Week 16

I decided that, despite budget concerns, I wanted to catch up with friends and family in Brisbane. Rather than driving up the coast, I took the inland, scenic route which takes the same amount of time but, unfortunately, the roads aren’t as good as the coastal highway so it’s a bit rough on the car.  It’s a beautiful drive and I couldn’t resist stopping to take photos along the way.


Pictured Above is the view of Mount Warning from the Murwillumbah Art Gallery.  The gallery is lined with windows of all shapes and sizes that frame the most incredible view of Mount Warning.  It’s like looking at a landscape painting.


Pictured above is a photo of the Tweed River at Murwillumbah taken from the bridge.  The sun was so bright that day that I couldn’t really see what I was photographing.  I’m surprised at how lovely the photos turned out.


Pictured above is the old bridge across the Tweed River at Murwillumbah.

Houses, gates, letterboxes and me at Sphinx Rock Cafe. There is also a picture of rubbish that someone has dumped on the side of the road.  

At Sphinx’s Rock Café, I met a woman with a young daughter and twin babies. We chatted for a while and she talked about how people in her community were upset when she wouldn’t let them help her with the twins. When her babies were born, she felt that she had to learn to do everything herself and she actually became ‘over-competent’ and didn’t need anyone to help her. She said that people in her community felt rejected when they offered help and she declined them. I guess we’re all different and it’s important that we can be our authentic selves and not feel pressure to anticipate how our decisions will make other people feel. We can never hope to please everyone anyway.   We can only be honest and tactful in our communication. We are a diverse bunch of individuals with all our own motivations and intentions. Perhaps we can all practice truly listening to each other. If her community members had really listened to her they would have seen that she didn’t mean to rebuke them, she simply didn’t need the help.  That’s easy for me to say, but not so easy to do! Etienne is always accusing me of not listening to him. I say “Rubbish! Give me an example.” Sadly, he usually can.

At the Tweed River, I called out “nice van” to a man, about my age, who was perched in the door of his van.  He had long sandy blond hair and a toothy, endearing smile.   He chatted about his international travels and his recent adventures, living in his van and travelling around Australia for the past three years.  He was very lovely and open, radiating a positive aura.  A born traveller!  I realise it might seem odd that I randomly called out to a stranger with a van.  But, in my defence, I live in a very friendly area, and for the last seven years, I have been a woman with a van, and we van folk talk.

In Brisbane, I caught up with my oldest friend, whom I’ve known since primary school. We rarely talk on the phone but we know each other inside out and when we see each other it’s as though we’ve never been apart.  We had some good discussions about life, people and human potential.  Then, I stayed with my brother and his partner for a night of alcohol-fuelled political discussion and debate.  My last night was spent with dear friends that Bee and I made long ago, when we lived in Brisbane, before I met Etienne.  On the way out of Brisbane I visited the Art Gallery at South Bank.  Art is so amazing and inspiring, and I love the social commentary and the way it makes me question things.

The trip was not so much a holiday as a visit to connect with loved ones.  I bought presents for everyone in the form of home grown and made produce: honey, pickles, wine, eggs and fresh veggies.  I spent less than $100 during the whole five days that I was away: including fuel, a bottle of wine, one meal, a few half-strength coffees, and parking at South Bank (to visit the art gallery). BTW, did anyone notice that the price of fuel has sky-rocketed?

Nimbin Rocks

Above are photos of Nimbin Rocks, Blue Knob and the Border Rangers taken on the return trip from Brisbane.

What’s in the garden?

The veggies in the greenhouse are thriving.

The greenhouse
Monstrous Queensland Blue pumpkin

We’ve been harvesting pecans from our trees.

Avocados in the food safe.

What’s on the table?

Most days our lunch involves a salad that comes entirely from the garden.  We use home-made red wine vinegar combined with olive oil and salt and pepper to make a salad dressing.  We’re almost out of olive oil which is an item that we have to purchase – we haven’t had to buy any yet this year but the time has come.  We can buy locally made olive oil at the market in Lismore.

For dinner we have been having ratatouille: zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and tomato simmered with fresh herbs, particularly oregano, rosemary and thyme.  To cook ratatouille, you fry onion and garlic, add the herbs and veggies, add some water and let it simmer for about 20 mins.

What’s been going on this week?

Food shopping: last week Etienne spent approximately $20 on oats, sugar, flour, ?  (there was something else but I can’t remember) and peanut butter and I spent $25 on chlorine for the pool.  This week we didn’t do any food shopping at all, but Etienne spent money on fuel for the mower etc.

We have new fruit trees (very small)

A yellow cherry guava planted out the front of the horse stable

Jean and Francoise, Etienne’s parents gave us money for Christmas and we decided to buy fruit trees. We decided to wait until autumn to purchase them so that we wouldn’t need to struggle to keep them alive in the heat of summer.  Etienne bought some coffee, pomegranate, feijoa, and some gravillea (which attract lots of birds) and planted them in front of the horse stable, goat stable and a few other spots that we want to keep the weeds down.

The soap situation

Last year, Etienne made soap.  The brown soap is made of olive oil, coconut oil and caustic soda.  Some are scented with cinnamon and orange and others with vanilla.  The pink soap has food colouring.  The food colouring was an experiment.  Unfortunately, it didn’t mix in, which is why the top of the soap is brightly coloured and makes your hands pink.  I think we’ll still use it because we find it really hard to throw things out.


A caterpillar on our orange tree.

Jiggi Feast Night at Jiggi Hall

Every Friday night at the Jiggi Hall we have Family Games Night.  The third Friday of the month is Friday Feast Night with a local lady, Zena putting on a dinner for the community.  This Friday,  the community was treated to a Mexican cuisine followed by a showing of the documentary Sacrifice Zone, organised by community members to support the anti CSG movement.  The film was about the government’s plan to allow the land in and around the Pilliga to become vast gaslands for the benefit of Santos (who often employ the ministers/politicians who granted them their mining licences once they retire from politics.  Hello????) The state and federal governments want this project to go ahead but the affected communities don’t.  Amongst those ‘sacrificed,’ will be farmers, farm lands and farming communities, local wildlife and the Pilliga National Park.  It was a sad film loaded with information and images demonstrating the damage already done by this invasive industry in other parts of Australia.

We, the people of the Northern Rivers stopped Metgasco from drilling wells at Bentley, and the community of Gloucester stopped AGL from proceeding with it’s plans to drill 300 wells in their back yards.  It can be done, people!

Some musings

FYI – for those of you who don’t know my family, you are probably thinking that it’s strange that most of the ‘people shots’ in this blog are of me.  Unfortunately, the other characters in this little saga are a tad camera shy, so, despite my amazing skills of persuasion, it’s been very difficult for me to coerce them into letting me post photos of them.


This week, I wanted to give you an update on areas of deprivation.  The things I miss the most are:

  1. melted cheese.  I haven’t had cheese melted on anything for four months.  Pizza with melted cheese, pasta with melted cheese, risotto with melted cheese, melted cheese, melted cheese etc
  2. having a good mobile phone and a good phone plan.   I don’t have mobile reception on the farm so I only use my mobile when I go to town.   This year, I’m using a prepaid card from Aldi –  $15 worth of credit lasted me from mid January to mid March months.  When I was in Brisbane however, I used $15 credit in five days.  It was really annoying to have to be conscious of the length of calls, data usage etc.  I felt like a penniless beggar when I called people and said “I can’t talk for long because I don’t have enough credit.”  It was a bit humiliating.
  3. going to the theatre, to retreats etc

That’s all the deprivation I can come up with at the moment.  (Actually, subconsciously, I think I really just wanted to tell the world how much I miss melted cheese!)


At my friend’s place in Brisbane, I hesitantly plucked a Noam Chomsky text from the bookshelf and decided to see how far I would get. (Years ago, I borrowed a Noam Chomsky book from the library and found that it made me overwhelmingly angry and depressed, so I deposited it back where it had been hiding, largely reviled and ignored, and went on with my life.) This time I fared no better. Chomsky makes the mistake of being too specific. If only he would explain the calculated efforts of powerful Western countries to control, manipulate and destroy developing countries in general terms then I could be outraged but still distance myself from the realities. But he doesn’t! He quotes presidents, and political strategists, he names policies and explains their effects and identifies who benefited from them.  I read two pages about how France and America turned Haiti from a resource rich country into terrifying wasteland over the period of 1842  until the present, then I cried for about half and hour.  I don’t believe we should bury our heads in the sand but I just can’t read Chomsky!


When I was in my mid 30’s, I started to notice that my skin was suffering from lack of care.  I decided to use moisturiser as a starting point.  I’ve  been making good quality, natural moisturiser ever since thanks to an amazing book I purchased at Traditional Medicinal in Lismore.  This week, I made a rich moisturiser for myself, Izzy, Kel and Bec. It consisted of almond oil, jojoba oil, rose hip oil, evening primrose oil, vitamin E oil, carrot oil, and organic olive leaf emulsifier. I used citrus oil and glycerine as preservatives. I would have added 20 drops of frankincense essential oil but I had run out.  The moisturisers that I make are rich and replenishing but the ingredients are expensive.  I’ll need to simplify my recipes this year (but not until I run out of the ingredients that I have).

Pictured above is me taking moisturiser and veggies, including a very large zucchini, to trade with my neighbour, Bec.  Above right is a weird little caterpillar on an ornage tree.

I decided to trade some moisturiser for reusable, cloth make-up removal wipes made my my neighbour, Bec.  Bec has a business called Thready Set Go.  She makes reusable products out of fabric so that customers can avoid using environmentally damaging single use products and instead enjoy the benefits of reusable products such as fabric pads, make-up removal wipes and breast pads (for breastfeeding women).   They are environmentally friendly and less expensive in the long run.   I swapped some moisturiser for ten fabric make-up removal wipes that I gave to my friend in Brisbane as a birthday present.  She was very impressed.


Years ago, there were so many things I thought I needed to have. Now I realise that I need very little.  Because what I do have is time, and a feeling of contentment.  I love being with my family.  I love walking my dogs. I love literature. I love gardening and being with the animals (especially the dogs and the goats because they are so affectionate),  I really love spending time in this community of amazing people that has given me great company and taught me so much. But most of all, I love having the space in my life to love myself.  I’m sure that sounds selfish, but I think it’s important for all of us to have ‘me time,’ to do whatever nourishes us; to reflect, to read, to create… whatever!

That being said, it’s always good to have a break!  After five days in Brisbane, it was nice to come home and see the farm with fresh eyes.


4 thoughts on “Week 16

  1. Glad you enjoyed your trip to Brissie, Cathie! I’m impressed by how low-budget you were able to keep it. Those are gorgeous shots you took during your trip, too. We live in such a beautiful part of the world!

    I enjoyed this update, as usual. 🙂 I found the last part of the post really touching, where you talk about having the space in your life to love yourself. It doesn’t sound selfish at all. Your sentiments there really speak to me. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, Cathie. ❤️


  2. Thanks for the feedback, Lisa.

    Last year, I told my mum that I was going to start a blog and wanted to post lots of pictures. I was a bit worried because my camera was 6 years old and the shutter speed had slowed down so it seemed to let a lot of light in. So, mum offered to buy me a new camera for my birthday. It’s a Nikon, like my old one, and I’m happy with the quality of pictures.

    All the best xx


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