Travel Theme: Slow

In a season noted for frenetic activity, socialising and end of year parties, it’s nice to take a week out and slow right down. Koalas have the right idea. In order to conserve energy, they sleep for 20 hours a day. The rest of the time they eat.

This Koala woke up for a few minutes.
This Koala woke up for a few minutes.

Koalas can be seen in the wild on Raymond Island, near Paynesville, Victoria. This is an idyllic spot for humans to slow down too, especially in the early weeks of December before the busy holiday makers arrive.

Thanks Ailsa for another engaging travel theme, Slow

The Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne

A trip to the Queen Victoria Market is a one way ticket to Il Paradiso or  L’ Inferno. I arrive and never want to leave these acres devoted to food heaven and hell. Known locally as the Vic Market, it is a major landmark in central Melbourne, a top tourist destination, and a national treasure.  At around seven hectares (17 acres), it is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe space is divided into different halls and sheds. The fish area houses ten or so different specialist fishmongers offering the freshest catch in Melbourne. This section has diminished over the years but the quality has improved. With quick turnover and now correct labelling with regard to source, it is worth a tram ride to shop here on a weekly basis.


But it is so hard to choose. Will I have those baby snapper, the freshly shucked oysters from Coffin Bay, or the lovely scallops still in the shell? Hmm, fresh baby calamari. All too tempting.


The Vic Market Deli comes next, which is housed in a hall of Victorian glass fronted shops and tiled floors. You may go there with a list, but I guarantee you won’t stick to it. My levels of greed and gluttony soar to unholy levels.

Thomas Aquinas, 13th century Italian philosopher puts it this way:

 ‘gluttony could include an obsessive anticipation of meals, and  the constant eating of delicacies and excessively costly foods.’

This sin includes,

  • Praepropere – eating too soon
  • Laute – eating too expensively
  • Nimis – eating too much
  • Ardenter – eating too eagerly
  • Studiose – eating too daintily
  • Forente – eating wildly

This Deli Hall is a wicked place indeed but at least I can’t be accused of eating too daintily so there’s hope for me yet.


I came here especially to buy a large jar of Mt Zero Olives  from the Grampians region of Victoria as  these mixed olives last forever in the fridge. A little scoop here and another one there provides a lovely drink snack. No need to marinate them or tart them up with herbs and garlic. They speak for themsleves. The young vendor is keen to be in my picture too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheese was not on my list, and yet I was tempted, severely. I was lucky enough to stop after purchasing three small delicious wedges. This is the place to find Christmas treats. Oh yes, I might be accused or eating too expensively, Sir Thomas.  Just to tuck away, in anticipation of guests.


And then there’s the row of takeaway instant treats. The Bratwurst shop is famous and has been there for at least 40 years, but my favourite is the Borek shop. Still, I find it hard to choose: I want it all. Perhaps I have I eaten too soon, Mr Aquinas?


After the deli, the acres devoted to fresh fruit and vegetables beckon. My mind races as I obsessively anticipate the meals that could be made.  I stand accused of the sin of gluttony every time I enter the delectable land of The QueenVic Market.


Achievement: A Sunday Reflection

Who built this little castle of driftwood on the sands of the 90 Mile Beach, silvering limbs sought of equal length, to create an airy teepee? A thing of beauty, an achievement, an installation made by man or sea? Moulded and shaped by a king tide on full moon? Today it is here, tomorrow gone. Achievements, like possessions, are transient.1-IMG_4215-001

Take Me to the River

Sitting on the banks of the ancient Murray River, the day is hot and still: I pass the afternoon with a glass of vodka and Passiona on ice, sunning my legs, followed by a dip in the water,  while chatting with my daughter/best friend. Oh Happy Day.


I’m on a mission to explore the many beaches and banks of the Murray River, camping off the grid where possible.  As the river is 2,508 kilometres in length and runs through three states of Australia, this could be mission impossible.  Earlier Murray river posts can be viewed here and here.

Isolated beach on the Murray River
Isolated beach on the Murray River

This time, we set up camp on a sandy bank between Cobram and Yarrawonga in Victoria, one day after a holiday weekend. We had this glorious beach to ourselves, bar two canoeists heading down stream, and one tourist passenger boat. I’m glad I wasn’t perched on the throne of my river view toilet/shower on that occasion.


Thanks to Kyle, who should be cloned and packed away in everyone’s tool box, we had hot water on demand, many other unusual and handy camping gadgets, as well as ready help with anything to fix or adjust. His gadgets included a vacuum cleaner, a high pressure hose, an electric fan, radios, mobile phones, tablets and iPads, shower pumps and portable fridges, to name just a few. Solar panels supplied power to the 12 volt battery systems that had already been charged by our vehicles in the trip to the river. An inverter took care of converting 12 volt power from the batteries to 240 volts for those appliances that required mains power.

Our hot water service was fired up each morning and evening. Cold river water is poured into a funnel inserted in the top of the keg which is then heated on the campfire. A short time later, boiling hot water comes from the outlet, providing enough for showers and dishwashing.

Kyle's reprurposed stainless stell keg hot water service.
Kyle’s repurposed stainless steel beer keg hot water service.

Camping trips require good but simple food. Sometimes we cooked on gas or used Kyle’s Dutch ovens, partly buried in a shallow layer of hot coals with more hot coal on the lids enabling roasting, casseroling and baking.  Lunchtime catering on hot days consisted of sandwiches and salads: the kids picked out the bits they liked. The pescatarians ate stuffed peppers with leftover Pesto Mac ( a variation of Mac and Cheese for pesto lovers) as well as curries and salmon burgers.


The family took the week off, cashing in on Melbourne Cup Day Holiday to take time out in a great month of the year. What did the kids learn? The oldest (10)  learnt about solar energy and sustainability and the basic law of physics, via the water heater service. He observed our camping solar panels in action and asked the pertinent question, “If this is the sunniest spot in Victoria, why aren’t there more solar panels around? This area could produce enough power for the state of Victoria!”  Good question Noah.  A child can see the common sense in solar energy after a camping trip like this.

Are our political leaders slow learners, are their heads buried in the sand or inserted into another orifice of the dirty brown coal industry providers?  At 10 years old, kids ask questions, at 18 they vote. At 50 what will their world be like without a radical change to address climate change?


The younger ones learnt to use the currents of the river to move downstream (with safety jackets on). They watched the full moon rise each evening. The girls found some instant $1.00 fashion in the op shops of a nearby town. The children had no need for shoes, they were always hungry, and they played and looked after each other. The cards came out, Ollie found a handmade sling shot, Lottie found an off cut of redgum wood which became an oiled cheese board. They skip jumped rocks on the river and dug vast holes in the sand and joined in night-time campfire conversations about dreams.

We wound up with a moonlight ballet concert on the beach, spot lit by one of Kyle’s camping toys, with Daisy doing a great dying swan act on the banks of the river. 


How nice it would be to take a tinny or kayak down the river from Yarrawonga to Cobram.

Song plants to go with this post, because camping is also about singing:

  • Take Me to the River, Al Green, nicely covered  by Talking Heads.
  • I See the Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky -you know the one!
  • Oh Happy Day,  18th century gospel song first popularised by Edwin Hawkins Singers in 1969.
  • Love is a Battlefield, Pat Benatar, a good tune to dance to in the wilds.


Travel Theme: Edge

2012 417Behold the edge! A trip down the Great Ocean Road is a rewarding experience with glorious views of the edge of Victoria, Australia, all the way from Lorne to Port Campbell. It is a roller coaster ride and the best road trip to do if you are visiting this state.

2012 392

The edge of Victoria looks gnawed by the sea at the 12 Apostles, near Port Campbell. These stacks, arches, caves and stumps look dramatic at any time of the year and slowly change over time. One day an arch, the next day two stumps.  2012 397Visit Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Edge this week at Where’s My Backpack.

Travel Theme: Metal

When Ailsa from Where’s My Backpack nominated this week’s theme, I thought my digital shoe box would not suggest much in the way of Metal. I was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of metallic gems from around the globe.

I have chosen a few snaps from one of my favourite seaside towns, Apollo Bay. Situated on the West Coast of Victoria, Australia, at the end of the Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay is a relaxing place with a village atmosphere, a lovely old wharf and jetty and a small fishing fleet.Image

Above: Rusty metal cray pots line the old wooden jetty.


Above: Modern beach houses built in corrugated iron, a much favoured building material in Australia.