Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Today we head to Hopevale.

Hopevale is an Aboriginal community about 46 kms north-west of Cooktown.

We are fortunate to be connected to the Bowen family in this community through our late great brother-in-law Peter Malcolm.

Peter Malcolm was one of life's adventurers in every sense of the word, never shying away from challenge whether it was flying a helicopter in Antarctica or finding means to sail Pelican a 63ft catamaran to Hopevale to take the community out on to the sea, Pete worked tirelessly to make it happen.

How the Bowen family and Peter came to be connected, and for Pelican to make the trip is a story of great loss and sadness, but also one of hope and healing. You can read more about that here.

My family and I are traveling to Hopevale so that my husband Pete can continue work with the Elders and community leaders on the project Culture is Life, aimed at ending the alarming incidence of self-harm and youth suicide in Indigenous communities through Elders led healing. You can sign a petition to support Elders led healing at Be Part of the Healing.

I will have no internet access while we are on this part of our journey so I will 'see' you back in here in a week or so with stories from this time that will no doubt be a mix of emotions.

Thanks for reading xx

ps. I had this lovely series of photographs to go with this post but my card reader decided not to work and I couldn't upload them, so I am sorry about that! I will sort it out asap. Ah life on the road!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

stills collection

1. 7am Cooktown. The backdrop for this small town in Far North Queensland where just over 2000 people live is the sea and this stunning mountain range.

2. Main street Cooktown. No swimming in this water, that's reserved for crocodiles! I am completely terrified about the whole croc thing, the one time in my life I feel helicopter parenting is totally justifiable!!

3. Who needs toys when you have a shopping trolley to play with?

4. Buses, caravans, campervans, tents, red dust covered 4 wheel drives, they're all in the camping ground

5. Camp kitchen

6. Sun set over the laundry

7. If you're visiting Cooktown, book a table at The Italian Restaurant (yes that's what it is called). John the owner hails from Lygon Street Melbourne where he was in the restaurant biz for years before setting up shop here in the sun

8. Yes this seafood spaghetti tasted as good as it looks

9. On country learning for River and Sol, looking on as Aunty Estelle Bowen from Hopevale community shows them how to cast a hand line into the Starke River

10. Sol looks tired in this shot but he was so thrilled about being the only one to catch a fish this day. He has decided that fishing with a hand line is better than with a rod :)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

thursday recipe: banana cake with chocolate chips

We were staying at our friend Seva's house just south of Cairns and her neighbour had given her a pile of beautiful bananas from their tree, they sat golden and ripening in Seva's fruit bowl.

On her way out the door to work Seva said, "Take as many bananas as you like". Banana bread came to mind, but really banana bread is banana cake isn't it? We've talked about this before.

River, Sol and I tried settling into our morning at Seva's house while Pete took the car in to be serviced before we headed north to Hopevale where Pete would be working with Elders and community leaders on the Culture is Life project.

I say tried to settle in because River was tired and grumpy and of course Sol had picked up on that and they were niggling each other no end.

By 8.30am I was sitting at the table with them and we were writing up a list of rules that included the obvious ones like no hitting and name calling. It was going to be a long day.

They then decided to ask if they could have some of the chocolate in Seva's fridge. That would be a "No". I had already mentioned that we'd bake banana cake later in the day, "Can we put chocolate on top?" Sol asked hopefully.

I reminded them that the chocolate in the fridge wasn't ours but that depending on how their behaviour went for the rest of the morning when we walked to the local shops perhaps we could buy some chocolate for the cake.

No, not a proud moment bribing my children to behave with the lure of chocolate chips but there you have it, I'm being honest!

Once we were out of the house they were different children. Not because of the prospect of chocolate but because they were outside burning off their energy, running along the street, playing at the park, climbing, swinging, more running. Just as it should be. Sigh of relief from me.

And so for afternoon tea, we made this decadent little delight that is decidedly cake not bread.


Banana cake with chocolate chips


1 cup of white spelt flour
1 cup of buckwheat flour
1.5 teaspoons of baking powder
2 bananas mashed
2 eggs whisked
1 cup of chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia oil
1/2 cup maple syrup

To make

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a loaf tin with baking paper
- In a large mixing bowl place spelt flour, buckwheat flour and baking powder stir to combine
- Add in all other ingredients and stir until combined
- Pour batter into tin
- Bake for 45 minutes or until golden and when a skewer is inserted it comes out clean

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

life on the road

We've been away from home for two months now and it is feeling like a feast I can hardly digest there is so much to take in.

The ever changing landscape, (although I must say the sugar cane fields in Queensland are a dominant feature in the foreground), so many new people with stories and delicious meals to share, beaches, campgrounds, rainforests each with their different feeling to adjust to.

River and Sol are travelling exceptionally well. We have clocked up 3000 kms now and it only took pulling over twice to lay the ground rules of being in the car - no fighting in the backseat - for them to settle in to the long days of driving.

Pete and I made the decision to buy them each a portable dvd player for the 400km plus days. This might sound like a given for many but it was kind of a big deal for us!

The only screen time our boys get at home is ABC TV or movies on the weekend. The dvd players have come in handy but for the most part River and Sol have settled into the road trip and don't really bat an eyelid at 4 hours in the car in a day.

I'm surprised at how much I like tent living. It simplifies everything. We have four plates, four bowls, four sets of cutlery, four cups, a box for a pantry, a heavy duty esky is our fridge, we each have an overnight bag of clothes, a few books, a few toys, bedding and well, that's about it!

Having said that, clothes still need to be washed (sometimes even by hand!) and folded, everyone still gets tired and hungry and along with "are we there yet?" comes "what's for dinner?" and "where will sleep tonight?" but before we eat or sleep we actually have to put up our house, the tent.

Just like at home we have our rough days where things don't flow, moods go up and down, patience is lost, and found and we look forward to the sun setting so we can start all over again tomorrow.

To anyone who has ever for a moment dreamt of hitting the road with their family I say do it. In two short months, that sometimes have felt years long, our family has made memories to last our lifetimes and put into practice the art of letting go.

We have let go of the familiar, the known, the school run, routine. There is very little that is routine about being on the road. Plans change from day to day, week to week. Sure I try to keep a rhythm to our days that revolves around meals and teeth being brushed and clothes being changed but that is about as routine as things get.

Having freshly washed and folded clothes is such a pleasure when you are on the road, as is sleeping in a real bed on the occasional nights we stay with friends or pull into a roadside motel when it is too late to put up the tent.

River and I have just in the last week started thinking about home, wondering what it would be like to be back there, wondering what our friends and family are up to.

Having been a keen traveller all my adult life I know that homesickness is part of travel so I just push those thoughts aside, knowing that the weather will still be freezing at home, that our dear friends and family will be there when we get back and that this journey we have undertaken as a family that goes beyond sight seeing is not yet complete.

I suggested to River that we phone his favorite friend from school and he was happy with that idea.

How about you? Do you have the travel bug? What's your remedy for homesickness?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

stills collection


1. So much beautiful wholefood shared with our friend Seva in Gordonvale just south of Cairns.

2. We are sprouting on the road, one jar to take with us, one jar to leave for Seva.

3. FYI there is wifi at Cairns public library but no power points to charge up your computer battery!

4. Sweet Sol in the shade at Cairns lagoon.

5. "16 more days mum til I turn 8" River is counting down.

6.  Cane trains are a common feature in Far North Queensland.

7. Happy NAIDOC week. Shopping at Yum Yum's in Mossman.

8. "Let's do a selfie" said River.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

stills collection

1. Follow the sun we're heading north.

2. Sol's travel essentials.

3. You probably know about the big pineapple and the big banana, but did you know about the big giraffe? Me neither. Look out for this beauty poking it's head out of the trees in Bororen, south of Rockhampton.

4. Standard footwear.

5. It's all handstands...

6. and seashells. Except when its not. I'll be writing a post soon about the realities of life on the road as a family: everyone still gets tired, needs to be fed and dishes and clothes still need to be washed. Not that I'm complaining one bit, but I don't want to give you the wrong impression! (Sol is collecting shells inside a safety net where the tide is out, we are at Seaforth 40km out of Mackay, the net is to protect swimmers from Box Jellyfish).

7. Camp kitchen. Not many food photos on my camera this week. We did eat! More food photos next week.

8. Just another day in paradise. (Seaforth beach)

Thursday, July 03, 2014

thursday recipe: Ruth's spelt crepes with avo, fetta, lemon and sprouts

Before we get to the recipe, let's take in the view for a moment.

Who wouldn't want to wash the dishes with this magical garden to gaze upon?

Today's recipe comes from my dear friend Ruth who we were lucky enough to spend a beautiful Sunday morning with, and her delightful family, in their sun soaked back garden pictured above during our stay in the Byron Bay area.

The table was set with fresh paw paw and lime, pumpkin and rice bread toasted, home made marmalade, hot chai and Ruth's wonderful paper thin spelt crepes. The children all clambered for strawberries and to spread their crepes with honey or maple syrup, while the grown ups tried Ruth's savoury filling of avocado, marinated fetta, Ruth's sprouts and a squeeze of lemon. Roll like a wrap and enjoy, no cutlery required.

I say Ruth's sprouts because Ruth and her partner Michael run a business selling beautiful fresh sprouts at Byron Bay and Mullumbimby farmer's markets. If you are local or visiting the markets buy some of their sprouts, they are the best really they are! You'll be hooked.

The sprout mix can contain sprouted blue peas, mung beans, fenugreek, alfalfa, lentils, soaked almonds...and perhaps there are some others I can't remember right now...(if you are reading Ruth please feel free to add in the comments :)

We were lucky to have lemons plucked from their backyard tree by Ruth with the help of one of her twin babes.

I know its all sounding pretty idyllic, and well it was.  Not every winter morning is this sunny or full of joy but it was one of those mornings where the children all played happily, the adults enjoyed endless cups of chai and we all savoured the moment.

Ruth has such a beautiful feel for creating tasty, nourishing food. She rarely follows a recipe except when baking, so when I asked her for this recipe it went along the lines of, "hmmmm lots of eggs, I use lots of eggs. I filled that big bowl with flour and used maybe 6 or 7 eggs. I made a well in the centre of the flour maybe 4 or 5 cups, cracked the eggs in and gently whisked them in so as not create lumps, then I added milk until it was really thin. Oh and a pinch of salt. This batch had a pinch of salt. Oh and it must be made the night before. I don't know if that's an old wives tale but it is something I always do, make the mixture the night before."

For those of you who feel lost at the mere thought of throwing ingredients together and hoping for the best I had a go at making Ruth's recipe for you with measurements. Ruth changes the flour around depending on what she has in the cupboard, sometimes buckwheat, sometimes wholemeal spelt mixed with white spelt, other times some rice flour gets thrown in too.

So this weekend get a few friends together, pray for a good dose of winter sun and make a batch of Ruth's spelt crepes.

Ruth's spelt crepes with avo, fetta, lemon and sprouts


2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
3 eggs
1 cup of milk of choice
1 and 1/3 cups of water
pinch of salt (optional)
1 large ripe avocado, roughly 'smashed' in a bowl with a fork
1 container Barambah organic marinated fetta (this just happened to be the one Ruth had)
Sprouts of your choice
1 lemon cut into wedges to squeeze
Butter or coconut oil for frying

(makes 12-14 depending on the size of your pan)

To make

Make the mixture the night before.
Place flour in large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre and crack eggs into well.
Using a hand whisk, gently whisk the eggs into the flour and begin to gradually add the milk and then the water.
Continue whisking until smooth.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next morning take the mixture out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
Depending on how thick or thin you like your crepes you may need to add some more milk or water, if you like them paper thin like Ruth's you want the mixture to be very thin, the consistency of water.
If you are feeding a crowd and want to cook a stack and keep them warm, turn your oven on low and as you cook the crepes add them to a plate, cover with foil and keep in the oven.
Heat a large round frypan or crepe pan if you have one, and add a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
When the fat is sizzling pour in enough mixture to coat the bottom of the pan.
Turn the heat down a touch if too high, cook until bubbles appear and then flip over and cook other side until golden.
As Ruth says, the first couple are never the best of the batch, not that anyone complains!

To assemble

Place some smashed avocado, crumbled fetta and a sprinkling of sprouts in the centre, squeeze lemon over the top and roll up. So delicious and they would also make a nourishing afternoon tea alternative to cake!

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