Sep 152018
 
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kai with a nice Bawaka muddieon his spear

recently timmy mentioned he wanted to put a gate in at bawaka to try to stop unwanted visitors when no one is at the community and dave and I told him we would sort something out. in the end timmy suggested we relocate an old gate that he made about 10 years ago, that was installed at a creek crossing on the way to mosquito creek.

the removal of the gate proved to be quite an exercise on its own, timmy and i went out to mosquito creek and spent a few hours digging out the old gate post which was very securely concreted into the ground. we eventually manged to get it free with a combination of digging and brute force with the land cruiser!

dave and i then went back a few days later with a battery grinder and cut the gate off the old post and bought it home, we then sourced some pipe for gate posts and welded new hinges on the post with the help of our resident boiler maker, deano. we also made some running repairs to the old gate.

last weekend we took the new gate down to bawaka and dug new holes for the hinge and lock post and then concreted them in, it all went much quicker than we expected and only took a couple of hours all up, leaving us plenty of time for fishing and hunting!

we had thought it would just basically be a working party so sal decided to stay home, but as it turned out it was a very social weekend, timmy came down with his wife rita, his son, daughter in law and grandkids, he had also arranged for a family touring the NT from victoria to do a day tour to bawaka.

the royal family are from macedon in victoria, every year they take their 3 kids out of school for a term and go on an extended camping adventure somewhere in australia! aaron runs a plumbing business and his wife dannille is a special needs teacher. they have 2 boys, saxon & thor and a girl, mali. they are a lovely family and we really enjoyed our short time together – although i get the strong feeling we will see them again up this way!

after a great day at bawaka they unfortunatley had to return to nhulunbuy rather than staying the night with us at bawaka, we had caught a good haul of muddies during the day, so i invited them to dinner at rick’s bar & grill on the sunday night when we would be back home so they could enjoy a feast of crab!

old friends surprised us all by turning up as well, eddy & donna mulhulland and their son, reece with his wife and baby son all came down for the weekend as well, so it was a great night of catching up over the weekend. so it ended up beng a fantastic social weekend with both old and new friends!

one thing i know, bawaka never disappoints and always surprises!

 

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
 
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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
 
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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.

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parat & curry for breakfast!

Apr 032018
 
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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 162017
 
archers

archers

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
 
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:



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.

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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,

Sep 242016
 
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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!