Hello welcome to my Blog

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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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Do you know what a puggle is ?

Australia has some creatures which are unlike ones we have encountered - one such is the Echidna, also known as the spiny ant eater or to give it its proper name tachyglossus aculeatus - its lucky I speak Greek - this means a spiny quick tongue which is an accurate desctription of it. It looks like a hedgehog but in fact this strange little creature is a monotreme, a mammal that lays eggs. 

They are mainly nocturnal so since we moved here we have been hoping to see one on all our trips but failed to spot them until Carnarvon where we saw them on several occasions, digging for termites on a fallen log in the dark, and digging for ants around some plants in the day time. They use their long pointy snout to catch the ants and the termites which are definitely their favourite food. 

They have a lower body temperature then mammals and they have legs which bend outwards and forwards which gives them a kind of waddle when they walk. If attacked they roll into a ball or they try and hide, until the danger is over. They do hibernate so seeing them is lucky. 

After what seems a fairly long and elaborate mating the female lays one egg in its pouch and it hatches into a blind, soft, hairless little echidna called a puggle. It stays in its mums pouch sucking on  the milk patches until it develops its spikes and then it is booted out but will continue taking milk for up to six months. Spot the echidna ...

So there you have it - now you know what a puggle is. 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Dipping in and out of the Carnarvon Rooms

Think of a long corridor and rooms leading off from the centre and you will have a good idea what Carnarvon Gorge is like. Every room - every separate part was a revelation in itself with history, art work, fauna and flora and above all the weathering of years. I spoke about the original and extremely old stencil art of the Aboriginal tribes and so today I will tell you a little about the other "rooms" we went into and admired. 

The serenity of the Rock pools, with Pretty Kangaroos grazing. They are actually called pretty. You can see why. The wonderful yellow bellied and Greater gliders launching themselves from tree to tree with their winged spans, gliding effortlessly and for long distances in the forest canopy. We were lucky to go out on a night safari and actually see them gliding. No pictures of them I fear, they are too quick for my camera lens. 

The magnificence of the sandstone cliffs. The way they have been sculpted and scratched, beaten and windswept and yet they stand tall, very tall towering over us walkers. 

The coolness of Boowinda Gorge where the water has shaped the rocks the way it flowed and the light peeks in from above. 

The lushness of the Moss gardens and the algae in the water turning streams blood red in Ward's Canyon home to the biggest ferns.

Everything about this Gorge shouts history and time, nature and colour. Our role as guardians of it all is to admire and walk gently among its fallen leaves. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Carnarvon Gorge

The Gorge - which I showed you from above on Boolimba Bluff,  is what we explored on foot. Thomas Mitchell named it Carnarvon after his welsh homeland. The Gorge is a collection of sandstone cliffs which narrow as you walk into it, which have been shaped by wind and water over the years.The small creek now runs at the base of it.  The sandstone cliffs are extremely porous and absorb a lot of water and over them is a basalt ( volcanic ) layer of rock which is more stable.The average rainfall is higher here which may account for the rich and varied vegetation. 

Occupation of the Gorge is estimated to go back as far as 19,500 years. The Bidjara and the Karingbal tribes are the main tribes in the area and their ancestors were probably responsible for some of the amazing aboriginal rock paintings. 

The Gorge is some 10 kms in length - at least the part which is now accessible. We walked all the way to the end where C in his effervescent state dived into a rock pool to cool off. The joy was short-lived as this gorge inhabitant swam right past me and headed straight for him. I called out and he jumped out in time. Checking with the park warden this is a keel back snake one of the few freshwater snakes in the area.

There are many walks in the Gorge - it is a long path with galleries on either side that we explored, starting from the unique aboriginal art in the Art Gallery and the Cathedral. We saw examples of stencil art that are probably the most sophisticated in the world. They are applied to the wall by blowing an ochre pigment mixed with water from the mouth. We also saw lots of engravings, a whole wall dedicated to the female vulva. Forms that can be recognised are hands and boomerangs, kangaroos and emus as well as funeral rites and customs. 

In my next bog more about the fauna and flora of the Gorge. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Roof of Queensland

Following on from the Sapphire Gemfields we headed south towards Carnarvon Gorge in the heart of central Queensland. The surrounding area was flat and dry - there has been a drought in this area for several years now and the fields which would at other times have sunflowers and sorghum wheat looked dusty and barren except for the flocks of emus and cranes feeding on the seeds in the fields.

It was still very interesting to see on the one hand the migratory birds and on the other hand the flightless birds. 
We climbed up to Boolimba Bluff which is some 200 metres above the Gorge. It is walk worth doing for the wonderful views it gives you over the Gorge. You can see the Gorge's open mouth to start with and then the way it narrows. You can see the winding path that goes down the middle of it. On either side some impressive sandstone cliffs, interesting side gorges and of course some amazing Aboriginal stencil art. More about all of this in my next blog. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Emerald and Sapphire Country

Did you know there are three towns in central Queensland called Emerald, Rubyvale  and Sapphire ?

No prizes for correctly identifying why they might carry these names - Yes they are all part of a small but incredibly precious area in Central Queensland - with the emphasis on precious - which are awash with sapphires called the Sapphires Gemfields.

They were found way back in the 1870s when mines were dug with picks and shovels. The mines were dug and shafted and the  dirt brought up and then washed to reveal the precious stones.The mines got another lease of life in the 1960s when mechanised mining came into use and Australia supplied a lot of the worlds sapphires at the time but the business was severely affected by the influx of cheaper stones from Asia and now the mines offer interesting tourist experiences but also keep mining with limited returns.

We loved our adventure of exploring a living mine with Ruby!
She took us down the mine that she and her husband have been mining for a number of years. They have a good historical display in their shop as well as some lovely sapphires, uncut and polished. Sapphires here come in all colours which was an interesting fact - anything from yellow to green to blue and the most precious of all was one called Autumn Glory which was orange.

In 2000 a tourist found an impressive sapphire weighing 200 carats and named it the Millennium Sapphire - She said it was just lying there and she picked it up !

We had the chance to go fossicking ourselves - looking for precious stones in buckets of wash that come out of the mines and it was a great experience. Out in the warmth and brightness of the sun, sieving your bucket of wash and then carefully picking through them to see if you too have found some precious stones - we did find some,  though ours were not as big as the Millennium Sapphire but our joy at learning to spot them and set them aside were probably even greater then hers.

And the bounty that resulted - 24.8 carats of mainly blue but some zircons and an orange one. Off to my jewellers without delay.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Russell Falls and the astounding Wall

Russell Falls in Mount Field National Park was truly impressive - not surprising perhaps after all the  snow that Tasmania has had this winter. We enjoyed walking around it from below and further up the mountain and taking in the profusion of tree ferns and river gullies but also the tall, tall trees, which were hundreds of years old. 

In the usual Aussie style which always amuses me we were out in a national park and we come across this sign. BEWARE OF TRAFFIC WHEN CROSSING ROAD. The road ahead is in the Park and used infrequently but we stopped and looked both ways before we crossed with a great big smile on our faces. Better safe then sorry and we have Australia to thank for that !

The astounding wall is the one we came across in Hobart's impressive Botanical Gardens,  which we were established as early as 1818. It is full of local plants, Japanese gardens, and interesting statues, historical information about the gardens and great views. The Historic Arthur wall constructed in 1830 was a heated wall designed to protect plants from frost with internal channels in the brickwork which were heated by a coal fire. In fact in the end it was infrequently used as apparently Van Diemen's land while cool was not as harsh as English winters so the fruit trees flourished unaided by this centrally heated wall constructed as early as the 1830's. 

The lovely bronze statue of a worker in the gardens and on the side his jacket( in bronze ) folded over a shovel stuck in the earth. Thought that was beautiful especially as the bronze took in the softness of the folds of cloth.

 The trees were in bloom and the Arch below is the Anniversary Arch built to commemorate 170 years.