As I look back on this last period of time before we left Oz, I am struck by how little I wrote in the way of diary entries. In fact, this one pretty much sums it up:
Sunday November 23, 2014 – Words are sticky and elusive right now. Heavy and too energy consuming.
I think I was suffering ‘catch-up’ from all the new places and people we had met – taking it all in still. That, and we were in a comfortable safe place to do so: spending our last few days in lovely Brisbane with Mum W, who flew all the way up from Adelaide to spend some more time with us before we left. Naw!
So here is a brief little ditty on our last days in Oz….
Started the week off by meeting Mum W – aka, Grandma – in Maleny. Some lunch and a mozy in the area was followed by a tour back at Crystal Waters. It was great to show just where we had been, what we had been doing and who with (sometimes it can all feel a bit surreal, doing things like this away from those you would normally share it with).
After meeting and greeting with our hosts, Max & Trudi, we said our final goodbyes and headed down to Brissy town. While we were sad to leave a place we had settled so comfortably into, I think we all got a little bit excited seeing a big city again.
Not to mention the apartment we were lucky enough to stay in – lovely, and just a stroll away from the city centre. Turns out, it was New York-themed. How very appropriate to have a preview of the real thing we’d be seeing so soon.
We spent the next few days relaxing and exploring around town. If Australian cities are your thing, or will be part of your next travel itinerary, Brissy is worth your time. It has a different vibe to Sydney or Melbourne – more relaxed and easy going (with better weather too – I reckon). As an Adelaidean, and Queenslander by birth, I think of Brisbane fondly – like a big sister to Adelaide. She is warm and fun, casual but cool. The usual city stuff like shopping, eating, museums, galleries, shows and social spots are all present and accounted for, in lovely sprawling landscaped style. Perfect for strolling – South Bank being a good example. I took the footbridge over there and admired the new ‘Brisbane’ installation.
Interestingly, I took one door into the library and when I came out the other side, this second hand market had popped up in the square!
We also saw the first, of many on our trip, city bike rental scheme – nice!
I love the playful, colourful nature of Brisbane – they even give their electrical boxes the community artist treatment:
Of course, everyone loves a pool so we made good use of that – and the chance to chill out in our room.
Pop-quiz – name one of the bonuses of being with family when travelling.
Having someone to take photos of all three of us? Yes!
Date night – yes! Woo! And in some far off location from home – double woo!
Thanks to Grandma, Michael and I got to wonder the city in search of dinner and sights…
After Michael got his fix of climbing for the day, we found our way to China Town down in the valley (Fortitude Valley), and had what was the top contender for ‘best meal we’ve ever stumbled across’. Red Lotus offered Vietnamese dishes through the most outstanding example of an Asian, or any, menu I’ve seen – gorgeous delicious photos and fun descriptions, elaborate enough to really inform a Western audience. Some dishes even had their own story – like Duck Doggy Style. Yes that’s right, and we ordered it too. What? They’re just referring to duck cooked in the traditional way of dog meat – what did you think they meant?…..
Reading the menu became a fun activity all of it’s own!
By the way, I thought I didn’t like duck.
I was wrong.
So, so wrong….
We wrapped up our last afternoon with a lovely meal up high in the middle of Queen Street Mall – at the recently reopened outdoor ‘Jimmy’s on the Mall‘.
On the day of departure, we completed a puzzle – both for fun and to check where we were going. Then, inevitably, it was time to pack up and ship out. That was quickly followed by me upgrading our travel insurance in a flurry of last minute panic – if that’s not a window into my default nature I don’t know what is.
I love how laughable I am sometimes….
We checked out and made our way to the airport – having planned our flights out of the country and Grandma’s back to Adelaide within short timing of each other. But they were, of course, in different terminals – quite a foreign concept for us Adelaideans, where the air traffic fits happily in just one. So we negotiated the terminals and their connecting bus – complete with a bewildered driver who couldn’t seem to wrap his head around us paying to use the service – apparently it’s normally used by those with a free pass from Virgin Airlines. And so after the confusion cleared and all parties had checked in, there was precious little time to sit before Grandma departed.
I have to say, it was really nice to be able to say goodbye to Mum W before departing the country for a year. How grateful we were for that, and having had an opportunity for time together beforehand.
We continued back to the international terminal, via the same bewildered driver, and prepped ourselves to leave Australia behind……..
So long – we’ll be seein’ ya!
“That’s why this (sharing our story) is important, I realise. Kept to ourselves, a story is too fragile, liable to whither or blow away. The story is not truly lived until told. It’s only through the telling that the story can mature, can ripen and claim a life larger than its own – a gift for others.”
- growing young farmers
- small scale farm management
- ecological agriculture
- resilient communities
- local food security
People, Passion and Purpose.
“it’s more than food production, it’s a way to change the world in a peaceful way”
Our next stop was Melbourne (or Mel-bin if your aussie, as someone recently depicted our pronunciation). After realising last minute, that we have family there, Michael put a call in to his cousin to see if they might have us for a few days. They very kindly said yes. It was wonderful to get to know them better, sharing dinners and impromptu conversations, as well as the everyday house and family-rearing duties (they have three young girls – a total of four girls in the house made for lots of fun, noise and antics!). Emma even got to spend a morning in school with one of her cousins, which she was most chuffed about.
It’s a real priviledge to be able to step back and see how another family does things. So thank you very much to the Braun clan! It was one of those unplanned experiences that turned out to be really enriching.
Our first Mel-bin destination was The School of Life. As you might have seen, I jumped the gun on this one chronologically and posted it a few days ago. It was a fantastic place, doing fantastic things – if you missed the post you can see it here. I highly recommend taking a squiz at their site. It felt really great to be in the city – pity we didn’t have more time to just explore. We did have time to squeeze in a quick visit to a little shop around the corner though – a place doing Japanese soups and salads, but with organic ingredients. It was really heartening to see what seemed to be a trend (we saw it at this place, an indian restaurant and bakery in the space of a day) – your usual kind of establishments doing a typical menu, but using organic (or in some cases bio-dynamic) as standard. In fact, while I was pfaffing around at home getting ready to go to the city, Michael wandered down the street and found an awesome organic grocer! As it turned out, Chris at Green Onions ended up supplying us with more than just fruit and veg – but i’ll get to that in our next post… Meanwhile, check out Michael’s description of Green Onions organic grocer here.
By the way, we have decided to list the cool places we visit in a kind of quasi-directory/review list – under “Good Stuff” on our menu. So have a look 🙂
The following day we got off to a cracking start – out of the house by 7am! Our mission was to visit a little organic bakery mic had found for breakfast, followed by the Ceres Environment Park.
The bakery, called Loafer Bread, was pretty darn cute – they even had their own delivery bike!
More impressive though, was their menu and the ingredients they used. Not only did they use organic where possible, they also only sourced meat from farms they had some kind of direct contact and trust with – Andrea (the owner) ordering from the farmers themselves, who delight in updating her on how the season is going and what she might expect from their product. Now that’s knowing where your food is coming from! And Bio-dynamic milk was used as standard in every coffee – great to see products farming with ‘beyond organic’ methods becoming more common (the whole organic VS bio-dynamics VS every other method out there debate is something we’ll likely look at down the track. In the meantime, I encourage you to do your own learning – find out how your food is grown!). While Andrea described it as more difficult to balance the extra cost of doing things that way, the customers and relationships built with them made it possible. Indeed it’s that ‘people’ aspect which seems to drive the businesses/projects/people we have spoken to so far, to forge ahead through challenge and make things work. So, in addition to our native Home Grain Bakery, we have added this to our mental list of great bakeries to patron. You can see more about loafer on our ‘good stuff’ page here (once written!).
After filling up on Loafer’s delightful breakfast menu (including house-made granola, bircher muesli and stewed rhubarb), and taking some more traditional bakery items with us for later, we headed to Ceres.
The title Ceres Environment Park is another all-encompassing label to try and bundle in many sorts of awesome initiatives happening out of the one place. In this case, Ceres is an educational hub set on 4 acres of rehabilitated land – a former rubbish dump which has been resurrected to host community and market gardens, children’s playspace, a village green, organic market, cafe, nursery and numerous educational spaces (a global village and teaching centre, an alternative energy demonstration park and areas for local classes & workshops). There’s a lot going on! Read about it on their site here.
They are also kicking off a ‘fair food’ movement, encouraging people to get to know the source of their food and their farmers, cemented by their supply of organic fruit and veg in a ‘seasonal food box’ type of offering – details here.
It seemed the history and creation of Ceres reflected a down time in the area and community, which highlighted a common equation I’m seeing:
community need exists + some imperative or crisis = grassroots action activated
then, if a dedicated group of local volunteers exists you get continued action + word of mouth = organic growth
add partnering with other groups, grants or networks = more growth and impact in the community
What happens after this, isn’t so clear to me thus far – but extremely important. I’m keen to see how the momentum and health of an initiative is maintained. Hopefully that too, will reveal itself.
“There’s poo in my shoe”
Walking across a paddock to reach the neighbour/farmer’s son’s house for dinner. A sheep paddock. In sandals. Just asking for it really….