Another Festival Just Across The Ditch.

First of all a confession:

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.

Ummmm, a while ago……

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.

Catching the water taxi over to Straddie

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).

View from Dunwich back over to the mainland



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.

Cheers!

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.

BOGANS : Todays Cultural Exchange

The latest edition of the Australian Dictionary from the team at Oxford University Press includes 2000 new entries and more than 3000 updates to existing words. That’s what they reckon anyway – I certainly didn’t sit down and count them.

Here are a few beauties that I’de never heard before:

Anzackery: The promotion of the Anzac legend in ways that are perceived to be excessive or misguided

Kangatarian: A person with a largely vegetarian diet who includes kangaroo meat as an environmentally-friendly source of protein.

Normcore: A style of dressing that involves the deliberate choice of unremarkable or unfashionable casual clothes.

Who knew?

The term Bogan (/ˈboʊɡən/ BOHG-ən) has been updated. Australian slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated, bogans are also known as ferals, white trash, rednecks, and dags. ( Any further additions would be simply unladylike).

The new definition is: An uncultured and unsophisticated person; a boorish and uncouth person.

Here’s a list of the Top Bogan Baby Names for 2019 with thanks to Sabrina Rogers-Anderson from Queensland Press.

ANOMALY

ANTWOHNETTE

PANDA

SNOWDROP

VIN’NYLA

PLUTO

PRECISE

TENYSI (Pronounced Tennessee. I just love this!)

TOKYO (Wont the great grandparents who lost four years during WW2 be turning in their graves?)

Frightening enough one of my daughter’s ( with two Degrees) favourite books is this little gem. She’s one of those readers who lays in bed with a book and giggles her head off…………

And just because you can’t keep a good bogan down:

Halleluja

When they told me that the music would contain lots of Hallelujas my mind went immediately to singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Imagine my surprise then at the beautiful Mandeville Hall in the grounds of Loreto College in Melbourne’s very swish Toorak, the Hallelujas were part of Frideric Handel’s Messiah. Originally an Easter offering this English-language oratorio burst onto the stage of Musick Hall in Dublin on April 13, 1742.

We enjoyed excerpts performed by Cantus and Sonare Novesia, from the Cathedral of St Quirinus, in Neuss, Germany. Eight glorious voices soared through the rafters and we were left absolutely spellbound.

And yet another performance at St Patrick’s Cathedral in East Melbourne.

Normally when you hear of Melbourne talk turns to Federation Square, Lygon Street, Southbank and the Victoria Markets. And the Casino. Who cares!

We were spoiled by several days in South Yarra, 4 kms out of the CBD and roughly 1,300 kilometres south of Brisbane. A bustling, upscale suburb with art deco apartments facing the Yarra, and well-preserved mansions, South Yarra is full of swanky boutiques, art galleries, cocktail lounges and eclectic bistros. I was tempted by a cat collar with bell for $77 – Ha ha ha -and of course I came upon a great bookstore.

Avoca Book Store, Toorak Road, South Yarra

I’ve been known to favour walking tours of an eclectic nature when I travel and I wasn’t disappointed with South Yarra’s offering of a two hour stroll with an architectural expert explaining the various styles of housing.

Both trams and train service South Yarra and the nearby Botanical Gardens and other reserves offer a great stretch of the legs. Honestly, it was just so therapeutic being surrounded by greenery after having been in drought effected territory for so long.( Note to self : plant more trees this week and steer clear of chocolate).

We went Airbnb. I love them and detest the impersonality of hotels. After all, seen one marble bathroom, you’ve seen them all.

Halleluja!

To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Little Community Library in the parkland near my home continues to gain momentum. I put a call out for more children’s books at the beginning of the school holidays and the neighbourhood came good with DVDs, small toys, and colouring in sets as well as a variety of reading material.

Over the past weeks there has also been the donation of numerous LGBT Romance novels. Often they are sneakily hidden between the pages of other books.

Personally, I’m not offended, but as this communal Library is frequented by children of all ages who utilise the reserve with its playground equipment I have been taking these books out of circulation. Effectively I’ve played Censor. It doesn’t sit well but I have genuine concerns that if a 7 year old goes home with one of these novels a parent could go into meltdown. This could possibly result in the loss of this resource.

A friend has questioned my stance, given that I’m not so zealous with the plethora of religious books that are donated.

None of these books are tossed into the garbage bin. They are donated to an organisation where they can be better appreciated. The plethora of religious books are given two weeks on the shelves before they are removed. I think that’s generous.

Am I becoming a Book Nazi?

The National Archives in Canberra has updated its cafe with a new display on banned books. You can read about the secret history of Australian censorship as you sip your coffee. You can also examine a censor’s report or flip through a copy of a book or magazine once prohibited in Australia. This Cafe is going on my Must Do List For when I next visit the ACT.

Ride Like A Girl

Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most prestigious horse race. As she came off the course in Flemington, Victoria, she told waiting media: “I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.” Go girlfriend!

Ride Like A Girl hit the cinemas last week telling the story of Michelle’s big win in 2015. 

I had expectations that this would be just another feel-good film about a young girl who managed to overcome the odds in a male-dominated industry to win horseracing’s biggest prize. Just another National Velvet.

It was more than that in that it is so totally Australian. It’s not particularly clever, it’s charm is that it is simply Dinky Di to its bootstraps. Sam Neil plays patriarch, Paddy, a horse trainer and the father of ten children, eight of whom become jockeys. Michelle’s mother died in a car accident whilst she was still in nappies, her sister Brigette died in a race fall, and Michelle herself nearly died after a fall in 2001.

Teresa Palmer ( Hacksaw Ridge) plays Michelle and despite being of fragile appearance is determined and headstrong. She had dreamed of winning a Melbourne Cup since childhood.

Michelle’s horse on the day, Prince of Penzance, was 100-1 prior to the race, and of course we all love a story of the underdog getting up. Michelle’s brother, Stevie, played himself in the movie and he was the strapper on the day in real life. A Downs Syndrome kiddie it is the Michelle-Stevie relationship which really works and to this day they own a farm where they train horses together.

There were two things that disappointed me about Ride Like A Girl: firstly, actress Magda Szubanski. There have to be other middle aged character actresses in the country chasing work, and it’s not like customers are queuing up for a five minute performance from Magda. Magda playing Magda has been done like a dinner. 

And honestly, would this movie have worked if it wasn’t so close to the first Tuesday in November and new frocks, eyebrow shaping and lunches weren’t in full swing?

I’ve never been to a Melbourne Cup. I nearly went on a 5 day cruise from Sydney to Melbourne for the event with a young man when I was 17 but my father spat chips ( as well as a lot of other things) so that never eventuated.

Over my working life I’ve only attended one Melbourne Cup Luncheon. Now cop this : work commitments meant I never even watched or listened to the race live for all those years. How UnAustralian is this? And you wonder why I retired early……

My youngest (currently in New Delhi) will be peeved that I’ve already seen the movie as she was at Flemington for the Cup when Payne rode the winner. That’s what happens when you don’t invite your mother along…..

I’ve just ordered the autobiography, Life As I Know It, from the Library.

Next week : Last Blood-Rambo 5. * Hanging head in shame……….

Note: Ride Like A Girl has been getting attention from both sides of the Horse Racing Industry – both negative and positive.



Raising Gypsies

Did I tell you I enjoyed Chicago at the theatre last weekend?

It was beaut to see Tom Burlinson again as Billy Flynn. Burlinson had success as a young man when he played young Jim Craig in the 1982 Australian movie The Man From Snowy River and Tommy Woodcock in Phar Lap in 1983. He then seemed to fade away singing the songs of Frank Sinatra in nightclubs over the years.

Also lovely to spend time in Sydney with the daughters before they both headed off again. You see, I’ve raised gypsies……..

My youngest flew out to India for work purposes for six months yesterday. (My apologies for my behaviour : I may have been just a tad fragile.)

My eldest is off shortly with her military boyo to be stationed in a remote region of Australia for two years. So remote that it will be an easier option to fly to India for a visit. And it’s a Dry Community. Good luck with that, Pocohontas……….

Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury from Fahrenheit 451

No, there were no tears and I have been positively positive. Disgustingly positive really. And envious of course. I was already tinkering with a holiday to Arnhem Land in autumn so that’s now a done deal. My only concern is for the Labrador, Bentley, who is unused to crocodiles and dingoes, and is stone deaf. I’m fearful that if he meets a snake he will want to make it a playmate. Same with a dingo: he’s such a good natured pup with an inability to read social queues.

As for the Indian adventurer, just as well she’s vegetarian and did a spell in Beijing last year.

We’ve agreed to meetup in Darwin next August, to coincide with the Northern Territory’s Federation Day ( read : Cracker Night) and Darwin Cup. The gambler’s gene did not come from my side of the family though the need for a new outfit for the occasion certainly did. I’m currently researching a side trip to the Tiwi Islands.

Since retirement I have been regularly asked when I will be selling up to be closer to the girls. Makes me laugh each and every time. 

Safe travels, Cat Balou. Looking forward to belly dancing classes upon your return.

Sydney Writers Walk

Home after spending a few days in the old hometown of Sydney catching up with the daughters. Our girlie weekends tend to consist of champagne breakfasts, too much good chocolate, dumplings, laughs, and a trip to the theatre.

And lots of walking. 27,000 plus steps on Saturday alone. ( Thank God for old pubs with harbour views and cold ciders).

The Sydney Writers Walk is a series of 60 circular metal plaques embedded in the footpath between Overseas Passenger Terminal on West Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House forecourt on East Circular Quay.

The plaques were installed to honour and celebrate the lives and works of well-known Australian writers, as well as notable overseas authors, such as D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain, who lived in or visited Australia. Quotes from a significant work and some biographical information about the writer are stamped onto each plaque,along with an excerpt of the author’s writing.

It’s a perfect walk along the harbour with an ice cream in your hand. Boysenberry.

I was born, schooled, worked, married and had my two babies in Sydney and have been returning on a yearly basis forever. Stupidly, I introduced the daughters to theatre at an early age. And champagne breakfasts.

The old homestead was demolished nearly thirty years ago and replaced by a McMansion so I’ve never had the heart to revisit.

Interestingly, the apartment where we stayed in the city was two doors down from my office from 1980 where a client picked up a chair and threw it at me. But that’s another story…….

She’s a whole different city since those days.