The Bar Soma Experience

From inside Bar Soma, it is easy to forget that Hervey Bay’s Esplanade is just outside. The lighting, the bar chairs, the welcoming staff and the elegance, make it a place you will want to settle into for a while. The many bottles on the wall behind the bar, will grab at your gaze. A good portion of them are as unfamiliar as some of the ingredients on the cocktail and food menus but if you are going to have a great Bar Soma experience, you need to trust the guys there. They really do know what they are doing and they are more than happy to explain their menu.

Owners of Bar Soma, in front of their amazing bar.

If you are a foodie, you really should treat yourself to an afternoon at Bar Soma. What they are creating is something you won’t find elsewhere in our beautiful town. They are taking leaves from the books of classy big city bars and bringing that quality right to our doorstep in The Bay. They are then putting their Soma spin on it, to create a unique type of foodie heaven that has been missing from here until now.

For my husband Ben and I, places like this are the ones we really appreciate. Places that know what they are good at and they do it so well. Between Ben and Timo, the bartender, they share an interest in Irish whiskies and scotches, which helped Ben to pick some glasses of amber bliss from the wall that he thoroughly enjoyed. For me, in this place, I really can’t go past their cocktail menu. The flavours and textures they put together make for very special beverages, there is something for every palate.

If nothing on the cocktail menu or on their wall grabs you immediately, this is the sort if venue where you can talk to your bartender, simply tell them what you like. What you will get is a beverage that is tailored to your tastebuds, with an emphasis on your favourite flavours. Let me assure you that hitting nails on heads, when it comes to flavour, is what they do best. This doesn’t only apply to the drinks. Their food, which is a tapas style bar menu, is absolutely stunning. The breads melt in your mouth, the finger foods are perfectly done and paired with great house-made sauces, the meats are just so tender. Everything inside Bar Soma is done with a certain amount of finesse and care, which is making it one of our favorite places to be at. Soma is always adding and taking from their menus. They are always in search of other bottles to add to their wall, keeping each visit as exciting at the last.

We really would like to thank the guys at Bar Soma for making an experience like this an option for Hervey Bay residents and travellers alike. It is refreshing and it makes you feel alive.

Easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Soup

The nights are cooling down and you know what that means… It’s time to dust off your slow cookers and indulge in some comfort food.

Nothing says comfort food like a bowl of pumpkin soup does. This recipe is easy, tweakable and is one of my personal chilly night favourites. Not to mention, it’s a great way to consume some veggies.

One of the best things about cooking, especially with recipes like this, is that you can tailor it to the way you like it. I know we’re not all a fan of spice, this soup is great with or without a bit of curry. Like it thicker, use less water. Like it sweet, go the sweet potato option over the white potato. Lactose free… use lactose free cream, instead of the Phili or leave the dairy out all together (I would tone down the curry if you’re going to do this). It’s completely up to you, listen to your tastebuds and oblige.

Smooth, creamy, satisfying. Add some spice… if you like it that way. Make this soup your own, with this easy slow cooker pumpkin soup recipe.


Half of a butternut pumpkin – deseeded, skinned and cut into roast-able chunks

2 carrots – peeled and cut into 3 or 4 rough pieces

2 white potatoes (substitute with a sweet potato if you like) – peeled and quartered

3 or 4 spring onions – roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic – crush it a little with the blade of your knife so it can release flavour but there’s really no need to chop it for this

2 heaped teaspoons of chicken stock power

1 to 2 tablespoons of Philadelphia Cream for Cooking, I like to keep this as healthy as possible so I like the ‘light’ version

Fresh Rosemary leaves – small bunch

OPTIONAL: If you like a little spice in your life, 1 or 2 teaspoons of curry powder works like a treat here.


Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Toss pumpkin pieces in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Spread out on a baking tray and put in the oven for around an hour, until it gets a bit brown and caramelized on the edges. This creates your classic, sweet pumpkin flavour.

Meanwhile, turn your slow cooker on high. Add carrots, potatoes, spring onion, the chicken stock power, garlic and the curry powder (if using). Then add 2 about cups of water (enough to just cover the veggies). Let this cook away, it will turn into a tasty vegetable stock.

Once you’re happy enough that your pumpkin is roasted, add this to your slow cooker and add the rosemary. No stems with this one, just the leaves, we don’t want woody bits in our finished product.

Leave your slow cooker on high for 3 hours or until all vegetables in the pot are soft.

Stick blenders at the ready! Simply turn it on and blend all of the ingredients until the soup is smooth. Add your Phili Cream for Cooking and blend again for a moment.

At this point, taste, to check the seasoning. Be careful, soup will be hot, hot, hot! Depending on your stock powder, you may need to add little salt. If you didn’t add the curry, then a little pepper is also nice.


Serve with crusty bread OR these little beauties…

Quick and Easy Side Dish: Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups

Feel free to add a nice dollop of sour cream, normal cream, or some grated cheese, the sour cream is particularly nice with the curry version.

Empty bowls is all you’ll have left over.

Friday Short Fiction: Where She Belongs

This here is a little taste tester for everyone. It’s a short fiction piece I wrote a little while ago now. I hope it brightens your Friday and takes you to another place for a few moments today.

This was the world he belonged in. Black t-shirts, devil horns made with hundreds of fingers in the crowd, and amplifiers loud enough to make the wooden stage under his feet vibrate. Dark-clothed, tattooed skinheads and people with long dreadlocks looking up at him. He smiled and raised an arm, giving the crowd a reason to applaud. They hadn’t seen what his band was capable of yet but he was a frontman, getting the crowd going was in his job description. First Prize – Ten Thousand Dollars, he read the banner, black with big gold letters, on the back wall of the room… it wasn’t much if you were Slip Knot but to them, it would be a big step towards getting their first album recorded.

His dark eyes fell on the crowd and then stopped on a little girl. The apple of his eye. His little sister, they’d been kept apart here and there, between foster homes and him couch surfing at his mate’s houses but he’d always made sure she was alright. She was fortunate enough to have found Doug, her foster father, who also happened to be a metal-head. She sat high up on his shoulders waving madly at her big brother. He blew her a kiss. He had no doubts, that one day, she’d be doing this too. His lips upturned as he thought of her latest YouTube video. She’d dedicated it to him and perfectly imitated a song he’d written only a month before. She was eight and already more talented than he was. He imagined scooping her up after the show and hugging her, hopefully celebrating a win.

He took a deep breath, positioned his legs in a lunge, ready to fling himself into their first song. He glanced behind him, to make sure his band was set. His attention was caught by his guitarist. The colour had drained from his face, his eyes were wide and his fingers were pressed hard into his black denim covered thighs. The guitar hung by its strap around his neck. He walked toward him but could not jag his attention.

“Jimmy!” He shook him by the shoulders.

“I can’t do it, man.” He heard a shake in his voice.

“What?” He put his nose close to Jimmy’s, they’d awaited this day for more than a year. How could he wig out like this now?

“I can’t… I’ve forgotten the whole set.”

“We practiced this a hundred times… it’s just nerves, man. Snap out of it.”

“I think I’m gonna be sick.” He dropped his guitar, making the amp scream and the crowd cringe. He rushed off stage, disappearing from sight.

The crowd mumbled into confusion. He eyed the base player and then the drummer. They both looked toward the exit. He knew it as well as they did; they couldn’t do their set without a guitarist and there were other bands waiting to be given their turn to play. He shook his head at them, silently begging them not to leave him there. They had to play. They needed that money.

“It’s alright all,” he smiled wryly into the microphone. “Our man, Jimmy is feeling a little under the weather. Luckily, I have a back-up plan.” He eyed the drummer and then the bass player, who frowned and shrugged his shoulders. “I’d like to invite my little sister, Evie, up here. She knows our songs and I’m sure she won’t mind filling in for him.”

He watched his little sister get closer, as Doug weaved her through the crowd, still on his shoulders. He noticed Doug’s big fingers, carefully wrap her thin legs so she wouldn’t get knocked off while he squeezed past bodies. He was thankful that Doug had space in his heart for an adopted daughter, it was only luck that he loved decent music too. He bent down and reached for her outstretched arms, as Doug lifted her as high as he could. He cradled her, then set her down on the stage. He knelt down and looked her in the eyes. They were bright and her cheeks were rosy, a complete contrast to the black, oversized, Led Zeppelin t-shirt Doug had encouraged her to wear tonight.

“You think you can do this for me?” He whispered. She nodded keenly.

She walked over and slung Jimmy’s guitar on, he could not help but grin at how tiny it made her look. She widened her stance, put her fingers on the strings then raised her other arm, like her brother had moments ago, making the crowd cheer even louder than he had managed. Any other child would have shied away from the noise but not this one, not his sister. He watched her face, he could tell she was listening for the drums. She belted out the first chord, with perfect timing and started headbanging along with her band. He’d always been proud of her but in that moment, she seemed magical, not of this Earth, the one thing in his life that had no flaws. It was clear to him now that this wasn’t only where he belonged, she belonged here with him, right by his side.

Fish Dish: Fish and Potato Cakes

I’m back with another bangin’ recipe for you guys! Most of our family and friends have had this one at our house and I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked for the recipe.

Fish & Potatoes are the main ingredients in this delightful meal

This recipe came from always looking for ways to use the fish my hubby was bringing home from his fishing trips. It’s turned into a regular favourite of ours.

They are great and I’ve found that most kids, even some fussy ones, have been happy to eat them. The soft potato, the flakey fish and the crunchy panko crumbs on the outside, give them a great texture combo.

Yes, fish can be a little pricey to buy these days but the good news is that you don’t need expensive fillets for this recipe. Your cheaper white fish fillets will work just fine. I’ve used mackerel, perch, cobia, flathead and other smaller reef fish. You can also use fish that has been frozen, it makes no difference to this dish.


750g Potatoes – peeled and quartered

750g Fish fillets – no skin or bones here guys, just the fillets

3 spring onions – chopped, white part and the green

Zest of 1 lemon – keep the lemon itself aside and cut it into wedges for serving

1 tablespoon butter

Parsley – fresh, chopped, you could also use chives or another favourite herb

1 to 2 Garlic cloves, crushed – optional, sometimes I put it in, sometimes I don’t

1 egg – very lightly beaten with a fork

Panko bread crumbs for coating

Method for this fishy madness:

Place the potatoes in a large pot with water and a good dash of salt. Turn on the heat and wait for them to boil away and get soft.

Add the fish fillets directly to the same pot your potatoes are in. The fillets will only take a couple of minutes to cook through in the hot water.

DRAIN, this is a really important step. Drain them well, leave no water in the bottom of your pot.

Chopped spring onion, parsley and grated zest. If you don’t have spring onions on hand, I have also used a small brown onion, very finely chopped, this works fine.

ADD the onion, zest, chopped parsley, butter and the garlic if you’re using it. At this point, you’ll have a steaming pot of fish and potato’s with your aromatics in the pot. This gives the aromatics a chance to marry in with the fish and potatoes, creating flavour in the finished product.

LEAVE this mixture alone and uncovered for a while. Also, an extremely important step. Let it cool to a point where it is easy to handle and it isn’t going to cook your egg when you add it. Do not cover your mix, let the steam escape, the drier your mix is at this point the better. You don’t want to trap water in there.

Once cool enough, take a potato masher and mash the mix to your desired texture. Add the egg and some salt and pepper, mix through well with your hands. Using your hands will help you decide whether your mixture is the right consistency to stay together when you cook them. It also helps you to pick up any stray fish bones that may have slipped past the filleting process.

PROBLEM FIXES: The mix still seems too dry – add a second egg and mix through. The mix is too wet to easily pick up – add a little plain flour and mix through. After making this a couple of times you’ll get a feel for how damp your mix should be.

With clean, wet hands, roll your mixture into balls and roll each ball in panko breadcrumbs. Then simply shallow fry in a little vegetable oil or cook on the barbecue in olive oil. These babies need to be treated gently during frying.

Your balls should be about the size of a plum
Flatten in the pan and fry in vegetable oil until golden. Enjoy!

SERVE with lemon wedges, a little aioli or mayo, if you like. We normally have them with a fresh garden salad. They are great cold or warmed up the next day. They even make a lovely sandwich.

This quantity makes about 16 cakes.

Quick and Easy Side Dish: Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups

Yum! Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups. Crispy and golden on the outside, cheesy within.

Almost everybody likes garlic bread. Almost everybody has slices of bread they’d like to use before they go stale. All you need is some ham, cheese and garlic butter and you can create a side dish that goes well with anything you’d normally like garlic bread with. Come to think of it, it’s probably easier to think about dishes you wouldn’t eat garlic bread with. It almost goes with anything.

Dip them in soup, serve them with stew, have them on your next pizza night in place of the traditional garlic bread loaf. You could even serve them as a party snack… the possibilities are endless my friends.

6 ingredients guys! That’s it. 6 very common ingredients that most people keep in their fridge and pantry.

Cheese & Ham Garlic Bread Roll Ups


  1. Bread (preferably soft, square or rectangular) – I used white but go ahead and use brown if you like. I did 5 slices for 2 people but if you want more just play with the quantities.
  2. Grated cheese – any type you like but something with a mozzarella blend will give you that nice stretch when you bite into them.
  3. Ham – I sliced some sticks of a large piece but whatever ham you have will work. You can leave this out if you prefer it meat-free.
  4. Butter – (just melted, 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave) I used about 25g for 5 slices but you’ll need more if your making extras.
  5. Minced Garlic – 1 to 2 teaspoons or 2 cloves if you would like to crush your own.
  6. Parsley – chopped
Cut the crusts off the bread slices. Grab your rolling pin and roll them out as flat as you can make them.
Add a stick of ham to the very end of the bread, then put a thin layer of grated cheese over the rolled bread. Roll them up, as tight as possible, starting from the ham end. So the ham ends up in the middle of the roll up.
Melt the butter quickly in the microwave. Add garlic and some fresh chopped parsley, give a quick stir to combine. Carefully dip/coat each roll up in the butter mixture. Place on a prepared baking tray, end side down (so they don’t unravel in the oven). When they’re all done, I like to brush them with any of the butter mixture that might be left over and crack a little salt over the top of each one. I normally use baking paper on my trays, these aren’t likely to stick too much but it just saves on the clean up.

Place your roll ups into a 200 degree C* oven for 10 to 15 minutes. When they’re golden and the cheese is melted, they are ready to serve.

WINNER, WINNER, cheesy, garlic rolls with dinner! Impress your family or your dinner guests with this one.

Lake Monduran

We’ve been working hard in The Bay. Ben’s been laying bricks weekdays and even on weekends. I have upgraded my responsibilities at work. We are saving, Ben has been making his boat into his dream and we are planning our lives for the next few years. It’s fair to say that we were due for a break.

It was only last week when Ben said to me, why don’t we go on a weekend away? What a fantastic idea, I thought, we both need it. That night, Ben was on his phone booking a weekend at Lake Monduran.

This time, we left the Prado behind. She was booked in for a good wash and detail, which she well needed and deserved. So, the Subaru Liberty was made to step up. It was strange going on trip without the Prado, she’s been there for so many of our adventures.

No Prado and limited space meant packing light. We don’t have a tinny at the moment and the Suby is just not made for towing, so we hired a boat from where we were bound, Lake Monduran Holiday Park.

Lake Monduran is just a couple of hours drive from Hervey Bay and not too far from Gin Gin. It is known for big barra. It would normally be a good drive but the road works almost the entire way, at the moment, slowed things a little.

We stepped out of the car and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. It felt relaxed here, at the park, and the reception staff in the office were polite and helpful. We headed through the park, it was just after 8am and our cabin wouldn’t be ready until 2pm. We had the hire boat for two days though and we had every intention of making good use of it.

Our boat, like the others they have on offer here, was a polycraft. Steady, stable and good for standing in to throw lures. It was bright yellow and would turn into our first home for the weekend. There was no sounder or GPS and the engine rattled like loose bolts in the back of a ute on a corrugated road. The lack of bells and whistles meant Ben had to resort to using his cunning instinct to try and find us some fish. The poly was comfortable enough and had ample fishing room for us both.

As we putted and rattled our way out onto the main part of the lake, a mirror of flat water opened up, the edges lined with thick bush. Short creeks ran off randomly from the main lake. There were areas with grey trees, that looked like skeletons that had emerged from the water, tried to reach the sky and somehow got frozen there, which was only fortunate for the shags, ducks and wood swallows who now used their limbs to perch upon. These were our lure throwing areas when we weren’t weaving through them trolling. The water was dark and looking into it gave you no insight as to what might be underneath the surface. What it did do, was allow you to use your imagination, which, in turn, allowed you to believe that a big barra might just be sitting there watching your lure pass. If they were, that’s all they did, was watch. Not one bite for the weekend. That is, of course, if you don’t count the turtle Ben hooked and released quickly. Even our attempts at catching some red claw were fruitless. It did, however, leave us wondering if these little yabby-like things really are vegetarian.

Cabin, let’s go back to the cabin. Days in the boat. Nights in our second weekend home, which was the cabin. Four walls, a roof, a bed, a bathroom, a small balcony, an even smaller barbecue and a spectacular view of the lake. We found that the balcony was the perfect place for a sausage in bread, a few beers and a couple of scotch and cokes after a day on the water. The cabin had what we needed for a comfortable stay and it was much different to what we are used to… The camper or a swag and a campfire. This holiday park was a little backwards to others we’ve been to, in that, the campsites are further from the water and the cabins have water views, so this worked out well for us.

Even though there was no fish to tell stories about, Ben and I were wowed by Lake Monduran and the mystery fish and red claw it still holds. When the heat of summer returns and the big barra wake up a bit, we’ll be back.

Red Hot Summer Tour

April 30th 2022 – Sandstone Point Hotel

After battling the wave of bodies filing into the Sandstone Point Hotel, Bribie Island at around one o’clock Saturday afternoon, we made it to one of the two indoor bars I could see. Myself, my husband, Ben, and our neighbours, Megan and Dave, had booked to see the show back in November and it had finally snuck up on us. I had not been to Sandstone Point before but I had heard from several people how good the venue was for gigs like this. So far, it hadn’t disappointed, the place had an upper class but rustic feel about it and I was already considering returning when it wasn’t as busy to see what a normal day at Sandstone was like.

At the top of the grassy hill, just outside the doors of the hotel, a sea of picnic rugs and half height folding chairs spilled out in front of us. It was chaos, of course, with up to 10,000 people expected to arrive but it was organised. You could see that the staff here had done this before. They had defined walkways through the crowd so that people could travel to the bar, the toilets and the food trucks without accidently standing on fingers or tripping over legs.

We weaved through the walkways, eventually settling ourselves in a corner to the right of the huge black stage with massive screens either side. It turned out to be a great spot. Not only were we seated near a very comical nurse from Ipswich but we were just a couple of meters from the walkway that led to the dance area… the pit… the stage front… whatever you would like to call it, which meant we had some of the best seats in the house for ‘people watching’. I have been to enough gigs to know that the other attendees can be just as entertaining as the entertainers themselves.

The Red Hot Summer Tour – Unfinished Business, it had been called. It turns out that the reason for the name was that this group had been trying to get this tour done since 2020. It had been delayed several times in the wake of COVID. Now that life is a little more normal, they were determined to finish what they had started. First up, in place of Boom Crash Opera, we were treated to a few popular covers from Chocolate Starfish, who formed back in 1992, disbanded in 1998 and now somehow seemed to be back together again. They started the rock rolling, while more people filled this magnificent venue.

Killing Heidi then came on, a dated version of their former selves, they helped people to remember that they had hits. The lyrics for “Weir” and “Mascara” suddenly coming from listeners lips again. They lacked some of the energy that my group of onlookers remembered but were something to listen to while we ate and refreshed our beverages.

As the sun lowered, the crowd thickened. The lights at the hotel, which now seemed quite a walk away, glowed gold against a royal blue sky. The magnitude of this scene unfolded before, my eyes scanned the hill from the stage back up to the hotel. There were so many happy heads bobbing around. It really was a unique experience. The venue was absolutely grand, meshing so well with the balmy Queensland weather and laid back attitudes. The food trucks were good. The pizza, in particular, was great for this sort of gig. The bar tent was busy but set up in the best way possible.

Next up, the Baby Animals graced us with their stage presence. Now this… this is a band that still has what we all remembered them for. Great songs, great riffs and a lead singer (Suze DeMarchi), who still held the glory and darkness of real rock close to her heart. The Angels, lead by Dave Gleeson, were after them and did just as well, leading us into the darker hours with hits that we all loved hearing once again.

It seemed there was a bit of a break, which gave me time again to look to the crowd. In general, it was an older crowd, there were a few millennials scattered among us but Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y seemed to have the majority here.

The break gave us time to prepare and sink ourselves into the pit for the first time that evening. We had seen the next act before. We knew what they would bring. They already held a place in hearts, never before had they let us down. We waved our arms and chanted their names. We grinned widely at the tell-tale two double bases set up to the far left of the stage and the roady testing all of Chris Cheney’s guitars. The crowd rumbled into cheer when they finally ran out onto the stage. They started with ‘Second Solution’ then followed it up with mad guitar solos, incredible double bass acrobats and drum beats that went through your chest and came out your ears. The Living End are a 28 year old band that have not lost any of their former glory. The boys rocked as hard as they did in their twenty and thirties and we loved them for it.

The headliners were to come, James Reyne, who bought a list of loved songs a mile long. His voice still as superb as it had always been. Their songs still as nostalgic. There were many who stayed in the pit or joined it for them but due to the nature of their music, there wasn’t as much jumping around as The Living End had created before them.

Hunters and Collectors, they were the headliners and what many had come to Sandstone Point to see. From what I could see, little had changed with these guys. I had never seen them live before but I had heard they liked to tell stories in between songs. Sure enough, they were happy to spend some of their allotted hour and fifteen minutes chatting about past experiences and environmental issues. Their fans pleaded for their best songs, like ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ and ‘Holy Grail’, they did not oblige until close to the end of the set.

For us, after all was said and done, The Living End were the stand out act of the night and the Sandstone Point Hotel were the winners. Not only would they have made a pretty penny or two, they delivered the perfect place for these bands to come and for their fans to see them again. We can only hope that live music will always have a home at Sandstone.

Foo Fighters Pop Up in Geelong – Friday 4th March 2022

Even though we’d driven all the way from Queensland just a few days ago, the drive from Glen’s house in Lyndhurst seemed long. Traffic held us at a slow pace, cars full of fans bottlenecked into Geelong. We were anxious to get there and see what this true band of the ages, The Foo Fighters had in store for us. They’d not been to Australia since 2018 and this show was a surprise announcement.

The cloud cover was thick and grey, which made us think that the weather man might have been right, it really did look as though 20 to 40mm of would fall on GMHBA stadium and drench us. We walked through the blocked streets of Geelong to get to the stadium and our excitement built. Memories of past gigs came back. Black t-shirts and others who love to rock lined up. COVID had made it a long time between gigs and we’d all missed it more than we realised.

GMHBA stadium certainly looked the part. Precious turf was protected by hard plastic temporary tiles, creating The Pit. Huge black stage three massive screens and lighting towered over the ground. Rows and rows of seats bordered The Pit.

The Meanies and then Amyl and the Sniffers showed us their best. Old style rock rang out. They put their full energy into it but we knew that compared to the famous elephant sized act that was coming next, these bands were mice. During their performances, light rain was constant enough to dampen the air and our clothes and as the sun went away the air felt fresher. More people joined the crowd until finally, there were more bodies than gaps between them. Rain came more steady, some covered themselves with ponchos, while others braved the wet, wearing their Foo Fighters t-shirts from now and years gone by, some choosing to represent different rock bands that we all knew and loved.

From left: Ben, Leah and Glen getting ready to see The Foo Fighters

The stage stayed black with the shadowy movement of roadies, who were making the stage worthy of the greats. The diversity of ages in the crowd, kids through to twenty something’s, through to people who’d been grey for years, reminded me of what I’d seen at an AC/DC concert years ago. There aren’t too many bands that are solid enough that so many love them. The Foo Fighters are well and truly one of them. They had been a band for 26 years now. Ben and I, like so many, had followed this fantastic evolution.

When finally at about 8:40pm, Dave Grohl led his band onto the stage. Our mate, Glen said loudly, “Geez, he’s a magnificent bastard, isn’t he?” Ben and I could do no more than agree. Yes, he and this amazing band are absolutely magnificent. They made sure we believed it as they warmed up their vocal cords and instruments with the famous lyrics of ‘Times Like These’. Hit after hit flowed, satisfying old school pub songs, drinking songs and driving songs that made everyone raise their hands, clap or scream out.

For two and a half hours, the rain no longer mattered. Everyone was out of lockdown and this was a celebration of having some sort of normalcy. Dave Grohl explained how he’d been waiting to come back and how desperate he was to make The Foo Fighters the first big band to rock the Aussie’s again. During performances of great songs like Monkey Wrench, The Sky is a Neighbourhood, Learn to Fly, All My Life and Best Of You, these legends bought out the best in all who watched. Much loved drummer Taylor Hawkins, even came out from behind to drums, giving his sticks over to Dave, while he sung a Queen classic. He did it so well. The female back up singers added class to the show. Lighting and big screens shined across the rain. We all jumped around, admired and sung until our throats hurt.

As we pushed out way out of GMHBA stadium, we were crammed together like pickles in a jar. The smokey reminence of the fireworks that ended the show hazed sky above us. We looked like drowned rats, we were cold and the walk back to the car was uncomfortable but none of it mattered because we had witnessed something incredible. Not only was it the magic of one of the world’s biggest rock bands but it was the rebirth of freedom. We were allowed to stretch our wings again, shake off the last couple of years and forget the uncertain future for a while.

Stars like Jimmy Barnes and members of the band Motor Ace reportedly joined the audience. Now more people will get to see this filmed highlights online. Foo Fighters will be back in Australia in November, until then and beyond, we will listen their music Everlong.

Flooded in at the Moonie Crossroads

You’ll never find anywhere quite like the Crossroads at Moonie. We were stuck there for two days, flooded in. Goondiwindi was blocked unless we want to drive 4 hours out of way with the odds of “maybe” getting through. On site, at Moonie Crossroads, there is a petrol station, rooms and most importantly, a pub. Moonie comically boasts being the home of a fictional illness called Moonie Madness, as well as having Australia’s largest feral pig ‘collection’. The walls of the pub are decorated with artwork, some of which are mounted boar’s heads. The beer is cold, the pool table needs improvement but they have one, they have hot meals, snacks and water. We left Hervey Bay Thursday, headed for Melbourne to help out family. As we drove, trenchial rain fell, roads flooded and were closed behind us. Even if we wanted to go back home to Hervey Bay, we couldn’t, Gympie and everywhere in between we’re being inundated with water.

At the Crossroads, there are locals, mostly who work there, commentating what’s going on. Out on the front deck is a good place to sit with a beer and people watch. We watched them drive each of the four ways the Crossroads offer, only to come back, learning for themselves that there isn’t anywhere else they can safely get to. They too were stuck, which bought a variety of people, who were trying to get to a variety of places, unexpectedly together.

A stocky Moari truck driver, Phil, is stuck here too. There’s an outback trucker called Lex, who’s trying to get his Kenny and it’s load to Perth. If I had to liken his looks to someone, maybe a slightly younger Slim Dusty. He’s been driving trucks for longer than I’ve been alive. Other truckies, families and couples have come and gone, and come back again, trying to escape this dead end place called Moonie. People like Lex, Phil and couples like us, who are well travelled and have seen places similar make the most of places that ooze this kind of country character.

We had two nights there at $140 per night for a room they call “executive” with an ancient television, a double, a single, a fridge and a small ensuite. We appreciated it though, we had more there than a lot of people who have lucked out in these floods.

Here’s the thing about drinking in country pubs. It’s a culture that is just ingrained so deeply in some Aussie’s that it goes right to their bones and never comes back out. You must drink or you are not one of them. People who don’t drink are considered stange, except if your a millennial, of course. Millennial’s are taught to accept all types, which may not be a bad lesson, though, one some of us will never learn. Youngen’s local to here and places like it, are different to those you’d find in a city. They’ve grown up on the land with parents who bought them up to work hard because they know no other way. Their local pub is no stranger to them. It is where they had their first tap beer and where they see all the people they’ve known since they were small.

In country pubs, people have stories they are happy to share, some of them great and all of them supposedly true. There are the people who stand out and the people who blend in to the woodwork. You have to respect the locals in any outback pub, for they are as close as you might get to royalty in that town. If you are going to drink with them, you have to relax and take the place for what it is. Some of the stranded visitors can’t seem to do this. Mandy said she’d worked at the Crossroads on and off for 23 years. It’s easy to tell she is the heart of the place. She keeps it clean, she makes the food taste the way it does and she keeps the Moonie spirit rolling.

If you are too loud, or you try too hard the locals will huff at you and look the other way. If you have no time for them, they don’t care and they have no time for you. If you sit, if you drink where they drink, if you laugh with them and listen and learn from them, they accept you and appreciate your presence. Moonie Madness indeed, everybody gets it, everybody interprets it differently.

Sunday morning we woke, as much as we’d appreciated the Moonie Crossroads and their hospitality, we HAD to get out of there. We had to get to Goondiwindi because it was our path to Melbourne. The day before we’d taken a drive down the Liechardt, we had to see for ourselves whether we could get through. Plus, we had to get more solid report than the bush telegraph (the gossip) going on at the Crossroads.

Flood water crossings of 300 and 400mm didn’t stop us. When we saw two cars sunken off the side of the road, we held our breath. We then came to a long crossing, the flood stick measuring at least 600mm, not disappearing within our sight, we decided to go back to Moonie. Pushing on posed a danger that we weren’t prepared to take. Through talking to the locals Sunday night, we learnt that there was a chance of taking a back road in the morning, that drains of water faster than any of the other roads. They were right, at 5am, when it was just light enough to see, Ben drove the Prado around some road blocks, through some shallow crossings and a patch of damaged road but we made it out unscathed. We wouldn’t forget Moonie or the story it left us with and one day we’ll probably even go back but, for now, we are celebrating escaping and continuing our mission in Melbourne.

A True Wonder – Fraser Island

Our First Peak at Fraser

For years, Ben and I have had a burning desire to explore Fraser and now that we live in Hervey Bay this magical place is well within our regular reach. We have visited the very outskirts, in the form of Kingfisher Bay previously but we hadn’t yet had a great opportunity to delve too deeply into its true beauty. We decided to join the tourists and go on a four-wheel drive bus tour of this magical Island. When I say “the tourists” I’m talking about our family, who are visiting from Victoria. My Uncle Bok, from Bendigo and Ben’s brother George, with his fiance, Ebony and our newphews, Alix, 12, and Lachie, 2.

The most well-known truth about Fraser Island (K’gari) is that it is the world’s largest sand island. In 1992 it was heritage listed. The best way to understand why it is so special, it seems, is to either do a hell of a lot of historical reading or to do what we did… take a guided tour of the island.

As most news watching Aussie’s are aware, our part of Queensland, including the nearby town, Maryborough, have been battling flood waters over the last couple of weeks. This made our barge ride to Fraser Island a little different. The water at River Head’s wasn’t the blue we are used to. The water expelled from the Mary River, the overflow and the muck had washed into the ocean, creating mud-brown water that reminded me of milk with too much Chocolate flavouring in it.

Ben, myself and the “incognito” our newphew Alix on the barge.
Ben and Uncle Boka
Ebony, Lachie and George

When we arrived at Fraser, a big blue four-wheel drive bus awaited us #fraserislandexplorer.

The bus was surprisingly comfortable, it was air conditioned and with a limit of 25 on the bus, it gave us more than enough space to put belongings without needing to be cramped up. (Just a side note for people thinking about following in our footsteps with a young child, definitely bring a car seat/booster seat for the bus.) Our tour guide was David, he started offering interesting information straight off the bat. We headed to Maheno Bay to start with where a well known shipwreck gradually erodes away.

She is now a rusty shell, trying with all she has left to hold her shape. She is still, by all means, something to behold. She grabs your imagination and now, instead of carrying soldiers injured in World War One, she provides photo opportunities for travellers and locals alike.

From there, we went to The Pinnacles, a place that holds a lot of significance to the indigenous residents of Fraser, in particular, the women.

The Pinnacles
Lachie, Alix and myself doing the old ‘photo bomb’.

Eli Creek was next and, for me, this is where the wonder of Fraser started to deepen. Here, in this crystal clear, tranquil creek, over four million litres of fresh water gently runs to the ocean every hour. It filters through sand dunes and plants in Frasers middle. The natural filtration creates some of the freshest and coolest water I’ve ever walked in and tasted. It is so beautiful that it attracts millions of visitors each year.

Eli Creek

We visited the rainforest and went on a short walk, where David took us on a historical journey through the logging years that Fraser endured. He told stories of the trees like the were old friends.

Over the buffet lunch my mind kept going over the beauty we’d already seen. Little did I know, Fraser had not yet shown us her heart.

As we drove to Lake Mackenzie, David told us how it formed and tried to make us understand how special of a place it really was. The thing is that words really can’t explain its charm, even if they come from the most knowledgeable tour guide. You’ve got to see it… Feel the freshness of the water… See how blue it is to understand. The silica sand, the fresh water with the dark inner… it’s just breathtakingly, out of this world, beautiful.

A refreshing swim in this most wonderful place was the perfect way to end our tour. I’d like to thank Ben for making this fantastic day happen. George for being his comical self. Ebony for enjoying the natural beauty treatments as much as I did. Alex for sleeping on the bus and being the best “incognito”. Lachie for being super good all day long. Boka for being my bus buddy and for putting his pro photographer hat on. You all made the day that bit more magical.

The barge ride home was a time to plan. Plan a trip where Ben and I can take our Prado on the barge and have a good, long camp trip on Fraser. We highly recommend the tour for Fraser first timers as it gives you a decent look around without needing to worry about navigating the sand highway yourself.

I also want to credit most of the photos on this post to Ben, as you can see, he has an eye for a good shot.