Miz Lizzie Adventures: Cania, and homecoming

We’re home, after more than 4,000kms of travelling. It has been a brilliant trip, but as always, there’s a deep comfort in being back in our own place.

There wasn’t much excitement in  yesterday’s trip, from Warwick in south east Queensland, to Monto in central Queensland, hence no post about it. We took the back roads and saw wonderful countryside, but paid for it in terms of bumpy, winding and steep roads. The car and Miz Lizzie both coped beautifully.

However, having missed the chance to see the nearby wonderful Cania Gorge, Dam and Lake when we passed through Monto on the way south, we scrambled to make it happen on the way home. Having parked Miz Lizzie and got her hooked up, we jumped straight back in the car as the sun started to slant towards the horizon and went like bats out of hell, arriving just in time.

If you’re interested in the geology and wildlife, the walking tracks and the many thousands of years of Aboriginal history, one of the best places for information can be found here:

https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/cania-gorge/about.html

I don’t want this post to simply regurgitate all that, so I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. At the far end of the gorge is Cania Lake, now enlarged and extended into a dam. The lookout over the lake is reached by a winding road from which you get tantalising glimpses until the vista opens up at the top. We stayed until the sun started to disappear and it began to get cold… We’re definitely going back, and will stay at the campsite within the gorge so that we can explore and take on some of the walking tracks, see the caves and the Aboriginal cave paintings.

What I didn’t manage to capture entirely is the wonderful warm glow of the sandstone with the setting sun catching it. It truly seemed to be on fire at one point – sadly the best moment was too dark to make a successful photo, but I’m sure you can imagine what I mean.

Next time we go there, I’m planning to have much more daylight, and I’ll be hoping to take walking tracks which will show me the caves and paintings, as well as the outstanding natural scenery.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: a food safari

It was our last day here at Nambucca Heads, and we’ve tried to make the most of it.

This morning we took off into the wilds and went to Eungai Creek Buffalo Farm. Wilds is an exaggeration, of course, but it’s unspoilt bush and farmland, reached by a partly unsealed road. They raise water buffalo for milk and meat, show visitors around the farm and have a rather nice little café where you can sample both. I’ve come away with a tub of buffalo mozzarella in brine, and we enjoyed a coffee and a small scoop of buffalo gelato, flavoured with Davidson plum, spice and chilli. I have to say, it was luscious and the flavour was outstanding. I don’t regret the subsequent tummy ache at all (being lactose intolerant means no ice cream, mostly). The view from the café is peaceful, and beautiful so long as you’re not looking at the muck spreader in action in the yards! Still, on a working farm, you’ve got to expect some rural-type activities, haven’t you?

On the way back, we nipped into Macksville, and visited MacNuts, who process and roast locally-grown macadamias. They sell about 10 different flavours, including my personal grand champion, the dark chocolate coated ones, plus macadamia oil, macadamia butter and macadamia oil-based personal care products. You won’t be surprised to learn that we came away with samples…

We decided to treat ourselves to a final lavish lunch overlooking the sea and the V-Wall, a rock sea wall which has been made available by the local council for decoration by the public. It’s surprisingly tasteful and harmonious, given the human propensity for ugly graffitti, and has become a bit of a tourist destination, both to look and to leave your mark 🙂

We’re mostly packed up, just a few things left to put away in the morning, ready for our first 500+ km stage on the long journey home. It’s starting to get a bit chilly here, so heading north to Mackay’s warmer climate is looking fairly attractive!

It’s been a lovely holiday, peaceful and restful. Such a pity we have to get back to harsh reality!

Miz Lizzie Adventures: tiny sewing

Well, you didn’t think I’d get through an entire holiday without sewing, did you?

I’d packed Lilibet, the tiny sewing machine, my mini steam iron, a sleeve board for ironing on, my smallest cutting mat and ruler and a couple of bags of scraps. This morning, it was time to give it all a try.

80cm square instead of a whole room…

Lilibet, sadly, is a grumpy little princess of a sewing machine. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve had to rethread her today. There was no sign of this temper-amental behaviour at home, and I’m now wondering what her game is. On the other hand, it’s still faster than sewing by hand, so I’m just growling quietly at her instead of hurling her across the caravan. Also, if you only pay $99 for a sewing machine, you only get $99 of value, and I can’t expect the same level of performance as I get with my lovely and now much more appreciated Janome DC3018.

That iron is 6 inches long, and the handle folds down

The mini iron, on the other hand, has been brilliant! Perfect for small sewing like today’s work, and it has a powerful little steam boost if you press the button. It’s very small, very light, and it did sterling work without any complaint for several hours. I’ve brought a sleeve board with me, as opposed to a whole ironing board. It’s fine for the seams on an individual block, but if I ever want to press anything larger, I’ll have to rethink my strategy. I have the inkling of an idea already, but need to test the theory before I go public, but it involves creating a special heat-reflective pad to fit over the narrow bench you see in this photo.

I have ready one of the two blocks I’m planning for ScrapHappy in a week’s time. It’s due two days after we get home, so unless I do the work now, I’ll have nothing to show, shock horror!  You’ll have to wait till then to see them, but the more eagle-eyed among you may already have concluded that one of them will be purple!  I’ll finish the second one tomorrow, after our planned outing.

Where are we going?  To a water-buffalo farm, of course!  There’ll be cheese sampling, gelato sampling by the Husband and probably a few purchases of buffalo meats. Oh, and lunch in the café, naturally…

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 🙂