and I look forward to comparing them later in the week. ( Yeah, I also collected war movies – or “warries” as they are colloquially known. Never was one to lose time painting fingernails and curling eyelashes).

Two Book Club meets this week and although I love the social aspect, and especially the decent coffee and cake, both novels had me somewhat “confused”. Maybe it’s still Covid brain and let’s leave it at that.

Interestingly I read an article from the Sydney Morning Herald – my favourite paper on weekends for the obituaries – dated the 18th of May listing the Top 20 Most Borrowed Books during the pandemic based on 34 million loans across more than 100 Libraries throughout Australia and New Zealand.


1 The Survivors 2020 Jane Harper
2 Becoming 2018 Michelle Obama
3 Blue Moon 2019 Lee Child
4 The Good Turn 2020 Dervla McTiernan
5 The Lost Man 2018 Jane Harper
6 When She was Good 2020 Michael Robotham
7 The Scent Keeper 2019 Erica Bauermeister
8 Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Wrecking Ball 2019 Jeff Kinney
9 The 117-Storey Treehouse 2019 Andy Griffiths
10 Fair Warning 2020 Michael Connelly
11 Good Girl Bad Girl 2019 Michael Robotham
12 Vote WeirDo 2020 Anh Do
13 Boy Swallows Universe 2018 Trent Dalton
14 A Room Made of Leaves: A Novel 2020 Kate Grenville
15 Art Time! 2020 Anh Do
16 Nine Perfect Strangers 2018 Liane Moriarty
17 Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man 2020 Mary Trump
18 The Weekend (2019) 2019 Charlotte Wood
19 All Our Shimmering Skies 2020 Trent Dalton
20 Weirdomania! 2019 Anh Do

How many of these have you read ? *

It’s Spring here Down Under and its just marvellous. Lots of alfresco dining and Saturday morning markets. And you just know that means more books, don’t you…………

*9

PS. Did I mention that I also won the Bookfest Raffle?

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 😦