Miz Lizzie Adventures: Cardwell, Cairns and Curry

Oh, I do love a bit of alliteration.

“No, really?” I hear you say… None of that sarcasm, now. Anyway, Sunday morning dawned grey, overcast and drizzly. We had a 10 minute reprieve to shake off the side awning and get it dry enough to roll up. We do have the process of packing up the caravan down to a fine art by now, so it’s really only about half an hour from start to finish so long as we’re organised but we were distinctly damp by the time the job was done.

Waving goodbye to the thick grey cloud hovering inches above the Hinchinbrook Channel, we set off up the coast towards Cairns, our final destination for the next six days. It rained on and off, but most on, for the rest of the day. It was fine though; everywhere is brilliantly green. The cane looked tall and lush, with thick feathery purply-pink plumes (back home, it’s a different variety and the plumes are white), and it’s over 3.5m/12ft tall in places. Definitely ready to cut. You can still see dead tree trunks on hillsides facing the sea where cyclones have stripped every leaf, but the rainforest has amazing regenerative power and in a couple of years, they’ll be invisible.

Once we’d passed the ghostly outline of Walsh’s Pyramid, with its top hidden in the clouds, I knew were were nearly there. It’s more of a landmark on a sunny day, but is unmistakeable in any weather.

We got to Cairns early and were able to set up in a brief dry spell. The caravan park is in a great spot. I’ll show you an earlier view of what it looks like when it’s not raining, since the present view isn’t quite as interesting. Still plenty of low cloud over the mountains to give you an idea, though!

There are lots of grey nomads here, taking advantage of the warmer weather compared with down south, but it’s not really full, so there are no battles for the washing machines or camp kitchen facilities. I was able to spread out when I made dinner. Mostly, I cook in the caravan, but it was chicken curry, and I didn’t want the smell to linger for the rest of the holiday! I’m not quite picky enough to grind my own spices on a caravan trip, but a good quality curry paste, coconut cream, chicken and vegetables will do the job.

Today we have some chores to do: grocery shopping, a bit of laundry (if the rain stops), etc, but tomorrow, let the gastronomy commence! The only decision is whether to stay at sea level, or head up onto the Tablelands.

That’s about as hard as the decision-making’s going to get for the next few days…

 

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Miz Lizzie Adventures: Cardwell, and reasons to stop

Our trip today was very short. Very…

Only two hours after we’d packed up and left Townsville, we were pulling off the highway again.

It was Cardwell, and apart from its attractions (of which more later), there was just a chance that someone from our motorbike club might have turned up for morning coffee and something tasty. Sadly no one came, although we did see the right kind of bike passing through, but we were quite happy to sit there and enjoy our own something tasty.

Cardwell is famous for crab, and I had a fairly lavish sandwich full of big chunks of fresh, delicious mud crab and salad.

The Husband was unable to refuse yet another meat pie.

After this rather early lunch, we went for a shake-lunch-down walk along the waterfront, where I saw what must sure have been influenced by a quilter. This is the pattern known as Baptist Fan, which has been shamelessly stolen and adapted for paving.

After we’d parked Miz Lizzie and hooked her up to everything, it was still early afternoon, so we headed into the Cardwell hinterland to investigate something I’d read about. The Cardwell Spa pools are a series of seasonal water-holes where the water is an extraordinary and natural shade of milky turquoise-blue. See for yourself; if anything, my photos don’t do the true colour justice. I framed the photos carefully to edit out the happily splashing tourists… As an adopted Queenslander, 24°C and overcast is just a bit too cool for swimming, and the mozzies were out in force so I wasn’t tempted.

Tonight we’ll be concocting a lavish chicken curry for dinner followed by a moderately early night. The new mattresses are brilliantly comfy and I fancy a nice long sleep among the palm trees, three streets back from the lapping waves of the Hinchinbrook Channel. Tomorrow we complete the last long distance leg, Cardwell to Cairns, and then we can settle down for a week or so before we have to uproot again and start the journey home.

And finally, I leave you with some teeny tiny rainforest flora.

 

 

 


Nothing exotic, but sweet and pretty, glowing brightly in the dim coolness of the rainforest.

Miz Lizzie Adventures: nice as pie

We’re off!

After a remarkably stress-free launch at 9.30am, we cruised peacefully up the Bruce Highway to our first planned stop: lunch at Bowen.

The reason for the choice of destination isn’t hard to find: firstly, it was on our way, and secondly, Jochheim’s Pies. The place is legendary, and judging by the queue out the door when we arrived bang on midday, its reputation is well deserved. They make and bake all their pies on the spot, and there are 18 flavours to choose from every day.

In addition to this array of hot and tasty glory, there’s another display case full of cream cakes, pastries, buns and biscuits, again, all made on the premises fresh every day. The clientele were dressed in everything from business suits to high vis workwear to shorts and flipflops and were every age from 9 to 90.

This was my lunch. You’re lucky to see even this much; it lasted about a minute, and the Husband’s was gone before I could get a photo. He also had a ‘peach cake’, a small round vanilla cake rolled in a peach flavoured jelly and coated with desiccated coconut, split and filled with cream. I can’t do cream, so I contented myself with a fruit bun, and very nice it was too.

Then back onto the highway, and on to Townsville. We’re staying tonight in our regular caravan park, and shortly I will be disappearing off to the camp kitchen to make chicken noodle stir fry for supper.

But I really rather wish I had another of those pies….

The Gardens of Chiconia 52: Another kind of snow

There has been great excitement on the news.

Snow in Queensland! Down in the Granite Belt they’ve had snow on the high ground, in Stanthorpe. In case you were thinking I might be feeling the cold, let me reassure you that it’s nearly 1,200km /750 miles away and well below the Tropic of Capricorn. The nearest we’ve come to snow is this:

It’s called, variously, Snow on the Mountain, Snows of Kilimanjaro, Snowflake and various other chilly names. It flowers in early winter in warm climates, is deliciously honey scented and is better known as Euphorbia leucocephala. Pretty, but poisonous, and the sap is a strong irritant. Showing you our tropical ‘snow’ made me realise that there were plenty of other winter-flowering plants in the Gardens of Chiconia. They all seem to be on the hotter end of the colour spectrum; Nature thumbing her nose at the idea of winter, maybe.

In case you were wondering, I haven’t retouched any of these photos in any way. What you see is how bright they really are.

We’re off tomorrow morning bright and early, heading north to Cairns and the wet tropics of Far North Queensland. 25°C/77°F during the day, 21°C/70°F at night. Showers are only forecast for a couple of days… So, well, Miz Lizzie the caravan is stocked with sewing, movies, food, drink, cosy quilts, brand new cushy mattresses for our bunks and clothes for all eventualities of weather. I am determined to enjoy myself, and I hope the usual suspects are bracing themselves, as we plan to hit the chocolate, coffee, cheese, clotted cream, exotic fruit, curry, fish & chips, ice cream and pie outlets hard 🙂

As always, I will post Miz Lizzie Adventures as they occur. Tomorrow night we will be in Townsville, the next night in Cardwell (home of the epic mud crab sandwich), and the next night in Cairns. Although we could make Cairns in one day at a push, we’re not rushing things. This is a holiday, and it’s also Miz Lizzie’s shakedown trip after her recent restorative surgery. She’s looking good, and I’m confident all will be well.

So, I’ll see y’all soon.

Scinteallate #5: half a dozen

It was a great day for squishes!

The postie brought not one, but two lovely packages. The first was from Sue, with four gorgeous blocks:

And the second was from Gun, with two, including one stunning appliqué block:

And finally, I’ve bought the fabric for the back and joining strips:

I couldn’t resist the tiny stars on the cream background, and that marbled teal has tiny sparkles over-printed on it.

Scinteallate is really starting to scintillate!

Scinteallate #4: two from the South

Robin’s squishy arrived this morning.

For most of you, Australia’s probably south of everything, but even Down Under, there’s people south of me, and the lovely Robin is one of them. Right now, she’s ‘enjoying’ chilly winter weather while I bask in balmy 24°C/75°F with all the doors and windows open and the aircon off for a change. But that hasn’t stopped her turning out two beautiful star blocks for Scinteallate, and they’re wonderfully scrappy. That’s given them exactly the kind of ‘twinkle’ I was hoping for 🙂

I have a messy heap of scrappy strips on my work table, waiting to be pressed for the next block. And at some stage today I have to make a foray to Spotlight to buy 4 metres of cream backing and half a metre of something darkish blue-green for the front joining strips on Scinteallate. That’s the current plan – unless, of course, I spot something brilliant on clearance or reduced, as an alternative.

That’s after I’ve made mandarin curd and put the apple crumble in the oven. The neighbours gave us a huge sack of their windfall mandarins and I have to use them up before they start to go mouldy. Half of them juiced for breakfast, half of them zested and juiced for the curd. Oh, my suffering is extreme, I tell you…

And we finally have Miz Lizzie back from caravan hospital, with her roof and windows re-sealed, a new step and stabilising legs added, and a foot locker removed from one side to give the Husband a bit more leg room in bed. Time to clean, repack and restock her before our trip north in 10 days. It’ll be nice to get everything off the sofa in my sewing room… so I can lie on it 🙂

Till the next squishy! 

 

Scinteallate #3: Back in the swing

I’ve got my paper piecing mojo back.

Every time I don’t do it for a while, I lose the tricks and habits that make this such a great technique for accurate piecing. I start to think it’s too much trouble to make templates of the pieces I need. I forget to adjust the stitch length down. I forget that all-important mantra: Stitch, Flip, Check, Trim, Press. Then, out come the stitch ripper and tweezers and sweaty frustration…

But by the end of this block, I was back in the swing. I didn’t have to take anything apart, the paper came off the back with very little resistance, things lined up as they should, and I’m facing the next one with equanimity, despite the fact that it has 64 pieces! Yup. You read that right. Thing is, they’re almost all rectangles of the same width, just slightly differing lengths. As they say in these parts “She’ll be right, mate”. I’ve got this.

So, this is my Scinteallate block No. 2. En route already are several more from Robin, Gun and Sue, and a further 12 more are in progress from other lovely contributors.

I think the Twinkle Factor is improving rapidly, don’t you?