Home – place and foods part 1

Over the years as I traveled I noticed two things that people talked about missing- food and landscape.

The landscape part seems tied to a sense of security, ways that you know how to protect yourself. Out West (Nevada, Arizona) I met Easterners who said they always felt exposed and were never able to quite get comfortable.  Back East in the USA, Westerners living in Pennsylvania spoke about feeling closed in, they said that there were too many places to hide, too many places to get ambushed.  It seems that Westerners feel most comfortable being able to see what is coming and to prepare oneself for it.  They think about high ground with a long clear view.  Easterners must have a bit of what I call the Swamp Fox approach. While it is true that you could be surprised, you can also be the one doing the surprising, and if it is familiar territory ( your home ground) you would also know how and where to hide.  This presents itself as a sense of unease.

Rather than relate this to warrior states, I think it goes back to when we were both hunters and hunted.  And survival depended on learning skills for avoiding being caught as well as being able to catch.

The other aspect of home  people always talked about was food, specifically  the foods they missed. Weeks, months or years later when they finally do go home, that is when they will regale their listeners with stories of the new and different tastes and flavors they encountered, but almost always – after they were safely back home.

So I began thinking, what were the food differences between Australia and the US? As I am now in Australia, I can say that even after three going on four years, the grocery is still a bit mystifying.  I wanted to make whipped cream for a dessert and faced an array of creams I was unfamiliar with: double cream, Pouring cream, thickened cream, heavy cream, clotted cream- not one labeled whipping cream and to my surprise no half and half.  what’s more, a careful reading of ingredients showed that for some brands, the thickness was achieved via additives, usually gums, which is also true in the US.  I later found out that the gums make whipping easier ( but to me I like to avoid them).  So in a heath food store. I was able to find a heavy cream without  additives. even the thickened cream at the health food store had additives, they were just more organic.  So the unadulterated heavy cream will work but use a very light hand in the whipping or else you will wind up with clumps of butter, which will not go away – any attempts to beat them in, will result in the whole bowl turning to butter.

In Australia, with its huge British influence, people generally pour cream over their desserts rather than turning it into little mountains of snowy white.  I have seen some coffee places selling cocoa and mochajava where they will add cream via the aerosol can, but that is pretty much it.  If they want the cream a little more solid, they purchase a thicker type.

Other differences  I have noticed. The ketchup here ( called tomato sauce in Australia) seems to have a taste of clove, that I do not remember from the USA (even the one made by Heinz).  I prefer it to the vinegar ( many Marylanders/Southerners) would be right at home) but I do like my KETCHUP.

Sandwiches, sometimes called sangers in Aussie talk, are thin and generally buttered. A peanut butter sandwich will get you buttered bread with peanut butter, they don’t add jelly.  Australians who visit the US tell stories about the huge sandwiches they found there. Not as a good thing, they found them too big, wasteful and bad for the diet. Sandwiches here are thin!If you are American and want a big lunch, order a salad with meat and a roll.

Australians like beetroot slices on their sandwiches (and burgers) and don’t be surprised if there is cucumber (NOT pickled) there as well. Anyone who has ever attended an American version of a British tea probably included cucumber sandwiches. Thinly sliced bread, neatly buttered and with a single layer of (not overlapping) cucumber slices are pretty much a staple here. Any Australians take note – you would either need to make your own or go to a tea party to get a cucumber sandwich ( and the party ones would most likely not be quite right.  The other very Aussie touch is the smashed avo sandwich.  This is often two slices of buttered bread with half a smallish avocado squashed in between. Quite tasty.

Smashed avo from Guzman’s – An Australian chain with a Mexican theme

Shops will offer toasties. This is a sandwich which is toasted. Australians even have a special device called a jaffle, which looks like a waffle iron to allow these to be made while camping or barbecuing in addition to cafes . They have a characteristic ridge around the edge.  Baked bean sandwiches are not uncommon nor is plain baked beans on toast.  You won’t find hot roast beef with gravy in Australia, but they won’t find their bake shops full of meat pies in the USA.

Woodford Folk Festival

This was quite an amazing experience. If you can imagine a place that celebrates folk music from around the world as well as the Peace Movement of the 60’s.  Here in Australia, it continues.  many of the structures are permanent to semi-permanent and built of degradable materials.  All of the pictures below were early in the day before the crowds came. We were among the first people in as the festival opened.

The Blue Mountains Botanical Garden

Andrew and I attending a workshop o plant collecting at the Botanical Gardens in Berambing, NSW. Part of the time was spent outdoors and we saw some amazing plants.

Here is an image of the flowers at a look-out, I am facing away from the rock edge, but this is a very rocky and wind-swept area.


A fringed orchid (same lookout)
Prote species at the Botanical Gardens

Lastly, a cold-hardy bromeliad – The Blue Puyu

The Puyu flowers
The Puyu at full height!

2018 Birthday in Sydney

For my birthday, Andrew took me out to dinner and to a play at the Sydney Opera House. That made me realize that for all the pictures I’ve loaded, I had none of downtown Sydney.

Andrew in front of the Opera House
The Sydney Harbor Bridge-I

The harbor is just to the left and on the right side are rows of cafes and restaurants with lots of seating in between.  There are also very interested gulls and birds!  Some of the restaurants bring your food with a metal mesh cover, because  winged thieves will swoop down and steal whatever they can.  We had a couple wander along the rail and eye us up, but the looks we gave back must have intimidated them.

If you look closely along the top, the little bumps are people. I understand Prince Harry made the climb when he and Meghan were here.

img_2028Lastly, tucked under the bridge is the permanent Fairgrounds of Luna Park.  I haven’t been yet, but someday.

Unicorn Tapestries

So when after 500 years the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries have left Paris – and came to Sydney!  Needless to say, Andrew and I went to see them and I took lots of pictures!




After our tapestry tour- we visited the rest of the museum and the Shakespeare Library- equally amazing!




Tasmania-Part 3

After we drove as far south as we could, we made our way back up through central Tasmania.  We camped for a couple of days at Lake St. Claire. It was very relaxing and quite lovely. We loIMG_1562oked for platypus but didn’t see any. This area is famous for its hiking, (which an be quite rigorous) and draws hikers from all over the world.  we did see a Tasmanian devil!  Here is a photo looking out over a stream.  When we broke camp we drove down through the mountains to the Gordon River.

Part of the drive winds down through Queenstown, an area that had been heavily mined. The landscape was so stark that it could have been used for a movie about Mars.


Queenstown-(Image from  By Armistej at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17603186)

This is the same view we saw as we wended down the mountains.  Finally we came to Strahan, where we camped at a little caravan park.  We took the tour boat for the all-day Gordon River Cruise, which stopped at some world heritage sites.

Here are some images of the riverway.


we stopped at two islands, one was a protected site – with a catwalk so our footsteps would not disturb (or contaminate) the island.  There were little mud tunnels where crayfish lived and amazing lichens.


Lestherwood blossoms


The air was perfumed by the many leatherwood trees, famous for their honey.  There is also the Huon pine, which is not protected. It has wood with a lovely smell. No logging of live trees is allowed, but harvesting of trees mired in swamps is allowed. The timber is so durable that trees that have been lying in water in mud are still sound. I was able to purchase a piece of one the old logs.

Then we stopped at Sarah Island. This island was very small and was used as a convict prison. There were both men and women and the conditions were very harsh.   After that we packed up and made our way back north. The crossing back on the Spirit of Tasmania was quite easy and on disembarking we drove to Victoria then home.





Tasmania – Part 2


We went hiking in the Hartz Mountains along a high ridge. There were lots of beautiful lichens and super big, pesty flies. A lot of my pictures are blurry because even through they didn’t bite they landed all over you if you stood still. So many of my images were click and run. This track ran along to a little lake.


Here’s Andrew enjoying dabbling his toes in the water. You can’t see them, but they are wet.

The next day, was the ferry over to Bruny Island. Andrew had heard a lot about the unique plants there. Much of the Western side is only accessible by several days journey by foot, so we kept to the more accessible areas.

Below is Adventure Bay, on Bruny Island ( The location of the only petrol station on the island). IMG_1509


There was a lovely walk up a rocky beach. Someone had piled stones into little formations.  The view of South Bruny was just spectacular.


That’s Andrew in the lower left corner also taking photos.

Last we went to the lighthouse at the Southern tip, because I wanted to look out towards the Antarctic Ocean. Somewhere beyond the horizon there are penguins.






The Melbourne Cup



Every country has its interesting holidays. They celebrate the queen’s birthday is one  example. The Melbourne Cup is a little like the Kentucky Derby, with the exception that pretty near the whole country stops working and watches for a few minutes. Around all this people wear fancy hats and have little parties.  We were in Queensland mid-October, where Andrew and I work as volunteers at the Queensland Herbarium.  Andrew’s Aunt Pam supplied me with some ribbons and fresh flowers and I made myself a hat.

At the end of the day, I donated it to the Herbarium, where it graced the front desk in the lobby : )