Entries from May 2016

20TH BIENNALE OF SYDNEY, COCKATOO ISLAND

May 26, 2016

I really REALLY love Cockatoo Island. For starters it’s a beautiful open space which is free to enjoy. It’s on the harbour. It’s steeped in history. It’s kid friendly. I love the smell of old industry; oil, brake dust and old machinery. You can ‘glamp’ here (and one day, I hope to get around to doing it, and stop talking about doing it!)

Boy oh boy did we have an absolute SHOCKER here last Sunday.

The island is one of seven ‘embassies of thought’ (main festival sites) of the 20th Biennale of Sydney. The biennale is an international festival of contemporary art which is held every 2 years, running from the 18th March til the 5th of June…you still have a couple of weeks to get to it, if like me, you are not an early adopter!

Here are a few pointers to ensure you have a great time…

DO bring your own food. There are several food outlets dotted around the island, but they are expensive, and inconsistent. We were RAPT to spot a dumpling bar in the big old sheds, but $90 later, with dumplings that had been served to us frozen…we were not happy Jan! Needless to say these were returned and we were promptly refunded, but at lunch time on a weekend we expected more. Disappointing to say the least.

DO check the ferry timetables. I did, on both the Transport NSW website, and the Cockatoo island website. More than twice to be extra sure. And when it came time for us to leave the island, ferry services were only running city bound, leaving us stranded. I can’t imagine who thought it was a good idea to have fewer ferry services on a sunny Sunday, but whoever that person is, you owe me $115 for a 2 minute water taxi up river.

DO listen to the volunteers! They’re there to help! Some exhibits are interactive, and others are delicate and are not to be touched. I’m sorry I got tangled up in William Forsythe’s ‘Nowhere and Everywhere at the same time, no. 2’. Those pendulums!!!! Very tricky.

Go early! And go during the week if you can! As ever when attempting/attending festivals, the later in the day it is, the longer the queues. Queues for interactive exhibits, queues for food, queues for loos, queues for ferries…

DO go!
Don’t miss out!
It is a great day out, all things considered…Biennale or no Biennale!
For more info…
https://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/20bos/
http://www.cockatooisland.gov.au

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Belanglo State Forest, NSW

May 12, 2016

School holidays present all manner of challenges for parents…perhaps the biggest challenge of all is how to keep the kids occupied in a healthy fashion, without relying too heavily on technical intervention (foxtel/ipads).

I was keen to find something outdoorsy and a bit unique to keep my two busy for a day, and in my googling, came across a foraging excursion. The timing however didn’t suit, and it was more geared towards adults, so I tracked down the guy in charge of the forage, and asked if he’d be keen to take a private group, made up of our school friends and their folks. He was!

Our professional forager and guide was Brendan Cato, a chef (Seans Panaroma and Bistro Moncur are both on his CV, as well as stints on the super yacht circuit) who switched life in a professional kitchen for an approach more in tune with the environment, cooking seasonal, locally sourced, sustainable and organic pop-ups as The Farmed Table.

We meet bright and early on a beautiful autumns morning at the entrance to Belanglo, under the ominous sign, that asks that you “please be careful”. Poor Belanglo gets a bad rap because of it’s ‘shady’ history… (sadly famous for Ivan Milat and the Backpacker murders)

It is a planted forest, primarily of pines, but has native bush interspersed, with random rocky outcrops and termite mounds jutting out in the midst of the perfect pine rows. Light struggles to filter down through the huge trees, the effect is eerie yet beautiful, and is perfect for funghi growth in amongst the needles. Brendan leads our convoy to his secret spots, and instructs us which mushrooms are safe to pick, and which to leave alone. (We were after Pine mushrooms and slippery jacks.)

The kids loved it! There are tree stumps to climb and hide behind, pretty speckled red mushrooms to poke and prod, but leave alone (red = poisonous!), wombat burrows, and when we find bones, the kids lose it! Not human remains…what we imagine to be wallaby skeletons. We let them keep some for show and tell once school starts again. Gross. (but also SO cool at the same time!)

After a few hours collecting at several locations, Brendan returns to base and sets up a campfire. We present our findings, which he sorts, discarding the dodgy ones, and gets the older kids to clean them for him to cook up. They go into a hot pan with olive oil/butter and garlic. The smell is PHENOMENAL! He pours us a glass of local red as a reward for our efforts, and offers us a snack of humous he has knocked up the night before whilst we wait, then presents the mushrooms to us on bread he baked that morning! There is nothing quite like eating something that was growing in the ground not even a half hour before…DELICIOUS!

The season for Pine & Slippery Jacks is short, perhaps 5 weeks or so in late April- early June. In the interest of safety, you MUST only forage with someone knowledgeable in funghi! There are many mushies that look safe, and indeed delicious, but can send you straight to hospital, or worse!

It’s good to be aware that some of the roads in the forest are best suited to larger vehicles, as they uneven and steep in parts; my low profile hatchback was not super impressed by this!

Belanglo is a 90 minute drive south of Sydney, just south of Berrima.

Brendan Cato can be reached on facebook at
https://www.facebook.com/thefarmedtable
or via Instagram https://www.instagram.com/brendancato/

Thank you to Jessie, Ginie, Sohani and Lin not only for loaning me your beautiful kids, but also for taking beautiful pics x

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