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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Friday, 26 September 2014

Kangaroo Paws

I take great delight in surprising some of my readers - perhaps not the Ozzie ones this time as they might have heard of them, but for all you others out there you might wonder why on earth I am writing about kangaroo paws. 
They are the floral symbol of Western Australia and yes they are a plant and not an animal ! 
What I found totally amazing in visiting King's park in Perth was that there was no limit to the colours of kangaroo paws - a veritable fashion show of the paws in their brightly coloured outfits.
They are endemic to WA and are perennials that attract lots of birds. The tubes are coated with dense hair and they are open at the apex with six claw- like structures which has given them the name  "Kangaroo Paw."

Here are some of the many I encountered in the park: 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


WA stands for Western Australia - the biggest state in Australia.

Having just visited there WA could stand for a whole lot more depending on what appeals. Let me give you some examples.

WA - WILD Australia - without doubt one of the wildest, most remote parts of the country are included in this state.

WA - WINE Aficionados - this is one of Australia's richest wine areas, a small area in the Margaret River with wineries such as Vasse Felix and Cullens.

WA- WAVES Abound- we visited some bays - it was frightening just being on the shore, let alone in the water but what a surfing paradise to some.

For us however what really stood out on our trip there, and one which we hope, we will repeat, is

WA - WILDFLOWER Appreciation- we loved the unfurling of winter,  the colours, the delicacy of some, the sheer cheekiness of others, the unexpected. Spring is on its way- you will see what I mean.

Perth is the capital - a neat, gridded city with some old buildings which have been put to good use. The old Court house has been turned into a gallery and houses some of the older collections in the Gallery of WA. There is interesting and eye catching public art and a well defined cultural precinct.

The Supreme Court is near the Swan River and is surrounded by the beautiful Stirling gardens.

The City boasts the Bell Tower, with Bells from St Martin- in- the- Field, London, which were given to Australia to mark the Bicentenary. The tower was over ten years in the making and of course is influenced by western Australia's nautical and mining traditions.
The love locks found outside are symbols of couples locking their lives and loves together. If only it was that simple and effective. 
In the city I came across a mock tudor arcade constructed by a rich business man Claude de Bernales who wanted to recreate something of the past. 

A well known entertainer in the city is commemorated in brass and doing what he loved best, entertaining the citizens of Perth.

One of the city's more boring buildings comes alive at night and I stood and watched as it changed various hues - quite appealing to the eye.

The fabulous Kings Park is worthy of its own blog entry- perched on top of the city, a short distance away it is the perfect respite and haven for relaxing views over the city and strolls along its many paths.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

ARIA not quite hitting those high notes

ARIA, Matt Moran's restaurants have some fantastic venues. In Sydney at the corner of Macquarie St and overlooking the Opera House, in Brisbane by the river and over looking the Story Bridge which on Sunday night was lit up in a purple haze.Picture courtesy of a friend who lives just by the bridge. She probably has it in different colours for each day of the week.

These restaurants are close to the top if not the top of lists in Australia. I have been to two, the one in Sydney and the one in Brisbane and I have to say I am stopping here.Sydney was so uninspiring I actually complained and there as here I come away with a feeling of being underwhelmed by the experience but more importantly the food.The views are great !

I love degustation menus - the choices have all been made for you including the wine matches and you can sit back and enjoy what they kitchen has to offer. Well on Sunday night at Aria Brisbane out of the four courses the two I had to struggle to finish. Believe me I love my food and would not send anything back but there was nothing to excite me on those plates. The scorched king salmon was ok but came with a medlee of vegetables and puffed rice which really did nothing for me and while the pork was delicious and the wagyu beef brisket OK, the dessert,was a strange mixture of coconut ice cream which did not taste very nice and pineapple which just didn't go together at least not on this plate.  The wines were again perfectly pleasant, if a little on the small serving, but the sommelier just did not inspire, though the staff were pleasant enough. 

I guess it felt as if they were a bit tired at the end of the week - it was a Sunday evening after all - and so you might want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but at the prices they charge can they really afford to give their customers this tired look both from the kitchen and from the floor ?  I certainly could not afford another disappointment. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Kurunda Butterfly sanctuary.

There is a special place in Kurunda which is worth a visit in itself and that is the Butterfly Sanctuary.
A place dedicated to nurturing all kinds of butterflies and actually the biggest of its kind in Australia.
The information booklet suggests that this is home to over 1500 tropical butterflies that are hand reared there. The fantastically blue Ulysses Butterfly and the Cairns Birdwing are local beauties but there are so many other types. 

You can see the eggs laid on the particular plants the butterflies choose, where the pupae are formed and where they hatch out. You can watch the caterpillars and hear about what they eat, some of them are particularly fussy eaters, and details about their life cycle. You see their beauty and appreciate the precariousness and the fragility of the eco systems that try to sustain them. That is why this sanctuary's work is so important and needs to be supported.

They were flying around everywhere and alighting on t shirts and shorts and brightly coloured shoes they were attracted to. They were very hard to photograph and it is not an exaggeration to say they were as flighty as their reputation suggests.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Kurunda town and getting away

This town in the middle of the rainforest was known by the Djabugay people who lived there, as the "place of the platypus". The first settlers came in 1885 and the railway reached Kurunda in 1891.It became a health resort and was also a very in-place in the 1960s which encouraged a flourishing arts and craft trade to develop. Nowadays it is a lively little market town with some interesting stalls and shops, walks everywhere and the most beautiful butterfly sanctuary. More about that in the next blog. Let me introduce you to a ceramicist who I thought was exceptionally lovely, Mollie Bosworth who has a studio in Kurunda and exhibits her ceramics at one of the shops. Rather than show you countless shops with tat, I thought some pictures of these delicate and creative pots would do better. 
 A type of Ginger in flower
We spent happy hours with solutions or types of them and even discovered a delicious french creperie with savoury pancakes just like we used to have them in Signy Centre in Geneva. The time came for us to leave so we headed to the sky rail terminal, jumped on a cable car and enjoyed a panoramic ride over the rainforest canopy, stopping en route to explore walks and vegetation before finally alighting just outside Cairns. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Kurunda Scenic Railway - From Cairns to Kurunda

This outing transported me back to India and our adventures on the Shimla-Kalka railway in the foothills of the Himalayas. The Shimla Kalka railway was completed in 1903 and was built on a narrow gauge. It had 103 tunnels. Here the mountains are not so tall, the people not so plentiful, but the effort and the hardship that went into building this railway must have been about the same.
This one was constructed to deal with the mining needs that had grown up in the area.It was built by hand really - picks and shovels. The men, some of whom lost their lives working there, constructed 15 hand made tunnels, 55 bridges and 98 curves. Construction started in 1886 and it was opened in 1915.
Interestingly just as Shimla became a summer resort for the families wanting to escape the heat of the Indian plains, Kurunda, located in the rain forest, became the health resort of Northern Queensland where people would come up to enjoy the cool mountain air. Now it is very much a tourist place and an "alternative destination"  for some residents who have made it their home.
The carriages were made of silky oak wood and pressed metal. There is still an elegance about them.

Stoney Creek Falls - not far from the station and a small town which no longer exists.
Travelling on it we were assaulted by a barrage of Australian rules and regulations - dont lean out of the window, dont put your bags in the aisles, dont let children stand on seats, don't leave your buggies unattended and so it went ... we listened and smiled as did our lovely Aussie fellow travellers who said this was Health and Safety gone mad. We had such an enjoyable journey up, looking at the view, the rainforest and the falls and exchanging many stories with this couple from Victoria who were heading north to pick up their camper van, a favourite mode of transport in this vast country.
Robb's monument - an impressive rock formation which serves as a monument to the John Robb's engineering skills. 

The Barron Falls - this is the dry season so there was little water. 
My next blog will be out and about in Kurunda and a different way off the mountain plateau.