Chillagoe Queensland

 

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we seek a new adventure in the West country 200km  from Cairns, some warm and dry and open bush. dry out our lungs and explore the limestone caves in the Chillagoe Mungana national park. 

 A retrospective post.

Remembering Chillagoe region, inland, tablelands, North Queensland; August 2013

castles of stone

caves, crevices, dust, marble bones

choking dust

bleak heat

dreamtime vista

turquoise mineral spring bathing sancturary

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there are long bumpy stretches of dirt road which we have to take at 10-20km an hour as we are heavily loaded with extra timber, 100lt water and 80 ltr of fuel, never mind the brain splitting rattling of our 4 tonne home… it’s torturous for me as driver on this hot hot day, and i rage internally {and a little externally} and finally retreat to the bed with sunglasses on as Jesse takes over the wheel. it is my least favorite endurance of this adventurous life. hot travel with no swimming respite in sight, cranky tired hot and bothered children… {be forewarned, i am going to bang on alot about how hot this trip was!}IMG_2422

gathering firewood roadside on the trip in. I am stunned by the dry midday heat, the starkness of sky and and bleached colors after weeks in the lush coastal regions. it is familiar from my childhood in WA and a little part of me also relishes the crackle of crisped leaves and bark underfoot and the open bush and ant trails. epic sky and thin shade kissed by eucalypt breeze

we fill the floor space with perfect dry hardwood for campfires, it’s awkward sweaty hauling but we focus on the enjoyment of fire gazing and cooking. Jesse finds some perfect straight Mulga for making rhythm sticks.

and then we are arriving into tiny Chillagoe township looking for the Eco Lodge as we hear it boasts a small observatory and resident astronomer {part of our attraction to come to this open sky country} a population of about 250. with fluctuating tourism nodded to by the 4 campgrounds. there is a more private camp ground on a property right on the creek near the airport, but the caretaker is ill.

we are simply  heat shocked and wondering what the hell we are doing here!

im ecstatic to here there’s a swimming hole near town.

turns out to be a lovely shady deep spring fed hole. phew. everyone is refreshed quickly and it all seems worthwhile and copeable. is that a word? the rocks are amazing!

IMG_2414 IMG_2413the swimming hole becomes our base for half of each day we spend in the area. i sit by the water and understand how the indigenous mob survived out here, in the shade by water is the only place to be in a lot of Australia on the hot days. if there’s water…

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we visit some caves and do some short walks. we skip the guided tours in to the deeper caves. {i’m quietly glad the children give me the excuse for this as it frightens me just a little} finding ourselves alone in some huge caverns, sitting on besmoothed stones and watching captured sunlight glittering the dust moats is surprising and awe-some. singing and didging and echoing in the tumbled caves, it’s good to be together in a cave. a new experience.

the rock formations and the self guided caves are striking enough to fulfill our rocky quest.

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i awake on the second day better adapted to the climate and find gradually heating with the rising sun easier than driving into the hot midday from the coast.

we monkey around at the old train station near the campground in the twilight. there are great mobs of wallabies. this was a rare campground stay. we usually find independant camping or stay on properties. we want to experience the astronomy session in the evening however, and it’s simply so appealing to have access to water. we claim the little patch of grass out the front of the Eco lodge. Cedar declares the sprinkler his truck wash.

the session at the observatory is inspirational and full of facts and numbers and anecdotes. i saw Saturn and it’s rings! and two of it’s twenty something moons! it really does look like those funny colour drawings from school books! it sparks many wonder-full conversations about life, other life, gallaxies, stars, moons, space travel, wonderment, constellations, feeling small, feeling big, feeling like a speck, how time and space move and are measured….

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Have you ever roasted a whole pumpkin in the coals?IMG_0009

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before you go to bed, make a nest in the coals and ashes and plop in a really great pumpkin; cover it with a good blanket of ash and coals and you’re all ready for bed; uncover your golden treasure in the morning! we used a Japanese variety here; the more ripe and good your pumpkin the better caramelized result you will have!

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Enjoy your roast pumpkin in many attitudes; here a savory delight but previously it’s been breakfast on pancakes with maple syrup and cream! decadence!

and here is a proof I’m not some super unrealistic lady who can’t do wrong. {just in case anyone wondered; as Jesse pointed out it’s easy to falsely represent myself here on an edited blog}  burnt food is one of my occasional talents! i am a bit dreamy{creative} at times and become absorbed in other activities, than watching the meal cook!! oops. still good. just cut off the charcoal…. I have been banned from using the toaster and cooking rice in a previous life…IMG_0024

Lily spent the first morning engaged in making a flower fairy palace from bark, sticks, marble chunks and flowers. unfortunately she built her house on the sand {the mat} and it had to go down with the packup tide. rebuilt in the bushes and a learning about how to choose a safe site to build…IMG_0022

our last night, we left the township of Chillagoe and visited a more secluded cave with relatively intact Indigenous paintings. The energy of this place was strong and beautiful. We spent the afternoon and gloaming in the cave watching the changing light and dreaming of life as a tribe in the caves, in this remarkable landscape.

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Discussing how and where and what and why was a rich experience. The children chose their rock beds and imagined where the fire was and how we would use the cave and how many people would share it and so on. I realised how little i know of the nomadic tribal culture in Australia, how disconnected i feel at times from the cultural history of this land I was born in. Sadness arising for what is lost now. the questions i’ll never know answers to.  noticing the discomfort i can experience when I am in company of people of culture because i don’t have many reference points. and ultimately I’m a white fella and there is a massive burden of racism and tragedy between us. at other times it just naturally is and I’m connecting with ease and humour. often the children break the ice and connecting through play is a gift.IMG_0090

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the open verandah effect of the cave creates an empowering view over vast land. a safe standpoint.IMG_0094 IMG_0109 IMG_0102 IMG_0113

i awoke to didgeridoo echoes across the land from the cave above at sunrise. when i return from my solo adventure to the cave i am met by singing and music. thankyou Jesse you bring melody to my life.IMG_0133

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there are many old marble quarries in the Chillagoe area. many massive blocks have been lifted out and left on the red dust like a giant’s play blocks. We stop at one of the quarries on the way back East. {some conspiracy about bleeding away private money…} we met an epic conspir-ollogist our here! wowzers.IMG_0156 IMG_0153 IMG_0175 IMG_0166

the bush is open with tall ironbarks and malga among the trees. their thin canopy offers little shade in the oven hot morning. with termite mounds being the bush furniture. the spindly crisp grasses remind me of country up near Katherine and Darwin.
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quirky old machine installations IMG_0181i certainly left with a puzzled feeling from Chillagoe, its been great to reflect on it from my midnight table here in Bellingen.

i hope you enjoyed the story and the photographs.

Roselinde

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Oatlands

On our travels up and down the Midland Highway

we pass through Oatlands

an historical village set about an hour North of Hobart

we are lured by fresh Organic Stoneground Woodfired Sourdough bread

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glimpses in the bakery

glimpses in the bakery

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mmmm that ticks all the bread boxes doesn’t it

and not to mention local grains milled in the recently restored mill!

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Lily and I dress in vintage clothing and go on a date to peruse the gardens, heritage buildings and main street

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beautiful dry stone walls abound in this area

beautiful dry stone walls abound in this area

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we play and pose for each other and giggle alot and smell roses and lavender hedges and accidently knock an unripe apple down

There is a free camping spot on the lake front {where you can glimpse Thylacine on the far bank}

and there are many birds and topiary hedges to prune…IMG_1015 IMG_1009 IMG_0021 IMG_0014 IMG_0016 IMG_0036 IMG_0029

 

or you can park up next to the playground which boasts a giant didgeridoo tree with

whimsical native animal carvings and you can pick wild tiny tart plums….

IMG_1013 IMG_1010we feast on giant cherries and smile alot

and are blessed with spectacular broad sky sunsets

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giant cherries grow round ere...

giant cherries grow round ere…

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where did she go?

Excuse me

Have you seen January?

I seem to have misplaced her

While i

Neglected the blog/boggle

Spent a lot of time in the moment

Travelled as far south as we could go

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Caught the sky from the bridge

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fished unsuccessfully

Fossicked for shellfish and feasted

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she sang

cockles and mussels alive alive oh…

Wondered about the history of the place

Now called Cockle Creek

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Abundance food and wildlife

Whispers of grand old trees

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And strong people watching

Wails of whales as they where massacred in the bay

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A sad sad history to learn about

From humorous informative rangers

Learnt about our magnificent giants of the sea

And how to rescue a beached one or many

{remember, call for help, keep warm,  don’t breath in their blowhole, pilot whales are the most commonly beached in Tasmania, put a stick in the ground infront of live ones, keep their tails to the sea until you are ready to release them all at the same time, shade them}

felt impressed that my girl has this appreciation for whales and dolphins, experience and knowledge for the rest of her life now

felt on the right path of life

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Took a classic portrait of men and bones

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had a whale of a time!

IMG_0326 three month old southern right whale lifesize sculpture!

Enjoyed the sea air and the shelter from it

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i Got cold but

Jesse finally took the plunge

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while Lily had a nature drawing sessionIMG_0341 IMG_0348

I lounged in triggerplant bliss

My head amongst a million pink helpers

the medicine of rejuvenation and restoration

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Met young old friends

And had a date up a giant tree

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Lily had a lock on

Then we

Grudgingly left

Coaxed on by a berry  good carrot

Drove north

While I processed a myriad of thoughts emotions and responses

And gave thanks for a time of respite

Amidst the chaos of full days

Mostly joyful

With berry/cherry stained lips

Noticed the tiredness.depression link

And went to bed

xxx

 

keep cool for after school {bircher muesli}

 

 

Bircher Muesli Recipe and story

when i was a small girl

we lived in the West Australian wheatbelt

summer days frequently kissing blue skies and 40~celcius

after school the seemingly endless burnt orange gravel drive

shimmered and baked me

chasing after bigger faster sisters on bicycles

anxious in the hot vast expanse of golden crisped paddocks

i don’t remember a single tree on that km stretch to the house paddock

was there shade along the way?

and then i was there

pushing through the small side gate

often teary often late

there was our sturdy brick home with deep shaded verandahs

and my calm mama waiting in the cool dim kitchen with

hugs cheerfulness and

bircher muesli

sweet tart chilled textured cooling surprising delicious

was it so tasty because it was made with genuine swiss hands

and the apple grated with an authentic swiss bircher grater {so i call it}

what secret ingredient did you infuse this refreshing meal with mama?

mine never meets the reputation of my memory

so here i am now

on a meltingly hot day

waiting for my little to come dancing into home again after a long week

and i make bircher muesli

and think of cool kitchens and dark, even cooler pantries

{where i used to sneak crunches of dried pasta or other goods and lat on the cold floor

or draw on the back of door chalkboard}

now i think of

mama love

growing up

sour apples and yoghurt

i am blessed to be using yoghurt from the cows milk provided by yonder dexters

which forms a coveted cream top

thankyou to C for making it

there is an abundance of Bircher Muesli recipes out there in the world

i wouldn’t say mine is traditional as my bircher grater is still in storage and i chopped the apple instead…

you know i’m kidding right?

so I won’t do more than list the ingredients i used this particular time

2 handfuls organic unstabilised rolled oats

2 oranges squeezed over oats fresh from orchard

2 cups natural yoghurt from neighbours cows

1 handful dessicated coconut

2 tablespoons unhulled tahini

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 small handful raisins

1 handful chopped almonds

1 tspn cinnamon powder

1 green apple from farmers market

1 green pear

1 banana from big market

1 handful blueberries

1 handful wild rasberries picked by a neighbour

mix and refridgerate

be inventive be flexible use what you have

the idea is softened oats yoghurt and fruit

i tend to soak the dry goods in the orange juice for a while before i add the yoghurt and fruit section

some people soak the oats overnight in the fruit juice til morn

for me that becomes a super digestible breakfast but kind of slimy and sticky, what do you think?

i forgot to add chia seeds, that might be nice

my mama used to put in stone fruits and grapes in later summer

and i hear tell she used some condensed milk to sweeten it…

is that true? did i forget any other special ingredient mamala?

how do you make this dish?

what would you add?

what was waiting for you when you got home on hot days?

what do you make for your kidlets now?

**peace be with you and your bellies**

Walking the Land

Exploring this beautiful diverse country

has me wondering again how it looked and was cared for pre-settlement

I carry this question in my heart

as I tread lightly and with curiosity

in places which move me deeply

who looked upon this place, lived and sustained life here before?

where did they shelter, gather, feed, fire, swim, tumble with children, hunt, die?

when was this place last nurtured?

as I move across the land or find stillness in a place

I aspire to bring to my children the awareness of connection

respectful inhabitance, mindfullness and enjoyment

my gift to a sacred place can be coming in quietness, wonder and presence

to take the hours to sit and observe and feel the place and the stories in the air and water and plants

To hear the music of a place when the creatures accept you are there pracefully

And to send some love back into the earth and invite peace to a place

we are often rewarded with glimpses of animals

who hide from cameras and large groups

have you glimpsed a place after all the other humans have left,

how does it feel

without the distraction of other people?

As Cedar walked me around the park

I overheard snatches of a conversation

I share this with all due respect to someone who’s permission I could not seek

An Aboriginal Elder explaining how his ancestors used this area (Byron Bay coast)

“this area was the women’s area for raising kids and that.

Great seafood and rainforest food. You know the tea tree lakes to the south, well

thats where the women would go and sit and bathe in them. Tea tree is antiseptic

and perfect for women having babies and that.

The men would be up here in this northern area of the bay and they’d come here to bring the women

fresh meat and that.

I hope I have related that correctly. I don’t even know his name sorry.

William Ricketts Sanctuary Victoria

Its the reminder that all these places we inhabit have an ancient history that I want to focus on in my life on this journey

William Ricketts Sanctuary Victoria

Do you know the cultural story of your land or home area?

Being inspired by this song by dear friend Murray Kyle