Wednesday, 20 March 2013


One of the cakes we had for Em's birthday brunch on Sunday up at Mt Tamborine was a gluten-free orange and almond number. It was very nice, and Em mentioned that she had previously made one, and that it wasn't especially difficult.

As it happened, the following day I was asked if I could bring something for our group morning tea today (Wednesday). I found myself a recipe, grabbed myself some oranges, and had a go last night.
First attempt at Orange and Almond Cake
I'm fairly happy with it by eye and by nose, but we shall see how it goes in the mouth. I'm a little worried it might not quite be cooked through, but time will tell.

For a long time, I used to always try while eating out to order something that I couldn't or wouldn't cook myself. I've moderated that now; I often find that I can glean a lot of tips in what a waiter or waitress brings me that I can use in my own cooking (such as it is).

ED. Verdict = winner.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Sunday out and about

External forces, in the form of family and friends, drove me out of my little hermit hole on Sunday and out into the big wide world.

The primary force acting on me was Emily's Birthday. The plan was for the four of us (with Mum and Dad) to head down to Mt Tamborine and do some walking. So at around 8ish, we rolled out of town and up into the hills.
The ford at Cedar Creek Falls

Our first port of call was at Cedar Creek Falls. The road was signposted as closed, and although some other cars seemed to be ignoring the signs, we parked at the top of the hill and walked down to the crossing. There was probably about 6 inches of water across the road, so we doffed shoes and waded across. The water was cool, clear and very pleasant - it was almost a shame to put our boots back on. We wandered down the short track to the titular Cedar Creek Falls, which was a very little waterfall with a rockpool at the bottom flanked by sheer rocky cliffs. There were some swimmers being a bit silly clambering on rocks, but I was feeling very zen, and was happy to leave them to their own follies. The creek itself was in very fine form, flowing quickly and happily through the dry rainforest.
Cedar Creek Falls

After another pleasant wade back through the ford, we reclimbed the hill and drove on into North Tamborine for some coffee and cakes. It was nice to find decent coffee and good cake on our first attempt, and with a nice view out from the ridge.

After our break, we drove on up to the well-named Knoll section, and took another quick walk out to Cameron Falls, descending through sections of rainforest and palms. Cameron Falls was quite a lot bigger, and offered a great view out north across the plain to the Brisbane city Skyline.

Looking upstream from the top of Cameron Falls
Cameron Falls
Looking north from Cameron Falls towards Brisbane

We then walked back up the hill to the Knoll, with an accompanying conversation about the distinction between lichen and fungi. Seeking lunch options, we did a bit of a reconnoitre along the ridge, driving out as far as the Mount Tamborine Golf Club, which offered great views out east across the Gold Coast (views of the Gold Coast have the added pleasure of reassuring you that you're not on the Gold Coast). We finally settled on a pie from the baker back at North Tamborine, judging people based on the cars they were driving past (the Corvette driver came in for the harshest speculation, and the flatback Morris the highest praise).

After lunch, we went seeking one more quick walk, and after being foiled by the closed MacDonald track, we took a brief walk downhill to Curtis Falls, the smallest of the falls we'd seen, but with a pleasant-looking waterhole at the bottom and, like the others, in fine form with plenty of water flowing.
Curtis Falls
I have a sneaking suspicion I've been to Mt Tamborine at some point before, although I can't recall why, when, or with whom. Based on what I've heard, and reinforced by what we saw at times, its a very popular weekend getaway from either Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Still, the tracks we walked, while well-frequented, were not unpleasantly crowded, and seemed to be bearing up well to the traffic (notwithstanding a number of others being closed, whether because of traffic, floods, or regular maintenance). The tracks are short, and probably not sufficient if you're looking for some serious bushwalking, but as a half-day out, its pretty nice, and as it turned out yesterday, 6 or 7 degrees cooler than the valley below.

However, my day wasn't quite done at this point. After a brief drive back to Brisbane, we flicked on my air-conditioning and had a cup of tea, then I wandered over to Bardon, in response to a suggestion from Miri of fish and chips in the park. Being an uncharacteristically hot day, the plan had evolved somewhat to slip-n-slide in the Brown's backyard, but it was still very pleasant to see the Brown and Thomson girls playing, and to meet the newest tiny addition to the Brown clan. We stuck to the fish'n'chips plan, and I got a big hug from Ess before I headed home.

Perhaps its because I have some shut-in tendencies on other weekends, but I really enjoy the occasional weekend out, and I was very grateful for the provocations on this occasion.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Geographical distribution of Australian sporting teams

Next weekend, the Bendigo Spirit will host the Townsville Fire in the final of the WNBL. I think having two "small market" teams in the final is terrific, and hopefully its a sign of things to come.

I have, on a few occasions, had discussions with people about Australia's cities. In particular, a few years ago there was a lot of talk about the projections for Australia's population over the next 40-100 years, with many sources (including the ABS) projecting that we could be at 40-50 million people by 2050.

I am firmly of the opinion, that expanding to this kind of number but maintaining our current pattern of huge proportions of our population being centralised in 5 cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth), is less than ideal. It might be doable, but it will put huge strains on infrastructure, and more importantly, its pretty boring. I would like to think that if we're increasing our urban population (which seems unavoidable - rural vs urban is a different debate), then the way to do it is by growing the number of significant centres, not by growing those that are already big.

How to do this escapes me; I'm not an urban planner, and discussions I've had about how to shift industry/government sectors out of the capitals have left me convinced of that. However, one place I think is ripe for decentralisation is sport.

Taking a quick glance at the teams which compete in some of Australia's biggest sporting leagues (AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, domestic cricket (using BBL), A-League, W-League, NBL, WNBL, Netball and ABL), an overwhelming number of the teams are based in the five major cities. Of the 90 Australian teams competing in these leagues (the NRL, Super Rugby, A-League, NBL and Netball leagues include teams from New Zealand and/or South Africa), 70 come from one of the big five metros:

  • 22 in Sydney: Swans, Giants (AFL), Eels, Panthers, Roosters, Tigers, Dragons, Bulldogs, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Sea Eagles (NRL), Sixers, Thunder (BBL), Sydney United, Wanderers (both A-League and W-League), Waratahs (Super Rugby), Kings (NBL), Flames (WNBL), Blue Sox (ABL), Swifts (Netball)
  • 21 in Melbourne: Magpies, Blues, Bombers, Tigers, Kangaroos, Saints, Hawks, Bulldogs, Demons (AFL), Storm (NRL), Renegades, Stars (BBL), Victory (A-League and W-League), Heart (A-League), Rebels (Super Rugby), Tigers (NBL), Boomers, Rangers (WNBL), Aces (ABL), Phoenix (Netball)
  • 10 in Perth: Eagles, Dockers (AFL), Scorchers (BBL), Glory (A-League and W-League), Force (Super Rugby), Wildcats (NBL), Waves (WNBL), Heat (ABL), Fever (Netball)
  • 9 in Adelaide: Crows, Power (AFL), Strikers (BBL), Adelaide United (A-League and W-League), 36ers (NBL), Lightning (WNBL), Thunderbirds (Netball), Bite (ABL)
  • 8 in Brisbane: Lions (AFL), Broncos (NRL), Heat (BBL), Roar (A-League and W-League), Reds (Super Rugby), Bandits (ABL), Firebirds (Netball)

The others are split across smaller centres:

  • 5 in Canberra: Raiders (NRL), Brumbies (Super Rugby), Capitals (WNBL), Cavalry (ABL)
  • 3 in Newcastle: Knights (NRL), Jets (A-League and W-League)
  • 3 in Townsville: Cowboys (NRL), Crocodiles (NBL), Fire (WNBL)
  • 2 in Gold Coast: Suns (AFL), Titans (NRL)
  • Geelong Cats (AFL), although some of their games are played in Melbourne
  • Central Coast Mariners (A-League), based in Gosford
  • Wollongong Hawks (NBL)
  • Cairns Taipans (NBL)
  • Bendigo Spirit (WNBL)
  • Logan Thunder (WNBL)
  • Hobart Hurricanes (BBL)
A strong case can be made that a few of those cities could easily support more teams - Hobart, Gold Coast, Geelong, and Wollongong and Townsville have all had other teams in the past. The list of second-tier (by population) cities without teams is huge. The Sunshine Coast, Darwin, Toowoomba, Launceston, Albury and Ballarat are all bigger than Bendigo, and there are other large population centres without teams in central Queensland (Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Hervey Bay) Mandurah in WA, Coffs Harbour and Wagga Wagga in NSW, to name a few.

The recent trend has been to put new teams into Western Sydney, but if I were looking to expand or realign one of the smaller leagues, I'd be looking at these smaller centres where a team has a chance to be the only (or one of the only) games in town. Even the AFL and NRL would be wise to look that way, rather than to continue with half of their league in the one city.

It may be that the league most poised to go in this direction is the A-League, which has made some noise about moving to a promotion/relegation system. I would have thought this would necessitate adding quite a few new teams, and it could be that the success (from what I've seen) of their Central Coast franchise leads them to look at some of these new areas.