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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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Wednesday, 5 October 2022

The Green Lizards of Birdsville and the Simpson Desert

Birdsville's population expands massively during the Horse Races and the Big Red Bash - The Hotel was established in 1884 and is still going very strong despite fires and calamities. Customs like this one give it a special resilience.

There is hot water just coming out of the earth - it has to be cooled to be put into residents' water pipes!

Birdsville is the venue for the Big Red Bash in July, a massive music festival under the sky. We had a tour of the city and saw brolgas dancing before climbing bits of the Big Red Sand Dune which stands at 40m. Here is Charlie running to make it back to the bus in time. 

Our pilot Tyler took us over the Simpson desert and explained to us the parallel dunes which are formed so because of the direction of the prevailing winds. It has 1100 longitudinal dunes. Miles and miles of them. It takes approximately 4 days to drive across the desert and if anyone is interested in the experience press on this link https://www.traveller.com.au/dune-busters-crossing-the-simpson-desert-go0wjx. It is a pretty remote and arid place but there are surprises over each dune, views to die for, critters and night time skies to lose yourself in. 

Our destination for the night was William Creek - one of the worlds remotest pubs. We met the owner Trevor Wright, an intrepid businessman, a caring Aussie with a great sense of humour. The population of William Creek is officially 12 - that's what the board says. The galahs in the tree were so loud. 

Tomorrow we explore the Cattle Stations of the area and some of the personalities. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Tom Kruse and Flying over the lakes

Marree is home to Tom Kruise - yah nah,  not the one most of you know, but an extraordinary Aussie who was the mailman and delivery driver for this remote region for many years. For most people living in this area of Australia contact with the outside world was hard and sporadic. Tom Kruse was their connection to the outside world. From 1936 to 1957 he drove his Leyland Badger truck from Marree to Birdsville in far western Queensland some 523 kms away. Each trip took two weeks and Tom had to deal with breakdowns, floods and getting bogged down in the desert dunes. In our hotel there was a Tom Kruse Room full of photos and memorabilia. His life was made into a documentary in 1954 "The Back of Beyond" by John Heyer. There is a book called The Mailman of the Birdsville Track by Kristin Weidenbach. 

And before we knew it we were heading to Birdsville ourselves, only this time in a small airplane. The distances are so large that it took us a good two and a half hours to fly from Marree to Birdsville. It seemed odd to be reentering Queensland again but only just on that western tip. The lake is a mere 9,500 kms square !!
Map by Kmusser. 

We were flying over Lake Eyre South Kati Thanda and Lake Eyre North. This is a massive inland lake and is below sea level and on the rare occasions it fills with water it is the largest lake in Australia. When we flew over the South lake it was largely salt pans and there under us was Marree Man. Apparently he is visible from space - but who put him there is still a mystery...

 The north lake is filled by river systems in the wet season filtering through to the lake. The rivers are the Diamantina, the Warburton and the Neal rivers. Every few years the rivers pump enough water into the lake for it to flood. This is the third year of la Nina so we knew there would be water in the lake. 

Flying further north we could make out the river courses and the green vegetation by the banks, flocks of birds and the amazing formations of the waterways that criss cross this massive basin. 
Just to show you how small we are - 

The areas around the lake were unusually green from the recent rain.

We arrived in Birdsville on the western tip of Queensland, famous for its races and festivals. 

Perhaps the most surprising place was this - unbelievably they manage to hold regattas every few years.
Tomorrow more on Birdsville and the Simpson desert. 

Monday, 3 October 2022

Quorn to Marree with lots of stops in between.

Our travels today took us to the capital of the the Flinders area, a small and pretty town called Quorn, the backdrop to a fair few films including the Water Diviner directed by Russell Crowe. 

Along the way a stop in Kanyaka Station a vibrant settlement that was later abandoned during the prolonged drought of the 1860s. The red river gums were extraordinarily beautiful.  

The town of Hawker housed the Gallery of Jeff Morgan, artist, creator of dioramas and collector extraordinaire. From fossils, crystal formations and rocks, to model cars and old radios, he has them all. Fascinating time wandering around and taking it all in.

One of his many dioramas of the Flinders area.
Lunch was in the lovely Prairie Hotel in Paranchila. A very Aussie grazing platter with emu pate, Kangaroo fillet and salami while getting to know our fellow travellers. 

Along the way undulating hills, saltbush and flowering wattle - we arrived in Marree in the late afternoon.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

South Australia for the Week

We landed in Adelaide, the city with the most churches and free settlers, and soon we were on our way north heading to our destination for the day Port Augusta. The flat arable land is all cultivated, wheat, barley, oats, wild rape borders these massive fields, interrupted by spreads of purple flowers. It's so rich and fertile. It is also the only place in Australia which has such an abundance of wind farms and solar farms and where over 30% of their energy is provided by renewables. This is so good to witness. 

We see Two wells - a small town named so because there were separate wells for white people and aboriginals. Anyone want a scorpion ? See the sign for the pet shop across the road.

We headed on to Crystal Creek and find a cute little heritage Museum and an old sign for good Pickles. 

Along the way the scenery changes. We are moving from arable land to pastures with lots of sheep and cows, piggeries, chicken farms and wind farms. 

Coming into Port Augusta we explore the lovely Botanical Garden for Arid plants. Many plants surviving in poor soil, sometimes sand and little water. They are incredibly beautiful and unusual. I am drawn to the many eucalypts and the gum nuts.

Port Augusta was once a central meeting place for different Aboriginal groups to trade goods and knowledge. More recently it has become a vital train link. You can take the Pichi Richi steam train through the Flinders ranges. We watched the Ghan moving along the track - all 35 of its carriages chugging along. 

Port Augusta is also home to the Flying Doctors since 1928 servicing the needs of many people living in regional Australia.   

Our home for the night is Standpipe an old motel which is where cameleers would stay many years ago as they moved their herds across the country. Now it is run but a great Punjabi family serving tasty curries to Aussie travellers.