Australia Day 2017

You might recall that last year we indulged in a full tasting menu for Australia Day. Yes, 8 courses that took us on a culinary tour around the Country – celebrating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

And while this year was much more ‘low key’, we still filled the day with family and food, and a favourite pastime – a morning hike!

Needless to say after the morning’s outdoor adventures, we were quite hungry when the afternoon rolled around. Our family joined us for an early dinner – and with the temperature exceeding 30 degrees outside, a BBQ seemed to be the most logical, if not sanest, choice.

On the menu?

Some homemade sausages by our local butcher. Served with a few “Aussie-themed” sides.

Starting with a mango macadamia salad – comprising of salad leaves, fresh mango, avocado and macadamias. Dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, seeded mustard, oil and sliced red chilli.

I also turned on the oven for 20 minutes or so, in order to make another iconic Australian side…damper! Flavoured with camembert and cracked pepper (and these turned out very moreish indeed).

For dessert we kept things pretty simple. Instead of a large pavlova, I went with mini versions instead. Topped with cream, lemon curd and a fresh raspberry.


And to keep us hydrated, we served a fresh fruit cocktail.

Akin to a punch – I guess you’d say – made with vodka, coconut rum, cooled tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale – finished with some frozen honeydew balls, mint and raspberry.

And so another Australia Day came to pass  – and we retired to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day.

What about you? What did you get up to this Australia Day?

2016 – A Year in Review

I’ve heard a lot of people lamenting 2016 – and bidding it a quick and eager farewell. For us, though, 2016 was a good year. Sure, there were some less than stellar moments dotted throughout (but that’s generally the case isn’t it?) but for the most part, we finally managed to strike an ok work / life balance. We also made it through the year with good health and in good spirits, such that we enter 2017 with a sense of anticipation for what the new year might bring.

But before I turn to our hopes and aims for the year to come, it seems only fair to recap the year that was. 

January 

Summer holidays continued in full swing. We celebrated a late Christmas linner, devoured a 8-course Australia Day ‘tasting menu‘, and spent time playing tourist in our home town.

February

Josie turned ONE(!), Charlotte started Pre-School(!) and we took a week-long cruise around New Caledonia (see here, here, here and here).

March

Charlotte turned FOUR, we celebrated Easter and took lots of family hikes.

April

We took more family hikes, cheered on the Brumbies, went camping and got all dressed up for a costume party!

May

We celebrated Mother’s Day, took more hikes,  and had lots of little adventures – both indoors and out.

June

With the Canberra Winter having arrived, we had lots of fun indoors. We also took a girl’s road trip down to Melbourne to catch up with family and visit the zoo!

July

We had dance classes, visitors in town and lots of good food.

August

We celebrated Book Week, took a quick trip to Melbourne and then a family holiday to Fiji!

September

We celebrated Father’s Day – Italian Style, painted, created a fairy garden and flew a kite.

October

We took another trip to Melbourne, the girls dressed up for Halloween and the husband and I went on a “Bloody Long Walk” for charity.

November

We baked, we went to the Circus, we visited the Show and we celebrated our dear friends’ wedding in Thredbo (where we played in snow!).  

December

We ate, we drank, we partied.  We took a quick trip to Melbourne to celebrate my nephew’s 1st birthday. Then we had lots of family arrive into town, and celebrated Christmas accordingly.

And so our 2016 came to a close. Filled to the brim with new memories, time spent with family and a seemingly better balance between work and play (well better than in previous years, that’s for sure!!).

Here’s to an even bigger and better 2017!

Walk Canberra – Kambah Pool to Pine Island

IMG_0234Growing up, my family spent many weekends camping and exploring. My Dad would arrange various hikes and bushwalks, with every detail meticulously planned and mapped out. We’d often camp out overnight, carrying all the essentials for the few days on our back.

I don’t really remember what we talked about on those long hikes, or whether we even talked at all. Although knowing Dad, he would have been full of groan-worthy ‘dad-jokes’ and probably broken into song as we marched along.

I do, however, remember loving the fresh air. The trees, the wildlife, the peacefulness.

And while my girls are still quite young (and longer hikes are not on the cards just yet), our little family has really embraced living in the Bush Capital and its abundance of local trails.

Some of our favourite trails are quite popular (Mt Ainslie, Mr Taylor..) while others are a little more hidden.  Some are definitely kid-friendly, others not so.  And then there are some whose online information is quite out of date, or just plain wrong.

IMG_0265

So as a reference tool for myself, and also for any like-minded wanderers out there, I’d love to cover some of my favourite trails as we continue to explore this gorgeous Canberra region.

A “Walk Canberra” series.

Starting with – Kambah Pool to Pine Island

This walk is part of the larger Murrumbidgee Discovery Track – a 27km trail between Casurina Sands and Point Hut Crossing that runs alongside the Murrumbidgee River.  I tackled it last weekend by myself – as a bit of a reconnaissance mission to see whether it would be suitable to bring the kids along (my thoughts on that later).

IMG_0221

The skies were grey, but the threatened rain held off. And, on reflection, the overcast weather was actually rather perfect for this relatively ‘exposed’ trail.

I parked my car at Kambah Pool, with a view to being collected by Mr BBB at the other end at Pine Island. However, the walk took far less time than I had expected so I ended up doing an out-and-back walk / trail run combination.

Distance / timings

I should start by saying that the  TAMS website information for this walk  is rather inaccurate. It indicated the walk was 7km one way, when signage at the start of the trail (more accurately) confirmed it was 9.2km.

IMG_0276

The suggested timing of 3 to 4 hours (one-way) is probably too conservative and I think you could quite comfortably complete the one-way trip in around 2 hours (although I guess it depends on how fit you are feeling and how many stops you wish to take along the way.)

All in all, I covered around 8km out, and 8km back, walking some – running some – in around 2.5 hours.

IMG_0279

The trail

The trail itself was quite varied, changing between grassy paddock paths and rocky bushland sections. It was quite exposed in parts, which I imagine would get quite hot in the warmer months, so BYO water, sunscreen and a hat!

IMG_0250IMG_0259

IMG_0261

For the most part, the trail was quite well sign-posted – with lots of the Centenary trail markers guiding the way. There were a few points of confusion closer to Pine Island, but it was more a case of needing to be vigilant so as to not miss the next marker.

IMG_0253Gradient

Another thing that confused me was the listed gradient, with signs suggesting the trail had a moderate to steep gradient. Perhaps I am more used to mountain climbing as I found the trail to be quite flat with only a couple small hilly sections along the way. Certainly nothing I would describe as steep!

IMG_0237

In fact, I saw more mountain-bikers than walkers – and quickly promised myself that I would return to also explore the trail by bike soon!

Highlights

A big highlight was definitely Red Rock Gorge – with a look-out a short distance off the trail about 2kms in.

 

IMG_0235

IMG_7124

And the view when approaching the gorge from the other direction was pretty spectacular too – with the red-rocked cliffs seeming to pop into view out of nowhere!

IMG_0244

I also loved the old stone wall – which was apparently built in the 1860s to mark the boundary between two early rural properties.

 

IMG_0255

Another big highlight was how quiet it was. I crossed paths with a few walkers, a few more mountain bikers and one other trail runner. And aside from the hundreds of kangaroos I encountered, I had the trail pretty much to myself most of the time.

IMG_0270

Kid Friendly?

Normally when we take hikes as a family, I carry Miss 1 In the Ergo, and Mr BBB carries Miss 4 in a hiking backpack (for around half the walk, or until she decides she’s had enough). While I think this would be a suitable walk in terms of gradient / terrain to take the girls, I suspect they would lose patience pretty quickly given how long it is (an hour being their general tolerance limit). In saying that, I’m really keen to take them for a walk to the lookout (about 4kms return from Kambah Pool) and I am pretty confident that Miss 4 could probably walk at least half of it.

IMG_0263And, if all else fails, I think the abundance of kangaroos we will inevitably spot along the way should keep her entertained!

All in all, I really enjoyed this walk. It was quiet, well sign-posted and covered a lot of terrain variety. I’ll definitely be back – and hope to perhaps bike an extended version of the route too.

Kambah Pool to Pine Island – in Summary

  • Start? Kambah Pool Road, Tuggeranong (the trail is well sign posted as you enter the carpark,  on the left)
  • Distance? 9.2km one-way (18.4km return)
  • Time? Allow 4 hours return (moderate pace)
  • Terrain? Mixed dirt paths, bushland, exposed paddocks
  • Gradient? Some rolling hills, but nothing too steep
  • Difficulty? Easy / moderate
  • Mobile reception? I had mobile coverage the whole way (Telstra)
  • Water? BYO
  • Toilets ? At Kambah Pool and Pine Island. None along the trail itself (aside from the ‘bush’ toilet)
  • Bike friendly? Yes
  • Run friendly? Yes
  • Kid-friendly? In parts, yes. The walk from Kambah Pool to the lookout would definitely be do-able.