Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Spanish Dreamer

The amazing castle

There are some places that have a special place in your heart and this is one of them. I'm not sure if it's the amazing castles and buildings in a suspended state of ruin or the inspiring story behind their creator or the heart warming passion of the current owners to preserve and restore this place for future generations that makes this so incredible. All I know is that I came here 12 years ago for a fleeting visit and it's been on my mind every since.

This is Paronella Park. An awe inspiring testament to the dream of a Spanish immigrant who came to Australia in 1913 and built this, BY HAND, as an entertainment park.

The old ballroom which has been devastated by flood, cyclones and neglect.

An absolute beauty in its heyday, it has suffered its share of boom to bust as so many of these places do, but enjoying a second wind thanks to the new owners who rescued it after 15 years of abandonment.

It has already suffered the effects of floods and cyclones and in the time since the new owners had taken over in 1991 it has since been subject to more cyclones and floods, further damaging the already delicate structures.

The grand staircase of 47 steps built by hand in the 1940s
But the delicate structures now covered in moss create an eerie and incredible backdrop and   I think no matter how long I spend here and how many times I visit I will always be in awe of the amazing dedication and foresight of the dream of the original creator, Jose Paronella.

Jose Paronella's handprints are on surfaces across the park
Evidence of this incredible man is ingrained throughout the park but mostly upon all the surfaces of the buildings he created by hand. Slapping the concrete mixture across the structures have left his handprints forever. It's poignant and touching.

The remains of the theatre room

The original theatre room

This is the room that I find most incredible. It's the old theatre room where they would show movies and stage plays. Sadly it was damaged in a series of floods and a fire over the years and finally Cyclone Yasi pretty much finished it off last year.

This is what it looked like in its heyday, simply amazing, and while the current owners have said they are more preserving and maintaining the park, there is talk they are trying to restore the theatre back to its former glory. I think that would be incredible!

Kauri Avenue

We stayed overnight in the eco cabins on site and did the night tour, where we saw fireflies, turtles feeding and the castle lit up in front of the lush rainforest background. It was magical.

This won't be the last time I'll be coming to this place. I'm completely in love and mesmerised  and can't wait to see the next chapter in its history.

Note: Just a note on the entry fee too. Adults are $38 and that includes EVERYTHING! The day tours, night tours an overnight camping site AND entry for the next year. Yes, a FULL YEAR. I love this soo much. There's no separate areas that you have to pay extra for, you're not dipping into your pocket for extras and the food is reasonably priced. That's a lot of goodwill to me. Just saying.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Date with the Bestie

Vegetable Tempura Plate
I did dinner and a movie with my bestie Bernice last night. It was awesome cause we hadn't caught up in AGES and we were both sans children! Which meant we got to eat the food WE wanted to eat and see the movie WE wanted to see!!

So we had sushi at Hababishi at The Barracks and saw The Sapphires at the Palace Cinemas. So fab that we both wanted to see The Sapphires but neither of us had got around to it. And it was faaaabulous!! Hooray for Australian film.

I did a secondary major in Film & TV at uni and the subject I loved the most was "Australian Film". The lecture was on from 6pm - 9pm on a Friday night and I NEVER missed a lecture. The ONLY subject in my entire degree that I have a 100% attendance rate. I do try and see Australian films when I can, but TBH The Sapphires has been the first decent one I've seen in a while.

Yay for hanging out with your besties!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Brisbane Moon Lantern Festival

Checked out the Brisbane Moon Lantern Festival in Chinatown over the weekend with my little brother. Looove these lanterns. They were just amazing!

I got there pretty late cause I'd spent the day on the Gold Coast with my Bestie Cheree, but it was still packed with people watching performances on centre stage and the atmosphere was electric!

I have really fond memories of the full moon festival, which celebrates the "fullest" moon of the year.  When we were growing up it was called the August Moon Festival, but I've noticed they've changed it to Lantern Moon Festival because, well, it's not August and it's never has been held in August and obviously that's a bit confusing.

When we were growing up the festivals were pretty simple. Buffet food at the local hall with some performances, some sparklers and music. It was awesome fun. I actually used to perform traditional dances when I was in my early teens. Happy Days.

The festivities go over a week and we're heading home to Townsville soon to celebrate up there. It's been YEARS since we've been home to celebrate that and it's something I'm really looking forward to.

Oh and my little bro and I shared this tofu clay hot pot from Pho B. Soooo delicious. Squishy, tasty, deep fried tofu with shitake mushrooms, shallots and ginger. Yuuuuuum!!!!


Had a "work girls" dinner because since Miranda left the company Jacqui and I have been finding the quick one hour fortnightly lunch is never enough time to properly catch up on the gossip and goings on.

I was soo happy when Piaf at South Bank was suggested. I've been wanting to try this place in forever because everyone raves about it. The oange cured atlantic salmon with red radish, goats curd and caper salsa looked amazing but it was the dessert that made my heart melt.

The chef, apparently, was a pastry chef from Italy and this dessert was simply heavenly. Rose and hibiscus panacotta with white chocolate ganache, pistachios and rhubarb jelly.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cult Movie Theatre

We went to a cult movie theatre show on the weekend. I don't know if that's what you call it, it's the only way I can really describe it. They had the movie showing and at intervals some actors would come out and act some of the parts out live. It was a cheesy, but highly entertaining. It was a movie double - The Blues Brothers and Cry Baby.

It was at the Schonell Theatre out at the The University of Queensland. I looooove this place. I haven't seen a movie here since MY uni days a long, long time ago, but it hasn't changed. I think it must have been built in the 60s. The decor is cheesy and the there are lights on the ceiling, but I remember it being cheap to see a movie and a great place to catch up with friends. I have pretty fond memories of it.

I ALSO have fond memories of Schonell Pizza. We had the Vegetarian Four Seasons and it was amazing! I think the key was a thin base with a nice pizza sauce and not too much cheese. It was $16 though...way more expensive than I remember, but sooo delicious.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I went to the hairdresser the other day for a "trim". It should have taken 15 minutes, but it took 2 hours :-). Girls, you know, we have to catch up on the gossip, have a cup of tea (she offered wine, but I had to drive), try different styles etc. It's just the way we are.

So she curled my hair (with a straightener), to give it this voluminous, natural, just-got-out-of-bed look. It takes 2 hours to look this natural and it only ever looks like this when I come out of the salon.

It sure didn't look like that today.


But I love my hairdresser. xx

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Baking...a lot

I've been baking. A lot. At the most ridiculous hours. 3am sometimes. I don't know what's wrong with me. But it's making me fat.

Brisbane Festival

The Brisbane Festival is on! I looooove this! I dragged my baby brother Marc and son Josh to the amazing Lantern Garden in the Cultural Forecourt. It looked spectacular.

My little brother
Walking underneath all these, with their soft glow was beautiful. Such a simple thing concepts but was just magical.

Then we sat on the grass and watched the Santos GLNG City of Lights, a faaaabulous laser light show that lit up the city. It was a Tuesday night and Southbank was packed. So great to see so many people out mid week, enjoying the fantastic weather and celebrating the city.

Tell me something I don't know!

Afterwards we went to Max Brennar Chocolate by the Bald Man. Oh I love this place. The smell of sweet chocolate hits you as soon as you walk in the door and the vat of chocolate at the door makes me drool. Really. It does.

Max Brennar's faaabulous Chocolate Souffle
My brother had the chocolate soufflé which was amazing and Josh and I share the banana praline pancakes. Divineness in every sense.

I don't get to catch up with my little brother as often as I'd like. This was such a nice way to see him and we had a great night. Congrats to the Brisbane Festival organisers. They've outdone themselves this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Park Road Milton

I went for a walk at dusk along Park Road in Milton. Although it was peak hour there was hardly anyone around and the sky was bathed in this soft, red glow. It was surreal, yet peaceful at the same time.

I used to come here as a student many, many, (many) years ago. Back then it was the only place in Brisbane to get a coffee after 9pm. Brisbane has changed a lot since then, there are loads of places now to go. This place is still has a place in my heart though and now I'm back in the area, I feel like I've come full circle.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The West End Markets

I went to the West End Markets on the weekend for all my fresh fruit and veg. Now I'm living in the inner city, these are actually closer than the Eagle Farm Markets and the Rocklea Markets that I usually go to.

These markets are a bit more earthy and I love the atmosphere. It was PACKED though and hard to navigate so I finally bought a little old lady trolley and that made life a bit easier.

What I loooove the most though is coming home with my beautiful fresh haul - ruby red strawberries, Asian greens, spelt bread, crispy carrots. Everything is sooo cheap so I buy so much more for the week and our meals are so much more colourful and flavoursome.

Ingredients...ready to roll

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

Tofu Laksa

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dessert at Home

Buckwheat pancakes with REAL Canadian maple syrup! 
Watching Kindergarden Cop on TV with Josh.
Blanket on the couch.


Afternoon Entertainment

No need to go out when you have this at home.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Building Approval GRANTED!!

(Website Link)

Building approval has been GRANTED!! Finally. Over 20 months after the flood and it feels like we are getting some traction.

My double life

I lead a such a double life. When Josh is with his Dad, I catch up with my friends, go to shows, say yes to work and corporate events and eat out. Lots. I'm hardly ever home. It feels like the crazy childless life I had before I was 22.

But the moment he's back, it completely changes. We have a routine. Bedtime is strictly 9pm on school nights and 11pm on weekends (for him, not me). The fridge is fully stocked and the three square meals/day are home cooked (mostly). I baked brownies and scones for lunch box treats and soup or muffins for after school snacks. Nights consists of homework and not burlesque dancers and dinner is served with water, not wine.

I never really noticed this until I was baking these cheese and spinach scones the night he came back, for lunch boxes the next day. The night before I had been over at Chris' for Mexican Movie Monday night, sans any children, watching horror movies. Such a contrast, yet weirdly completely natural.

Go figure.

The scones, btw, were a massive fail. I was trying to make something with the leftover ingredients in the fridge, cheese and spinach as it was and the remnants of a bag of wholemeal flour. They were a bit dry and a bit ordinary and clearly not in the shape of a scone. Josh ate them though, bless his human garbage disposal abilities.