The Trip North

Part One: A journey Back in Time

I very recently visited my sister and brother who both live in Cobden.

They live on opposite banks of the Curdies River a few kilometres apart. I grew up not far from here on a dairy farm at Cooriemungle.

My sister and her partner are planning a trip to Central Australia later this month. I went to Warrnambool with them to pick up a few things at the local BCF. I haven’t been to Warrnambool for many years. We drove around the foreshore which had been badly hit by heavy seas the week before. The smell of sea weed was pretty intense so we didn’t stop.

The last time I had driven the Great Ocean Road from Peterborough to Princetown it had been wall to wall tourists. The pandemic has seen numbers greatly reduced. There was one other car when we stopped at Peterborough and a lone fisherperson on the beach where my brothers and I had fished as kids. Although I had always been more interested in day dreaming than fishing. The Schomburg was wrecked here at the mouth of the Curdies River, Boxing Day 1855. The Captain James “Bully” Forbes had quite the story to tell.

sea landscape sunset beach
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Princetown

Princetown was always a wonderful adventure when were kids. We had the place to ourselves. You would have to park and walk through the sand along the shores of the Gellibrand River to the sea. The width of the river at this spot was dependent on access to the ocean and it would occasionally flow into the sea at incredible speed. It was forever changing and was a place of wonder. Not far from here is Gibson’ Steps. Even today a long and treacherous decent to the sandy beach. For me always a place of awe and adventure.

The road that leads inland was our local road. Where the reeds grow close to the road I had seen a tiger snake there on more than one occasion. Thankfully I was in a car at the time. But I suspect there were plenty around.

A little further on is a Pony Club carved out of the bush where we rode our horses to and back. It was a long ride. We would always look forward to riding through the forest, me trotting along on my little pony, along sandy tracks and the occasional jump that even my pony could manage. It was magical and you could imagine yourself all alone in this fantastic world.

The Tale of Bully Forbes

Hell or Melbourne

This is the motto of the Captain of the Marco Polo, James “Bully” Forbes. He became famous in Australia and England in 1852 when as Captain of the Marco Polo, he broke the record for the quickest time to travel from Liverpool to Port Phillip. He made the journey in 68 days, which was remarkable for the time. He had 900 passengers on board. Nearly all were highland Scots who were, in a wonderful irony, being displaced by sheep in the highlands and islands of Scotland to be sent to Australia to tend the sheep of the squatters.

The most wonderful part is that a lot of the squatters were in fact Scottish themselves. But things would be a little different in Australia.

The Marco Polo was initially a cargo ship. It was converted to take passengers. In fact it was historic for a number of reasons the Marco Polo. Nearly 100 people died on the way out, many were children who died of measles. It was by all accounts a miserable journey. Sanitation was non existent, the highlanders were enclosed in damp, stinking and rancid accommodation. Faecal matter and urine seeped through the upper decks soaking the highlanders.

Marcopoloclipper.jpg
The Marco Polo from Wikipedia

Captain Bully Forbes used the Roaring Forties to maximise speed. The Roaring Forties were the easterly winds that roared out of the southern ocean. The captains of these ships would sail down the coast of Africa and after reaching Cape Town, the bravest like Forbes, would sail deep into the southern ocean to make use of the winds. It was the subject of much bravado in the pubs of Liverpool and Port Phillip.

For these tiny vessels sailed into the biggest wilderness on the planet, where no man lived and where the smallest and largest of creatures had existed for millennia. Where the winds and currents brought the coldest water to the surface of the ocean and phytoplankton turned the water green so that great mountains of water blue, green, and grey would break over the little ships and send water through every opening in the decks, breaking off hinges and near drowning the passengers crammed between decks.

If they had of been allowed on deck they would have seen as they crested a wave, the valleys and hills of this watery world. The noise of the wind, the crash of the waves, the scream of the sails and the humming of rope and gear a terrifying soundtrack.

What they couldn’t have known that a giant ice block, adrift from the vast shelf, its roots deep in the freezing waters, invisible in the mist and dark of an Antarctic spring could send them to the bottom , or a late cold snap could see them embayed in the ice until all aboard starved. Captain Forbes tried unsuccessfully to break his own record but it was not to be. By the time he was in charge of the Schomberg, the gold rush was in full swing and there were far more paying customers. The Schomberg left Liverpool for Melbourne on 6 October 1855 and was wrecked off a reef off Peterborough on 26 December 1855.

Captain Forbes who if witnesses are to be believed was still celebrating Christmas over drinks and cards with a couple of the female passengers ignored the warnings from his crew that he was too close to shore. The passengers sued the company believing that Forbes in a fit of pique, he let the ship sink, because of the slowness of the voyage.

Although he was absolved of blame because the sandbar was not charted he ended up down and out in Calcutta for a while before getting the Captaincy of General Wyndham.

Magical SCG

It was a big crowd for a big match at the SCG on Saturday the 15th of May. It was a beautiful day with a strong breeze that brought a chill to the air and a bit of erratic ball use on the field.

But with a scoreline which favored the home side, it was a very enjoyable day out in a most magnificent city.

Easy Eggs

While your enjoying the great outdoors it is important to eat healthy. Moreover, preparation, good cooking equipment and some basic recipes are key.

I spent my whole life not being able to poach eggs. It didn’t matter what method I tried I couldn’t get them to stay together. However, I was watching one of those cooking shows on TV, when the presenter gave his version of poached eggs and I have never looked back.

How To Poach Eggs

In a shallow pan bring water to simmer. You just want to see little bubbles breaking the surface. Do not allow water to boil.

Break Egg into a teacup.

Place the egg gently into the water.

Leave to cook for 4 minutes.

It really worked. No more tornado’s in the water. No more vinegar. Just perfect poached eggs

Try the with some wilted spinach and some smashed avocado on whole grain toast, for a delicious breakfast.

Food On the Go

It is especially difficult to cook for one. But is important because food is not just something to fill up on, it is important for our health both psychically and mentally. It becomes a bit more challenging when camping.

I am mostly vegetarian these days. There are three main reasons for this. My concerns about animal welfare, my own health and the impacts of climate change.

bread with soup
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Although I don’t suffer from diabetes myself, it is the fastest growing disease in Australia. Diabetes is the biggest cause of preventable blindness in Australia. It can lead to chronic heart conditions as well as infections which can lead to amputations. It is a really shitty way to live and it is happening to more and more Australians. It is increasingly affecting people at a younger age. If you don’t believe me then check out what the experts say here at diabetesaustralia.com.au.

The sad thing is that the effects of Diabetes 2 can be modified by changing our diet and getting some exercise. So it important that we take some ownership of what we eat and prepare our meals in as healthy and nutritious way as possible.

So this is my list of what to do to stay healthy.

Avoid processed foods. All processed food have sugar or salt in them, and often both. You need to be in control of how much sugar and salt you eat. You cant do that eating processed food. Avoid take away and pre-packaged meals from the supermarket.

Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. People know this. You can do it. It just needs for you to be in control.

Try to eat at least 5 serves of vegetable a day.

Vegetable are a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fibre which is important for gut health. Fruit is also good but again in moderation as it contains naturally occurring sugars. Do not substitute for juice as this concentrates the sugars and in some instances removes the fibre. Eat an orange. You won’t have to clean up.

assorted vegetable lot
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Reduce the amount of carbohydrates. This is a bit simplistic really. So Brown rice instead of white. Multi Grain bread instead of white. But with pasta I’m staying with the traditional pasta. Just add vegetables. There are some fabulous vegetable sauces for pasta.

selective focus photography of pasta with tomato and basil
Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Exercise. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Just go for a walk. Walk your dog. Walk your kids. Walk in the bush. Walk on the beach.

This is what I try to keep in mind whether at home or camping. It is much easier when you are at home of course. When camping you have to think about it more. But I think I have some terrific recipes and tricks to make camp cooking healthy and delicious.

A Kookaburra Near Miss

Waiting for the the Mail

I was in the kitchen when I heard a noise coming from the backyard. Upon investigation I found a kookaburra in the green waste bin. I am not sure how long it had been in there but it was pretty pissed off.

I turned the bin over and let it out where it pretty angrily took it out on the dog. Not that the dog was aware of what was going on.

Lesson learnt. Always close the lid of your bins. If you have been working at filling the bin, a good idea would be to check before closing the lid. Phew.

Menindee Lakes

Menindee is just over a thousand kilometres north west of Sydney. It is fed by the Barka/Darling River. It is culturally and environmentally important. The Barkindji gaining Native Title rights in 2015, but to the land not the water of the Barka. It is an important habitat for birds and fish species when it is in flood.

Lake Pamamaroo

This is photo I took while camped at Lake Pamamaroo near the town of Menindee, NSW. I have always wanted to go here. When I was a young environmental activist it was a dream of mine to visit sometime. I finally did it. Just me and my dog Poppy. Its a long way from anywhere and a bit scary when your on your own. But now i have been once, I want to go again. It is quite magical.

The water is still flowing into Lake Pamamaroo. It is amazing to think that this water has come from tropical rain many thousands of kilometres away in southern Queensland.

This is what the country looks like from Broken Hill to Menindee. The main features in this part of the drive are the dead kangaroos beside the road and the dozens of crows attracted to the roadkill.

This is a native Mistletoe attached to a Wattle

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant growing on another plant using the water and nutrients of its host. This little Mistletoe was everywhere where I was camped. It provides a bit of colour in the landscape.

Wonderful Sydney

Last Saturday afternoon I went to the SCG to watch the Sydney Swans. Unfortunately they lost by 2 points. But I had the pleasure of walking from Central Station to Moore Park.

The introduction of the new tram tracks have certainly increased foot traffic in the this part of Surry Hills. I had a bit of time to kill and walked up Crown Street. What a great part of town. Plenty of cafes and pubs and trendy expensive shops. From little boutiques to the shop selling the cutest porcelain crockery I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

If your in Sydney a great place to visit and easier than ever to get to.

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