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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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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Alice Springs

The name evokes so much - there is romance in it, wilderness and adventure and a sense of the outback. It is literally in the centre of this vast continent and sits comfortably between the two sides of the MacDonnell Ranges. 

The town began its life as Stuart as a repeater station for the Overland Telegraph Line which ran from Adelaide to Darwin. Alice Springs was the name given to a waterhole by WWMills when he was exploring the area. Alice was the wife of Sir Charles Todd the Superintendent of Telegraphs. The Telegraph station was built next to the waterhole. In 1933 the town became Alice Springs. 

The Central Australian desert around Alice Springs was the home of the Arrernte Aboriginal people for thousands of years prior to the arrival of the first Europeans. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been occupied for perhaps 30,000 years. This makes Alice Springs one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited places.There are some lovely heritage buildings in the centre of the town, like the Residency, the first governor's house, the Hospital and the Flying Doctor service Tourist facility. For a birds' eye view we climbed up to Anzac Hill. 
Today Alice has a thriving aboriginal population and a lively arts scene. While we were there we were able to visit a few galleries but also the Araluen Cultural Precinct which houses some of Alice's significant art works and cultural artefacts. The Desert Mob exhibition which is on at the moment, is not to be missed. 

The Heritage Listed "Residency" where Queen Lizzie and Philip spent two nights while on a tour of the area. The house has period furniture and an interesting account of the history of the time. One of the more memorable characters was an Aboriginal man called Tjunkata Nosepeg Tjupurrula. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Not the Red Centre

We were expecting vast tracks of Red earth - and nothing much in between. But the weather in Northern Territory has been unlike any other winter they have had for a very long time. It has been raining, unusually for this time of year,  and as a consequence the red earth was interrupted with green, purple and blue, yellow and pink. So here are some  of the plants I came across as I walked and explored, bursting with life and kaleidoscopic colour. For the Aboriginals living here a lot of these plants have medicinal properties and offer food, material for weaving and sustenance for the birds and the wildlife.  For us, who know so much less then them, we can marvel at the honey drops hidden among the intense yellow flowers of the honey grevillia and laugh at the funny red flower, called the upside- down- flower because its flowers are on the ground.For the most part we can regard them as feasts to the eyes, accompanied by a feeling of contentment and joy.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Kata Tjuta

More rocks I hear you say so if you have had enough look away now - but if not, come and join me on what has probably been one of the most stunning walks we did. Kata Tjuta is a complex of ... yes you guessed it... rocks of gargantuan sizes not far from Uluru.The name in Aboriginal language means "many heads" and you can see why.  This is a bigger complex and overall higher than Uluru at 546 metres, but this is one case where size did not seem to get a bigger share of attention. They are lesser known but definitely worth visiting. They are shaped like domes, sacred sights, dumped into this vast expanse of quite green nothingness which is magnificent to the eye and which had George saying lets stay here all day just going up and down this wonderful track. There are two principal walks - one is called the Walpa Gorge and it is a shorter walk heading into a gorge between two enormous domes. The opening acts almost like a wind funnel and you have gale force and cold winds blowing while you walk. So this shorter walk was bracing to the say the least.
Walpa Gorge with the early morning light.
George literally a metre up on what is a huge rock slab.

Our favourite walk is the Valley of the Winds - The walk can be broken down into various sections but we did the whole circuit of some 7.4 kms. The scenery is spectacular, the wild flowers and fields are canvasses of colour on the landscape and the lookouts, areas of breathtaking beauty.

A budgie poking out of a ghost gum.
The view from the lookout.
Some of the wild flowers and the banks nearby

This is the Turtle which marks the highest peak in Kata Tjuta. Slow and lumbering it is there to remind us of the Aboriginal stories and to make sure we pay heed to the beauty around us. 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Rock Bottom

The bottom of the rock is where you need to be to appreciate that there is so much more to this sacred site. Go into the Kantju Gorge and hear the stories of creation and see the water snake who is neatly but very clearly defined nearby. Have a look at some of the rock carvings and enjoy the flowers, vegetation and tranquility of a base walk which will take you the 10.5 kms around the circumference. 

 The waterhole with the most stunning colours.
 The sky reflected in the rock pool -proud of this one !
The Path to the Gorge
 The water snake
The rock carvings

Enjoying the formations and sheer faces of the rock and finally at sunset some clouds overheard. Did you notice the cloudless skies ?

Tuesday, 20 September 2016


So is it possible to be moved by a giant rock ? Well lets say the starting point is finding the right rock. Travelling to Uluru there is a turn in the road where a megalith comes into view and suddenly the excitement in the car is palpable. "There it is, there it is - oh my god it is huge and pink and changing colours" - I shout with a heightened excitement. The boys were not so convinced and we immediately placed a bet on it, in the best of family traditions - a mere 1 million Euros this time. You will be most distressed to know I am a million poorer because in this game of "Spot the Rock" I got the rock wrong. This is Mount Connor which looks deceptively, well at least for the uninitiated, like the real thing. 

But I cannot keep you in suspense any longer and though you may have seen it thousands of times, this is my own tribute to the Red Centre, this megalith in the middle of Australia which takes over and dominates the scene but in the gentlest and the most sacred of ways. It is visible from our room in the superb and much acclaimed Longitude 131 and sitting on the deck just watching it change hues in the hours of day, is a pastime that I suspect many have partaken in. 

It began to form some 500 million years ago, when sand from a nearby range of mountains formed thick deposits. At that time it was believed there was a sea there and the sea compressed these deposits. When the sea disappeared and there was movement of two tectonic plates the sandstone tilted 90 degrees resulting in Uluru. The thing you might be amused to remember is that this is merely the tip- there is probably about 2.5 kms more of it underground. Its about 320 metres high and 10 kms in circumference and it is an important sacred sight for the local aboriginal tribe the Arranghe. They   were granted their land back in 1958 and then immediately leased it back to Parks Australia for 99 years who run it with the local tribe. 

There are many creation stories that accompany any walk around the base of the rock and even though the rock is still open to climbers there are notices in a prominent position asking people to refrain from doing so as it is a sacred place but also a dangerous ascent. While we were here, three young men climbed and went off the path, got stuck on the rock and had to be rescued, a costly and dangerous operation for all. The truth is with the rock still open to climbers is an ambiguous message when read in conjunction with the warnings against climbing. It should simply be shut for climbing and left to be, rather than to be conquered, by crazy tourists, unsuspecting youths who go up in thongs and T shirts and daredevils wanting to prove their worth. I say all this as we had an interesting discussion at dinner about the mixed messages on the climb. I was not in the least tempted for all the right reasons and the others, well lets just say, that while the temptation lingered, the weather, morality and impromptu rescue operations got in the way. The right way. 

Just in case any of you are concerned about my financial state on the earlier bet, I would like to quickly say we are Even Stevens. The suggestion was made that scorpions did not exist in Australia. I said they did - and of course they do together with a host of other friendly but deadly creatures. Sighted on the road to the rock an Eastern Brown. The weather is warming up, the snakes and flies are gradually emerging but not even they can dissuade all those flocking to see the majesty of ULURU - which means " that big rock over there." More on the rocks soon. 

Friday, 16 September 2016

A Brissie Baptism

You see the notices in the park - they make you smile because a little part of you is saying this is OZ being over cautious, over protective and just too controlling.

Today I was out on my bike -this time with another son, George, and we had a Brissie baptism. We both got attacked multiple times by a magpie who clearly did not like seeing us on her part of the bike path.

They are beautiful birds and their song is sweet in our valley but they protect their young, or so we are told. Maybe they too find lycra offensive and we were just taken for the real thing ! 

Park (ing)

One thing I admire about Brisbane and this might come as a surprise to people who have lived here all their lives, is that even after three and a half years of living here, the city still surprises me. How good is that - the latest is this wonderful initiative by Brisbane City Council.

Brisbane City Council is proud to support PARK(ing) Day 2016. PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where teams transform on-street car parking spots into temporary public parks and other spaces for people to enjoy.
Join us on Friday 16 September 2016 as together we transform parking spaces across Brisbane into engaging, creative and people-friendly spaces. Go along and enjoy them and then vote for the winner. 

Check out the website for details : Brisbane Park( ing)