Colour as sound

Sometimes, Nature springs something that stops you in your tracks.

This is what stopped me in mine yesterday. Do click on the photo to get a larger image, it’s worth it! Can you believe those colours, those clouds? I have a very mild case of synaesthesia, and I could hear those colours. Think Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary (formerly attributed to Henry Purcell).

You’d stop seeing it if it was like this every day, but sometimes, we’re reminded how amazing this planet is…

Miz Lizzie Adventures: Coast and country

I suffer from deep verandah envy.

That’s deep envy of deep verandahs, in case you were wondering about the ambiguity. Yesterday, we visited our friends down the coast a little. Dale is a blogging friend, and a while ago she and her husband made the brave leap from city life in Sydney to live permanently in their country bolt hole. Like any so-called idyllic setting, it has its downsides (30kms to the nearest bank/post office/supermarket, zero mobile phone signal, etc), but the sheer beauty of their surroundings, the peacefulness and the community around them are a worthy pay-off for these minor inconveniences. But what really seals the deal for me is their house. She’s a traditional Australian wooden house on stumps, high-ceilinged and with spacious rooms that nearly all open onto the verandah. And oh, what a verandah!

A great deal of their living is done there: working, eating, snoozing, Skyping friends, playing with the dog and simply gazing out at the green glory of their view. I adore that house, I would kill for that verandah, and I love spending time there, admiring the hard work they’ve put into the house and garden, the epic vegetable cage he has built to keep the marauding local wildlife out of the vegies, the enormous passionfruit vine with the biggest, shiniest fruit dangling from it that I’ve ever seen. All that…. It reminds why I first went to live in northern NSW, and why it’s still one of my most favourite spots on earth.

The air is full of birdsong there, and not much other noise, and though I was unable to capture the female Fairy Wrens that were hopping about and twittering loudly, I did manage a shot of this Eastern Spinebill feeding from the tubular red flowers of the grevillea. The sun caught his back at just the right moment, and his normally rather slatey blue back feathers gleam with iridescence.

And finally, no day here is complete without my walk on the beach. It was twilight when I got there, the moon was bright, the sky was clear and pristine, and the sun had just left the waves. I sat on a dead tree embedded in the sand and just absorbed it…

Today is going to be a moderately quiet day. We have some shopping to do, and are going to scope out the venue for this year’s motorbike rally in October, which is happening some 130kms up the coast from here. Miz Lizzie will wait in the sunshine for us to get home and for me to get tonight’s curry started…

Another beautiful day ahead. Life is hell…!


Miz Lizzie Adventures: Beach textures

Here’s what I was pottering around with yesterday.

There are some extraordinary textures in what’s washed up on the beach if you look closely. I love the neutral/monochrome colour palette, too. I think my favourite is the palm stem, with those delicate lacy fibres, thin and fine, but at the same time, incredibly strong.

It makes a nice collage of images, doesn’t it? I wish I could think of a way to integrate them into some sort of textural piece of fibre art….

Miz Lizzie Adventures: a serious lunch

By which I certainly don’t mean a gloomy atmosphere…

I mean the lunch was a standout, one of those blissful and delicious events that you remember for a very, very long time. We had business in Coffs Harbour this morning, and had meant to take a business associate out for lunch to say thank you for a job well done. She has flu, poor thing, so we changed our plans and the venue, and returned to our most favourite restaurant of all, where we got engaged and where we have celebrated many landmarks. It’s located at the marina, on the seawall overlooking the coast and the Solitary Islands.

Not a bad view to enjoy with your lunch…

So, knowing the size of the portions, we decided it would be a mains and desserts lunch.  The Husband had crab linguine, with home made pasta and a wonderfully tasty and chilli-infused sauce. I had roasted duck breast with beetroot, pickled fennel, walnut and goat’s cheese salad. Both were sensational, but merely a warm-up for the desserts!

The Husband’s was a Deconstructed Snickers, with caramel peanut parfait, dark chocolate soil, dark chocolate fudge, candied peanuts, a caramelised white chocolate delice and a crisp chocolate caramel wafer.

Mine was the Chocolate Assiette, with dark chocolate paste, rich chocolate rum fudge, divinely smooth milk chocolate ganache, white chocolate hazelnut cluster, an almond crisp truffle and a chocolate ‘spoon’.

Almost unconscious from the sugar rush, we decided a bit of fresh air was called for, and headed up the hill to Seeley’s Lookout, high on the range overlooking the city. It has a wonderful ‘sky bridge’, a viewing platform you can walk out on, cantilevered out of the hillside to give you a 300° view around you. On a clear day, you can see a couple of hundred kilometres to the south. We stayed a while to appreciate our blessings, absorb the beauty and do a spot of wishful thinking. And then it was time to turn for home.

I spent a peaceful hour on the beach in the late afternoon with my camera, capturing textures. I’ll share those with you another day.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: high country autumn

Living in the tropics, I miss seeing the progression of the four seasons.

We have the Wet and the Dry, hot and not so hot, but we don’t get the stately passage of Nature from sleep to waking and back again. No tender spring shoots and first pale blooms, no verdant richness of summer foliage and flowers, no golden harvest and triumphant autumn vividness, no pale winter landscapes crisscrossed by bare black branches and frost-decorated windowpanes. Instead, there is always green, the mature green of high summer.

Today, I got to enjoy autumn colour in the high country of northern New South Wales. The skies are pale, grey or blue, but big and empty. The mountains stand out dark and crisp-edged in a way you just don’t see in summer’s hazy heat, and the trees, oh, the trees! Around every corner of the road you come across leaves on the turn, in colours from deepest garnet red through crimson, scarlet, vermilion, orange, gold and lemon. It was wonderful! We were travelling up the mountain to visit some of my family and friends I left behind when I moved north.

It has been a wonderful day, but perhaps not truly interesting to anyone other than ourselves, so I thought I’d simply share a little of this beautiful colour 🙂


Miz Lizzie Adventures: Paluma and Crystal Creek Falls

Day 2 of the Miz Lizzie Inaugural Adventure.

Our first night in the van was fine 🙂 The aircon worked very well, the bunks were comfortable, we got the site we wanted and virtually no neighbours. I’ve given the kitchen a serious workout, and it’s all good.

However, on waking, we discovered a few plumbing issues had materialised. Miz Lizzie is 18 years old, things have worn and perished, and now that we have her stretching her legs, problems are appearing. Nothing we can’t fix, so far. We spent the morning in the DIY store buying hose, joiners and connectors, plumbers’ Teflon tape and other fascinating bits and pieces.

After that, it was time for FUN!  We drove north for an hour, to make a visit to the Paluma Range National Park, a trip we’ve been promising ourselves for a while. It’s a World Heritage Listed Site, and having reached the top up an 18km intensely narrow and winding road, I can tell you it’s utterly worth the occasionally terrifying drive. For quite considerable parts of the journey the road is barely wide enough for two vehicles, and in many places, only wide enough for one. The drop off the edge is immediate and vertical, and there are no wussy safety barriers, either! However, in spite of all these drawbacks, the views are stunning, the lush wet tropical rainforest is dense and vivid, and for me, the highlight of the drive was stopping at the bridge over the Little Crystal Creek Falls. I’ll let the photos explain (click on them to enlarge, it’s worth it!).

little-crystal-creek-mt-speccrystal-creek-falls-2There were at least a dozen people swimming at all levels of the falls (I’ve carefully framed the photos so you don’t see the towels, sandals and snacks!), and I’m impressed at their fortitude, as despite the heat, the water’s cold. The top of the range is at 883 metres/2,900 ft above sea level, and it freezes up there in winter, tropics or no tropics.

After that, we tootled down the road a bit further to the famous Frosty Mango, a café serving ice cream made from a wide variety of tropical fruits grown on the premises. The flavours included guava, passionfruit, mango, sapodilla, soursop, jakfruit, black sapote, custard apple, Brazilian cherry, monstera, pineapple, carambola, jaboticaba and a handful more I can’t bring to mind. Mostly, these fruits never reach the mainstream market as they ripen quickly, don’t travel well and aren’t familiar to consumers, but they do produce delicious ice cream!

And then home, for a bit of a tinker with Miz Lizzie’s waterworks, a bottle of the golden throat-charmer for the Husband and a cider for me, and a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we pack up here in Townsville and head north again for Atherton, on the Tablelands above Cairns. We have a spot reserved in one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever stayed at, in a rainforest glade. Can’t wait!

So, a lot to do in the morning. An early night is called for….

On the road again, part 2

Between Townsville and Atherton, our most northerly stop, lies something I’ve wanted to see for years.

It’s called Paronella Park, a sort of fantasy romantic castle and grown up playground, built by Spanish immigrant José Paronella and his family in the 1930s. And it’s unlike anything else. For years it was abandoned and neglected, but has been slowly restored to some magnificence, and a condition safe for visitors to the buildings and the superb gardens around it.

I’ll leave you with first my photos, and then a link to a YouTube video. I’d recommend turning the sound off, the commentary is a bit treacly.










The promotional video for the place. Go to full screen if you can, it’s worth it.

Paronella Park is not supported in any way by the state or federal government, but by volunteers and visitor entry fees. It’s totally remarkable, and I have a pass to return any time in the next two years, because believe me, I’ll definitely be wanting to… It really is quite magical. If anyone out there gets the chance, do yourself a huge favour, and visit.

I just wish my photos did it justice.