Jan 052018



heading north

heading north

sal & i have just spent 5 days on our boat at the wessel islands, ‘bliss’ is the word that popped in my head when i thought of one word to describe the 5 days. i guess the dream of owning our own boat that we could live aboard for extended periods and continue to explore the paradise we live in, had long been in our minds, and we had begun to have some sense of the potential from our few previous tips on the new boat.

this was truly what we had envisaged though, exploring new bays, beaches, islands, creeks, fishing spots, swimming holes, while wining and dining on the water! we had decided that the week between xmas and new year was perfect for an extended trip, we were both off work and the weather was looking perfect. kai announced his intention to stay at home as 5 days stuck on a boat with his ‘rents was more than a teenager could bear – we were torn between knowing what he would miss out on, and the thrill of having 5 days to ourselves, on the water!

we decided to leave on the wednesday after boxing day, giving us time to recover from xmas excess and prepare the boat, we left mind morning and headed north, our last human contact was a short radio converstion with dave who was out on his boat with his family and we chatted as we passed near bonner rocks, we pressed on north in flat seas towards cape wilberforce and then thru the passage between cotton and wigram island and across the donington sound to raragala island in the wessel islands.

the day just got calmer and calmer as it went on and it completely glassed off by midday, with the flooding tide under us we made good time and dropped anchor in our chosen anchorage on raragala island for a late lunch.

we chose to anchor in this unamed bay on the south side of raragala island to allow us to explore the southern end of the island in the tinny, while having close access to one of our favourite fresh water swimming spots on the island, and the fishing in raragala bay itself. we were forced to eat a non-fish dinner as we didnt catch anything in the afternoon we spent exporing the local beaches and bays.

after a pleasant night i woke up early and made us a coffee with my ‘glamping’ caravel, a 60 year old, manual lever machine that i have converted to non-electric service, and then jumped in the tinny and headed round to raragala bay to fish the rocky headlands and managed to drag a couple of nice mangrove jacks out of the rocks for dinner.

we spent time at a spring fed freshwater swimming spot that we had visited in a previous trip to the wessels on a charter, it has a waterfall that falls into a large, tree shaded pool and is just behind the beach, so its easy to get to in the boat and a very refreshing spot to visit. we also explored the coast down to the southern end of raragala island, beach combing along the way and then investigating whether it was possible to pass between raragala island and jirrgarri island to get round to the north side of raragala island.

the chart suggested there might be a narrow passage that was navigable, and on arriving there we were able to find a very narrow passage between jirrgarri island and a small unnamed island to its north, it was probably 30m wide but quite deep, reef and sand shoals extended north with a narrow but deep passage between them. we were there right on low tide so we figured if we could get the tinny through and find a safe passage then it ought to be possible to get the big boat through safely at high tide.

i knew i would have to time it right with the tide only just turned because otherwise it was obvious the current would rage through the narrow passage. after returning to the anchorage we decided to have lunch and then weigh anchor and have a crack at getting through what I named the “eye of the needle”! in the end it went pretty smoothly, there was about 4 kts of tide against us and we got through safely and then headed up to a new anchorage at guruliya bay.

we spent the next couple of days at guruliya bay, there was plenty of exlploring of the beaches, bays and creeks either side of the anchorage and also plenty of good spots for fishing. in particular the head of the bay has a system of small mangrove creeks and rocky headlands that suggested plenty of barra and jack action. while it wasnt exactly going off, I manged to get a couple of nice barra and some more jack to keep the plates filled with fish! the weather continued to be fantastic, enough breeze to keep us cool enough to sleep at night, but no storms or rain.

on our seond last day we weighed anchor and headed for the hole in the wall, or gugari rip, to travel back to the southern side of raragala island, into raragala bay for a night before heading home. one again conditions were perfect and I timed the run through the hole in the wall for an hour or so below low tide so we would have some current against us, there was a bit more run than i expected, we had about 4 knots against us in the middle of the hole in the wall, but it presented no issue.

in her 15 years in arnhem land, sal has caught most fish species, but one that had eluded her to date was a mangrove jack, so i made sure that while we were in raragala bay she came and had a fish with me to get her first jack. in the end it was a decent fish and she was pleased to tick it off her list! the second one she caught was hilarious and i wish i had caught it on video, she flicked her lure perfectly and enticed a small rock cod to rush out and grab the lure, as she got it close to the boat, 4 jacks stormed out from under a rock shelf, the biggest one grabbed the rock cod and tore it off the lure – then one of the smaller jacks grabbed her lure!

new years eve we weighed anchor in the wessel islands for the final time and pointed the old girl south, towards home, we had an uneventful run across donnington strait and into malay roads before rounding cape wilberforce and lined up gove harbour.

we stopped for a troll on a favourite shoal on the way and sal pulled up a stonker of a mackerel to finish the trip on a high note!

all in all a magical 5 days, absolutely what we envisaged doing when we bought this boat, to be able to do it as just the two of us with no other people seen or talked to for 5 days was extra special, no phones, internet, tv, computers etc was also a pleasant change! we are truly lucky to have such an incredible landscape and environment right on our doorstep – and to have the means to immerse ourselves in it and explore the magical coastline.

We ended up using 305L of fuel (which means either the tank is bigger than the 300L i was told, or BP’s bowser is a ripoff!), we did 11.2hrs motoring, so 27L per hour, and about 140nm so just over 2L per nm

Dec 162017


the arnhem gun club held an open day today, and so i took kai & his mate leroy out to try their hand at archery, pistol shooting and trap shooting. the archery range was our first stop and the boys had great fun with the compound bows. kai also had a crack at andrew’s high end, adult, compound bow – but he was unable to load it!!

next we moved on to the pistols and shot a range of pistols from a .22 calibre revolver, a 9mm glok, a range of .38 calibre semi automatic handguns and finally a .45 monster!

leroy was the dead eye in the smaller calibre, getting a couple of bulls eyes in his first round, we all shot well in the mid range calibres and i cleaned up on the .45 – knocking over 4 targets with my 10 shots.

finally we head to the shotgun range and the traps, kai was an absolute natural knocking down 5 clays with his first 10 shots ever with a shotgun, leroy got a couple and i came in last – i think i was distracted by the view across the range to the beaches and ocean! (well thats my excuse!)

all in all a great afternoon, i managed to bring both boys home without any bullet wounds or arrows hanging out so mission accomplished! only problem is somone wants a shotgun for xmas now!!


Dec 112017

heading north

we have been promising our dear friends leesi and jeremy a weekend away on the big boat since they arrived to help run the art centre a couple of months ago, they visit arnhem land 3 or 4 times a year and its always a battle between their work committments and trying to find sufficient opportunities for social obligations!

we decided this weekend was the last chance as they leave just after xmas and sal is away next week, so we headed out on saturday, leaving kai at home to hold the fort!

we headed up to truant island and the weather was very pleasant with a light breeze and blue skies, we caught a nice mackerel at barricade shoal just before arriving, so that was quickly filleted and thrown on the bbq for lunch!

after afternoon swims and relaxation we broke out the italian prosecco and fine cheeses! dinner was some skippy fillets I had marinated in redwine with bay leaves, juniper berries and garlic with a garden salad.

after dinner we were mesmerised by an amazing show of phosphorescence in the water and the moonless, star filled sky above.

we had a comfortable night and woke to a glorious day on sunday, the breeze dropped right out and after coffees from the glamping caravel we whipped up a breakfast of chorizo, halloumi, cherry tomatoes and greens from our garden topped with soft boiled eggs.

we had a very smooth and pleasant trip back to gove on sunday, and it nicely finished off a fantastic weekend with great company, fine food, cold beer, good wine and lots of laying around doing bugger all! we also caught 2 more nice mackerel at last chance shoal on the way home!

it was fantastic to have a weekend away with leesi and jeremy and be away from work and just hang out, i think they also enjoyed it!

on the more mundane side of things, the boat ran well, nothing new seemed to need fixing! ….until we were nearly home when the dreaded fuel problem from the last few trips raised its ugly head. i really thought I had fixed it by rectifying the fuel tank breather issue i found, but it wasnt the cause of the random loss of power.

today i cleaned the boat up and then stripped the fuel lines with the idea of replacing them to eliminate another possible cause of the issue, dave popped around and i was showing him when he noticed something that looked to be stuck in the fuel line – we got some tweezers and he pulled out a long piece of plastic strip, so I am certain we have now found the culprit! hopefully there is no more in the fuel tank!

we didnt tow the tinny this time so the fuel economy is a bit better, total of 7.6 hrs and 85nm travelled using 148L for 19.5L/h or 1.74L/nm

Nov 272017
rainbow over bosenquet islet

rainbow over bosenquet islet

we headed up to inglis island for a few days exploring on friday morning, we took the big boat and towed the tinny for exploring and fishing. inglis island is the western most of the english company islands and is separated from the mainland by a narrow strait, nalwarung strait.

we steamed up against a bit of NE swell and a fresh ENE breeze, but once we rounded cape wilberforce it flattened off as we motored down malay roads. i decided to anchor in behind bosenquet islet which lies off the NE corner of inglis island.

“Matthew Flinders on 19 February 1803 named the island. It is believed to have been named after Samuel Bosanquet of Forest House, Waltham and Dingestow Court, Monmouthshire.

Flinders named a number of islands in the group after members of the East India Company (Cotton, Inglis, Wigram, Bosanquet and Astell) and his journal has the entry :

” I have therefore applied names to each [island], mostly after gentlemen in the East-India directory; and in compliment to that respectable body of men, whose liberal attention to this voyage was useful to us and honourable to them, the whole cluster is named the ENGLISH COMPANY’S ISLANDS”

Samuel Bosanquet was governor of the Bank of England (1792)”

anchored off bosenquot islet

anchored off bosenquot islet

while it was a pretty anchorage, and had deep water close in, and shelter from the ENE wind, the swell rolled around the point of the island and we had a farily uncomfortable night!

friday afternoon we fished the creeks at the eastern end of inglis island – which are reputed to hold good numbers of blue salmon, threadfin, jacks and barra – but over the 3 days we caught nothing and saw no signs of action so whether the tides were wrong or i was holding my tongue wrong i dont know, but the fishing was very lean.

saturday we explored the northern side of inglis island and found some nice beaches, but again the fishing was dire, we had hoped to bottom fish the change of the tide, but by then the wind was too strong so we gave in and returned to the big boat.

dinner that night was accompanied by a bottle of veuve clicquot in honor of our 14th wedding anniversary! we enjoyed fresh bbq’d trevally fillets – thanks to kai who was the only successful fisherperson, having a ball chasing the trevally on light gear – he fished until after dark!

the nights were stunning, with a sliver of a moon that set early, the stars were magnificent and the luminescence in the water was electric.

on saturday afternoon we had a shower of rain and an amazing rainbow, at first we could see one end of it about 500m away in nalwarung strait, and then it completed the arc and the other end went into the water about 100m away from where we were anchored! so we had pots of gold within reach either side!!

we had a few minor problems, as sems to be the way with boats! the regulator for the gas stove had frozen closed and i was unable to free it, so we had to use the weber baby Q to do all the cooking – fine for the bbq fish, but less than ideal for the morning coffees! i also had a recurrence of a fuel supply problem that had become apparent on our last trip, it causes the motor to suddenly lose power which is a bit disconcerting.

after some investigation today i believe i found the cause, the breather hose on the tank had a big dip in it, below the tank, this allowed it to fill with diesel when the tank was filled and it was causing a vacum lock. hopefully re-routing the hose has fixed it, but we wont know for sure until the next trip.

all in all, a lovely 3 days relaxing with just sal, kai and i and no connection to the rest of the world! very peaceful. just would have been nice to find a few more fish, but there is always next time!

we covered 93nm in the big boat and did 7.8hrs engine hours all up, used 220lt so 28 l/h and 2.36 l/nm. it was also our first time with sal and i towing out both boats and launching and retrieving them on our own, so that was a nice confidence booster too.

Nov 112017

Grand Final!

so its definitely build up time, hot and steamy with the odd teasing showers! last night was the last round of rugby for the season and the boys had a cracking grand final, a couple of injuries during the game meant the maroons were down a couple of players, but 2 of the boys from the U12’s backed up and filled the spots, the blues (kai’s team) looked like they had done enough to win, but the dreaded maroons pipped them at the post! kai had another solid game of great defence and a couple of tries in attack.

he is a bit hard to see, partially obscured, at the back, behind the boy squirting the red water bottle.

recieving his player's medal.

recieving his player’s medal.

today we had the presentations down at the town pool.

otherwise its been typical build up with light winds and pretty good fishing conditions, here are a few photos from recent trips, dont forget to click on the ‘i‘ for info on the images.

dave and i had a great day up at truant island earlier this week, more of a beachcombing trip than a fishing trip, had a pod of pygmy killer whales around the boat for a while and then made some nice finds on the beaches of truant island. came home with a tuna for dinner!

here is the video of the pygmy killer whales,


Oct 082017
anchored at truant island

anchored at truant island

we spent this weekend on the big boat up at truant island with the Blakes, we have been promising Andrew & Di a trip on our boat for the last few months and finally we all got our acts together for this weekend! Dave also came along in his boat which we planned to use for fishing and exploring sessions.

the weather wasnt as good as I had hoped and it was a fairly slow and bumpy trip up there on saturday morning, but as always, once we were in the shelter of truant it was white sand beaches, crystal clear water and lots of wildlife!

we did have a troll on saturday afternoon and picked up a couple of nice mackerel and gold spot trevally, with sal cleaning up with most of the fish!

we also caught up with the keeleys who were up there in their noosa cat with their 3 little boys – the whole family spent the whole weekend spearfishing!

saturday night we had a great meal with the mackerel sal caught followed by a yummy beef curry that Di had cooked and brought along.

we did 6 hours motoring and used 140 litres of fuel which works out to 23L per hour which is pretty good, and we did 74 miles so just under 2L per mile. I was trying out the spare prop, which is the original 3 blade alloy prop, I had already decided the current 4 blade stainless prop is too big but I just wanted to compare the old one before deciding on what the correct size for the boat is. Other than that we had more issues with the electrics, but I have isolated and rectified most of the issues, now its just a case of replacing the house batteries which are no longer holding a charge.

we also had some sort of fuel problem when we were nearly back to the boat ramp, on checking it seems like it was just accumulated water and crap in the fuel tank that had filled and blocked the fuel filter, so I have cleaned it all out and changed the filter.

i didnt get round to taking enough photos! i only have the one above from truant and a couple from our dinner on the friday night before the trip, so its words more than images this week! (sadly andrew’s waterproof case failed on his iPhone when he swam ashore at truant, so his phone is borked and all the photos lost, the one of me cooking the steak, he messaged to me on friday night – so its the last seen image off his dead phone!!)

Aug 192017
sal & kade

sal & kade

our old mate kade, was back in yirrkala for a few days and came over to spend the last night at rick’s bar and grill. i grabbed some scallops from gove seafood and just panfried them in butter  & olive oil. i made up a batch of dave’s yummy sauce which is the perfect accompaniment to scallops. a perfect entree followed by pan fried mackeral and salad!

anyway, what i was actually going to post about, until i came across that photo, was the fiddling on the new boat this week, firstly the solar panel i had ordered arrived – i was so excited about finding the package i wanted that i had neglected to look at how big it was! when it arrived i figured the box must have a huge amount of padding because it looked big enough to be a wing for a small plane!

as it turned out the box was all solar panel – 2m x 1m – rather big! it is a 305w panel so it should be able to keep up with a small town, let alone a small boat! it came with special mounting blocks, cabling and a solar controller. normally i would have put it in with duct tape and fencing wire, but given the quality finish of our new boat i was forced to slow down and do the job properly!

i got my make cookie to do the electrical installation so it didnt look like a mad womans hair in the morning, all in all I am very happy with the whole job.

today i have been fiddling around with a couple of other jobs, the ‘trim up’ switch was not working very well and I was having to use the ‘trailer’ switch to raise the leg, after some research on the issue, my google fu uncovered the issue as being the ‘trim limit switch’ on the sterndrive and on closer inspection i discovered the wiring was buggered – how it worked at all is a mystery!


removed switch with buggered wiring

the next problem to tackle was a slight coolant leak that I noticed after our last trip, i suspected a leak around the area of the coolant overflow accumulator tank and after running the engine for ½ an hour or so to get it up to temperature I indeed discovered a small leak from the seal on the lid on the accumulator tank.

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

white tank with leak at lid in foreground

finally, i also bought a large tarp to cover the boat while its parked up in the driveway, rather detracts from her pretty lines but functional!

dressed in silver!

dressed in silver!

all in all some good fiddlin’ to fix a few little issues, but also a reminder that owning a big boat is like standing in the shower tearing up hundred dollar bills!

Aug 072017
anchored at eliizabeth bay

anchored at elizabeth bay

we had our first overight trip on the new boat this weekend, dave came along and we also took the tinny which we towed behind the new boat. we launched from the yacht club on friday night and anchored in the bay for the night. after getting things organised we went ashore and had dinner at the yacht club which meant we could spend the night on the boat and then head off first thing in the morning.

one of the most important additions to the boat was a decent coffee maker, i dug out my 60 year old Atomic style, La Sorrentina stove top and in combination with the Knock hand grinder we had the perfect combination for marine coffee! The perfect start to our voyage.

Cafe La Sorrentina

Cafe La Sorrentina

we planned to head north, up to cape wilberforce and around into elizabeth bay, the main aims of the trip were to test how well the tinny towed behind the boat and how all the systems worked and what it was like to ‘live’ on for a few days.

we got up to the anchorage mid morning on saturday and once we had anchored and settled in dave and i headed off in the tinny for some exploring along the beach, i got a nice haul of decent sized mullet in the cast net which were reserved for grilling as an entree.

after lunch sal came with us and we had a troll around the local coastline chasing more fish but had no luck other than a smallish coral trout that I dropped at the boat.

while cleaning the mullet on the marlin board we were visited by the lizzy bay, resident lemon shark so he scored a few of the smaller ones as a treat!

so dinner was grilled mullet followed by fillet steak on the baby webber Q, and a nice red wine, followed by sunset over cotton island!

we started to discover some issues with the batteries and the charging system on the new boat, a legacy of the lack of use its had the last few years I suspect. In the end we had to use the battery from the electric trolling motor on the tinny to get the big boat started and due to concerns about the issues we decided to head home Sunday morning. We decided that at least if we got back to Gove we would be close enough to run in in the tinny if we had any more issues.

we took our time going home as it was a great day again, we ended up trolling right down the coast from cape wilberforce and sal got a couple of nice macs as well as dropping a big tuna right at the boat. i even managed to make a coffee while driving the boat and landing one of the macks sal caught!

In the end we anchored up off the granites and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon and night there before having a fish on monday morning before heading in to the yacht club and pulling the boats out and heading home for the clean up!

all in all the boat ran very well, some issues to reslove with the electrics, but everything else worked well, its very comfortable, very well thought out and it had no issues pulling the tinny. being out of the sun and salt combined with the comfort of the boat made it a very relaxing and enjoyable weekend. we used 140 litres of diesel for a bit over 11 hours motoring, so about 12 litres an hour, a fair bit of that was running at anchor to charge the batteries so its hard to work out exactly how much per mile we really used, but we covered about 66 miles.

(dont forget you can click on the ‘i’ at the top left corner of the photo galleries to see the captions.)

Jun 182017
nothing to do with this post!

nothing to do with this post!

I am very close to closing and deleting my instagram accounts, the relentless stream of spamming ads has got to the point that it annoys and frustrates me way beyond the pleasure I get from seeing my friends photos.

I truly dont understand Facebook’s approach with encouraging and supporting spam on Instagram. Not only is it seemingly universally disliked by users, it spoils something that is so much a simple visual experience . I also dont understand why advertisers pay to spam users on Instagram – I am sure most people, like me, actually make a conscious decision to NOT buy any product that chooses to present as spam advertising on social media.

I would probably also delete my facebook accounts if it were not for the advantage of using our local community noticeboard which is a group running on FB. Without any local paper or other media here, it would be difficult to be without.

Its certainly one thing that makes twitter continue to be my social medium of choice, the lack of spam is a massive plus for twitter.

I guess I will have to think about whether I want to explore another platform for sharing images with friends and family, the most obvious is just to post them on twitter, another possibility is just to post more on this blog. I could also create a thread on our seekrit squirrel forum for the purpose of sharing images. Happy to hear other people’s thoughts on alternative image sharing social media.


Mar 192017

coral trout

after our big trip down to dudley island on saturday we spent most of the rest of our time at bawaka fishing the reefs outside port bradshaw in dave’s boat, and fishing the rockbars in the bay in mine. this led to a steady stream of quality table fish with red emporer, mackerel, coral trout, barrumundi cod and mangrove jack making up the main species caught.

on sunday i also took timmy, djaka, yarrangu, russell & kai across the bay in my boat to hunt maranydjalk (sting ray) and djindjalma (mud crab) – which led to a great feast that night! maranydjalk is one of our favourite seafoods when prepared the yolngu way and it was fantastic for dave, brian and caitie to be able to see the preparation and then discover the amazing taste of this delicacy of arnhem land.

of course no trip like this will be without its dramas, and my poor old leaky, battered and bashed tinny was the most likely candidate. so it proved to be when on the first day i tried to select reverse and the gear cable popped out thru its sheath and made reverse unselectable and likely to leave the boat inoperable as it got worse. having a diesel fitter, a mechanical fitter and an electrician…..made little difference! but bush mechanics 101 came to the rescue and we cut some lengths of fencing wire, bent them to the curve of the cable and taped them to the cable before finishing with cable ties. the repair did the trick and the bodged up cable will probably still be in the boat next time brian comes up!! Special thanks to caitie also, without her expertise with the ‘magic smoke’ we would have had no coffee machine, fans or lights due to some faults with the solar system.


bush mechanics

as usual with us food was a highlight of the week, but when mixed with the abundant wildlife, stunning environment, cultural wealth, brilliant weather and damn fine company it was truly an unforgettable week and one that we will all continue to reflect on and remember with much fondness.

So thanks firstly to timmy and the family for welcoming us to bawaka and treating us to a unique experience in this piece of paradise, thanks to brian and caitie for being the catalyst for this adventure, as well as being fabulous company and finally thanks to my best mate dave for all his help in making this trip a success.

I will finish up with one of my favourite images from the week, taken as we were presented with our plate of maranydjalk!






Mar 172017


my old mate, brian livingstone (livo), used to live here and relocated his family to yepoon in queensland some years ago. he pops back every couple of years for some fishing and to inflict serious and lasting damage on our livers. this time he brought his daughter caitie and settled in for 2 weeks. they stayed with my mate dave ‘butts’ butterworth – which helped prevent early onset cirrosis in my case.

brian also brought a wonderful present for me up on the plane, it was a total surprise, but i suspect dave was also involved! I was actually overwhelmed a bit, its a magnificent gift and will take pride of place at rick’s bar & grill.


our original plan had been to charter a boat for a few days and do a barra fishing trip, but it proved to be so expensive that we bought a small mercedes each instead and decided to spend 6 days camped down at paradise, a.k.a bawaka, we took both dave’s and my boats down and sal drove the troopy down.

we asked timmy to come down too, so we could get him out on the boats and also have him create a cultural education experience for our visitors. he came down on the friday and spent the weekend with us, also bringing djakapurra and yarrangu as well as djaka’s son russell who is a year older than kai.


caitie, sal, brian & dave

we had a few days in town before heading out, and brian, dave and I actually did a run down to bawaka to take some of the gear down and make sure all was ready for our visit. as usual the days were started at rick’s bar & grill with coffees and usually ended there with dinner!

friday morning we launched the boats at yirrkala and set off for bawaka while sal headed down by road, it was a perfect morning with glass off conditions and flat seas, i only stopped for about 45 seconds to catch a large mackeral for dinner!

the most exciting thing on the first night was the appearance of wititj, or the olive python as he frightened the life out of russell by slithering across the sand towards him as he sat beside the camp fire after dinner! it was well over 3m long and one of the biggest I have seen, after a bit of fumbling in the dark I managed to pick him up and relocate him into the swamp – well away from our beds!

as you can see our effort at camping more properly falls into the category of glamping – proven by the fact that we lugged dave’s espresso machine out there so we could have a proper start to the day with freshly roasted coffee from arnhem roastery!

saturday we decided the weather was perfect for a run down the coast towards the group of islands known as the three hummocks. timmy was very keen to visit an island which he is named after, he told me it was deadly island – which I couldnt find on the map, but as it turned out i had misheard him and it was actually dudley island! the yolngu name of the island is murrmurrgu, and timmy had never been there so it was a very emotional trip for him.

we followed the coast down and trolled around any likely looking islands or rocks and got a nice range of fish, and some unwanted ones like sal’s shark!

we stopped at one of the three hummocks for lunch, it was actually 2 islands joined by an amazing sand spit, and it wouldn’t have been hard to stop there for the rest of the day! it was totally protected by the other islands around it in every direction, the water was crystal clear and the sand was soft and clean.

when we arrived at murrmurrgu we discovered an even better beach if possible, it plunged straight down into deep water and was just an idyllic location, it was beautiful to see how emotionally affected timmy was by the chance to visit his island – and that alone made the whole week worthwhile just to be able to take him there. I dont think any of us will forget the experience for a long time.

that will do for part 1, i will try to put together a part 2 post later this weekend.

i did record a little video of timmy talking about his experience in visiting his namesake island for the first time,

Dec 262016


my dislike for xmas and all things related is well documented, but for those of you that dont know me well, i have a somewhat deserved reputation as the grinch, of bah humbug fame from the dr seuss’ book.

my workaround for this time of year, to avoid spoiling the whole time for myself and others, is to celebrate the festival of saturnalia – the original holiday celebrations of the ancient romans that was later ‘appropriated’ by the christians when they invented their fairy tales.

saturnalia lasted for up to 2 weeks from mid december thru to the 24th, it was a topsy-turvy holiday of feasting, drinking, singing in the street naked, clapping hands, gambling in public and making noise.

A character in Macrobius’s Saturnalia (an encyclopedic celebration of Roman culture written in the early fifth century) quotes from an unnamed priest of the god Saturn that, according to the god himself, during the Saturnalia “all things that are serious are barred”.

so happy saturnalia to all of you, may you enjoy a fun and frivilous festive season to end 2016!

my saturnalia to date has been consistent with “all things that are serious are barred”, i finished up work just before the start of the festival and have spent most of that time fishing and camping. the fishing has been tough, but here are a few photos from the last couple of weeks adventures

dave, kai and i spent a few days camped at bawaka, the plan had been to go down in dave’s boat and explore the surrounding coast & islands, but cyclone yvette created enough weather over here to convince us it was a better idea just to drive out and leave the boat at home.

we have now entered the feasting phase of the festival and the eve of the 23rd was a feast for our friend, dave, who has to work on the 25th, we were joined by sarah and a brief appearance by jeremy & leesi.the feast was based around the pork shoulder & chook I spent all day smoking slowly, accompanied by a yummy roast pumpkin salad sarah prepared, and was finished off with sal’s magnificent blueberry trifle.

the 24th was a day of recovery and then the culmination of our saturnalia was on the 25th, starting with the pagan gift giving ceremony. its actually a very interesting ceremony, the christians surplanted the key character with a bishop (later saint nicholas) when they appropriated it. originally the ceremony had quite a sinister side to it that was lost over time.

kai’s main present was the flash, pro-trick scooter in the opening image, hopefully he will get a lot of pleasure from it at the skate park. Sal scored a nice new rod & reel combo, hopefully it will add to the catch tally next time we are out fishing! I scored a nice traditional carbon steel asian style cleaver for the kitchen.

sunday afternoon jeremy and leesi arrived for our next bout of gluttony and excess! they had cooked a couple of chooks with a yummy non-bread stuffing, as well as bringing vegies and salad, we added large tiger prawns i had marinated in chilli, lime, mint and ginger, ham and leftovers from the friday feast.

after a long lunch we moved inside and watched the best, worst movie ever – the man from hong kong, an absolute classic aussie movie from 1975. we then had a crack at stuffing ourselves some more with cheeses, salamis and pickles laced with beer & wine before i insisted we all head down to the beach for a walk to get an appetite for dinner and stretch our legs a bit!

it proved to be a masterstroke and we were in fine fettle for a round or two of mojitos, a dinner of extensive leftovers, and the company of the kennedy family who joined us after john finished work. tommo brought along 2 magnificent desserts to add to the table and finish off the festivities on a sweet note.

thankfully its 12 months until we have to do this all again!

Nov 212016


its that time of year, its stinking hot, the humidity is so high you could wring the air like a wet tee-shirt, everyone is slightly crazy – locally described as mango madness as the build up coincides with the ripening of the magnificent mango – and the false promise of welcome rain is teased with the rolling build up clouds and distant rumbles of thunder, alas it skirts around us through october, november and most of december.

so there is nothing to do but sneak around searching for the sweetest and best mango crops in town, each different season and year brings out the best in different trees, but this has been a bumper season all round and most trees are bending under the strain of some of the biggest crops of mangoes i can remember seeing. our own tree is prolific, filled with huge, sweet bowens. we fight a battle day and night defending our crop from marauding cockies in the day and stinking, squarking, fruit bats at night.

both drop the huge mangoes like depth charges on the roof of the back verandah, scaring the wits out of unsuspecting visitors and causing us to let forth a stream of cursing and swearing at the thieves!

then its into the kitchen to make huge batches of mango chutney, i just slice each side off the stone, scoop the flesh of the skin with a glass and then chop roughly.


then its make up the chutney, loads of garlic, ginger, onion, spices, sugar, vinegar, limes, chilli, and today a fat old eggplant that was in the fridge. i boil that all gently for half an hour or so until its reduced down and then chuck the mango in.


while the chutney is doing its thing its time to sterilize the jars and do a few taste tests to get the flavour balance on point.

after a couple of hours and about 4 beers the chutney is ready to bottle and time to start thinking of dishes to have with the chutney – i think a few curries might be in order this week!


note the wooden sppon created by kai in his woodwork class, adds a little something special!

The rough form of my recipe for the mango chutney is along these lines,

8 mangoes

1 ½ cup sugar (1 cup brown ½ castor)

1 ½ cup vinegar

fish sauce






star anise

cardomon seeds

mustard seeds

fenugreek seeds


garam masarla

2 limes

Chop up the garlic, ginger, onion and chilli and fry in large saucepan, add the rest of the spices, sugar and vinegar and chopped up limes and cook until the mix reduces about 25-30% and then add the chopped up mangoes and cook on a simmer until it all comes together nicely.


Nov 012016


a friend recently bought a weber smokey mountain cooker and i offered to describe the mods I had made to mine over the 9 years i have owned it. a couple of other friends chimed in with questions so i decided a blog post was warranted! so gilfer, here are the mods.

firstly i fitted castors to the feet so i could wheel it around, a simple and practical mod.


the next thing i found was that too much charcoal fell thru the grate. i harvest my own charcoal in the bush and its probably a bit smaller in chunks than what the store bought stuff was. i got hold of some 10mm square stainless steel mesh and used stainless tie wire to fix it to the bottom of the fire box.


i also made a divider which creates a hot area a bit over half of the firebox, and a cool zone a bit less than half. i also find this lets me run a lower temp when smoking, which particularly with fish is better. its just a drop in piece so i can remove it if i want the firebox full. grilling meat its better with the cool zone, i can move stuff on and off the full heat as required.

I also wanted to raise the fire box higher so that I could char grill steak and vegies etc properly on a cast iron grill, i just used some chunks of paver bricks and have never done anything more sophisticated!


the firebox sits on top of them and then i put the cast iron grill on top,


this one i got from the US, but they no longer ship to australia, as you can see its nearly at the end of its life! i found a replacement one at bbq’s galore,


here is the packaging, its to suit an 18″ kamado joe.


i also made a stainless steel wire mesh which i use for smoking fish and grilling smaller items like prawns,


recently I also replaced the thermometer, the standard ones are not very accurate, for smoking in particular this is critical, these tel-tru ones from the US are the bomb, you can order them here, http://radarhillsmokers.com.au


finally, a couple of people have asked me what i smoke with, i now exclusively use paperbark, we have a large tree in the backyard and the flavour is amazing, i soak ‘balls’ of scrunched up bark in a bucket of water and put them on the coals, if the temp starts to run away from me i lay sheets over the top of the firebox to control it.


happy roasting peeps, i hope the smokey mountain cooker gives you as much joy as mine has over the 9 years – and a constant stream of amazing food. we are about to tuck into roo topside steaks and field mushrooms i have just grilled on ours!

Sep 242016

flying home

that was the view out the window, nearly 12 months ago as we flew home from europe via singapore. its hard to believe nearly a year has passed – nearly as long as we were away for – since we returned home.

i have been very lax with the blog and our lives have instead been largely documented on instagram! i thought i best try a post to see if i could remember how i compile a post!

the last 6 months has been a revolving door of friends staying with us, jeremy & leesi from NZ via bali, tetsj from japan, carl from germany, michiel, boki & dali from the netherlands, ricardo & susana  from portugal via the netherlands, peter phipps and his son surya from melbourne via garma, kade, annie & the boys from melbourne via garma, phil o’brien, territory legend and elisa guittet, fabulous french actress and singer!

rick’s bar and grill has been busy, many wonderful meals with fantastic friends, vicarious travel for us and plenty of good wine and cold beer!


we are back on our own for the moment, and while its nice to have the house to ourselves I suspect the novelty will soon wear off and we will be looking forward to our next lot of visitors!

well i seem to have worked out how to create galleries and otherwise format a blog post so i will leave you with a few more pics and a promise to update a bit more frequently!


Oct 072015
pomos sunset from the roof

pomos sunset from the roof

pomos is a tiny little village on the NW coast of cyprus, towards the border with the turkish occupied northern part of cyprus. no one much comes and stays here – and even they are not here at the butt end of summer.

our apartment looks out over the mediterranean, the meltemi blows freshly thru the windows and cools the baking sun a little, the roof is the perfect observatory for the fiery sunsets and the noise of the waves washing up the rocky beaches lulls one to sleep.

there is not much here, a sea food taverna at the boat harbour, a couple of souvalaki joints, a little general store and a cafe with resident backgammon players is about it.


backgammon at the pomos cafe

it suits us entirely well, we can relax away from any tourists, the water is warm for a daily swim, the neighbours have become firm friends and we take turns at cooking! starlo cooked us a fantastic meal of keftaides with pasta and salad and i cooked a butterfly lamb leg on the char grill another night.

she also gave us a loaf of freshly baked bread the other morning with some haloumi she had also made herself, it was the yummiest haloumi i have ever had, it was made with some fresh mint which gave it an amazing flavour.

the owner of the cafe was preparing courgette flower dolmades when i popped in for my daily cypriot coffee this afternoon, of course I had to try the already finished tomato dolmade!

the guy at the taverna at the boat harbour, who also happens to own the apartment we are staying in, gave me 2 bottles of wine and 3 fish when i dropped by to see him this morning.

the village is surrounded by steep hills covered in wild pine and cedar forests, apparently home to the cypriot wild goat that is their national symbol – although we are yet to see one.

its the perfect spot to finish up our gap year adventure, a couple of lazy weeks before returning to reality, sun baking, swimming, chatting with the locals, eating, drinking and walking.

Oct 062015
the view from our balcony in larnaca

the view from our balcony in larnaca

so we have reached our final destination for the year, cyprus. we tossed up whether to break the trip up on the way home with a cople of weeks in bali or to finish up this side of the world in cyprus.

the intent was similar – somewhere how to start adjusting for the buildup at home, somewhere we could lay round and do nothing for the last couple of weeks and somewhere with good food!

in the end we settled on cyprus, we are much more likely to pop over to bali from home than we are to find ourselves back this side of the planet anytime soon!

we flew into larnaca from athens and had one night in a lovely little boutique hotel overlooking the church in the old city. the next day we picked up a hire car and drove 200kms to a remote village on the NW coast of cyrpus called pomos where we are going to spend the rest of our time.

Oct 052015
in the pool!

in the pool!

this is the final instalment in the ios series of posts – even though its a week since we left greece for cyprus – its taken me that long to catch up!

jade is 11, the same age as kai, and she was also staying with her family at the island house. brett, or ‘nashy’ as he is known on the island is her cousin (i think!), and he owns one of the night clubs on ios. quite a large group of his family had flown to ios to visit and they were all staying with us at the island house.

jade and kai hit it off like life long friends, they could both talk for australia in the olympics – i am not sure who won but it was a good contest! they both share very confident and outgoing personalities so they fell into a happy friendship very easily.

most of their time was spent together in the pool, although we took jade for a morning of water sports with joe, and they had great fun being towed behind the ski boat on various inflatable rides.

i think it was a relief for both families that they became such good friends – it made it easier for all of us as they entertained themselves most of the time!


Oct 012015

the infinity pool at sunset, pathos

“ˈpāˌTHäs – a quality that evokes pity or sadness.” – nup, not happening for me!

after our epic boat trip, chelsea & joe took us to the incredible pathos beach bar, but pity or sadness was definitely not on the menu.

even with the images its hard to impress upon you the scale of this enterprise, its immense, its expensive of a whole diferent scale, its imposing, its beautiful, its sypathetic to the landscape while creating a envoronment all of its own.

the club is owned by a multi-billionaire greek-american who fell in love with ios and bought up much of the waterfront on the island and then simultaneously started developing ridiculously expensive clubs, bars, restaurants and accomodation – most of it looks to be running at a massive loss but i doubt he gives a damn.

pathos is certainly the crowning jewel, its on a scale bigger than anything else and overlooks his mansion built on the island in front.

there is a story in that mansion alone, he tried to build a causeway across the small channel between the island and the mainland but the locals stopped him – so he bought every single thing in by barge! that alone would have added millions to the cost ot the construction.

all his ventures share names of emotions, the restaurant/bar at mylopotas beach is called free, but pathos is, despite its name, a place of joy and pleasure. its the place to view the sunset on ios, the infinity pool is sublime, the endless sculptures entertain and the funky music soothes your soul as you sip on your cocktail of choice.

after enjoying our cocktails we headed down on to the beach to koumpara seafood restaurant for a very traditional greek taverna style dinner. the perfect way to finish a massive day!

Oct 012015
zah zah the cutest gurl in Ios!

zah zah the cutest gurl in Ios!

obviously with joe & chelsea running a water sports business on ios, a boat trip was simply a given. it took a bit of juggling to organise, there were the days after big nights which seemed a bit silly. there was also the odd windy or cloudy day, and other days where we had other activities arranged.

as it turned out i settled on last friday and it was the best day of our stay, so we loaded up the boat and headed off for a day of exploring, snorkelling and bumming around on the beach.

without waffling on too much it was just one of those days, so much what we love doing at home, a day out on the water, great friends, good food, a few beers and plenty of sun & salt!

it was a pleasant change not to be the skipper for a change, so i could really relax into the day. there is not much point in me banging on about what a magic day out it was, so i will just let the photos speak for themselves.

thanks chelsea & joe for a fabulous day!

(the last 3 pics are not actually from the boat trip, just random shots of zara being cute!)