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August sunshine on my shoulders...

With the onset of August, the first few days of the week were showing some hints of the warmth that comes with the advent of Spring. The sweet smelling freesias had started to pop up in the grass, the magnolias were gloriously in bloom, birds were sweetly singing and cackling, and the warm sunshine beckoned us to shed some woolly layers of clothing and to pack away our heavy winter coats.

I found another small forest nearby to go trekking in with trickling brooks, lush green ferns under a canopy of tall blackbutt and blue gum high trees from where bursts of sunshine gleaned through. I spotted bold black brush turkeys nesting high up on the branches and cavernous holes in crumbling trees where magnificent and very powerful owls could shelter and hide out. Sheldon Forest was a hidden gem of a spot not far from home, however somehow it’s existence had eluded me until now.

Brush turkeys nesting in blue gum high trees in Sheldon Forest, Pymble

Entering our sixth week of lockdown and looking for new ways to occupy my time at home, I decided to head back into the kitchen and to try out some new recipes. First up I decided to freshen up our breakfast repertoire with some wholesome muffins packed with veggies and warming spices. These tasty morsels of deliciousness are like a muffin version of a falafel, a subtle hint of garlic combined with continental and eastern spices, a textural combination of cooked quinoa, spelt, caramelised and grated veggies with the crunch of pepitas on top. Served with a dollop of tomato and cracked pepper relish, or a spoonful of hummus would also go down a treat to satisfy the taste buds. You can find the recipe for these delish muffins here.

Good breakfast veggie muffins

For dinner mid week we had a ‘meatless Monday’ meal, a little late because, well you know ‘who even knows what day it is during lockdown?’ Monday? Wednesday? Thursday? The days run into each other and every day feels much the same. I found this delicious tray bake dinner recipe by Kate Gibbs, granddaughter of world renowned recipe writer and home cook Margaret Fulton, and I knew that I just had to try it. You can find the recipe for this Halloumi, cauliflower and crispy chickpeas with sweet raisin vinegar here. The sweet paprika roasted chickpeas are so nutty and delicious you could roast up a bowl for a snack and the sour raisin balsamic adds a touch of gourmet to take this meal up a notch.

Taking a couple of bush walks in my own backyard and cooking up a few new recipes doesn’t go a long way to alleviating the boredom of lockdown and the desire to go somewhere and escape. If anyone else is craving a holiday right now, I hear you sister. With no end in sight to the lockdown, all we can do to satisfy this fantasy is to take ‘A Flight of Fancy’ by listening to the podcast of the same name. This week's episode here explores the iconic wilderness areas, incredible pristine beaches, and amazing food and wine destinations to visit in the huge state of Western Australia. I’ve shortlisted a few places to add to a potential itinerary as soon as we are able to jump on a plane.

A Western Australian sunset is like no other.. Whether it be bathing in the golden light whilst enjoying a ride on a camel train along the sands of Cable Beach or down south in the Margaret River region watching the beautiful reflective glow of the waters of the Indian Ocean as the colours of Sugarloaf Rock light up and change minute by minute, or sipping champagne looking across the bush from the top of the Coburn Ranges in the El Questro wilderness park in East Kimberley, a WA sunset is something not to be missed.

Exmouth is the main hub from where you drive to the sprawling Ningaloo Reef, which houses the most spectacular hard and soft corals and you can snorkel amongst tropical fish and elegant manta rays and swim with the Whale Sharks in the Winter time. About 70 kilometres south of Exmouth at the sleepy seaside village of Coral Bay you can literally swim about 50 metres into the water from the shoreline and be snorkelling over the reef. The colour of the water has so many shades of blue you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Maldives.

Esperance has some of the most beautiful beaches in WA, the pure white sand shimmers in the sunlight and is so bright it’s literally blinding. Kangaroos have made their home on the beach. Middle Island off Esperance has the stunning bubblegum Pink Lake Hillier where Australia’s first pirate was marooned. Nearby is one of Australia’s smallest gin distilleries, specialising in gins made with native botanicals collected nearby. A short drive along the coast beautiful scenery awaits in the Cape Le Grand National Park. The road from Esperance to Albany has an extraordinary display of wildflowers during spring.

In the southern part of Western Australia you will stumble upon many good food and wine hotspots. From Bread in Common in an old converted warehouse in Fremantle historic West End, to Mistelle French Bistro in the Perth Hills overlooking the Hainault Vineyard, Miki’s Open Kitchen in the Margaret River wine region with creative Japanese inspired modern cuisine made using seasonal produce cooked in shallow copper pots, and last but not least a secret little gem 25 minutes south of Margaret River, Glenarty Road in Karridale, set on a working sheep farm serving a farm to table style feast cooked on a metal plate over a wood fire. The vineyards are plentiful, too many to name individually.

You can cruise around the Kimberleys to see the myriad of colours on the rock faces and the King George Falls or fly over the Kununurra and the beehive-shaped Bungle Bungle ranges, a forest of domed rocks that tower up to 300 metres high.

If you like trekking, the Cape to Cape track is a spectacular walk in the Margaret River region that takes in pristine little beaches like Smiths Beach and jewel-blue waters of Injidup Beach and rockpool ‘spa’, the protected Aquarium offering great snorkelling opportunities and the dramatic coastal cliffs.

The Bibbulmun Track stretching 1000 kilometres from the Perth Hills to Albany traverses through towering Karri tree forests, coastal scrubland and the sheltered magical turquoise cove Green Pools for a spot of calm and tranquil beauty near Denmark.

A one hour ferry ride from Perth, Rottnest Island offers a slower pace of life, more beautiful beaches, spectacular sunsets and little quokka if that’s your jam.

A wonderful resource for anyone contemplating a trip to beautiful Western Australia should head to the Instagram account @fleurbainger or google her name for lots of additional information.

The second and final week of the Olympics offered a reprieve from the monotony of lockdown and brought so much joy, not necessarily in the form of Gold Medals but in stories of heart and sportsmanship. A few of the highlights included the Kookaburras men’s hockey team making it through to the final, however losing in a heartbreaking penalty shootout, the collegiate sportsmanship shown by Cedric Dubler in a selfless act, encouraging his training mate Ash Maloney over the line, and his elation at seeing him win a bronze medal in the Decathlon, and finally, the inspiration and heart shown by Sudanese refugee Peter Bols finishing the fourth fastest in the world in the Men’s 400 metre final. What an incredible effort and achievement.

I rounded out the week with another enjoyable trek not far from home with my significant other. The walk started at St Ives and followed a water pipeline through the bush and into the heart of the Garigal National Park until it reached the creek that flows into Middle Harbour. Heading south across the pebbled pathway of the Gordon Creek, we traversed through coastal scrub, tropical ferns and mangrove swamps to the picturesque junction and turquoise still waters of the two creeks at Lockley Point. The serenity of the water and natural beauty was only enhanced by the sight of canoes slowly gliding along. We saw bees thriving on the nectar of wildflowers like Sydney banksia and were careful not to trip over the many bandicoot burrows. A strenuous walk in sections with a diversity of natural scenery, a well earned lamb pita and chips awaited us @goodfieldseatery at the end.

Lockley Point, Garigal National Park

Until next time may your days be both serendipitous and enjoyable.



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