The simple pleasures of a free feed

Don’t worry. I’m not going to go on about food because this is, after all, a travel blog. But food is one of my favourite things. It’s not just nutrition and fuel but also something to be enjoyed as an experience that starts right from finding the ingredients through the cooking process to eating (and, best of all, sharing).
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And, when it comes to good food, there’s not much better than a free feed. Like these Brazilian cherries I found growing on a bush in the campground. No one seems to be claiming them because they are falling on the ground being squashed as people walk to the bathrooms. This plant is a weed here in the sub-tropics because the birds take the seeds and drop them in the bush. So it is a shame not more people know the fruits are edible (but lucky for me).
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I turned my pot of Brazilian cherries into a delicious sweet syrup full to go on my breakfast pancakes. The taste is a little strange and almost like medicine. But it’s not unpleasant I will certainly use the fruits in this way again in future if I get a chance at collecting some.
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My other win this week was a big pile of pippies that I collected while out running. Pippies are easy to collect. All you do is look for little lumps in the and on the beach at low tide and dig them out. They are rarely deeper than half the length of a finger, so it’s no effort to collect them. Most people use them for bait to catch fish but I didn’t want to risk a free feed on my lack of skills as a fisherman.
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So I cooked them up with some honey, ginger, garlic and sweet soy noodles. I would have thrown in some vegetables but I ran out the night before and was too lazy to walk to the shop. Pippies are notoriously sandy so you need to soak them in sea water for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight. I left mine for about 20 hours and didn’t find a single grain of sand between my teeth.

The mullet (the fish, not the hairstyle)

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The little black tip shark’s tail fin and tail cut through the water not far from shore. It was doing spins and moving with agitation. I couldn’t see it’s body from where I stood on the beach; that would come later as I moved closer to this fascinating but scary creature of the sea. As I walked closer, I noticed a lump moving on the shore and the seagull standing nearby. The seagull seemed confused and frustrated as he stared at the large flapping lump. The seagull didn’t actually make a move towards the lump; the scavenger of the beach actually seemed a little confused as to what to do.

Suddenly I recognised the lump as a fish. It had probably swum too close to shore to escape the black tip’s hunger and found itself washed onto the beach where the seagull was trying to work out how to carry this quarry that was many times the seagull’s weight and size. And that’s when I stepped into this food triangle, snatching the fish from under the seagull’s nose as the black tip shark searched the small waves in a frenzy.

And that’s how I came to carry a large fresh mullet down the beach for 7km from where I caught it back to camp. It tasted absolutely delicious fried on the campground barbecue and served on top of a simple leafy salad.

As for the story of how I came to be 7km from camp? Well, I have entered the 100km Surf Coast Century trail run in September. I find ultra running and endurance events useful in trying to work out whether the answer really is 42. This afternoon I went out on a 3 hour run/walk training session from Amity to Adder Rock and back. I followed sandy 4WD tracks behind the dunes for a while before running on the packed sand of low tide collecting pippies that I thought I would eat for dinner. I caught the fish at about 2:35 into my run/walk and just walked my way back after that. Even without the fish, it was a magnificent and magical afternoon:
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Do you see the butterfly?
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Beach grasses blowing in the wind.
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The view back towards Amity from Adder Rock.
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I just love random driftwood and dead trees on the beach; they make fantastic shapes.

The final countdown

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I am ready to get underway. I can’t leave just yet because I have a few loose ends to tidy up here in Brisbane where I have lived my entire life. But I am quite impatient for my new life to begin. I’ve given up a lot to give this adventuring thing a crack and the final month of waiting has passed slowly.
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That’s not to say that it’s been bad. I’ve been lucky enough to spend the month living at magical Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) with its crystal clear waters, dolphins and soft sandy beaches. In fact, I would almost say that life here has been near to paradise. I’ve eaten fresh fish, squid and pippies. I’ve run along the beach for kilometers and spent hours packrafting on Moreton Bay as sea turtles swam under my raft.
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I’ve watched magnificent sunsets with family and friends who came to visit. And I’ve enjoyed exploring tidal flats that are alive with soldier crabs, kingfishers and pelicans. The local stone bush curlews have kept me company as I ate breakfasts and dinners in the camp kitchen while cheeky crows threatened to open my food bags.
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And I’ve had plenty of chance to slow down to connect with nature as I transition from the life of an office worker to that of a nomad adventurer. It’s been a huge change and I’ve learned a few lessons already in the two months since I walked out of my old front door for the last time. I’ve changed my wardrobe, reduced the number of possessions I own, gotten used to no longer having a private bathroom and adjusted my thinking so that I no longer stress if I don’t know the time.
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I will be here at Minjerribah and around Brisbane until the end of June when I am taking a short motorbike trip north to visit friends in Central Queensland for one last time before I leave. And then, on 8 July, I am off on a big jet plane to Adelaide where I start my travels proper. I hope to update my blog regularly as I explore the world Looking for 42.