If you never, never go – Part II…….

The heat wave continued in South Australia making for bleached, pale and hazy skies.  A thunderstorm on Friday evening, which blew my ‘tree house’ down, then short bouts of showery rains have finally cooled our state down.

Little in the way of digging, planting or weeding has happened due to the heat although very recently, as in the past day or so, I invested in some beautiful Hybrid Tea Roses.  I have devoted a bed just for them right in front of the house where I will see them every day.

An entry in a writing competition received second place.  It was a placing I certainly did not expect as I was chuffed enough to have been shortlisted in the top ten.  I am so happy and very humbled by my ‘win’ and I decided to spend the prize money on something which will bring continued joy and a gentle reminder to keep writing.

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The beautiful ‘Just Joey’ ……..

The garden and yard have been challenging, and at times, a deeply frustrating quest but I’m getting there……..slowly!  Some days, I have actually been out there from sun up to sun down yet the weeds persist.  Completely resilient to heat, boiling water, hand pulling and my cursing them, they soldier on with such determination and vigor.

I wrote earlier in a blog post that I am trying to hand pull all of the weeds as I am a committed organic gardener which means no herbicides or pesticides.  Plus I am trying to ‘break the cycle of weeds’ by removing them completely.  Therein lies the problem as apparently ‘a year of weeds left to seed, makes for twenty years of weeding’!  The  wonderful and very knowledgeable Sophie Thomson said that so by my calculations, it had been five years since any weeding was done, therefore, I have 100 years of weeds ahead!

I have a vision for the restoration and a plan.  Low hand-made gabian walls and paths, a mix of native and indigenous plants alongside roses, daisy’s, salvias, cat mints and lavenders.  Athough a perfectionist in most (okay all!) areas of my life, my garden is to be a beautiful chaotic mass of colour, rooms and foliage.  No clipped lawns, no harsh lines and edges and certainly not contrived.  Just soft, irregular, rambling and lovely.


Eat Darwin

Like your food on a stick?  Me too and where better to find it than at one of the popular Darwin markets.

There are two main markets in Darwin, both equally famous for their street food.  The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (run only during the dry season) and my favorite, the fabulous Parap Markets.  Both these markets epitomise everything  Top End – a love of community and a relaxed multicultural vibe.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

Every Thursday and Sunday evening in the dry season, which falls between April and October, and home to around 200 stalls are the popular Mindil Beach Sunset Markets.  Held on the foreshore of Mindil Beach, these markets are a perfect way to end a glorious day in the top end as you watch the sun go down over the Timor Sea.

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Apart from the sunset, these markets are renowned for their smoky grilled street food and there is plenty on offer.  Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Brazilian and Portuguese to name just a few with most serves costing from as little as $6 onwards.  On my first night at the markets I believe I may have eaten my weight in stuffed chicken wings which were amazing.

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There are a number of very good arts and crafts stalls selling photography, bespoke jewellery, leather goods, fresh water pearls, tie dye items and Indigenous wares.  The Indigenous works are stunning with paintings, beautiful screen printed fabrics (which have been made into items such as bags and scarves) and hand-woven pandanus baskets.  Some of these stalls are 100% Aboriginal owed which means the artists and their remote communities benefit.

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Parap Markets

Tucked away in Parap Village, this market, with its laconic community style is where you will get one of the best laksa’s on the planet!

Mary’s Laksa has been dished up to locals and tourists for just over 20 years and the recipe hasn’t changed.  Home-made with the freshest ingredients, this laksa is absolutely worth the wait in line……..and there is always a line.

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I loved these markets.  The community vibe and the air heavy with the aroma of roasting coffee, sweetly scented tropical fruit and flowers and Asian food.  There are also many arts and craft stalls where you can pick up a one off hand-made piece of the Top End to take home. Held every Saturday rain, hail or shine markets don’t get much better than these.

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Thai deep fried banana……..I didn’t (couldn’t) stop at one serve

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There are so many great places to eat in and around Darwin.  With its multicultural mix of restaurants, cafes, food truck, markets and bars – the freshest of seasonal and local produce along with seafood pulled straight from the ocean – Darwin has it covered.

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Drink Darwin

The thing with Darwin is that it is always hot and the beer is always cold.  Again, there are a number of great places to grab a cold one from high-end to the oh-so-laid-back-casual to all those places in-between.

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I recommend you find a spot on a deck or balcony under those big slow turning fans as this will offer the best place to indulge in the perfect combination of a Green Ant G&T and a little people watching.

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The ‘Ski and Trailer Boat Club’ is a great little spot to catch up for a cold beer and watch the sun go down.  This little club is unpretentious and welcoming, offers great food and is packed to the brim with friendly locals.

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Best in show again Darwin…….

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Tips: 

Best time to visit – ANY!  Either season has its draw-cards

Eat – Wharf One, Humpty Doo Hotel, Ski & Trailer Boat Club, Parap Markets

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if only for this – Mary’s Wonton Laksa…….

Drink – For great coffee The Museum & Art Gallery NT, Ski & Trailer Boat Club, The Darwin Hotel (a cozy Art Deco watering hole in the city) and anywhere along the waterfront.

Crocs and street art up next…….x

Footnote:  Just Joey Rose – Barossa Nursery in Nuriootpa

 

 

Moving on…….

I can’t believe it has been almost 6 months since I moved to South Australia, the sea and salt of Newcastle left well behind.  For someone who has consistently moved, I still find the actual act of moving onerous.  Putting my life into boxes once again, the mix of emotion, the sorting, the photos – photos of those no longer with us, babies who are no longer babies and those no longer in my life for various reasons.  Boxes which tie to a collective past, a reminder of everything beautiful and egregious in my lived life.

After living in so many different places and countries, you would think I’d be used to moving.  Luckily for me, I have always unpacked with a roof over my head and with an openness for new adventure.

There has been much happiness to be found in my return to SA.  I guess some things just align with your soul.  It has been an incredibly busy time and there has been some travel yet I bow my head with a mingling mix of shame and guilt as I have lost touch.  Too many excuses but none of which I will use.  I have been busy, too busy – one of my many failings.  I try but fail.  I will be in touch soon with those dear to my heart whom I miss.  You know who you are.  I promise.

There has been a change of season during this time too.  Winter has arrived to SA.  The wattle is out in all its golden gloriousness.  I snip sprigs during my wanderings (one of the small yet special things about living here) and have the blooms throughout the house.  It is cold and crisp today with a chilled liveliness.  I can hear the occasional bird and the very, very distant hum of a train on the tracks given the air is so clear.

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I am missing the warmth of summer with its harsh light and that of my washing drying on the hills hoist in under five minutes and smelling so acutely of sunshine.  Now though, there is time for moments spent in my favourite room, fire side with the little cat for quiet company which is loveliness itself especially when it is rainy and cold.

I am also finding happiness in the restoration of the garden – the house will have to wait, it is ‘livable’ now!!   The garden is a huge undertaking so I work, rest a little, get more inspired then enjoy the solitude of getting back out there.  Its not a race.  There is no right or wrong, just an enjoyment of each moment spent there.

Some areas are no longer overgrown with dead plants, trees, weeds or rubbish.  I am hand pulling everything and composting what I can. Three huge skips have already been filled with ‘rubbish’ from the yard.  Plastics, drug paraphernalia, that which cannot be composted and more rubbish.  There were good renters and not so good renters in the end.  I can’t fret about it, these things happen.

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Gardening has become a passion again.  I love how the soil becomes ingrained under my finger nails and fills the small cuts, scratches and lines of my hands.  A welcomed tattoo from mother nature.

I am a very organic gardener, no herbicides or pesticides.  A healthy environment devoid of all chemicals so there will be ‘cycles’ of weeds to combat for months to come before eventually dying out.

In the heart of all this gardening there has been much compost making.  ‘Brown gold’, much coveted and which during the heat of summer was breaking down from scrapes, organic matter and garden waste into beautiful friable soil in only a matter of months.

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Cuttings, seedlings, succulents and colour have taken up residence in my collection of old, worn terracotta pots and rusting wash tubs and with the winter sun, are doing well.  The bees, bugs, lizards and birds are returning.  Everything outside has been finally swept clean of dust and dirt and it all feels so much better.

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The patch is beginning to take shape again too. I look forward to it being once again filled with berries, fragrant herbs, leafy greens and the root veg of winter.  It is an enclosed area, the wire allowing the small birds and insects through but it keeps the ‘bandits’ at bay.  The possums, as endearing as they are, do love the tender seedlings and blackbirds, the newly mulched soil.

Re-establishing the fruit orchard will be the next venture after completing the patch.  Something else on the ever growing list of ‘to-do’.  The once thriving stone fruit trees and citrus are gone but then so have the roses and natives which also once filled the yard.

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The fruit orchard.  Next on the hit list

The vegie patch, February 2019

Slowly getting there, March 2019

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May 2019

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My favorite gardening companion…….x

The garlic is spouting and the leaves have dropped, there is frost on the ground and occasionally rain in the gauge.  These are lovely liminal times.

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There are more weeds to pull, seeds to plant, garden beds to turn, trees to replace and wattle bloom to collect.  Small but ever joyful moments in South Australia……….x