Nov 252018
 
truant-1

truant island

we had our first trip in the big boat for the season this weekend, we headed out on friday morning to truant island, towing the tinny. we have been waiting for the dry season winds to really abate and finally this weekend looked like the break, with the winds shifting round to the north and even into the north west on sunday.

despite the fairly long interval between trips, nearly everything worked well on the boat and we didnt forget anything other than a couple of minor items! our last trip was back in may, so it was quite a break over the dry season.

we had a gold spot trevally we caught after arriving on friday for dinner the first night, a sploosh of chipotle mayo, salad with greens from the garden and a nice bottle of white were the perfect companions as we watched the full moon rise. we had hoped we would see the turtles hatching given the full moon, but there were no signs when we checked about 10pm and no tracks in the morning.

we had a quite varied weekend, kai & I did quite a bit of snorkelling as the water was very clear, given that young sean whitcomb nearly most his arm in a shark attack here last weekend, we were a little cautious in the water! kai and I also spent a fair bit of time chasing fish from the boat with our spears, kai hit a couple of mullet but they got off before we could recover the spears. Sal and i spent saturday morning bottom fishing the reefs around truant banks without much success but caught a couple of mackerel to keep us fed!

we also did our usual beachcombing and brought home some more floatsom and jetsom for the decorations at rick’s bar and grill!

coffee time!

coffee time!

we had a leisurely trip home on sunday, as you can see kai slept the whole way, i am making a coffee while the auto pilot steers us homewards!

we covered 71.2nm and motored for 5.5hrs using 165lt for fuel consumption of exactly 30lt per hour and 2.3lt/nm

 

 

Oct 272018
 
oct-6

beachcombed bouys

its been a while since i posted to the blog, so i thought i better do an update. my twitter followers will have seen most of these images and know what we have been up to, but for the rest of you here is a quick and dirty post about october!

its mainly images and less words, because its a lazy saturday afternoon!

the big news this month was that kai got picked for the gove representative rugby league team to travel to katherine for a tournament against sides from katherine, alice springs and darwin. the team drove out and played a couple of matches on the friday night and then the main tournament was on saturday, unfortunately in the second game kai was heavily tackled while carrying the ball and ended up with a mild concussion, so he missed the rest of the games.

also this month sal and i had 5 days in darwin, she had a tax course in darwin for 1 day so i took a few days off and we flew over for a long weekend, kai stayed at home and looked after himself. we had a lovely time, lots of lazing round the hotel pool, lots of yummy meals and catching up with a few friends. dave, the new co-ordinator at the art centre, is an artist himself and he had an exhibition on the friday night at outstation gallery – who also happen to be one of my coffee customers! so we had a nice night at the opening before heading to the darwin icon that is peewees for dinner.

we also did all the markets, mindal, parap, rapid creek and nightcliff. we discovered a new place that actually has decent coffee – a first in darwin! its called alfoncinos and its down the arcade in mitchell st that runs down to the old bus terminal, just past coles.

our first night we had dinner at what used to be the pearl, it has transformed into a tapas and wine bar and sad to say its nowhere near as good as it used to be.

sal also picked up a couple of lovely skirts with actual pockets!

other meals we enjoyed was lunches at the old standby, the sumatra cafe, one of darwin’s hidden secrets, they do fantastic, authentic padang food from sumatra, and dinner at memories of india which is the best indian i have had in australia at a sit down restaurant. we also had dinner at the laksa house, aka warung ibu ayme, another darwin institution on the stuart highway.

in other news i finally completed reassembling the big boat shed at our house in south, its been a long and sometimes arduous project, but its now complete. I think it ended up being rebuilt upside down, inside out and back to front. Largely due to the timelapse between disassembly when i bought it and when i rebuilt it, as well as the impermanence of the permanent marker that i labelled everything with!

yesterday sal & i headed out on daves boat and had a lovely day on the water, we left the boat ramp at about 8:30, had bagged out with 6 nice mackerel by 11:30, had lunch and a swim at breakfast island and we were home by 2:30!

(dont forget you can click on the “i” to see the image captions)

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 1:09 pm  Tagged with:



Apr 302018
 
myself, sal & dave in our darwin crocs jerseys

myself, sal & dave in our darwin crocs jerseys

well what a weekend, we came to watch the singapore 7’s, with the optimistic hope that the aussies might make the quarter finals – as it turned out they won all their pool games against scotland, wales & spain, then won the quarter final against the all blacks to get into the semi final against england who had looked one of the form teams of the tournament.

the aussies did incredibly well considering it was the new coaches first tournament and many of our best players were out injured, they did us proud against england, managing to get a solid win – and as we were surrounded by english fans it was all the sweeter!

the final against fiji was always going to be a massive ask, fiji have been the best 7s side in the world for some time and they are just so big, fast, agile and frankly scary that we really feared it would be a whitewash – but the boys put up an amazing show, coming from behind by 10 points to take the lead right at the end of the game, then the ref called a knock on against australia that no one else in the ground saw and fiji broke away to score a winning try after full time. a typical end to end try of power and flair and so often the way the mighty fijians overcome all takers to win tournaments!

we had an absolute ball, to end up watching our team in all the games including the grand final was beyond any expectations and was just icing on the cake of a great festival atmosphere. its a stunning stadium, cool and comfortable, as clean as you expect in singapore, great seats – we were right beside the players race, in the centre of the ground, about 10 rows back – fans from all over the world as well as a good turn out from locals and some fantastic rugby on show.

we were able to continue our foody fun as well, we had a leisurely breakfast each morning before heading to the games late morning and then slipped out for a bite of dinner before coming back in for the final sessions. plenty of tiger beer was also consumed so we will need a de-tox when we get home! friday night before the games we had a meal at guan hoe soon, a renowned nonya restaurant, you can see the amazing dishes below, (click on ‘i’ for captions). I had a great chat with the chef/owner Yap Chee Kuee who started the restaurant in 1953!

we head home wednesday morning so we will have a lazy last couple of days and just continue to gorge ourselves on the wonderful food! its been a wonderful experience, great fun doing it with someone who has enjoyed every aspect as much as us – dave has made the trip a special time. we have had so many laughs, fantastic food, fabulous footy, amazing apartment, train rides everywhere on one of the best train systems in the world, lots of beer, walks all through the backstreets of singapore, just a wonderful short holiday!

Apr 262018
 
sing182 5

gardens by the bay from the 57th floor

its been a busy couple of days – train, walk, eat, train, home, nanna nap, rince & repeat. yesterdays highlight was a trip to the top of the marina bay sands casino complex, its 57 floors to the top so there is quite a view! it has an infinity pool that is simply mindblowing, but only hotel guests have access. we went up for cocktails at spargo bar & restaurant. we enjoyed a very expensive and not particularly good mojito, but to be honest you would pay the price just for the view without the drink!

after the luxury and glamour of the marina bay sands we popped back to little india and the tekka centre and demolished a meal of tandoori chicken, lamb masala, dahl, spinach and paneer, chapatis and naan all washed down with a cold tiger beer

 

this morning we headed into china town for that classic singaporean chinese breakfast, Char Kway Teow, the amazing mix of fried noodles, little clams, crunchy pork crackling, spicy chili sauce and various other secret ingredients. Its the dish Anthony Bourdain described as the world’s tastiest and most unhealthy breakfast! we ordered ours from the stall of CKT master, Ng Chin Chye’s stall at the Hong Lim Food Centre, “Outram Park Fried Kway Teoh Mee” and i sat and ate it at on the verandah where Anthony ate his in his episode of Parts Unknown on Singapore. Sal and Dave ordered Prawn Mee from another stall and it also rated very highly both for presentation and taste!

after a breakfast like that it was back home for a mid morning nap!

to see more photos of the inside of the apartment click on the “view photos” button on the website, here

 

 

 Posted by at 1:58 pm  Tagged with:



Apr 252018
 
sing18 14

over nyindakay

wow, just 24 hours and it already feels like we have been here for days! we certainly packed in a huge amount on day 1. we flew out of nhulunbuy monday afternoon and spent the evening in darwin, a few beers on the wharf and a long meal at the hanuman, we started with their famous oysters, poached in a clay dish with lime, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, coriander, palm sugar and kaffir lime leaves. then we just ordered an entree at a time and shared it between the 3 of us – that helped fill the evening out until we had to be at the airport at 11:30pm for the flight to singapore.

we had a pleasant enough flight over, its just under 5 hours so not too long, landing at changi at around 5am local time. once again we were pleasantly reminded of the efficiency and ease of travel through points other than australia. straight through immigration with no queue (and friendly staff), no customs checks, and job done. we grabbed sim cards for our phones and ezilink cards for the amazing public transport in singapore and then jumped on the MRT train into the city.

we had 3 changes, each one we got off one train, walked to the correct platform and got straight into the next train just as it was ready to leave. we were downtown in about the same time as it would take in a cab. in australia you would still be waiting to get thru immigration at the airport!

our quaint little shop house apartment is about 2 minutes walk from the farrer park station in the little india area of singapore, we let ouselves in and left our bags in the lobby as it was too early to check in and then headed out to find a bite to eat in the local area. we found a small indian place around the corner and had a murtabark with dahl and a cup of tea for breakfast. a perfect start to the day.

we wandered through some of the maze of streets in little india before heading back to the apartment and getting the key so we could unpack our stuff, have a shower to freshen up and do a bit of ‘nesting’. at lunchtime we headed out with the idea of finding a close by coffee shop and roastery i had read of. it was well hidden but after finally locating the building i got a quick tour of the roastery with the master roaster before we went into the cafe for one of their coffees and a croissant. the croissant was very good is what i would say about the coffee.

then sal said she wanted to check out a few food stalls she had noticed on the opposite street corner, she said that the bbq duck & pork stall was sending her the right olfactory and optical messaging so we ordered a plate of duck, pork and rice for lunch. it came with a fantastic spicy sambal and was the best chinese bbq duck i can remember having – and we have tried a few over the years!

it was a real find, completely off the radar, out of context because it was in little india, and obviously highly renowned with the locals, a closer look revealed a list of hawker food prizes he had won and copies of newspaper articles about the stall.

we stocked up on a few bits and pieces for the apartment on the way home, milk for morning coffees, mineral water, beer, you know, the essentials.

after that high we came back for a nanna nap in the apartment before an afternoon beer to build our strength before heading out again. we caught the MRT down to clarke quay to have a look around, we did a walk round the old fort canning complex there which was quite interesting and lots of big trees and greenery. then we had a wander through the foody area there, but it was not our scene at all. its a very well done international food venue, like any other, anywhere in the world, lots of flash restaurants and bars, clever design and architecture, outdoor seating, and generally nice looking food. but the point is you could be anywhere in the world, its full of tourists and a few upwardly mobile locals all paying probably 10 times the price for the privilege of eating and drinking in the trendy precinct.

we had heard about an indonesian padang restaurant on the other side of the river that had a reputation for great rendang so we wandered over to have a look at that, but it didnt pass our instinct tests, so we got back on the MRT and headed down to china town. again walking down through the main strip of china town, its just wall to wall places to eat, but still a majority of patrons are tourists and while the dishes looked well prepared and tasty as well, its still not the sort of experience we look for – and its still tourist pricing.

so we kept walking until we got down to the Maxwell Hawkers Market, this is the home of tian tian hainanese chicken rice, the first hawker stall in the world to win a Michelin star. it wasnt open, but i noticed that one stall had a queue of about 20 people lined up to order, it was also a stall that specialised in hainanese chicken rice. we decided on continuing the idea of ordering 1 dish each at a time, sharing it and then the next person ordering one and so on.

so i queued up for about 20 minutes to get us the chicken rice. the wait was well worth it, chicken was on point, tender, moist, tasty poached chicken, garnished with fried garlic, drizzled with a bit of soy based sauce, a bowl of simple chicken broth, some bokchoy (poached in the pot of stock), and rice that has been cooked in the chicken broth with pandan, garlic and ginger. you also get a little bowl of chilli sauce and one with a fresh ginger sauce.

dave got us a yummy muslim dish that was a chicken curry on a bed of scrumptious spiced rice that was full of fresh tumeric, cummin and lots of other unidentified spices. Sal’s contribution didnt match her find for lunch! A shark dish with steamed vegies that was not so good.

then it was back on the mrt to head home for a nightcap before bed, and to reflect on an action packed first day!

this morning we were heading out for breakfast and as we were leaving met a girl, alex, who had just arrived from austin, texas and was staying in one of the other apartments, she ended up coming out for breakfast with us, we headed down to the tekka hawkers market at the other end of little india and found some parat and curry for breakfast before coming back for a siesta.

sing18 7

parat & curry for breakfast!

Apr 032018
 
easter-37

coming across malay roads

easter is usually crap weather regardless of location – whether you are camping in tassie, fishing in esperance, hiking in the daintree or boating in arnhem land, it typically pisses down for most of the 4 days. this easter though held a different promise, the dregs of cyclone bloody nora had slipped away, and with it the thunder storms and rain. the forecast was exceptional – clear weather with very light variable winds.

we had planned a trip away in the boat before discovering how good the weather was going to be, dave had his 4 days off exactly lining up with the easter break and so it was going to be the four of us heading off – but unfortunately the weekend before easter, sal’s dad finally succumbed to his battle with mesothelioma and so she had to fly down to the gold coast. so it was left to dave, kai & I to make the most of the promising conditions!

we headed up to the wessel islands friday morning, we left the boat club about 9:30 and by midday we were anchored in an unnamed bay south of raragala bay on raragala island, its one of our favourite anchorages. the trip was uneventful with the promised calm conditions allowing us to make good time up to cape wilberforce and then across to the passage between wigram and cotton island before crossing donington sound to the wessel islands.

we spent our days exploring the beaches and bays along the southern side of raragala island, fishing the open waters for tuna and mackerel and the rocky shelves of raragala bay for mangrove jack. we climbed up waterfalls to discover spring fed streams at the top and amazing views across the water, we swam in waterholes – including our favourite one at the base of a waterfall that is large, deep and shaded by trees. kai was in first when we arrived and yelled out to dave that there was a big water monitor in the pool, before climbing up the waterfall. dave went to get in to the pool and discovered the “water monitor” was a 1.5m salt water croc!! kai had actually nearly landed on top of it when he jumped in!

 

we tried to get it to ‘move on’ but it just moved into the deepest part of the pool and lay there quietly so we decided to share the pool with it and hope that it didnt get agitated and nip us!! it must have decided the company was unwanted because every other time we went there for a swim there was no sign of the croc!

of course there was some cold beers, good wine and yummy food eaten over the 4 days, we watched sunsets, moon rises and gazed at the tapestry of stars. i took the vintage atomic coffee machine so the mornings were started with decent coffee which makes everything better! kai had a ball, caught some good fish, used his new snorkelling gear for the first time and enjoyed the calm weather! we missed sal, but there will be many other trips with her.

we also came across an amazing scene in raragala bay, we were attracted by obvious activity with heavy splashing on the surface of the water, expecting a school of tuna we headed over in the tinny to discover a school of bait being rounded up and chomped by a huge school of sharks varying in length up to about 3m! there were also some tuna and GT’s amongst the carnage! we hooked a couple of nice GTs off the edge of the school on our light barra gear.

the same activity was happening the next day whe we went back and I got some video footage, the bait fish decided to try to hide underneath the tinny and as we motored off the school of sharks followed us like the pied piper!

another unlucky fish was spotted floating between the big boat and the tinny tied up alongside, we thought it was a trevally at first, but as it moved we realised it was a big sea mullet. i grapped a spear out of the tinny and had the easiest shot ever to get a fish that size! as you can see from the photo he had been attacked by a shark or something so thats probably why he was lazing around the boat.

we headed home on monday and if possible it was even flatter than the previous 3 days! i took photos off the side of the boat and the reflection looks like a mirror the water was so flat – and we were travelling at 16kts! all in all a fabulous and relaxing trip.

a video perspective of the reflections and the flat ocean,

 

we did 7.5hrs and 100nm, used 225l of diesel, so 30l per hour and 2.25l per nm.

Dec 112017
 
truant-14

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

 Posted by at 8:26 pm  Tagged with:



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.

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!!)

Mar 192017
 
march-32

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.

march-50

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!

march-38

 

 

 

 

Mar 172017
 

march-7

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.

march-51

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.

march

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,

Nov 212016
 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

chiili

ginger

garlic

onion

cloves

star anise

cardomon seeds

mustard seeds

fenugreek seeds

cummin

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
 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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,

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

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

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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

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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.

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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
 
car-1-2

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.

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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 012015
 
pathos-7

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!)

Sep 302015
 
looking back down into the port.

looking back down into the port.

damn, now we are in cyprus and i have posted no updates on our visit to chelsea, joe & zara on Ios! now i will have to bang out a couple of posts over the next few days to catch up.

too much lying in the sun and flopping about in the pool has a price to pay it seems!

so we arrived from the port of piraeus near athens into the port of Ios and were promptly picked up by frangoulis from our hotel, the island house. he gave us a quick rundown on the lay of the land as we wound our way up the hill out of the port, across the top of the island thru the old village of choras, and down into mylopotas beach where chels & joe live.

we had the first 4 or 5 days at the main part of the hotel where the pool is, in a very beautiful and well appointed apartment, it’s balcony was just beside the pool and it was gorgeous and comfortable. due to prior bookings dimitria had to move us down nearer the beach, to their other building for the rest of our stay.

It was still very nice and comfortable, just missed the pool outside the door! but then again the beach was 80m closer!

most days we would catch the bus up to chora or down to the port for lunch and or dinner, there were also some nice tavernas on the foreshore in mylopotas beach, including the beautiful drakos where we dined our first night there with chelsea, joe and zah zah.

Sep 182015
 
flower stall, utrecht

flower stall, utrecht

i have been very slack since we left the netherlands – probably due to the move to a greek island and my propensity for lying in the sun doing nothing! – so this is a catch up post on our second week in apledoorn.

the highlight to the week was porbably a visit to the aboriginal art museum in utrecht (AAMU), to see the exhibition, de kracht van hout – the power of wood. the museum has a very impressive collection of bark paintings and carvings from north east arnhem land. various smaller galleries and museums had collections of aboriginal art but with budget cutbacks a decision was made to consolidate the collections in utrecht.

the collection was very strong in works from our area and also around mangingrida and outside of the really large and important collections like the british museum, would be one of the best in europe. they also have a collection of yidaki that formed part of this exhibition and michiel had leant them quite a number of very significant pieces from his personal collection for the exhibition.

so we had a couple of hours with the guide, who was certainly passionate and knowledgable about the art and I was able to make a few contributions to the presentation with some specific knowledge about certain pieces. this was followed by michiel presenting a talk about the yidaki and give some great information about the instruments to the interested group. (mainly students of his.)

after this blast of culture we then retired to the comfort of a nearby belgian beer house for lunch before wandering around the very beautiful city of utrecht.

the week finished off with a couple of great meals, a traditional saturday night at michiel and boke’s which is savoury and sweet pancakes and on our last night, coq au vin – which michiel cooked up as consolation for our failure to make it to france this trip!

sad goodbyes were said before we headed off to the airport to fly to athens – somewhat tempered by the knowledge that we will all catch up in january when they come to stay with us again!