All aboard the Murray Princess!

Posted on in Friends, Out & About, travel 2 Comments

Me and the Princess

What a beautiful trip I have had again on the Murray River. A quick flight to Adelaide and a coach trip take us to Mannum, the home of the Murray Princess. The Princess is a majestic paddle wheeler
that glides serenely along the river.

What a vista!

We board the Princess on Monday afternoon. On the first night the kitchen have produced dinner using my menu. We are introduced to the crew and get to meet our table-mates. There is live entertainment in the dining room, and also an upper deck where it is just beautiful to watch the sun go down and soak up the beautiful landscape, sunset and birdlife.
On Tuesday Captain Ray Weedon gives a talk about the boat, the river and its rich history.

Peaceful pelican

After lunch I do the first of my cooking demos. It’s an Italian theme, and I make hand-made gnocchi and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. While I demonstrate in the dining room, the team in the kitchen are making sure there is enough for everybody to try with complimentary wine.

My gnocchi helper Barb

The boat secures at Blanchetown and we travel the short distance to Burk Salter vineyard. I remember enjoying this immensely last year and look forward to trying the latest offerings. I order a few bottles of wine and take advantage of the free shipping special to have it sent straight home!

Burke Salter winery

After dinner we run the Murray Cup, which is a special evening and really has to be experienced to get the hilarity of it all.

So peaceful

The princess at dusk

On Wednesday we set off again, cruising through the magnificent cliffs of the river. The birdlife is prolific, thousands of wheeling cockatoos, lorikeets, eagles soaring above the cliffs and pelicans following the paddle wheel looking for a feed.

A tree full of cockies

My second demo is all about making dinner party dishes simple. After the demo we feast on scallops and chicken ballotyne while sipping wine. The passengers are very friendly and it’s a great fun atmosphere.

Daily demos

We arrive at Sunnydale and disembark for a barbecue dinner. There is a really cool area set up which feels as though we have been stranded on Gilligan’s Island. If I am ever stranded, I hope it is with a terrific barbecue (which starred many tasty treats including roo steaks), live entertainment and Gary the barman tending the bar!

All the barbecue favourites.

The staff form a terrific bush band and entertain us all with their antics.

The staff form a terrific bush band.

There’s a nocturnal wildlife-spotting tour for the brave and dancing for the silly. (My mum and dad, along for the cruise, show us how rock’n’roll is done)

Making merry at the on-shore barbecue with Anne, Jazz and Mum

On Thursday we pull up at Naught Naught, widely recognised as one of the most significant Aboriginal architectural digs in Australia.

All ashore for the Naught Naught walk

Tribal elders have returned here to share their stories and and explain the dig and the many carvings.

Aboriginal carvings in the soft sandstone cliffs

Beautiful colours at Naught Naught

The view from the top of the cliff is breathtaking.

The boardwalk at Naught Naught

The Mighty Murray

Today my demo is all about sweet treats. I abandon the cooking about two thirds of the way through and we all have a big chat instead. I answer questions about all kinds of things and we enjoy several desserts along with a beautiful glass of port.

Arty black and white shot

Thursday evening is the Captain’s dinner. Everybody dresses up and Captain Ray shouts us all drinks. The buffet is then revealed by the chefs in the kitchen, and it is a stunning array of beautiful seafood.

Head Chef Ian unveils the Captain’s buffet

The sumptuous Captain’s seafood buffet

Beautiful whole ocean trout.

More music and dancing, and a drink on the top deck to quietly contemplate the end of this lovely, picturesque interlude.

The Murray like a mirror in the twilight

Friday is time to disembark and go home. After two trips, the Murray Princess crew are starting to feel like family and I do hope I get to enjoy their company again. What a wonderful trip, what a beautiful country we live in.

The majestic cliffs.

In Timor Leste with Oxfam

Posted on in charity, In Season, Out & About, travel 5 Comments

Espy 2 village

In my role as Oxfam GROW! Campaign ambassador, I was recently lucky enough to visit Timor Leste.  Travelling with Laurelle from Oxfam, Bonnie the photographer and Sarah the videographer, we went to see the programs that Oxfam are running with their partners in remote rural communities.

After visiting the Oxfam office in Dili, we flew across-country in a tiny six-seater plane.  Since the military have left Timor, it is the only fixed-wing plane in the country and provides vital service to the people there. Read more →

Chinese New Year adventure day 5. Flowers and farewells

Posted on in Out & About Comments Off

Panoramic view of Victoria Harbour

It is the last day of our Chinese New Year adventure.  We manage to fit in a little shopping, then head to a beautiful restaurant called Aqua Spirit for afternoon tea.  It affords us sweeping views over the harbour.  Valli, Maeve, Mary and I enjoy excellent sashimi and cold French champagne.  It is a very civilised afternoon indeed. Read more →

Back to school with GLAD!

Posted on in Out & About 7 Comments
hawaiian wraps

Keeping things varied means lunches get eaten.

Like many families this week we’re in the mad scramble to get ready for school. Making sure the boys have all their uniforms, books, stationery and especially giant-sized school shoes will keep me on my toes in the coming days. Read more →

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