JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Hou Wang Temple (Chinese Temple) in Atherton

The Taste of Tablelands festival that I went to on the week-end was  held in the grounds of the Chinese Temple.
The temple was the social and religious heart of Atherton's Chinese community.  Apart from the temple itself, there was also a community hall, kitchen and a pig oven.  People gathered here to worship, celebrate festivals and discuss community issues.  Nowadays, the temple is the only remaining structure of the original town.
Several decades of neglect saw the structure decay from wind and water damage.  In 1956, the pagoda in front of the temple was blown down in a cyclone.  The temple was transferred to the National Trust  in 1979 and restoration of the temple was completed in 2002.
These are a couple of photos taken inside the temple.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


As I write this, fires are raging across NSW in places that you would never think would burn.  We have friends that live in Muswellbrook and they border a state forest that has not had a "burn" through it in 25 years!  For goodness sake! Anyone with any common sense would know that this is unacceptable.  You have to have controlled burn-off's, and this is coming from someone who has a great dislike of fire.
The fires are not just in NSW.  We have had a fire burning very close to Mt. Molloy and as I drove across to Atherton on the week-end I was amazed at how much country has been burned.  Literally hundreds of thousands of hectares.  From our place we could see the smoke but fortunately with the prevailing northely winds we didn't get any smoke.  How lucky we were.
I took these photos from the highway just south of Mt. Molloy.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Tastes of the Tablelands

The rotary Club of Atherton holds a festival in October each year titled "Tastes of Tablelands".  It is held in the beautiful Chinese Temple grounds and it is a veritable foodie fest.  There are almost a 100 stalls selling everything from food to beverages to health food to plants to.....you name it. The highlight of the festival is the Chef's cooking competition.  There are four competition cook-off's. I missed the first one but I sat and watched the other three.  The first one I watched was two teams of two from the Atherton High School.   Considering their age they were certainly skilled and produced both a main and dessert in 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The four students preparing their meal

The mains and desserts presented to the judges.

The next competition was between qualified chefs, Liam Flynn from Flynns Restaurant, Bradley Jenkins from Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat and Naomi Cameron and Suneerat Yuda from Pullman Cairns International.  The chefs were given a mystery box and could use whatever ingredients they liked from the box.  Included in the box were Red Claw Yabbies, Pork Cutlet, Beef Cutlet, Chicken as well as many herbs and vegetables.  The chefs were given time to think about the dish that they wanted to create and then the countdown began.

I really want one of these machines......a potato "string" maker.  The chef wrapped the potato strings around the red claw and then deep fried until crisp and golden.

Liam Flynn - Pork Cutlet with Yabbie Salad and quennelles of carrot, onion and rice.

Suneerat Yuda - Chicken stuffed with Macadamia

Naomi Cameron - Rib Eye with Cheesey Pastry Straws

Bradley Jenkins - Pork Medallion on top of shredded salad and topped with potato wrapped yabbie and crackling

The judges had a very hard task in front of them to judge the best dish.

The next and final competition was between Martyn Jung from Tropic Spirit Catering and Dylan Zeylmans from Vivo Bar and Grill.

Martyn Jung - Chicken on Garlic Mash with capsicum and parsley jus

Dylan Seylmans - Rib Eye cooked to perfection!

All the chefs were a joy to watch and I am always amazed by their techniques and knife skills.  It's the little things like blending parsley, olive oil and seasoning then passing through a fine sieve to create a splash of colour and taste to a dish and the continual tasting of their creation, albiet not always with a clean spoon!
I am most definitely a foodie and proud to be so.  This day, was for me, pure heaven!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A little too much Protein!

I roasted a turkey breast for dinner last night and decided to have asparagus and sugar snap peas as an accompaniment.  For some reason, and don't ask me why because I never usually do this, I decided that I would de-pod the larger sugar snap peas.  I picked out a handful and was almost finished when I found this.......

Yep.  A grub.  Now, I love my protein, but I'm really not into this type of protein!  If I had not been de-podding my peas I would never have found this little chap and would most certainly have gobbled it down and probably never even knew what I was eating.  So the moral to this little story is to check all your vegetables for any blemishes, i.e. holes in sugar snap peas like this............

I only saw this little hole after I found the grub so I will be more observant next time.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Yellow Tear Drop Tomatoes

A couple of years ago I was given a tomato bush.  The lady that gave it to me said that it was a yellow tomato and that it was quite vigorous.  I planted it straight away and was rewarded in a short time with delicious Yellow Tear Drop tomatoes.  It is indeed vigorous.  Wherever a tomato falls onto the ground a plant pops up so I will never be short of them!
For some reason harvesting my produce is always put on the back burner, consequently when I do harvest I have an excess. I pick an ice-cream container full at least once a week so I have been trying to find recipes to use them.  I love these semi-dried little gems.  They are delicious on a cracker with a bit of cheese or chopped up and tossed through pasta or with the addition of a little chopped onion, avocado,coriander and lime juice make a lovely salsa.  Today I am making a roasted tomato sauce for pizza bases.  It is smelling delicious and I will take a photo when it is made, but for now, here are the photos of the semi-dried tomatoes.

I started off with an ice-cream container of tomatoes which I washed and de-stemmed.
Then I cut them in half, added garlic cloves, thyme and rosemary and drizzled with olive oil.

They then got roasted in a very slow oven for about three hours.
And Viola'.  Beautiful semi-dried tomatoes!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Babinda Boulders

Babinda Boulders are an easy five minute drive from the town of Babinda.  On arrival at the carpark we took the path to the "Top Hole".  Not many folks venture to this swimming hole but in my mind it was the best place to cool down.  Crystal clear water with a couple of deep holes but mostly shallow water.  The path that leads to the "Top Hole" continues on another 25km to the town of Gordonvale.  I would love to do this walk sometime.  A friend of ours is going to do it in the near future so I will ask her how difficult it is when she gets back.
Gentle flowing water between the boulders

Looking towards Top Hole

After the walk to the "Top Hole" we headed back to the carpark and then took the other path to the Boulders lookout.  Our walk took us along the bank of the stream.  We stopped at Devils Hole and can well understand the loss of 15 lives here since 1959.  The stream tumbles gently between massive boulders on a calm day but when the wet season hits, those massive boulder holes would suck you down with no way to escape the force of the water.

Devils Pool

Looking back towards Devils Pool from the lookout

Babinda lies between Mt Bartle Frere and Mt Bellenden Ker - the two largest mountains in Queensland.  It is a lovely little town and our accommodation at the Babinda State Hotel was exceptional.  The hotel has undergone a massive restoration since Cyclone Yassi passed over it two years ago.  The rooms are large and comfortable and the very wide verandah outside each room lends itself to afternoon drinks and nibbles!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Josephine Falls

Last weekend my photo club spent the weekend around the Innisfail/Babinda area.  We stayed at Mena Creek on Saturday so we could take in the magnificent Paronella Park and on Sunday we headed to Babinda.  On the way we stopped in at Josephine Falls.  My D-I-L has spoken of the falls many times and how they were her dad's favourite place.  I can certainly understand why.  It is a beautifully serene place.  You can find little places to stop and take in the beauty very easily.
We walked the 700 metres into the falls and along the way came across some very excited tourists who were watching a very long black snake move quietly and sedately across the path.  We watched as it disappeared into the rainforest.  It didn't have a red belly and it was definitely not a taipan and nor was it a python.   Maybe we have come across a new species!
Along the pathway into the falls, a friend that we were walking with, pointed out tiny little ground orchids.  The flowers are not much bigger than a pin head and are very hard to find but they are actually quite lovely.  Our friend was a member of the Orchid Society and I am grateful for her knowledge. I didn't have a macro lens on my camera so the photo is not as clear as I would like, but you get the idea.

We continued our walk into the falls and passed giant rain forest trees and of course the inevitable fungi. We commented amongst ourselves at how dry it was.......after all we were in one of the wettest places in Australia.  At least we didn't have to contend with leeches!

Josephine Falls are spectacular.  They are in fact three falls that plummet peacefully down to a lovely rock pool where people were swimming around and enjoying the warmth of the day.  From the first rock pool down to the second is a natural "slippery slide".  We watched a dad and his two children sliding there way down the slope.

We stayed for quite awhile soaking up the beauty of the falls before our bellies told us that it was lunch time and we had better go and find somewhere nice to eat.  On the walk back to the car park I came across this little butterfly.  He was very small but it's smattering of blue made it stand out easily in the rain forest.

Josephine Falls are a place that I would recommend to anyone travelling around Tropical North Queensland and well worth the short drive off the highway.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Paronella Park

The sign pointing to Paronella Park is one of those signs that you pass and say to yourself "I must go and visit that place sometime!"  It certainly has had some great publicity, some good i.e. voted number one in the top 150 places to visit in Queensland, and some sad.....ravaged by both fires and cyclones in the past 35 years.  Paronella Park is situated on 13 acres beside Mena Creek Falls.  Jose Paronella started building his "castle" by hand  in 1929 and was ready to welcome the public in 1935.  The last thing to be built was his hydro-electric plant that serviced the whole complex.   Surrounding the complex Jose planted almost 7000 trees, the spectacular Kauri Pine Avenue being a highlight.
The Paronellas invited everyone to movies on Saturday nights, built tennis courts from crushed termite mounds and a pavilion with turret topped balconies, refreshment rooms and changing cubicles for swimmers.
Tragically in 1946 a mass of logs from a clearing upstream swept away a railway bridge that descended on the park, destroying the refreshment rooms.  Undaunted, the Paronellas replanted gardens, repaired what they could and re-opened 6 months later.
Jose passed away in 1948 leaving his wife and son and daughter to continue with the running of the park until 1977 when it was sold.  In 1979 a fire swept through the castle leaving only the walls and turret as a reminder of what had been.  In 1986 cyclone Winfred tested the Parks endurance once again.  In 1993 the current owners rediscovered the almost lost park and envisaged reviving Jose's dream and in 2009 saw the refurbishment of the original hydro turbine which once again provides power for the entire park.
Sadly two more Cyclones struck the Park, Larry in 2006 and Yasi in 2011 once again testing the resilience.
Paronella Park is eco-certified and heritage listed.  Efforts today focus on maintaining the property while staying true to its historic and eco values.  A number of ongoing restoration and preservation projects will see the Paronella Park story live on for many years to come.

The Refreshment rooms and Fountain overlooking the Tennis Courts

Looking from the bridge down to the Picnic Area and the Castle above.

Looking to Mena Creek Falls, Picnic Area and the Castle

The Picnic Area.  Behind is the Grand Staircase leading down from the Castle above

Almost every path has a view of the Falls

The Grand Staircase

Mena Creek Falls and the Hydro Power Station on the right

The Swing Bridge over Mena Creek

The Tennis Court Refreshment Rooms and Fountain at night

Mena Creek Falls, Swing Bridge and Hydro Station at night