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So you got the gist of my “birthday” hike on Cradle Mountain from a previous iphone posting – a spot of rain perhaps?

But what you didn’t see is that despite that spot (OK, more than a few drops) of rain we had an absolutely beautiful weekend in the rugged Cradle Mountain National Park, including blue skies and sunlight days and nighttime treks to get up close and personal with Tasmania’s nocturnal wildlife.

I’ve posted before about my love for this tiny island state off the southern coast of Australia – it’s a wild and untouched place with national parks so vast you can really get lost, in every sense of the word, in your surroundings.  Cradle Mountain National Park, home of the famous Overland Track (a 6 day hike), provided a gorgeous background for a weekend of hiking with my Dad and donna, who were equally in love with this special place.

Cradle Mountain is also home to an amazing abundance of wildlife – with a greater concentration of wallabies, paddymellons, wombats, and possums than I’ve seen anywhere else in Australia.  We went on one organized “night tour” and FINALLY encountered Tasmanian Devils (resolution: complete!), and our own midnight walk, complete with headlamps.  The iridescent glow of my headlamp landed on literally dozens of glowing eyes in the darkness.  ‘Course it was too dark for any good photo shots, but I’ll include this one anyways.

 (wombat!)

Check out full pictures on the out and about page.

Woah Nelly it’s been a heckuva month!

Dad & donna visiting, 29th birthday in Tasmania, tramping around Melbourne CBD, exotic food and cider excursions, hiking my heart out in New Zealand.  We’ll be playing catch-up over the next few weeks; get ready for some amazing photography!

New Zealand, here we come!

 

There was just no way to say no to this year’s Food & Wine Festival in Melbourne.  Last year a combination of too many choices (literally hundreds of events) and cost (most over $100pp) keep us on the sidelines.  This year, we choose carefully and wisely – Microbrew and Cider Showcase at Federation Sq.

Hundreds of local Victorian beer and a separate Cider Garden showcasing regional apple, pear and assorted fruit blends… just $25 admission got you a whopping twenty 60ml tastings.  Spitoons aside, that’s 1,200ml of goodness!

Will I ever tire of snapping photos of this adorable Australian teddy bear?

I think you know the answer to that… More pics of koalas and other Aussie animals at the Healesville Sanctuary on the pictures page.

It’s a funny thing about birthdays, they keep rolling around year after year. But how many people can say they spent their last 2 birthdays in Tasmania??? (other than a few of its 500,000 residents…)

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My birthday weekend view, from the face of Cradle Mountain. Yep, that whitewash in the upper corners is lightly pelting rain and mist, but still no place I’d rather be…

Hiking my heart out.  Preferably with Steve…

(my uncle, at the top of Kilimanjaro)

Steve has been begging for some duck lately, and Dad & donna’s arrival gave me a great excuse to cook (lucky duck!).  We spent Saturday at Prahan Market, picking up some fresh pasta, an assortment of game (duck, kangaroo and emu) and local produce.  Then on a rainy Saturday afternoon, we had a stir fry extravaganza.

Grilled duck with stir fried vegetables and udon noodles

4 duck breasts, fat trimmed to a thin strip and scored
udon noodles (serves 4)
veggies of choice (we used carrots, snow peas, peppers, onion, bok choy)
green chili and garlic cloves, to taste, thinly sliced (remove chili seeds for less heat)
4 eggs

Boil water and cook noodles according to directions.  Warm wok over high heat and add chilis and garlic with olive oil, and prepare veggies (slice).

Prepare duck breasts by removing most of the fat, and leaving a strip of about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. Score fat and marinade in soy sauce for 10 minutes. Grill 6-8 minutes skin side down; flip and grill another 4-6 minutes. (If not cooked through, continue grilling on skin side to render the fat and avoid overcooking).  Allow to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Add vegetables to wok with hot chili and garlic infused oil (carrots and bok choy first).  When cooked to desired doneness, add noodles, additional olive oil, soy sauce and salt & pepper to taste and stir. (Scoop noodles out of water and into wok, and keep boiling water on high heat to poach eggs. I like poaching, so that the delicious gooey yolk spills out onto the noodles when served, but feel free to fry in the wok if you’d prefer).

Serve noodles topped with egg and sliced duck breast.

It’s been 7 great weeks of hiking in and around Melbourne.  Week 8 was a break weekend (well, only if you count 2 days straight on my feet cleaning the house top to bottom in 100° weather a “break”).

Dad & donna arrived today for a three-week adventure… tune in to find out if all that hard work pays off!