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

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Where did April go?

April has been a very busy month and has passed in the blink of an eye.  The trip to Julia Creek for the DirtnDust took up the first ten days then there was Easter followed quickly with a trip to Toowoomba.  Is it any wonder I'm feeling very tired.
I have posted about our trip to Julia Creek and now for the rest of the month.  Easter first.
It was probably one of the most relaxing Easters ever.  We were invited to a friends place here at Julatten on Good Friday where we feasted on Barramundi, Oysters and Prawns....good christians that we are (not!!).  We sat for hours and talked and talked.  They are great friends and we always enjoy their company.
Easter Saturday was spent with our life-long friends who live at Kuranda.  They invited us to join their family for a bbq lunch that was, once again, outstanding.  So much food to choose from and all delicious.  The adults laid out Easter Eggs so that the young ones could go on an Easter Egg Hunt.  We never did this with our kids.  It wasn't the done thing but I wish we had because the look of delight on the kids faces when they find an egg really warms the heart.

Keeping fit and healthy has been high on the agenda this month.  Unfortunately when we go on a camping adventure we tend to over-indulge on the snack foods and alcohol and we  probably don't exercise as much as we should.  My clothes always feel a little tighter after these trips so it is imperative to get back into the healthy food as quickly as possible.  Enter "Pumpkin Wedges with Goats Cheese".  Wow, what a cracker of a dish and very easy.  Just roast your pumpkin wedges with onion wedges (in a very hot oven) and when its cooked pile it onto a platter with goats cheese (I also added prosciutto that I needed to use up) and pour a Sage Brown Butter dressing over the top (melt butter until nut brown and throw in a handful of sage leaves for a few seconds.  Cool slightly and add about a tablespoon of balsalmic vinegar).  Top it with peppitas for a bit of crunch.

We have been trying to have regular date nights but something always seems to get in the way, so I have blocked out the 4th Thursday of every month on our calendar for the rest of the year so here's hoping we can stick to it.  It is very important in any relationship to have time to talk in a neutral area.  We chose our local, the Highlander here in Julatten.  Their meals are pub standard but large and really quite delicious.  This date night we just felt like pizzas.  I just wish that we had ordered just one to share as they are very large!

Our garden continues to give and at the moment we have lots of citrus - oranges, mandarins, limes, grapefruit and the avocado is loaded with fruit.  We also have lots of passionfruit and I am always looking for new ways to use them.  To use up some of the avocados I cooked us poached eggs on an avocado salsa for breakfast yesterday.  Our gardener provides us with the eggs and this meal is both delicious and healthy.

We had the pleasure of joining friends for a night in Port Douglas last night.  We all booked into the Peninsula Hotel that is right on the esplanade in Port and enjoyed sitting outside listening to the sound of the waves whilst sipping our drinks, in my case Champagne!  
Four Mile Beach just across the road from our Hotel

At 6.30 we made our way along Macrossan Street to find somewhere to eat and settled on the fantastic Watergate Restaurant.  We chose a selection of entrees that were placed in the centre of the table for all enjoy.  We feasted on oysters kilpatrick, salmon pate, fish sticks, peking duck and cuttlefish all served with very tasty sauces.  We couldn't do justice to our mains as we had filled up on entree but we had chosen Chilli Prawns, Kangaroo Fillet, Pork Chop and Gnocchi. We all tasted each others dishes (that's the great thing about eating with friends) and I voted the pork that Philip had ordered as the best. It was so tender! The staff at the Watergate are fantastic and we highly recommend anyone travelling to Port Douglas to make this a food destination.
We took the long walk home to help digest our rather large meal and after a Baileys nightcap I was in bed by 10 pm.  
We woke the next morning to a glorious day and walked 3kms along Four Meal Beach that gave us all an appetite to enjoy the breakfast that was included in our accomodation deal.  I can't praise the staff at the Peninsula Hotel enough.  It was one of the friendliest places we have ever stayed.  It is a "kid free" Hotel that some frown upon but I think it is a complete joy!

Well, that's a wrap for April.  I'm hoping that May will be quiet but looking ahead on the calendar, I don't think so.  Stay tuned.

Friday, 28 April 2017

80 Years Young

My mum turned 80 on the 24th April and we, family and friends, celebrated this milestone by having a "Girls Only Days" birthday party.  It had been organised some months ago to have lunch at the Garden Cafe in Toowoomba followed by afternoon tea and birthday cake at Mums townhouse.  The invitations were sent out and there were only a couple of inabilities due to other commitments and distance.
The day of the party we were quite busy.  We had to pick up the birthday cake, set out the afternoon tea cups, make sure there were adequate chairs for everybody, organise the food so that it could be quickly put on the table when everyone arrived, organise enough wine glasses for toasting and also get ourselves ready for the midday lunch. In between all of that there was a trip to the hairdresser for mum and a pick-up from the bus-stop.

Mum and her great grandson Lucas

We arrived in good time at the restaurant and after a quick chat to the waitress we were all seated in readiness for our buffet chinese meal.  Entree was served first - spring rolls and prawn wontons with a delicious sauce.  After this was cleared away the main was delivered to the table.  Lovely tasty platters of Honey Chicken, Prawn Stir Fry, Beef and Vegetables and Fried Rice made for a very delicious and filling main meal.  In between the eating we were able to move around the table and chat to each other.

Lunch at the Garden Cafe

We left the restaurant at 2pm and made our way to Mum's place.  My two sisters and I laid out the food and filled glasses with bubbles for the speeches and toast.  My sisters and I spoke and we all toasted to mum's good health and happiness.

Mother and Daughters

After afternoon tea mum had invited one of her friends to play the electric organ and everyone was given a booklet of songs for a sing-along.  It was such a lovely sight and sound.

The organist preparing her music

A sing-a-Long

We said goodbye to the last guests at 5.30pm and I sent mum off to bed to rest while I cleared the table and washed the dishes. It took me over an hour and I was completely exhausted by the end of the day but very pleased that mum had enjoyed herself.
Happy Birthday Mum!


We talked quite a lot about where we would spend our last night of our mini camping holiday.  It was decided that we would head back via the Flinders Highway towards Townsville.  Some wanted to stay at Charters Towers but Philip and I decided that we wanted to have a night by the ocean so we would push on to Rollingstone.  In the end the others decided to do the same thing and we were all pleased that we did.  The Big 4 at Rollingstone was spectacular.  It was very well laid out with areas for camping, sites for people travelling with animals, sites close to the pool for those with young families, en-suite sites right on the beach (that we couldn't get hold of unfortunately) and perfectly clean amenities.
We were all settled into our sites by 5.00pm and sat around and enjoyed the last night of happy hour.  We fired up the bbq to cook up the last of the steak and sausages with jacket potatoes and tossed salad and sat around telling stories until quite late.  We recalled the ten days we had all been together - the good the bad and the ugly, and vowed to do it all again in the future.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Karumba & Normanton

We have been to Karumba quite a few times, after all we lived just a "stones throw" away, and every single time we visit we look forward to the next.  Karumba was a sleepy little fishing village until the mining boom and live cattle export gave it no choice but to expand.  Fortunately though, Karumba Point has retained it's original atmosphere.
We checked into the Karumba Point Caravan Park that is a well appointed park with plenty of shade and a small pool to cool you down on a hot summers day.  The pool can become quite packed but still enjoyable.
We only had one night in Karumba but our friends stayed for two nights.  Our first night was, of course, a walk to the Sunset Tavern to watch the sunset.  This is a tradition that has to be followed when you visit.  After the sunsets it is worth the stop at Ash's for their world famous fish and chips.  Our friends decided on this but we had plenty of food to cook on the bbq.  As it turned out we had cooked, eaten and cleaned up the bbq before our friends returned.  It had taken them well over an hour to be served!  Not a good recommendation.
The next day, after we had packed down the camper, we headed back to Normanton for a bit of a look around.  This is another place the we had driven through but never actually stopped to look around.  This time we did and very pleased we did.  The town has had somewhat of a re-vamp and everything old seems to be new again or perhaps it was my imagination.
The day ended for us at our old next door neighbours place - Land End Station.  It was great to catch up on all their news and to enjoy a lovely meal.

Bailey being my sunset model

We stopped outside Normanton to photograph the lovely water lillies

Krys the Savannah King!  What a giant!

Our campsite at Karumba

Friday, 21 April 2017

Cobbold Gorge

The drive from Undara to Cobold Gorge took us through Mount Surprise and then on to Georgetown where we turned south to head towards Forsyth.  From here it is 45 kilometres of good gravel road to finally reach our destination and what a destination it is!

The first thing to greet us is a beautiful infinity edge pool overlooking the lake and it didn't take long to check-in to our en-suite campsite and head straight to this oasis.

Our campsite is a lovely shaded spot and this is the first time we have had an en-suite attached.  It is such a luxury!

We had an enjoyable happy hour with our friends before lighting the bbq and feasting on some delicious roast pork and vegetables.  We all had an early night to prepare ourselves for our tour the next day.
The next day shone brightly and we all waited eagerly for our bus to be prepared.

The tour consisted of a short drive to the dry creek bed (that wasn't dry!) and then on to the meeting point for a walk along the boardwalk to the waiting boat to take us to the Gorge.  After this we then proceeded to the top of the gorge to look down on the meandering gorge and then a bush walk lead by our informative guide through the basalt country.  All up we walked over 7 kilometres today but it certainly didn't feel like it as we stopped at numerous places for an informed talk.  
The boat ride into the gorge was fabulous and the gorge itself is spectacular.  Most gorges that we have traversed have been very wide but this one was extremely narrow.  You could reach from one side to the other in a lot of places and the boat could not turn around at the end of the gorge so the guide takes the little motor from one end and attaches it to the other end to make the return journey.
Our second night we ate in the restaurant that was nothing to rave about but as they had only re-opened four days before we arrived I will give them the benefit of the doubt.  Cobbold Gorge is definitely a place we will return to.  There are numerous walking tracks that we didn't get a chance to walk and also a lovely spot to watch the sunset just a few kilometres from the village.  There are canoes free of charge to use on the lake and a golf driving range for those that are interested.  
We give this place 5 stars.

The end of the gorge

Our guide giving us a dreamtime talk

Looking down into the narrow gorge that was only discovered in the 80's

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Undara Lava Tubes

As we continued our journey towards Julia Creek we made sure that we had a night at Undara Lava Tubes.  Everything that I had read about this place gave it a glowing recommendation so it was definitely on the list of places to visit.

We arrived quite early as it was only a short distance from Innot Hot Springs and proceeded to the check in counter.  We stood waiting for almost half an hour while the two girls at check-in dealt with  two customers.  As far as we could ascertain (from our eavesdropping) was that both "customers" were not customers at all, just folks wanting information.  When we were finally served it took us a whole two minutes as we had pre-booked and paid and all we had to be told was where our campsite was!
The campsite was a short walk from the main buildings and quite lovely with lots of big gum trees offering a lot of shade but the khaki burr was everywhere!  Anyone who has ever had any experience with this particularly bad weed would know how it gets into everything.  It is picked up on shoes, car tyres, mats....everything!  It can be killed with round-up or hot water and I think the groundsmen should be making it a number one priority because there is not a hope of walking anywhere without shoes.  Young Bailey, who was travelling with us, found out the hard way...
Our fellow companions and in the distance our camper

We all set up camp fairly quickly and made our way to the pool for a refreshing swim.  It was a small pool and quite crowded but nonetheless, very enjoyable.

We had pre-booked all our tours and the first one was a sunset tour.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a very informed tour.  We hiked to the top of a stony knoll to enjoy cheese, wine and biscuits as the sun slowly sank in the west.

Cheese and Wine whilst waiting for the sun to set
The next morning at 9.00 am we met in the carpark for our second tour that would take us to the Lava Tubes.  They were not as impressive as I thought they might have been but nevertheless very interesting.  Once again we had a great tour guide who brought into perspective the age of mother earth and just how short a time Homo Sapiens have inhibited this wonderful planet.

A short walk into the Lava Tubes

The Archway
I understand that there are numerous lava tubes that the guides can take you to but they will only visit them when it is deemed safe to do so. 
We enjoyed our time here but would we go back.....probably not.  Don't get me wrong, the infrastructure is fantastic.  The original owner had a love of trains so they are used extensively as accomodation, dining areas, reception area and they really do look fantastic.  The gardens are well maintained (apart from the Khaki Burr!) and are quite lovely. The lava tubes were a little disappointing but maybe we just weren't taken to the most impressive.  Who knows.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Innot Hot Springs

Innot Hot Springs is a little place about 120 km south west of us.  We have driven through Innot hundreds of times on our way to Julia Creek and every single time we say "oh, we must stay there some time".  Well, the time finally came about two weeks ago.  For some reason I had it in my head that the hot springs would be in a stream and was very surprised to find that instead of using the stream (which is very shallow) they pump the water into six beautiful pools - three under cover and childfree and the other three outside.  The temperatures range from 25 to 45 degrees.  The 45 degree pool is very hot and I couldn't sit in it but Philip managed it.  He had a nagging back ache and he swears that within a half hour of soaking in the spring water his back was healed!
The caravan park was very quiet and we had a large choice of campsites to choose from.  We found a perfect spot that backed onto the creek.  We chatted to some fellow campers, many of whom were repeat visitors to the hot springs and I can tell you we will also be visiting again. We loved sitting outside the camper for sundowners, listening and watching the rosellas getting ready for nightfall and then waking to the same sounds.
Taking a walk through the shallow thermal stream

The outside thermal pools
Our site for the night

The inside thermal pools