More from the garden 

After the big cull a few weeks ago the garden has had far less of an opportunity to produce food.  It’s down to a more manageable amount of food now and today I picked a few items to use for meals. 

As I was picking vegetables I was eating fresh strawberries from the garden. How awesome is that!

So here is today’s harvest:

  • Chillies;
  • Egg plant, both white and purple;
  • Cucumber; and 
  • Sweet potato.


I didn’t even realise I had sweet potato and as I was digging what I thought was a capsicum plant out, I hit something hard and there it was. 
The passion fruit vine I planted several months ago has taken off and is beginning to form a natural arbour over the garden bed.  I’m just trimming the vine to keep in close to the post to focus it’s attention on getting up high.

The basil was out of control a few weeks ago so I literally cut it back to a stump. It’s come back now and is making me think I need to make a big batch of pesto.

That’s sage in the foreground.


And as usual there is plenty of wildlife around.  In case you are reading this from overseas, this little fella is a kookaburra. It’s one of our native birds famous for their laughing song. This one was so friendly and let me get right up close. Don’t be fooled by that cute face though, if he wants my finger he will have a good go at it.  That powerful beak makes them great snake catchers.



This is a really beautiful time of day on the island. Normally I’d enjoy just kicking back with a beer and watching the water after a day’s work mowing and gardening but I don’t think I could stand the thought of one after last night’s few too many.

I’ll sit back and watch the passing boats on the bay and probably head down to the club for a burger. I’ll take one of my chillies with me for a little extra flavour.
Also, a big thank you to the people who sent me some really nice messages.  I was so pleasantly surprised, particularly to find out that people have been following my blog for many years and live on the other side of the world.  Sincerely, thanks for your kind and very generous words.  They made a difference. 

Island Night Life

Despite the island’s tiny population, we have some great facilities here. The little community club is a great way to meet some of the locals and have a beer. On Friday and Saturday nights the kitchen is open for business. Two of the local girls run the kitchen and they do an amazing job. I haven’t had a chance to get there on a Friday night yet but I will definitely try it soon.

This is the Friday night menu.

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For kids they simply halve the serving and halve the price. I think that’s a really sensible way to do it. I find it a bit annoying when places have kids menus and they consist of chicken nuggets or something equally unhealthy and unappealing.

On Saturday nights the girls just serve burgers. I’m really surprised the place isn’t busier since the burgers are great. In fact I’m so impressed with the burgers that I reckon they are the best burger I’ve ever had. That’s a big call but I simply can’t fault them. The buns are fresh and good quality, the meat is freshly made and not a processed slab of questionable content and the salad is good. The girls obviously take pride in their business and it shows. The kitchen is clean, the food is fantastic and the prices are better than the mainland.
This is the works burger. Awesome value for $8.50.

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While I was waiting for my burger to come out I played a game of pool. The pool table is free to use as is the tennis court outside. The island has so much potential for a great little community.

Cyclone

You may have heard that there is a cyclone in North Queensland. The news reports seem to be exaggerating the severity of the cyclone for Brisbane as we aren’t getting much bad weather at all. There has been plenty of rain but not much wind.

This is the radar image from the BOM.

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I headed over to the island this weekend expecting to feel the brunt of the cyclone. It’s been raining most of the time but I think the cyclone is well north of Brisbane.

The cottage is very well protected since it sits on the highest part of the island and is also near a cliff. When the weather comes in from the South East it hits the cliff and passes straight over the top of us.

This was the view from the cottage during one of the lulls in the rain. It was very misty and there was a cloud around the peak of one of the hills on Stradbroke Island.

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Even down at the local swimming enclosure there wasn’t much indication of a cyclone. Normally you could see Stradbroke Island from here and the water wouldn’t be as dirty, but it just felt like a generally wet weekend.

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Not everyone thought the heavy rain was bad. The island ducks seemed to be enjoying it.

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The island is quiet at the best of times since the population consists of only a few hundred people. I’m sceptical about that number since there only ever seems to be a handful of people around. There is only one little shop on the island which provides necessities to the locals. At least if the cyclone hits us we will have a good supply of food. Saturday is market day for the island shop.

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Progress

In contrast to the cottage, work is actually being done around the island by the council. It’s a sad state of affairs when the local council can get work done quicker than private enterprise. I wonder how long it would take them to do garden edging?
At the bottom of my street there is a little park, which is where I launch the tender to get out to my mooring. Many years ago the council installed a retaining wall in the form of steel sheet piling to stop erosion. That sheet piling has reached the end of its life and council is installing a new, more permanent (and hopefully more attractive) retaining wall. This is the little waterfront park. The council has moved its excavator onsite and now we are all waiting anxiously to see what happens.

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It looks like they will be doing a bit of work on the park also. Hopefully it’s something attractive.

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This is the original steel sheet piling at low tide. My mooring is just out the front.

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Also on the agenda for council works is to tar our street. You can see where the sealed section ends abruptly. I actually like it unsealed since it creates a bit of a country road feel. The dust can be annoying but since there are only a few cars each day passing by, it’s not really an issue. Unfortunately when it rains the cute little road turns into muddy strip, so I’m fairly happy about the tar sealing.

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After I left the island today I saw some magpies taking a bath in a puddle. We’ve had so much rain here for the last couple of months. I wish I had laid all my turf so it would have been established by now.

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So it was back to the ferry this afternoon to get ready for another week in the “real world”. On the ride back to the mainland I passed this beautiful schooner anchored off the island. It made me miss my old Westsail.

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Why so negative?

I’m conscious that my last entry was a pretty negative rant and I don’t want to turn this blog into a big pile of negativity, but I think this one needs to go in. It highlights one of the issues of living on an island. I’ve mentioned the issues I’ve been having with the garden edging previously. The bloke I engaged to do it was originally really good to deal with. He is a licensed builder who does work on the islands. In hindsight he was all talk. He apparently shared my concerns about the lack of motivation for the local island businesses to do work. I’ve found it impossible so far to get someone reliable to do anything. People say they will turn up and they don’t. I suppose they are all a bit too relaxed, but not relaxed enough not to take your money.
So the contractor, who was doing my edging told me it was a day’s work. That was back in November last year. The job was for about 200 metres of edging which was about $4000. He asked me for 50% up front and the remainder would be payable when he finished and we could accurately determine the total length. So I paid him $2000 as soon as he asked hoping he would get straight onto it. 3 months later I’ve got a heap of rubbish laying on the block, my garage is full of his equipment and the part of the edging that he has had a go at is cracking, peeling and needs to be dumped. It’s a complete stuff up. Even the neighbours have been asking what the story is. A few have joked and suggested he might have been drunk, judging from the poor quality of work. So I spoke to him last week and told him we need to finalise the debacle. He agreed that it needed to be removed and to refund my money before the weekend. I thought, despite his lack of recent communication and crap work, he was a decent bloke who at least had some ethics by acknowledging the problem and would do the right thing.

By the weekend, I had no refund transferred to my account and he came and took his equipment from the property. So I’m $2000 out of pocket, left with a clean up cost to remove this garbage and garden edging that looks like this.

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In addition to that, he now claims I owe him $700 extra for the incomplete fine job he has done. How anyone can rationalise in their mind that they are entitled to full payment for work that is not only rubbish, but isn’t even finished after 3 months is beyond me. It’s pretty disheartening when I’ve been patiently waiting around like a fool listening to continual assurances that it would be done “this weekend” for months and this is how the bloke treats me.

I have now well and truly learned my lesson. Do not use local island businesses. If things go bad, and it seems they always do, then you have to deal with the local fallout. If I do need to use someone locally, I’m not going to fall for the trap of paying them anything up front since ethical business practise doesn’t seem to be high on the priority list here.

It’s not the end of it, but it’s more hassle than I need at the moment. It’s particularly disappointing since I wanted to use local businesses to support the islands and unethical grubs like this spoil it for everyone.

Ps: I still love the island!