2022 has been my year of Tim Winton novels : Dirt Music, Cloudstreet, Breath, and TheShepherd’s Hut. An Australian writer Winton was named a Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia, and has won the Miles Franklin Award four times.
Two and half weeks in and I’m abandoning the latter novel. I’m done. Sorry Tim, it’s me, not you. Too much ugliness in the real world I don’t need anymore of it in my own little bubble. Shepherd’s Hut is almost too painful to read.
I’ve also put Carpentaria, another Miles Franklin winner by Alexis Wright, to the wayside. I will come back to it when the days are meant for languishing under a ceiling fan but for now I’m battling to work out if the author is being sarcastic, passive aggressive, or if I just lack sophistication required when it comes to award winning books. Guessing the latter.
Talking of stories I did attend a presentation of short films at our local Performing Arts Centre last week. “A Celebration Of Stories from Minjerribah”, as North Stradbroke Island is known by our First Nations People, these shorts captured cultural stories from Elders and community members about the stolen generation, an old mission, passing on traditions, and the last Aboriginal fishing crew on the Island and how fishing on the open beach connects them to their ancestry.
A few tears, a few laughs, and Straddie never fails as a beautiful back drop.
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.
FunFact: 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.
MyoraSprings 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 FindingNemo? 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 StraddiePub 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.
Feeling improved and in a much better head space, thank you for asking…………….
I’m a seafood snob. Comes from catching, filleting and cooking my own fish since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Both my parents were keen fishos ( to non Aussies thats fisherpersons. We lazy Dinky-Di’s abbreviate nearly everything) and I received my first rod at the age of 3 or 4. Our annual family holidays were always at a sleepy fishing village on the south coast of New South Wales, which thanks to progress is now bustling. One of those places where you take your life into your own hands trying to cross the road.
We never holidayed anywhere else. My father would say “ I’ve seen the world. Dropped bombs on it.” I was always badgering him to go somewhere different and new. Never happened. “ I’ve seen the world. It didn’t impress.”. To shut me up he gave me airline tickets for my 21st birthday. To Port Macquarie – 350 klms up the coast from home.
Although my sister and I revelled in the beach culture eating seafood three meals a day quickly lost its appeal. Can’t even consider cold fish on toast for breakfast these days.
We learnt so very much about seafood as my Dad was instrumental in tax law changes in line with the seasonal catches of the local Italian fishing fleet all those years ago.
So I know my seafood. Fresh fish and prawns are as familiar to me as dark chocolate.
Therefore I have never eaten seafood at restaurants ( makes me a cheap date, I know), and don’t buy any seafood for Easter nor Christmas despite it being traditional, as so much of it has spent time in the deep freeze.
And I would throw myself under a train before eating any of that imported rubbish from Asia so readily available in supermarkets. Just pass me a bucket…….
A seafood banquet is my speciality when guests come to town. Admittedly, I think its the only reason the son-in-law visits.
So I’m excited about the Straddie Oyster Festival, an annual event which provides local farmers, fishermen, and restaurateurs the opportunity to promote their produce in a relaxed party atmosphere in parkland backing on to Moreton Bay.
North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie, is a sub-tropical island located 30 km southeast of Brisbane and is the world’s second largest sand island. Take my word that the 30 minute trip by water taxi or 60 minute journey by barge from the mainland across to the island is a delightful respite from the Big Smoke in itself.
But back to the Oyster Festival held at the Ron Stark Oval in Dunwich with its beautiful water views. There will be prawn and oyster eating competitions as well as live mud crab races. Market stalls and live music will keep Mums and Dads contented whilst the jumping castle and face painting will keep the kiddies occupied.
And remember, with the Festival taking place on Saturday, 23rd of November, from 10am till 6pm, it will be warm enough for the children to paddle and play in the sand so pack their swimming gear. (Always wears them out and ensures a good nights sleep which I totally endorse).
Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known by the traditional landowners, will also have Indigenous Art displays including framed ceramic tiles, fibreglass turtle shells, and artworks. I’m as keen as mustard.
NOTE: North Stradbroke Island is well worth a visit at any time of year. It’s Mother Nature at its best ( and sometimes at her worst).
Seafood Breakfast in Tasmania is an exception to the rule. Doesn’t matter what the time of day a girl never declines the offer of Tasmanian Scallops or a Scallop Pie.
Lastly, here are some amazing facts about our Moreton Bay Marine Park:
It’s Queensland’s third-largest—and one of Australia’s top 12—shorebird habitats.
It’s one of three extensive intertidal areas of seagrass, mangroves and saltmarsh on Australia’s east coast.
It supports the southernmost population of dugong in Australia and is among the top 10 habitats nationally for this vulnerable species.
It’s one of the most important feeding areas for threatened marine turtles along Australia’s east coast and we have 6 of the world’s 7 species of marine turtles!
bottlenose dolphin population, centred around Point Lookout, is one of the largest congregations of bottlenose dolphins in the world!
Alas, Progress is threatening the bay with plans to build 3,600 units into the Mangroves despite it being a designated RAMSAR Wetlands area. End of rant.
Without being too controversial the best thing about visiting Brisbane in S.E Queensland is North Stradbroke Island. Casinos? Patting a koala? No thanks. Give me Straddie each and every time.
Winter on Minjerribah, as North Stradbroke is known to the traditional landowners, is also a time of much activity on the Island. The Quandamooka Festival runs across the winter months, and celebrates the original custodians and culture of the people living from Cape Moreton, on Moreton Island, south along the coast to Logan River, stopping just short of the Gold Coast, and including the Bay islands.
This year a wide variety of events have been organised including whale watching, cultural tours, Kunjiel (corroborees), music, eco boat tours, art exhibitions, fibre art and weaving workshops, bush tucker dining, arts and cultural talks by specialists, and First Nations dancers and performers.
I enjoyed the Opening Day at this festival at Dunwich on Straddie last year where we were welcomed with the smoke ceremony to ward off evil spirits. Although there is a variety of accomodation choices on the Island a day trip on the ferry from Cleveland is also a viable option. The twenty-five minute Bay crossing is simply beautiful and booking ahead is not required. Keep an eye out for dolphins and dugongs too!
The Squeeze and I enjoyed the aboriginal dances and music which were given relevance according to the culture. The Dance Of The Eagles, for example, refers to the schools of Mullet that arrive in the local waterways in winter. When the Eagles spot these fish they ignore the leaders, or first schools, as these are the Elders who show the way to the other schools of fish. The Eagle then goes in to feed on these younger fish.
￼What a wonderful opportunity to learn from another culture and to see the young children also learning by participation.
When the kids were little we would spend several long weekends a year on the surf side: lots of long beach walks, body surfing, and fish and chips in wet cossies at the pub. It’s beauty is stunning, wild and untamed.
The Hotel has since undergone a revamp and dripping wet bods are no longer allowed. Property prices have skyrocketed, and sadly, progress is beginning to leave its mark. * Find the twenty minutes to undertake the Gorge Walk and you’ll have a true understanding of how spectacular, brutal, and intoxicating Mother Nature can be.
I’ll be making the journey for the festival shortly. I’ll also be visiting the Historical Museum at Dunwich ( facing the Mainland) which was formally Brisbane’s Benevolent Asylum. The fish and chips will be much appreciated too.