Friday, March 28, 2008

Food Update

As I said, I’ve been busy lately. But I want to get these photos up now because on Sunday I’m heading off to Brisbane for 9 days. I’ll be stuck in the State archives, the State Library archives, the University of Queensland archives, and the Museum of Brisbane archives. I think by the time I come home I’ll have had my fill of historical documents. I don’t expect to be posting until at least next Tuesday, so I’ll see you all then! Now for the food.

Sloppy Joes, based on the recipe in Hot Damn and Hell Yeah. These had tvp chunks (cut up a bit after rehydration), mushrooms, corn, and capsicum in a sweetish tomato sauce. We served them over garlic toast, which was a bit lost under all the sloppiness. These were good, but not great.

We ate the sloppy joes before heading off to the Townsville Cinema Group’s showing of the film September. The film is about two families, one white and one Aboriginal, living on a wheat farm in Western Australia in 1968. I think it’s definitely worth watching, because it shows the complexities of life for Aboriginal and white people alike in that era. It doesn’t paint all white people as evil or racist (though some are, like the shop keeper), but it shows the incredibly unfair treatment of an entire race of people. If you ever get the chance, watch September and let me know what you think.

One night I came home from a meeting to this dinner. It is based on the recipe for “Vegetable mountain with gravy” from Hot Damn and Hell Yeah, with a few changes. Instead of the gravy from HDaHY, though, Andy whipped up some “Easy Cheezy Gravy” from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. On the side, some chickpea cutlets. The mountain was fantastic, though far too big for me. It made a good lunch the next day, too. And the cutlets were, as usual, great.

We also had our usual pasta, which features a veggie-full sauce. All these things…

Went into a pot and became this:

At the market last Sunday we saw a woman selling persimmons. They were $5 a kilo, which is a bit dear, but not too much to try them out. She let us have a taste before we bought them, and we liked it, so we got two. One looks like a butt.

When I was feeling a bit sick at uni last week, all I could think about was vegetable soup. This turned into a bit of a clean-out-the-fridge soup, perfect for the end of the week. It has onions, garlic, potato, carrot, zucchini, tomato and spinach, which were all blended up. After blending it, I put in fresh corn and a whole lot of fresh dill. The result was a creamy, hearty and green soup which was probably really good for us.

Another night I was helping Andy to revise a lit review he’s getting published in a major journal soon, so he cooked. Vegetable Mountain with Gravy’ came back out because we had lots of potatoes and it was easy and yummy. This time, the gravy was ‘Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy’ from Vegan with a Vengeance, which I *love* but haven’t had in 2 years or so.

And finally, last night we had Kumudha’s Indian Chickpea Omelette, but changed a bit. On the side, a salad smothered with avocado dressing, and orange-plum-cinnamon glazed beetroot.Have a good week, everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A lovely bunch of coconuts.

Actually, just one coconut. There is a giant coconut tree just outside my office, and on the way home before the long weekend I grabbed one from the ground that still had juice sloshing around inside.

Getting the thing open proved to be a team effort, with lots of hacking and pulling

and eventually, sawing.

We were left with a big pile of coconut husk…

…and a hard little nut.

We took it inside and Andy smacked it a few times with a dive weight.

The juice was caught in a bowl.

And the coconut was cracked the rest of the way.

We strained the juice to get out most of the dirt and husk pieces that fell in.

Then I pried out the meat with a knife.

We ate some for lunch, a welcome treat after working up our appetite trying to get into the thing.

With the rest of the meat, I had an idea… I chopped it up and then tried to blend it along with the juice from inside. It didn’t work so well in the mini-chopper, but the stick blender did a better job. Then I dissolved some agar and sugar and mixed it through to make coconut jellies.

They weren’t sweet enough on their own, but with a bit of maple syrup or strawberry jam they were a good without being rich. They weren't great, but it was fun to forage for my own food!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter feaster

In Australia, Easter is celebrated like Christmas—lots of days off work, big meals of seasonally inappropriate foods (who roasts and bakes in the summer?!), sweets, and alcohol. Why mess with tradition? I took advantage of the four day weekend to make lots of food that we don’t normally have. And to celebrate with irony, I though seitan would be the most (in)appropriate food to eat on a religious holiday. Like Christmas, though, we got impatient and had our feast early—on Good Friday, in fact.

The first step was to make the stuffing. Four slices of whole grain bread were cubed and mixed with sautéed onions, leftover vegetable soup, mustard and a handful of oats.

The stuffing was wrapped inside of raw gluten dough and glazed with orange marmalade (thinned with just a splash of carrot juice). The whole thing went into the oven and came out looking like this:

To go along with the seitan roast, Andy made sweet potato wedges spiced with a creative mixture of rosemary, cumin, Mexican seasoning, pepper, turmeric, and a few other things.

For dessert, what else could we have but hot cross buns? They are big in Australia, so much so that they show up in grocery stores immediately following Christmas. This is usually a good thing, because they are accidentally vegan, and they make a great snack at uni. But, they are $4 to $5 for a pack, so we only buy them when they are reduced to clear. As Easter looms, they are reduced less and less. So I made some myself.

First, soak a handful of dried fruit in some hot tea. Chop up some crystallised ginger. Mix them all with three cups of flour, two tablespoons of sugar, 2 ½ teaspoons of yeast, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in 1/3 cup of oil and ¾ c. of warmed soy milk. Knead that all together for 10 minutes, then cover and let rise until it’s doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, make the crosses by mixing ¼ c. of flour (NOT wholemeal, trust me) with two tablespoons of margarine. Add a splash of water, just enough to bind it all together. Roll this out into thin strips.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and knead for 5 minutes. Divide it into 12 balls and put them into a greased baking tray. Heat up the oven to 180 (350F). While the oven is heating, mix 2 tablespoons of sugar with 30 ml of water and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Heat up until the sugar dissolves, and then remove from heat. When the oven is heated, glaze the tops of the buns with sugar/cinnamon mixture, and top with the crosses. Bake the whole lot until they’re golden, which took me 45 minutes (despite the recipe saying 20).

For some reason, my glaze didn’t stick and went all to the bottom of the pan. Plus, we ran out of white flour and had to use wholemeal for the crosses—bad idea. They’re so grainy! Still, they kept us full throughout the four-day weekend.

The seitan roast was resurrected (ha!) for lunch on Saturday in sandwich form, with lettuce, beetroot and cucumber. I think the seitan could have cooked a little more on top, because it was quite chewy, but it made for good sandwiches anyways.

In addition to cooking and eating, we also went for a few swims, a leisurely bike ride along the river and through a botanical garden, took a trip to the market for our weekly shop, and otherwise took it easy. There was lots of playing with the Nacho, a bit of uni work, and some lazy movie-watching and radio-listening. We also bottled some home brew which we started to ferment last weekend.

All in all, it was a good four days of recovery from being busy and being sick.

Whether you celebrated a holy day, a family gathering, or simply a relaxing long weekend, I hope you all enjoyed it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Armchair activism

I haven't been cooking much or eating lovely meals lately, so no food photos today. I haven't had a spare minute to think up an interesting argument about an issue that grinds my gears, so no rant today. Quite frankly, I have a headache and the sniffles, and I don't even want to be here. But I have to go to a meeting and a seminar, so here I am, misery and all. I won't bore you with my whinging, but expect some better posts in the (relatively) near future.

For now, I will leave you with three links. All are ways you can take a little bit of action without leaving the comfort of your computer chair.

First, you've all heard about what's going on in Tibet? (No? Click here or here.) Well, Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia, is off to visit our largest trading partner in Beijing. K-rudd speaks fluent mandarin, so Get Up! is urging people to sign a petition asking Kevin to ask China to lay off a bit. Not Australian? That's okay. I think it makes a bold statement when international signatures are on petitions like that. "The whole world is watching, Kev, what're you gonna do?"

Second, another Get Up! campaign which is near and dear to my heart--Close the Gap. You may have heard that Indigenous Australians have a life expectancy which is nearly 20 years lower than white Australians. There is another petition, and again, international signatures are very powerful. But let's not forget about Oxfam's petition, which has been going for ages. Why not sign both?

Finally, animal export is a big problem in this country. Tens of thousands of animals die every year en route to the Middle East, and the ones who survive are slaughtered in incredibly inhumane ways. Several groups have been fighting to change the laws for ages, and finally the leading export company has been brought to trial. The case was thrown out on a technicality, but it was in appeal this year because a lawyer found that technicality was wrong. Well. Enter a WA politician who has decided to cancel the case. Read more about it at the Animals Australia site, and then sign their petition.

I hope everyone has a lovely long weekend, and if you've got the energy, leave the computer desks and do something fun! I'm predicting a day at the beach in my future....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fishing hurts.

This deadly flyer was made by my new e-friend, Matt Talbott ( I found him a week or so ago, when I googled "Townsville Vegan" and came across the Vegetarian Appreciation Network of Townsville. Matt has given me permission to post this up here, and encourages everyone to spread it as far and wide as possible--so print out a few copies and stick them up in conspicuous locations!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I’ve been tagged by Lori over at Pleasantly Plump Vegan to give five random facts about myself. I’ve tried to make them as random as possible, and things that most people don’t know about me.
  1. I own exactly five pairs of shoes. One pair, hot pink, strappy high heels, hasn’t been worn in about two years. Two others, pregan clog-style Earth Shoes and hard plastic flat sandals I got for free from a clothing donation box, are worn very rarely. I have a pair of sneaker-like Payless shoes that I wear for biking. But, 40% of the time, I wear flip flops, and 50% of the time I’m barefoot.
  2. I have spent 160 hours under the sea (not counting snorkelling or swimming). I became scuba certified just before heading over to PNG for two months or hard-core diving, so I had to catch on quickly. I also learned to identify corals to genus level (some to species level). I haven’t been diving in over a year, since that trip.
  3. I have two tattoos. One is on my front right side, just on the inside of my hip. It is the symbol for my astrological sign, Scorpio. I got that one in December 2005, and it took about 20 minutes of pain. The other is a jasmine flower, on my upper left thigh. I got that one in January 2006, and it took nearly three hours. I gave the tattoo artist creative licence on that one, and it came out really, really great. I want more, but probably won’t get them any time soon.
  4. As cute as they are, I really hate green tree frogs. They make the most annoying noises when its damp out, and for some reason they love to croak just outside the bedroom window at about 5 am.
  5. I usually sleep on my side or my stomach. But every morning, between 5 and 7, Nacho stands on my pillow and stares at me with her purr on in a big way. She stays there until I roll on my back, and then she lays on my stomach for a pat. I usually like it, unless she kneads and uses claws. She usually only stays for 5 or 10 minutes, but sometimes she falls asleep there until the sun gets really bright.

Since I’m posting random things, I thought I would put up some random food photos.

Here is some tofu dill salad, from Vegan with a Vengeance. I thought this was really tasty on sandwiches and wraps, but it was quite dry. Unfortunately, I used the last of my tofu mayo when I mixed it up, so I couldn’t add any to the mix. I think it was so dry because I used frozen tofu and it sucked up liquid like a sponge.

And here is a fancy pasta dish, which I invented by combining two recipes from Vegan Planet. Fettucini is tossed with sautéed strips of capsicum and zucchini, and then covered in a cannellini-balsamic sauce. This was really easy to put together, and really very tasty.

A few weeks ago, we got a pressure cooker. I’m still playing with the timing for perfectly-cooked beans, but it comes in handy. Except for last time I cooked kidney beans. I think the pot was a bit too full, and I must have let the pressure off a bit too quickly, because I ended up with red liquid squirting out of the lid. Lovely. Still, it’s quick and relatively easy, so I like it.

Pressure cooker tips from experts would be much appreciated, though.

Now for some random links. Well, not really random.

I posted about this last week, but I think it's worth mentioning again. 400 kangaroos are set to be culled (read: murdered) by the Australian government. In protest, Aboriginal Australians are teaming up with animal rights activists and making a pretty big statement, even offering to take the lethal injection on behalf of the kangaroos. Said one Aboriginal member of the Tent Embassy, "If you could see the kangaroos through our eyes, you would see how important this is to me," he said. "This cull is genocide, because these kangaroos are my brothers, they're my sisters, they're my aunties, my uncles and my babies." Peter Garrett has said this is necessary--what a freakin' sellout. This article also quotes an AR activist: "I've heard the Government saying the cull is for conservation, but it's not, it's about development." That's the key, I think, it's all about development.

In addition to being bad for kangaroos, the Australian government isn't so good for sheep, either. After selectively breeding sheep with lots and lots of skin, sheep farmers have found that the excessive skin around a sheep's bum is a breeding ground for blowflies. They lay eggs in the moist wool and the maggots then burrow into the sheep's body and slowly kill it. It's pretty gruesome, so to avoid that fate the sheep farmers simply slice off the excess bum skin. It's called mulesing, and they do it without any pain relief or bandaging up afterwards. Peta has been pushing for a while to get this practice changed, and now a few European countries are banning Australian wool until the practice is made more humane. I think the focus should be less on making it more humane, and more on getting people to stop using wool. Ending one bad practice will make people think they've solved all sheeps' problems, but really, the methods of dipping and shearing don't look very nice from a sheep's perspective. Anyways, sheep are an introduced species which are really not so good for the Australian environment.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Love is a warm muffin

The semester has started with a vengeance. This semester I’m tutoring for a first-year subject. For North Americans, aussie uni classes are split up into 2-hour lectures and 1-hour tutorials. Tutorials are small groups (10 to 20) where students are meant to discuss the readings and lectures. I’m leading two tutorials a week, but luckily I only need to prepare once!

The start of the semester just had to coincide with a crazy few weeks of field work. I have regular meetings in addition to community forums, morning teas, Sorry Business, and an upcoming trip to a nation-wide rally.

If I were living alone, I would be eating crap—cold leftovers, tinned spaghetti, soy ice cream. But luckily, when I get home late dinner is often cooked, or has at least been started. Like Tuesday, I got home just before 7 to the smell of something baking.

Andy made these carob muffins for me, even though he’s not a big fan of muffins. They’re from a mix, which I got at an organic shop a few months back when it was reduced to clear. The first ingredient is chickpea flour; they are dairy free, egg free, gluten free, low in fat and high in fibre.

With the leftover batter, Andy made a little slice, with peanuts mixed through and coconut on top.

Neither of us are huge fans of carob (I think it’s good, but I don’t think it tastes like chocolate at all), but coming home to warm muffins is such a nice experience! And, they have been great to bring to uni for a healthy snack to combat mid-afternoon slump.

The freshly-baked yumminess didn’t stop at sweets, though. Dinner was baking away in the oven at the same time—baked potatoes (and two cloves of garlic roasting away).

We had the potatoes topped with some leftover burrito filling, olive and caper tapenade, tofu mayonnaise, satay dip which was reduced to clear at the shop, and BBQ sauce. It may sound like a weird mix, but somehow it worked! The photo, however, did not, so I’ll leave you with a Nacho picture instead…

Updated to add the link to this article, about protests against kangaroo culling in the ACT. The reason I'm linking it is because AR folks are working together with Indigenous elders, which I think is just great!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

booja booja

When I was ordering nutritional yeast a few weeks ago from The Cruelty Free Shop, I figured that since I was paying for shipping anyways, I may as well just throw in some chocolates to the order. Makes perfect sense, no?

I was tempted by a few different varieties, but the one that ultimately won me over was Booja Booja Ginger Wine Truffles. In addition to being a vegan and organic chocolate, the wooden box they come in is sustainably grown and harvested (whatever that means).

When I got home from uni to find a parcel on the step, I was very excited. I ripped it open, and immediately started opening up the truffles. Before I could get the inside paper stuff off, I realised the chocolate had melted in a big way.

Derrrr, Theresa, chocolate melts in the tropics! That’s why we keep all our chocolate bars in the fridge at all times. What made me think that shipping chocolate from down south to Townsville would be a good idea? Especially in the summer, and when it was sitting in the sun all afternoon.

My stupidity aside, we are able to break off oddly-shaped, truffle-sized portions of chocolate after it had spent the night in the refrigerator. These are really, really good. I can’t judge their appearance or texture, but the flavour was spot-on. A slightly boozy inside with little pieces of sweet and spicy ginger, all encased in yummy dark chocolate. The combination of ginger and chocolate is one that I find amazing but underrated; these truffles just confirm my opinion. The best part about these truffles is their super-rich taste, which means that we can stop after just one.

So when the weather is cool, do yourself a favour and order some Booja Booja truffles. As it says on the package, “Everyone needs a little booja booja now and then.”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Prisoners and sexual violence.

I've been crazy busy the last few days, and I haven't had time to think about uploading photos or coming up with creative new blog posts. So today I'm posting a few things I've grabbed out of Women's Centre newsletters.

This post is inspired by some of my busy-ness. On Monday afternoon, I went to the Townsville Correctional Centre with the Women's Centre, to celebrate International Women's Day with a group of women who are often forgotten about. Currently living their lives behind razor wire, these women are often treated as less-than-human by the prison guards who work in the Women's Secure section. But, the majority of women are in prison for minor offenses, many of which are related to poverty--break and enters, centrelink (welfare) fraud, stealing. But they are still women, and they deserve to be a part of International Women's Day.

So a group of women went up to the prison to spread the IWD cheer. We brought with us a proper deadly Aboriginal poet (proper deadly means really good in local Murri slang). We were met at the prison by an Aboriginal women's dance group and Soroptomist International (a moderate group of older women)--the Soroptomists had funded a visitor from the Pacific, a UN delegate. There were the obligatory speeches, and then there was dancing. A vast majority of the prison population is indigenous, and many of the women got up to join in with the dancers. (I joined in for the freestyle dance at the end, dancing like a turtle.) We heard heart-wrenching stories of homeless women who were victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and poverty, and they don't know what to expect when they leave the prison--will the law protect them at all?

It was an incredibly moving experience, and words just really can't express how amazing and difficult it was. So I'll stop trying, and leave you with these statistics from the newsletters.

How much do we know about violence against women?

The best indicators available are from the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2005 which updates information about women’s experiences of violence collected in the 1996 ABS Women’s Safety Survey.

From the 2005 survey the ABS estimated that in the previous 12 months:
363 000 women (4.7 % of all women) experienced physical violence; and 126 100 women (1.6 %) experienced sexual violence.

The ABS further estimated that:
2.56 million (33 %of all women) have experienced physical violence since the age of 15; and 1.47 million (19 %) have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.

From this it is possible to estimate that approximately one in five women (19 %) have experienced sexual violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15 and one in three women (33 %) have experienced physical violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15.

Statistics on Reporting Rape in Australia

“Though not exact, the consensus seems to be that only one in five rapes gets reported.
So, if 20 out of every 100 rapes are reported to police and 15 per cent of those reports lead to charges being laid, according to latest research, then only about three of the accused in every 100 assaults face trial. This suggests, based on the 25 per cent conviction rate at trial, that fewer than one of the original 100 assaults actually ends up in a conviction.”

Somewhere to help heal and fight back
Simon Mann
The Age
July14 2007

I think this is an important question to ask


  • 89% of women in prison have been sexually assaulted
  • 70% of men in prison have been sexually assaulted
  • one in 4 girls are sexually abused by 18
  • one in 8 boys are sexually abused by 18
  • On average in a classroom of 30 grade 12 students 5 of these have been affected by sexual assault
  • one in 3 women are sexually assaulted
  • only 10% of sexual assault is reported to the police
  • only 10% of this reported crime results in a conviction and not always a prison sentence

Are there more victims of sexual abuse incarcerated into our ‘Correctional Centres’ than perpetrators of sexual assault?

Heather Bond

Monday, March 10, 2008

Weekend eats and shops

First up, the eats. Saturday night we had lime and basil chickpea cutlets, topped with Almost Sour Cream and sweet chilli sauce. I’ve changed the recipe around to suit our tastes, using a mixture of gluten and regular flour. The gluten makes the texture meaty, but cutting it with plain flour keeps the cutlets from being stringy. On the side, we had garlic and spring onion mashed potatoes, and a fresh corn, capsicum and caper salad.

Lime and Basil Chickpea Cutlets
Based on the recipe from Veganomicon, but changed enough that I’ll post it

What you need:

2 c. cooked chickpeas, mashed fairly well
¼ c. olive oil
½ c. gluten flour
½ c. wholemeal flour
1 heaped cup rolled oats, processed into crumbs (or just use bread crumbs)
juice of 1 lime, topped up with water to make ½ c.
¼ c. soy sauce
zest of one lime
½ t. dried basil
½ t. onion powder
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
¼ c. minced fresh basil

In a large bowl, mix everything together. Knead for a few minutes. Form into 6 patties and fry over medium-low heat until browned and firm.

The first time I had lime and basil in combination was in the form of ice cream from Frosty Mango, and it was such a tangy and delicious combination. Of course, any kind of citrus and any kind of herb will work—lime & coriander, lemon & parsley, etc. But if you make those changes, you can't call them lime & basil cutlets.

Sunday night we had the leftover cutlets in burger form. They were good, but they are better solo. With the burgers we had sautéed spinach and carrots with soy sauce, spring onions, garlic and sesame seeds. And another fresh corn salad, this time with browned zucchini.

We’ve also been slowly making our way through the Peanut Butter Silk Pie’s from our picnic. Andy thought they were a little bit too rich, but discovered that a blob of strawberry jam on top cuts through the richness and makes them very nummy.

This is Andy's photo, which he took while I was at a seminar. He posed it in front of the window for optimal lighting. A future food blogger?

Now for the shops.

Sunday morning we headed to the market like always, and afterwards went to the organic shop nearby. We got allll this stuff:

From the market, three ears of corn, 2 red capsicums, 3 green capsicums, a kilo of zucchini, 6 big carrots, 3 red potatoes, 3 white potatoes, 2 bunches of bananas, 4 onions, and a bunch of asian spinach. All that for $20. From the organic shop, a pack of nut yeast, a half-price pack of soy flour, and some organic fresh ginger.

On the way home, we stopped at a few shops and decided to purchase our most expensive piece of furniture. Aside from our mattress, this new item is more expensive than all of our furniture combined. That isn’t a hard feat, as most of our furniture cost us nothing, coming from freecycle or the side of the road. But still, it was a lot to spend on a bit of wood covered with some carpet.

At first, Nacho was a little wary, but it didn’t take long for her to start licking and biting the edge of the base. With a bit of enticing in the form of yarn, she climbed up onto each level. She chased her tail for a few minutes in the hidey-hole, and looked down on her kingdom from the top perch. Our clumsy little kitty had a bit of trouble climbing down at first, but she seems to be getting the hang of it. Even after all that exploration, she still spent the afternoon napping on the floor, with her head or paws resting on the base of her new tree.

Now, a wee little rant while we’re on the topic of shopping. Yesterday’s newspaper had a big cover story about how the Government may impose a fee on plastic bags from shops. The story speculated that the fee could be $0.25, but it could be up to $1. Shock! Horror! The reporter seemed ready to take up arms to fight for his right to use environment-degrading plastic bags. The photograph for the story was two women and a child with arms full of plastic bags—the caption read “[Their names] want retailers to provide an alternative to plastic bags”. Hello! You can buy reusable green bags for $1 at every single store! You can buy them in a variety of colours, you can get them with your favourite sports team logo printed on them, you can get them in various sizes and you can even get insulated ones for your cold items. They are such a popular item that they are often given out for free—in about 18 months living in Australia, I’ve gotten four free bags (red, green and 2 blue), and we hardly ever go anywhere. If you don’t like the style of those ones, you can always make your own. Or, you could pack your groceries into cardboard boxes instead of bags. Okay, so alternatives are sorted. A news report last night said people thought even $0.25 was too much, but, isn’t that the point? If it’s an easily affordable number, people will just pay for them without thinking. But the purpose of a levy is to phase out the use of plastic bags altogether, and the only way to do that is to charge an amount that people are unwilling to pay. Peter Garrett, former Midnight Oil lead singer and current Environment Minister, has ruled out a levy and says the process of phasing out plastic bags must be voluntary. Call me cynical, but I just don’t think an education campaign will work the way a levy will. There has been a very concerted education campaign over the past several years, but according to the figures given on the ABC last night, plastic bag usage hasn’t even been halved. People have come to see plastic shopping bags as a god-given right, and they don’t seem to be giving them up willingly. So what do you think—is a levy the answer?

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Friday morning picnic

It was a beautiful day this morning, so Andy and I 'chucked a sicky' and headed down to Alligator Creek. Just 30 kms south of Townsville, and the start of a fairly large national park, Alligator Creek offers hiking, swimming holes, camping, waterfalls, and picnic areas galore. (Click on the pictures for bigger views.)

Since it was mid-morning when we got there, we left the picnic in the car and did some exploring. The main picnic area has bbq's, tables, and an information centre.

A kangaroo was having a picnic of his own...

We looked at the sign and realised the main hike would take us 5 hours--but we had little water, no bug spray, and thongs on our feet. So we took the short boardwalk to the swimming hole, instead. Along the boardwalk are plenty of signs telling you about the local environment, and little glimpses of the creek through the trees.

The path opens onto a beach, which Andy surveyed and deemed not good enough.

So we climbed along the rocks and chose a more secluded place to swim.

The water was icy cold, fed from rain and springs up on Mt. Eliot and the surrounding hills. Despite the cold, we stayed in for a while, but enjoyed the heat of the sun when we got back out onto the rocks. Andy pointed out a dyke, though he's not totally clear since he hasn't taken geology in a few years.

After we had dried off, we took another short walk up to the lookout, where we surveyed the view from up high.



By the time we got back to the car, we had worked up our appetites. We pulled out our little esky bag...

Which was packed with fresh hummus loaded with garlic and parsley, and leftover bean/veggie mix from burritos the night before. We planned on eating them with veggie sticks and some tortilla chips, but we forgot the chips at home, so it was just veggies for us!

While we ate, we were quickly surrounded by a family of 10 or so bush turkeys.

We threw them a few little bits of carrot and capsicum, which they wolfed down.

For dessert, we brought cupcake-sized No-Bake Peanut Butter Silk Pie.

The recipe is from Vegan with a Vengeance, but instead of chocolate cookies I used gingernuts for the base. These are good. Rich, and very unhealthy, but very good.

After we finished eating we headed down an inconspicuous stairway next to the picnic table...

And found a very shallow section of the creek.

On the drive back home, I marvelled at how green the hills are. Usually varying shades of rusty brown, the rain has really greened up Townsville!

Just before getting back to Townsville, we spotted a Giant Brolga, so we stopped to have a photo with her.

Full of good food, refreshed after a swim and some sunshine, it was back to uni for a seminar I have this afternoon--the life of a post-grad is really hard, wouldn't you agree?