It’s been a lot of driving in a short time, but we’re home from Far North Queensland.

Part of the purpose of the trip was to investigate a couple of sources of potential gifts for our friends in the West Indies.  We want to take something typically Australian with us when we go, but want to avoid clichés, tackiness and a bad case of the ‘what the hell do I do with this?’.  So we went to two outstanding sources of Australian excellence.

The first is Tolga Woodworks, which is a showroom, workshop and cafe all under one roof.  They exhibit the work of wood artists, make decorative household items, and sell wood billets and turning blanks for home woodworkers – all sorts of interesting and unusual timbers. I also need to give honourable mention to the café, where the coffee is outstanding and the GF chocolate hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache and cream had my absolutely undivided attention for a good 20 minutes…  For my friend and her husband we bought a beautiful small burl bloodwood box, the sort of thing in which you keep earrings if you’re female and business cards if you’re male, and a small chopping board made of 6 different woods fitted together in stripes. For ourselves, we bought two tiny square wooden bowls for sea salt and coarse ground pepper, each with its own tiny scoop/ spoon. One is dark wood, for pepper, and the other is light, for salt.

Wooden gifts. What wonderful grain on that box.

Wooden gifts. What wonderful grain on that box.

A close up of the chopping board, and the card that comes with it, detailing the woods used.

A close up of the chopping board,
and the card that comes with it,
detailing the woods used.

iridium,Mount Uncle's dark rum. How nice is that bottle?

Mount Uncle’s
dark rum.
How nice is that bottle?

The second stop was Mount Uncle Distillery. This is a wonderful place, very tranquil and beautiful, surrounded by banana plantations, huge old trees, lush tropical gardens, and the most outstanding café/cellar door for tasting the product. They’ve won gold, silver and bronze medals for their rum, gin and liqueurs, and we wanted to see if any of the rum was good enough to take to Barbados, the earliest home of the golden drop. Sampling was of course mandatory… The Iridium dark rum was sensationally good, tasting and smelling of sunshine, smooth on the palate and developing flavours without harshness or bite.  They’ve got beautiful bottles too, worth keeping once the contents have gone. They’re screenprinted with tropical vegetation at the top and reef fish and coral at the bottom, to represent the flora and fauna of FNQ. Carrying rum to Barbados is a bit like selling snow to Eskimos, but I want to redeem our national reputation. She tried some Bundaberg rum, and used language…. She’s right. It IS like paint stripper. So finding the good stuff was important!

What I can’t adequately communicate in a blog is how divine both of these purchases SMELL! The woods are aromatic and mellow and spicy – and so’s the rum. One smells of warmth, woodshavings and teak oil. The other smells of vanilla and sunshine. C’mon, WordPress, we need a button for aroma.

More soon. I’ll be back on the sewing kick now our trip’s over. The Tree of Life beckons…


14 thoughts on “Loot!

  1. Anlina says:

    Love the cutting board, beautiful! Box is nice too 🙂

  2. Lynda says:

    Beautiful treasures, Kate!

  3. wombatquilts says:

    Oh I love the rum…I miss Bundy Rum SOOO much.

    • katechiconi says:

      If you think Bundy’s good, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven if you taste this stuff. I was trained on Barbados rum, and taught to drink it either neat over ice or with a dash of water, so I became a real connoisseur of flavour. I have to say, I can’t drink Bundy, except perhaps as a last resort, with Coke.

  4. Jen Gardener says:

    LOVE that chopping board! It’s beautiful! Love woodwork shops in general. We’ve got a furniture shop nearby with proper furniture made out of proper wood and I often go it there and just drool. Tasmanian blackwood’s my fave at the moment. Ah, one day.. For now, it’s hand-me-downs and Ikea.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m very fortunate in that respect. My brother in law is a cabinet maker, and if there’s something I particularly want, I design it, choose the timber with him, and he’ll make it for me for mate’s rates. There’s also a beautiful wood gallery in Bellingen, NSW, near where my sister lives, and they have some gorgeous stuff too. So many lovely things, so little time…

  5. defensordelaverdad says:

    Reblogged this on Fabián.

  6. tialys says:

    What beautiful and thoughtful gifts – I’m sure your friends are going to love them. Rum to Barbados? In a similar vein I gave some English cheeses to a French friend for Christmas in the hope of disabusing her of the notion that only the French can ‘do’ cheese.

  7. Nanette says:

    Love that rum bottle. I have a chopping board my son gave me, made from all camphor wood……you’re so right, the smell is divine. I leave it out on the benchtop so I can run my hands over it and catch little wafts of camphory scent. I’m sure your friends will love those gifts, not tacky at all.

    • katechiconi says:

      You’d have loved the wood store, where they keep the unworked billets and turning blanks! They had a small stock of rosewood, now quite rare and expensive, but oh, the smell!

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