Archive for April, 2011

Barron Falls, as seen from Kuranda Scenic Railway

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

I didn’t mention the terrific view that you get of Barron Falls, from both Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Railway. Directly below is the view that greeted Glenn and Shirley and I when the train stopped for a photo opportunity.

The second photo was taken a few weeks earlier, after several days of heavy rain throughout the region…

Playing tour guide around Cairns

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Maria and I always look forward to hosting visitors, and we relish the opportunity to show friends around our tropical paradise. Last week, we welcomed great friends of our from Tennessee, Glenn and Shirley. We stocked the fridge with Tooheys Extra Dry, Tooheys Old and Coopers Sparkling, and enjoyed many an hour trading stories and catching up on each others’ lives over a couple of stubbies.

But Glenn and Shirley didn’t travel all this way to chug beer. We made sure they experienced the best that Tropical North Queensland has to offer before sending them on their way. The weather conditions were PERFECT, so Maria took them scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef. I’m sure she will write about that when she gets the chance.

We sent them on a 4WD tour to Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation, which they thoroughly enjoyed.

And it had been a couple of years since I had travelled on Skyrail and Kuranda Scenic Railway, so I used Glenn and Shirley as an excuse to visit Kuranda. We had a great day…

Kuranda is home to some of the best  Tropical North Queensland zoos, and we visited the famous Kuranda Butterfly Sanctuary. It was hot and humid in the massive glasshouse, but worth the visit for the thousands of colourful butterflies that were flitting around andlending on us. In the hatching room, we saw a recently hatched Hercules moth. With a wingspan of up to forty centimetres (do I still need to convert metric for you Americans?) the Hercules is the world’s biggest moth. But the star of the showwasundoubtedly the brilliant blue Ulysses butterfly. Infamously difficult to photograph, the Ulysses flutters its wings at a frantic pace. I was lucky to get this - albeit blurry - show of two Ulysses in flight. When they are stationary and have their wings closed, the striking blue colour is no longer visible and they blend in with the forest with the outside of their wings a mottly brown and grey.

“From paddock to plate” - a new concept for Cairns, and a lifeline for local producers

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

The much publicised price wars between the major supermarkets continues to rage, and primary producers lament that it will be the death knell of Australian farming as we know it. The retail duopoly exerts its extraordinary might over farmers, squeezes smaller convenience stores out of the market, and prepares for a likely assault form overseas supermarket giants Aldi and Lidl on the multi-billion dollar grocery industry. Meanwhile, a local Atherton Tablelands farming couple have pinned their hopes (and three million bucks!) on a groundswell of opposition to these corporate bohemiths, and a return to a sense of community.

Warren and Gail Jonsson, from Ravenshoe, opened Jonsson’s Farmers’ Markets on Tuesday, at Stratford just outside Cairns CBD. Maria and I dropped in yesterday to see what all the fuss was about, and we were confronted by a swarming crowd of locals, stripping the shelves of fresh produce as fast as the team of scurrying workers could replenish it.

 

With the slogan “Paddock to plate”, the Jonssons aim to cut out the middle-men who normally take their cut of the proceeds of primary produce before it reaches the consumer. As much as possible, they aim to source their produce direct from the grower and offer it fresh to the consumer. The sign on a 400kg bin of sweetcorn cobs proudly proclaimed “picked yesterday on the Tablelands”. With this principle in mind, they sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, cut flowers and a range of delicacies… as well as prepared salads, fruit salads and fresh squeezed juices.

During the week, I bumped into Cliffy, who sells his delicious homemade icecream in a van on the street in Kuranda, and he was thrilled to have an additional outlet for his product.

In light of the high unemployment rate here in the tropical north, I reckon that the twenty-four full time employees that the Jonssons hired are appreciative as well,. And that’s not to mention the farmers!

I take my hat off to anyone with the cojones to tackle the stronghold that the supermarket giants have established over growers in this country throughout the past twenty years or so, and we hope the Jonsson’s receive the support they deserve. Think about it… if you’re not going to suport someone like this, you don’t deserve to bitch about the supermarkets!