Fantastic Giddy Up! Congratulations to Vanessa and Clint Marshall, they trained their first race winner Irish Lute. Clint has only recently qualified as a registered horse trainer, the win was especially significant as the horse was formerly owned by Vanessa’s grandfather who passed away in 2012. Vanessa worked in the Bistro for a number of years, she was an absolute winner then and great to see the forms continues!
An outback experience on our doorstep. I have just returned from a short break in South Australia, and called in to stay with Peter and Tracy Anderson, Peter is the son of Les and Bev Anderson, well known Camperdown identities.
Les celebrated his 80th Birthday in Madden’s Old Timboon Inn restaurant with family and friends in early March. It was a memorable occasion for Les and Bev, also for Peter as he was our first apprentice chef and was on the journey with me, when we opened Camperdown’s first licensed restaurant. I have some great memories as I am sure would countless others of some fabulous, if outrageous, nights at the venue.
Peter and Tracy have the historic Mount Mary Hotel in the saltbush country north east of the Barossa Valley, only 24 kilometers from the Murray River town of Morgan. It has the authentic feel of the outback however it’d only a day’s drive from Camperdown.
We had a fantastic stay, two bedrooms of the hotel have been renovated for overnight guests, the rooms are extremely comfortable opening onto a grassy courtyard, they haven’t en-suites but they do have a well aired outdoor bathroom with a great hot shower, it’s like glam camping!
Like most outback pubs it has great character and charm and very interesting locals. What distinguishes it from other pubs is the food, it was truly outstanding. We had a superb steak cooked to perfection – mouth wateringly tasty and tender, the Caesar salad was excellent and the ricotta stuffed giant pasta shells in a tomato concasse unbelievably good. I couldn’t resist the warmed olives flavoured with chili and rosemary irresistible. The wine list balanced the great food.
All this came at great cost, I got the worst case of gout, couldn’t walk for two days… the only compensation, our wallets didn’t suffer the same pain! The food and accommodation package was great value. You can contact Peter and Tracey via their website: http://www.mtmaryhotel.com.au/ or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Purlubie Beach Listed as one of Australia’s best 100 beaches, Purlubie Beach, located 20 kilometers from Streaky Bay, certainly lives up to its reputation, silky sand, turquoise waters, it is unique for Victorians in that you can drive and camp on the beach. The locals launch their boats with tractors straight off the sand. The area is a mecca for fishermen, King George Whiting being the holy grail of the catch, calamari and blue swimmer crabs are taken as well.
The locals use Razor Clams which they harvest from a reef at the end of the beach as bait, they rarely eat them, yet I have seen Rick Stein the celebrity chef raving about the taste and texture of the clams. Next time I fish Purlubie I may be the only bloke on the boat eating the bait. We did catch a feed of whiting, Alan Jones also caught a large flounder which surprised our hosts Peter Rayner and partner Robyn, and they have an awesome house overlooking the bay with direct access to the beach.
Streaky Bay Races…
Alan Jones, his partner Sally and myself traveled to Streaky Bay to celebrate Robyn’s birthday and attend the annual Streaky Bay Cup. What an experience! Peter and Robyn are keen race goers and horse owners… they had a runner in the first named Mary ???. Peter wasn’t at all confident, as his trainer was worried by a Smokey that had been floated in from Alice Springs for the race, the idea of a“ Smokey at Streaky” was somewhat overwhelming for Peter, he was overcome with a paralysis preventing him from putting his hand in his pocket, the paralysis was contagious, certainly for me anyway. Peter nor myself should not have been concerned, the Smokey at Streaky hardly smoldered, gone in a puff whilst Mary ???? battled on for a credible second.
Peter and Robyn had organized a marque for the event, it wasn’t the Emirates however it had an offer that is never seen on metropolitan tracks, a seemingly endless supply of beverages… when it looked as if our huge esky was going to be depleted, it was only a matter of moving in on next doors supply. The food chain was on a continuous loop, oysters both fresh and smoked, marinated chicken, quiche, mini rolls, even sushi, I was thankful when the food chain was finally halted, as we were to attend a post race party for Robyn at Eta Island at the end of Perlubie Beach.
We were overdosing on hospitality, when they produced what I thought was a birthday cake, well it had candles on it, I thought no way José, this turkey’s stuffed… I can’t eat another morsel, you could detect a slow moan from the other guests, no more food please. Then people started lining up, Graeme’s wife Maureen had produced this huge wine trifle, whipped cream the whole deal, I think I stepped on a small child’s foot getting to the bowl, it was delicious!
Country racing in the outback is a unique event, there is hardly a blade of grass. The horses race on a sand track, everything appears in sepia until the horses, jockeys and race crowd arrive. Suddenly a huge splash of colour and vitality sweeps over the course, everything becoming animated. Many women make a huge effort, fashion is not lost on the girls of Streaky Bay, there was a distinct absence of spray tan, replaced by the warm glow of the naturally acquired vitality that appeared to mock the health warnings on television.
The people we shared the marquee table with had in racing parlance a Techform Rating far better than mine. John and Roz are building a house at Purlubie Beach. Originally from the area they have spent many years in Darwin, John as a building contractor whilst Roz worked in a chemist shop. John has built what he refers to as a shed, to me it’s a hanger, a quarter of it houses a bus, more impressive than Priscilla Queen of the desert’s bus, it was decked out amazingly well including two acres of marble.
Tucked into the hanger was the equivalent of a commercial kitchen, John was able to produce a Sunday night tradition, a feed of fish and chips in a instance, but it wasn’t your normal fix of greasies, but magnificent fresh King George Whiting fillets, straw potato chips, he may have had a Macca’s Drive Thru in the other corner of the shed but I didn’t see it. There was a selection of salads, home-made tartare sauce, then a bowl of ice cream, with what I thought was a party pie floating in it, Crow Eaters can have some weird ideas, it was actually a mini apple pie made with filo pastry, just perfect, bring back Sunday nights, that’s what I say.
The other couple Michelle and Phil, were great company, Michelle an accountant, Phil a retired hotel broker who currently owns a toy shop, had a great knowledge of wines, drives a vintage Lamborghini, now you’re talking, then for Christ’s sakes, he has an entry in to this year’s Archibald Prize for portraiture, the prick paints, that’s truly disgusting. At this stage feeling quite insignificant… Techform Rating all time low, but more races left on the card!
We were sharing the marque with a table put together for Iluka Mining Resources, a company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange which amongst other pursuits mines mineral sands one and a half hours north of Ceduna… by plane, in other words in the middle of nowhere.
Sitting at the table alone was a young lady, expectant but not perturbed until the arrival of a young buck, to which she practiced that air of disdain, that with the exception of Brad Pitt and George Clooney every bloke in the world has felt. It was undetectable to him, possibly obscured by his white rimmed sunglasses.
Phil had noticed on numerous occasions she had sent back the food the caterers continually bought to the table. I was seated with my back to her, and was unaware of what was going on, but could not help but notice that she was outgoing and friendly. It was coming up to race three, her friends hadn’t arrived, so Phil as a father… obviously out of concern asked whether she would like to join our table. This had two positive outcomes; it filled the vacant seat next to me, and relieved her of the unwanted attention of a young man.
Jess without too much hesitation accepted Phil’s offer, which bought about an unseen windfall, the transfer of the contents of the large esky strategically placed there to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of a group of outback miners. I was confident that the name Lassetter would be etched into the lid. Jess joined our table and I thought, well she has had a drink or two, immaturity is costly when your doing Techform Ratings, I would retain mine, and hers would blow out, I had no hesitation in extending to Jess a warm and heartfelt welcome to Colonel Rayner’s Table.
Jess was born in Gilgunnia in western New South Wales, her father was a driller, her mother a nurse, they have since moved to Forbes, but there’s still plenty of Gilgunnia left in Jess. Women inevitably have a certain vulnerability attached to them when they’re young it’s magnified, although that may be just a bloke’s view. Jess certainly looked confident but you couldn’t help but think how deep the veneer was even though there was a distinguishable vein of flint running through it.
As we were at the races you would of bet on Jess being a Jillaroo, out for a bit of fun, educated gap year bravado RM’s, Holden Ute smothered in B&S stickers, a couple of moon raker aerials and Longhorn Jeans, that’s the barrier I reckoned she would jump from. Jess told me that she was early twenties, then admitted she was edging mid twenties, which laughingly was of some concern to her, in fact Jess is twenty four years. Jess didn’t get much of an opportunity to enjoy an extended break after completing her tertiary education, as she immediately pursued a science degree graduating as a geologist and sought employment in mining industry. She currently is working with Iluka resources.
Jess works eight days on six days off, says she loves it, whilst on the job she stays at the company’s camp, which she describes as more of a resort, complete with swimming pool, canteen, full Telstra service, the complex can house one hundred and seventy four employee’s. I asked her what her ambition was, without blinking she said I want to be CEO, she is currently studying for her masters degree. Jess is one of around 10% of women working in the mining industry, she introduced me to one of her female work mates similar age, similar qualifications.
It was humbling to meet a girl with a steely ambition, beneath a carefree unpretentious fun loving façade. A girl that loves camping in the bush, enjoys fishing, appears a very low maintenance operation, but must be a constant concern for her parents giving her outgoing personality. Jess was great fun and great company, which posed another dilemma… what Techform rating was she going achieve… I had a serious problem when it was pointed out that Jess had bought a full esky to the table.
Holidays are a great experience always enriched by the people you meet. I can not be more thankful than to be invited by Peter and Robyn to the special place they share and the fantastic people they share it with. We had a fantastic time. Cheers, Dennis Madden.