Thursday, December 30, 2010


The wet season invokes great memories for me...most revolving around my Dad as it was the only time he was home for weeks at a time. The rest of the year he was always around but spent a lot of time out in the stock camps - mustering cattle over vast country, all unfenced. It is a world away from our little farms today.

There are many memories but one in particular remains and is now firmly entrenched as a family tradition - smoking ham and bacon.

I had the most amazing childhood - a day away from civilisation meant we were isolated and away from what many consider necessities. Cold meat for us for all year was either left over corned meat or roast beef (or on a very odd occasion tinned corn meat which we called bully beef). But at the start of the "wet", a fat pig would be slaughtered and then Dad would set about curing bacon and ham. A few days before Christmas he would then smoulder over smoke for a few days eventually ending up as the centre piece of our Christmas. It was (and is) such a treat to eat genuinely smoked ham.

Despite us now owning a butcher shop and selling hundreds of hams (all year round) Dad still smokes his own ham and bacon for Christmas. This year he passed the tradition down to Claudia and Haydn who followed the process every step of the way. Check out the photos below.

PNG Move - well still no I am not fretting or anxious just simply beside myself and trying my best to appear cool, calm and collected. "Stay Calm and Carry On" is my 2011 motto.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My peacock Girl

Those who know me will atest to the fact that I am certainly not creative and yet I have given birth and now nurture the talents of a very creative daughter. No doubt its a way of making some use of my, up until now, very lazy left side of my brain.

At the school concert in mid December she had people crying with her beautiful voice. I didnt even manage to get a photo as I was so mesmerized by her courage to stand up on stage, no backing music and just belt out Take Me Home Country Roads. My daughter is someone that I dont recognise as being part of me or her Dad, she is truly gifted in the way she makes others feel when she performs.

Here she is on Christmas night. We were all feeling a little sad - it is always hard celebrating another Christmas without my brother Clancey who passed away 12 years ago. She picked up on our mood and came out in her peacock outfit and did an impersonation. It was incredibly funny. It reduced me to tears (again) but for all the right reasons. Thanks Claude.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mini Plum Puddings

Yes this is a real picture I took of the fab Mini Plum Puddings my kids and their two friends made yesterday. They also made Christmas Ice, Christmas Balls and Choc (Mega Rum) Balls.
It was a rainy day and I have the flu so we tried to come up with some inside fun.
I think the results are pretty spectacular.

The recipe for the Mini Plum Puddings are:

Arnotts Royal Biscuits
White Choc buttons - about a third of a large packet melted
Spearmint leaves - cut into 3 smaller leaves
1 packet Jaffas.

Just make sure you put them in a container in the fridge as soon as they are made to stop any further melting.

Back to PNG tomorrow to nail down a house once and for all. Just when I think I am close, the target moves.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mum's Roasts

I am away from home, in Sydney attending the PNG Mining & Petroleum Conference - yeah I know, what would I know about mines...fair point. Anyway I have met hundreds of people, have been running back and forth between the office for other meetings and generally having a pretty crazy, miserable time of it. Never enough time to do any one thing properly, just a lot of things getting done half assed.

Anyway...what has this got to do with Mum's roasts.

Not much but when I am away and eating hotel prepared foods - I just long for the extra-ordinary. Dont you?

I want bangers and mash with onion gravy; cornmeat, white sauce and vegies; soup (any sort as long as its home made) - you get the drift.

A couple of weekends ago we did some mustering, branding and then one of Mum's legendary beef roasts. I took a whole rib from the butcher shop that had been dry aged for around 3 weeks. Perfect timing. Mum simply put garlic in it, bay leaves in the pain and lots of salt and pepper. It nearly didnt fit in the oven. The lid of the roasting dish certainly wouldnt fit on. Check it out

...and here is the side version to give you an idea of the height.

and here is the final result- Shane's dinner. What a feast. I wish I could have taste & smell vision installed to give you a sense of the aroma and the deliciousness of the dish.

Here I am having a chocolate fondue for dinner...just couldnt decide so went for strawberries and chocolate - dont tell my kids!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


No this isnt a reference to smoking hot Englishmen...but rather a statement about hot I am finding it in Port Moresby (POM). Its only about 35 degrees here today but the humidity must be in the 90s. It is so hot and sweaty.

Its been a fab week so far. Finally no training wheels (the boss flew out this morning) and so far no smash.

Our new offices look smik and I cant wait to move in. They are even building me a new "local". The hotel Papua is under construction across the street and it looks like just the sort of place I could enjoy a icy cold glass of sauv blanc. How thoughtful of the developers to have the opening date around the time I will be in town.

Shane is in town too doing some coaching and making the newspaper every day. He is such a media magnet - talking about how rugby league can help in stopping violence against women. What a do gooder - honestly. Some of my goodness must be rubbing off on him.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What is going on?

The National, PNG - 27 November 2010
PARLIAMENT has been adjourned for six months to May next year, after Treasurer Peter O’Neill was forced to assure Speaker Jeffery Nape that K20 million would be released next week for urgent maintenance work in parliament.

The adjournment ensured the prime minister cannot face a vote of no-confidence in this term of parliament."
and in another article of the same paper
MEMBERS of parliament yesterday voted to give themselves a hefty 52% pay rise before adjourning for a six-month holiday.

I have no views on the politics of PNG, I cant...however I thought you might like to read the above extract today from The National newspaper in PNG.

You can form your own opinion about what is holding PNG back.


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Move Update

As I write this I am sitting in a deserted conference room in Port Vila, Vanuatu. My office for the day is not airconditioned, and looks like a seedy nightclub at 9am on a bright Saturday morning. Charming.

My head is mushy, like I like my potatoes not my brain. I cant focus on one thing for long enough to sort it through before another important person tells me to learn something else and focus on it for a few minutes. I love being new and being completely and utterly outside my comfort zone for the best part of every day but it does make me feel constantly exhausted. My mushy brain just wants a rest and clear some space. Anyone with any extra brain cells can send them my way - please.

To top things off the big bosso of my organisation has decided to take his first trip to the Pacific and come to PNG. This is not like showing the boss of a commercial bank around - this will involve a full scale diplomatic mission with meetings with the PM and senior Ministers, the private sector and grass roots recipients of our work in villages. No mean feat in a country with serious security issues such as my beloved PNG. I am told there will be 2 -3 people to help bring this together...phew - for a minute there I thought I was going to be busy!

Then there is the moving, house situation. The good news is I am in no different a situation then 2 weeks ago when I last wrote on the subject. The landlord has agreed to do a massive amount of security enhancements in accordance with my workplace's standards and I am getting closer I think to signing a lease and handing over close to $50 grand Aussie as a deposit and rent in advance - how thrilling. Thrilling to think that we may never see that money again. I just have to hope there is a Trust account in trusting hands....

Back home tonight and then on the plane again Sunday to PNG. Its a crazy time for sure.

I think though that there is no reason to think about the future, becuase the present is wonderful. Naff - I know but it gets me through.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Snake that Shane Shot

I should warn you before we begin...there was no animal injured or killed in the making of this blog.

As he quitely watched his two lovely children happily playing under the gently swaying. yellow flowering Horse Trees, he caught at the corner of his eye, a black snake about to strike.

He sped back to the house and retrieved the highly effective snake deterrer, the 410 shotgun. He cracked it open and expertly slid a sleek, red cartridge into the barrel. Again he rushed back along his same path to the black snake, still rearing about to strike at his beloved.

BANG!! The shot rang out across the hills. When the smoke had cleared and the kids had stopped stuttering with surprise, he went in to investigate the lifeless, black snake.

Haydn began to cry followed closely by Claudia's shrieks of laughter, "Dad you shot my rubber snake!". Haydn was aghast, it was a favourite and it had been guarding the trampoline under the Horse tree for months. No magpie poo on the trampoline and all because of the black, rubber snake.

Never mind, Shane is not the best shot, even with a shotgun that sprays hundreds of little pellets, making missing a target difficult. He had only managed to shoot off the tongue of the snake. All was well. Shane retreated, thinking of how he was going to keep the kids quite.

I arrived home from Sydney late but the first thing the two kids told me was how Dad shot the rubber red belly black and only managed to take out its tongue.

The red belly black now has been safely ensconed on Nanna's window ledge, back doing its bird duties.

Snake 1, Shane 0.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Precious Food

Last night I sat in a salubrious restaurant in my hotel, between a group of Japanese tourists.

It was a riot of laughter, as each of their dishes were placed on the table, they zoomed and clicked and pointed and clicked their Nikon's and Cannon's until the food was extra warm from flash light. I laughed of course - it seemed so silly to take happy snaps of your holiday food.

But why not appreciate the food you are about to eat as much as the buildings and tourist attractions.

it got me thinking about how little we including I appreciate our food. On a show on TV last Monday, Mum and I watched with horror as a woman complained about the bacon wasnt quite crispy enough for her at a hotel banquet. She went on and on and left in a huff. I was disgusted and could only think of all the mothers I have met who just want the chance to feed their children, house them safely and send them to school.

We are a nation of excess. Bring on the Japanese way of appreciating an everyday meal by photographing it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Life is just family

There is the craziness of life and then there is family. Sometimes of course they are the reason for my craziness and lack of any time for smelling the roses and general navel gazing and then there are weekends like the one I have just had, when I am reminded for my reason for living - family.

Saturday was a day of shearing Mums little flock of 60 sheep. The shearers arrived with their own managerie which amused Claudia and Haydn no end.

And then we had some fun "surfing" in the dam. We will deal with the middle ear infections at a later date I am sure but in the meantime Mum and I had a ball watching the kids and Mikey the dog surf 100kms inland from Caloundra!

and then we finished the day off with Mum's world's greatest meat pie. I could have died when I ate the crispy pastry and meltingly soft, extra tasty beef filling. Oh God my mother can cook and her food put us all in a silent patch/ Not easily done!

The today it was mustering and branding. More to come but we got a good head start. We use my brother Clancey's brand, C1B - it always makes me pleased to see such good types of calves stamped with his brand. My city bred husband also managed to castrate the males with no major dramas.

Haydn, Claudia and I mounted up on our favourite steeds and mustered and let go the mob. I love that they love what I loved growing up. I think that is probably some psychological disorder but tonight it makes for a perfect weekend.

Hope you enjoyed yours and were thankful for all the things you often take for granted - or maybe it is only me that takes things for granted?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - nearly

One of the builders was having a nice snooze when I inspected the inside of the new house today...I wasnt mad just jealous.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whats in a name?

I had a weekend to contemplate my navel, enforced entrapment in the the Crowne Hotel in Port Moresby. There are worse things I know but for 44 hours of the 48 hours I went nearly mad with boredom and frustration. And then I started to enjoy it...enjoying observing how I reacted and then accepted my own company. Afterall, I love my company - dont I? Well at least I used to before I had kids and before my life got insanely busy.

While trawling FB looking for classmates of my brother Clancey's, I came across a little boy also named Clancy Blacklock. Although his name is spelt slightly different, the sight of his name again shocked me. Its 12 years since he passed away and yet the sight of his name and my reaction made me realise all over again how much I miss him. How much I wish he was kicking back with me in the Crowne, just hanging out.

Clancey is also my son's middle name. I love that. Hopefully a little bit of Clancey's personality and happiness rubs off on my Haydn.

I eased into my Sunday afternoon, entrapped in the Crowne easily once I thought about how my Clancey would have viewed it. I pulled up a stump at the bar and said GDay to some locals I didnt know. I laughed and joked and basically listened (no small feat for me) for a good two hours. Just hanging out enjoying the present. Clancey would have loved that.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cold Showers

I am staying in one of POMs best hotels but for the past two days it has lacked HOT WATER. Now this is not a huge deal as its probably in the mid 30s outside but I just have to figure out how to wrangle the key for the balcony off the Duty Manager. Apparently they have had some "jumpers" and are none too keen to let the outside in. Maybe tonight I can have a warm shower.

This morning I caught up with a friend from PNG and she asked me why I love the place so much and why I dont hate PNG like other visitors. I preceeded to wax lyrical about all the pluses of PNG - and there are many. When I drew breath, it hit me that the PNG I experience is not the PNG that Papua New Guineans like my friend grow up with. I don't experience the fear of riding home on payday, fearful that I will be robbed, I have ready access to the best health care in the world,  I live out my own life choices and can educated myself and my children almost freely at great schools and universities. I eat without thinking and travel at a whim.

When I come to PNG it is to work for a healthy paycheck. I get to travel around the provinces in comfortable aircraft and stay at safe hotels. The natural environment and the people I have encoutered in PNG are some of the most extra-ordinary in the world. Its easy for me to love PNG as an outsider. I can put up with the water not being hot and the hassles and risks of trying to rent a house in a landlords market.

My friend to be frank has also had a pretty good life here. But she is a rarity I guess. In a UNIFEM survey on sexual and domestic violence a couple of years ago, 100% of survey recipients in the Highlands of PNG reported they had experienced both sexual and domestic violence. Women find it difficult to operate businesses here due to social, cultural and security issues. Girls and women are less likely to be literate or educated than boys and men. Girls and women are also more likely to develop HIV/AIDS. The list goes on.

However, its also not a great report card for men and boys either. PNG has a lot to do to turn the massive revenues and opportunities from its resources into development outcomes - into greater prosperity for all.

That's why I want to be here. Somehow I want to help our nearest neighbour make the transition that many doubt is possible. In the meantime, I will take a nice cold shower.

The house hunting...

Well I got to see the house of my POM rental dreams today at 9am. The RE Agent and I bounded up the steep drive, the gate was open (better than yesterday) but unfortunately none of the 3 assembled "owner representatives" had a key to the inside. Still it looks like what we want. Hopefully Monday I can get a look inside?

Here is a photo of the view over the port

Friday, November 5, 2010

Find a house, find a house, find a house, find a house

My main objective, if you havnt guessed is to find a bloody house. Who would have thought it sooo difficult.
The Port Moresby housing market has exploded and I mean exploded. 12 months ago a 3-4 bedroom family home would have cost around K4000 per week - thats about AUD$1500/week. Now thats not cheaps I know but still affordable based on PNG salaries for expats. That figure has jumped to a whopping K10,000 per week that is around $14,000 per month or $168,000 per annum. Did that make your eyes light up!!

The cost is one problem, a problem capable of being solved if you try hard of housing on the otherhand is quite another story.

I went looking today...3 houses for rent that would fit the bill in POM city...yes 3. It will change daily, the market tends to change rapidly here but still 3??

The school on the other hand was brilliant. I am so impressed. I also managed to find a music teacher for the kids - he is just like a black Barry White. A little girl from what will be Claudia's class has also emailed and "{welcomed" Claudia which I thought was really lovely.

A lonely Friday afternoon in what is not yet my home, just a place for work. Cant wait until I dont have to travel anymore.

Going to look at another house tomorrow...the quest continues!!! Wish me luck

Monday, November 1, 2010


For nearly 9 months I have carefully carried a secret...we are moving overseas or a year or two or maybe more. Now this isnt the first time - we lived in Fiji for a couple of years from 2004. We loved it. In fact it changed our lives.

We absolutely love Australia, Queensland and our own little slice of paradise near Toogoolawah in SEQ. A beautiful farm on the Brisbane River, a great business and Slip has every boys dream job working for an NRL team. My folks live nearby and we have the best group of friends imagineable. Actually, come to think of it, I have no idea why we are moving to one of the world's most unliveable cities, Port Moresby??

After months and months of if, buts and maybes, tears when I told my parents then anger at us "leaving them" and now finally its my first day.

What a let down. I am still working from home with frequent trips to PNG until January when we will all move up in time for the new school year. Until then I am still working at home in my shorts and singlet!!

The beaurecracy is going to kill me but hopefully I can make a contribution to an end to poverty.