Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows' Eve.......................

I should be somewhere in the Greek Islands tonight..................last year 
I was in New Zealand's sub-Antarctic Islands on Halloween. I wonder if there 
will be a shipboard Halloween party? 

Isn't this crazy, isn't life strange? 
Sailing on far away seas while little 
gnomes, goblins, fairy princesses, and 
wicked witches are probably ringing my 
door bell at home calling out...... 

"Trick or Treat"

Quick note from the boat........from Greece

Dubrovnik was a fabulous place.....................even with rain, wind and misty conditions. 
Bob and I were still able to walk the ancient wall around the city.......but it was slippery, and the wind almost blew us over at the very high points!

This beautiful Greek Island in the Ionian Sea greeted us with sunshine yesterday.............

..........Paula and me after enjoying "a big, delicious Greek lunch" on the waterfront.

More later............this is a fabulous Mediterrranean cruise.

Hope everyone at home is safe!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

With these hands.................

A pictorial of busy hands of the Indigenous Aboriginals 
of Arnhem Land, Northern Territory................

Paula bought a beautiful piece of this renowned 
artist's work............even 
more special because she was able to meet, talk with him, 
and see him creating on his canvas.  

This painting was on fabric and depicts the fruit bats 
(also known as flying foxes) hanging from tree branches.  
We did see huge colonies of these bats in the area.

Several Aboriginal women at the art gallery were busy 
weaving baskets.....................

Most exterior flat surfaces were perfect for art............beautiful, colorful, and 
definitely not graffiti!

This brilliant painting depicts a kangaroo, 
crocodile, turtle, lizard, fruit bat, 
magpie goose, water lilies and vines.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Strange day in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.........

This was definitely a very different expedition day!
It was the end of the trip, we'd left the ship, enjoyed 
seeing Darwin, moved on to Kakadu National Park, 
and ended up here in Arnhem Land.  

Paula and I were hardly up for 106 degrees in blazing sun, 
armpit soaking, water slurping, dripping humidity, and the 
red dust of Australia's remote Northern Territory - known 
as the 'Top End'. However, thrill seekers (fools perhaps), 
sign on for crazy adventures such as this.................and 
we can now look back and share memories of how exciting one 
of the more strange days we shared down under.

The magic bus appeared early morning at our crocodile hotel in the Kakadu (more on that another time!) 
with Miss Leah at the wheel......and just four more 
crazy tourists hopped aboard with us.

Above, Cahill's Crossing on the Alligator River (but 
remember, there are no alligators in Australia, 
only crocodiles).

First stop, the Border Store for the outdoor bathroom 
break, snacks and cold drinks...............

.............and to watch this little Aboriginal boy 
fascinated by a faux crocodile swimming in in a large pot!

Of course the crocs rule here...........warning signs 
are everywhere and being close to water is somewhat
    nerve wracking.....................

..........which is why I'm scoffing down my lunch 
on the billabong beach where Leah said to stay 
waaaaay back from the water!

While eating, we were suddenly joined by several 
decrepit vehicles speeding through the sand within inches 
of us. Overloaded with Aboriginals, these cars were 
heading to a funeral in a nearby village. We and our 
food were soon coated in sand........hardly a 
bucolic country picnic.

The Arnhem Land Region's population is 16,230 and it  
has been occupied by Indigenous people for tens of 
thousands of years. It is the location of the 
oldest-known stone axe, which scholars believe to be 
35,000 years old.

The climate here is tropical monsoon with a wet and a dry season.  
Temperatures do not fluctuate widely throughout the year, it's always hot.

Declared an Aboriginal Reserve in 1931, it 
remains one of the largest in Australia 
and is best known for its isolation, the 
art of its people, and the strong continuing 
traditions of its Indigenous inhabitants.

Some areas of deep cultural significance to the 
Indigenous inhabitants are off-limits even to those 
with permission to travel across Arnhem Land.

The land is beautiful in a rather melancholy way......silence 
is pervasive. Lots of birdlife, especially around the 
wetland areas - the billibongs - which are small, stagnant 
lakes adjacent to, or cut off from, a river or creek, and 
often dry up completely in the dry season. We were visiting 
at the very end of the dry, the wet coming hot our trail 
we were told.

Arnhem Land Region - northeastern corner of the 
Northern Territory, Australia..........a spectacular 
and diverse landscape, a different place where the culture 
and art of the Indigenous people remains strong.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Favorite Thing - Aussies can cook..................

.......and I thought we'd only see 'throwing on the barbecue' type food once heading away from town and out into 
the Kakadu wilderness....the real Australian bush country!

This was a favorite of mine (I don't eat meat)...and in a 
hotel dining room no less. I snapped the menu description 
with my iPhone to remind me of the ingredients, 
then worked to replicate in my kitchen recently. 
Their version was a bit better because they added some 
type of tasty sauce I believe, however mine was 
healthier for lack of it! 
Bob doesn't like dry dishes so if I make this again 
I will add a little veggie broth to the skillet perhaps.

I Bob cut up and peeled a small pie pumpkin. Tossed in a couple of tablespoons of good olive oil, fresh black pepper - roasted at 350 degrees for about 25 mins. until softish - don't overcook. 
This cook book, The Roasted Vegetable is great, the roasting timing chart handy, recipes yummy.
Cooked and drained mini penne, which was all I had in the cupboard, but it worked well. In a large skillet I heated a little olive oil, added a bag of washed and dried baby spinach and allowed it to wilt, threw in the warm penne. Tossed in a small log, cut into chunks, of Trader Joe's fresh goat cheese with black olives, stirred gently until heated through, then added the pumpkin cubes (which I first reheated in the micro because they had cooled off). Plated scattered with a wee bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and more fresh ground pepper - we're off the salt these days. It was very day leftovers even better perhaps because I did add a dash of heavy cream........and I gobbled it all for lunch.......
..... while Bob indulged himself with a KFC sandwich, enough said!!!

Linking to Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage for A Favorite Thing Saturday - do visit today!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gagudju Crocodile .....................

The diorama in the welcoming lobby set the tone 
for this very unusual Holiday Inn in the 
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia.

This croc obviously modeled for the hotel architect!

Paula and I thought this place was so much fun.......our 
room faced in toward the lovely pool area where the trees 
were like a lush oasis, inside the croc.......

.....and it was the perfect location to rest our sleepy 
heads after spending hours on the dusty, hot road........
especially as each bed had a great selection 
of perfect pillows.

Lots of beautiful Aboriginal art was displayed in 
the public areas.............most for sale, and 
definitely not cheap - the Australian dollar being almost 
at parity with the US dollar.
Note the Barramundi of the most 
popular served in Australia and really is delicious.

Our young dining room waitress provided 
a great answer when we asked where she lived, Gagudju 
being a very small place. "In the croc's tail with 
my boyfriend who's the hotel handyman". 
On-site employee housing of a difference...........we 
rolled over giggling when we fell into our 
comfy crocodile hotel beds that night!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Raft Point and Montgomery Reef............

Raft Point, The Kimberley, Western Australia

Raft Point.............a wet landing on a rocky/sandy 
beach to view an outdoor Aboriginal art gallery. 
Rock art presented an account of the mythical Wandjinas 
on a 'Great Fish Chase'..............but for those 
who weren't up to clambering and scrambling over 
rocks on a hike in very high temperatures (like us!) 
to view it, there was also some interesting original art 
for sale on the beach from local Aboriginals. 

Paula shopped, while I quietly tried to make head 
or tail of these very different creative pieces. 
Beautifully rendered on canvas, but difficult to display 
in a French style decorated cottage....I did not buy!!

See below for an explanation of this art.

Wandjina figures are some of the most visually striking of all images in Kimberley art, the Wandjina people said to be 'the creator beings of the Dreaming' and that they made their world and all it contains.
Wandjina are usually painted as full-length, or head and shoulder figures, either standing or lying horizontally. Their large mouthless faces feature enormous black eyes flanking a beak-like nose. The head is usually surrounded by a band with outward radiating lines. Elaborate head-dresses are both the hair of the Wandjinas and clouds. Long lines coming from the hair are the feathers which they wore and the lightning which they control. Ceremonies to ensure the timely beginning of the monsoon wet season and sufficient rainfall are held in December and January, following which the rains usually begin.

Paula clambering around the beautiful smooth rocks 
along the shore......

............leaving the higher ones for the brave-hearted.

Later in the afternoon, after returning to the ship, 
it repositioned and anchored close to an amazing 
natural spectacle, Montgomery Reef.......invisible at 
first then, as the tide fell rapidly, a huge reef 
appeared with water cascading off the edge. 
Sea birds congregated to eat the 
bounty of the sea now exposed in all its glory. 
An amazing sight.

Anchor hoisted, enticing smells of dinner being prepared - 
such fabulous food on this ship - and an evening 
of entertainment ahead.
 Another amazing day in the Kimberley, and we 
sailed on northward toward Hunter River.