Australia Day long weekend

Gary Lum at Caloundra beach Australia Day

Australia Day long weekend

So dear readers the last week was a short one. Friday, 26 January 2018, was Australia Day and as a public holiday, it meant a short work week and a long weekend! 😃👍

Sorry, if I start to ramble in this post. I’ll probably meander here and there. Stay with me though, it was a good weekend.

Star Trek Discovery update 🖖💯

Last week was pretty uneventful. Monday night though (for the time being, Monday nights are my favourite nights) saw an amazing episode of Star Trek Discovery (#DISCO) which took Trekkers into unchartered territory. I’ve not been as excited about Star Trek since the last live action series, viz., Enterprise (#ENT) was on free-to-air TV. Certainly, the Jar Jar Abrams movies were a let down. That said, DISCO has taken some of the Jar Jar cinematography like the heavy use of lens flare. I know a lot of fans were disappointed in ENT, but I know I’m in the minority who loved it. I even love its opening theme. I will happily rewatch it over and over again. I love each character. Unlike most of the other series in the franchise, there’s not a character who I do not like in ENT.

As far as DISCO is concerned, I’m loving Captain Lorca and Commander Saru. Lieutenant Stamets is growing on me but Dr Culber is plain annoying. He doesn’t fill me with awe like Phlox or Bones or Crusher or the EMH.

Spoiler alert

The recent two episodes which have brought us into the mirror universe have been fantastic and it’s got me so excited for more. I’ve been pondering the best way to eat Kelpien. I’m thinking, I’d like the threat ganglia raw, avulsed just prior to consumption and served with fresh gagh. Ideally, I’d be fed from the chopsticks of the Emperor herself in her personal stateroom.

Australia Day weekend

The highlight was obviously travelling to Brisbane on Thursday night and spending three nights with my parents and children.

I’ve recently shared how a close relative has experienced a diagnosis and treatment of bowel carcinoma and the ensuing post-operative complications including an admission to anthe intensive care unit. The good news is, the said close relative is well on the road to recovery.

QF1550 CBR to BNE

I left work a little early on Thursday evening to board QF1550 CBR to BNE. I enjoyed a nice sweet potato salad for dinner on the flight. On arriving in Brisbane, my vulgar ichthyoid skin began drinking in the sweet nectar that is the sultry humidity of balmy Brisbane. My skin felt immediately better. It’s nice to exist without physical discomfort.

People often talk of the humidity of the Top End, but I reckon if you can live January and February in Brisbane, you can do any type of humidity.

It was good to see my parents and children when I got to my parent’s place.

Sweet potato salad in seat 14D

Thursday dinner. QF1550 sweet potato salad. Australia Day.

Australia Day

Australia Day has become very controversial and I’m keeping my opinions to myself. Suffice to say, I’d like to see respect for all views being observed by everyone, everywhere.

We didn’t have much of a plan for the day apart from eating Breakfast, Lunch and Tea.

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs, I took Mum grocery shopping and I bought some stuff for dinner which I was going to cook.

New thongs. Maroon! Because Queenslander!!! Australia Day.
New thongs. Maroon! Because Queenslander!!!

Photograph of scrambled eggs

Friday breakfast. Scrambled eggs with mixed dried herbs and butter for flavour. Australia Day.

Lunch turned out to be a lot of fun. One of my cousins and her partner were visiting Brisvegas from Sin City so we enjoyed a meal at a local Thai restaurant.

Photograph of my first of many plates at Kinn + Derm

Friday lunch. Kinn Derm Thai. Australia Day.

For dinner, I cooked a slight Australiana theme with baked salmon that looked like a Lamington.

Friday dinner Australia Day 💚💛🇦🇺 Poppy and sesame seed crusted salmon with Moreton Bay bug topped kale and avocado slaw salad flavoured with horseradish cream.
Friday dinner Australia Day 💚💛🇦🇺 Poppy and sesame seed crusted salmon with Moreton Bay bug topped kale and avocado slaw salad flavoured with horseradish cream.
Friday dessert. Australia Day 💚💛🇦🇺 Golden Gaytime Gaynetto
Friday dessert. Australia Day 💚💛🇦🇺 Golden Gaytime Gaynetto

You can read a better account of my Australia Day food over at Yummy Lummy.

I spent part of Friday afternoon shopping with my youngest daughter. She was keen on a dress. I take my hat off to her. She’s been looking at this dress, she knew it would go on sale and then she also had a voucher, so, for a $100 dress marked down to $50, she used a $44 voucher and handed over $6. I’m not naïve enough to think the dress is worth $100, but it does me proud to know my children think about how to exploit money as much as possible for the best gain.

We all slept well after a good day of eating.

Saturday sunshine and seawater

The plan for Saturday was for an early start. One of my daughters had to finish some work, so I got up at 5 am and made her scrambled eggs on toast. I think she liked it. I’m quite proud of the way my scrambled eggs taste. I only use butter and eggs. I don’t use any milk or cream.

We hit the road for Caloundra a little after 9 am and arrived a little after 10 am. The traffic was reasonably moderate the entire drive. During the 100 kph spots, I’d say we averaged about 95 kph and using the 110 kph spots we travelled a little over 105 kph most of the way.

On the drive, I started listening to my favourite podcast, “No Such Thing as a Fish”. I had forgotten that JJJ* had its “Hottest 100” on that day. That’s what we listened to on the return journey.

Finding a spot to park the car near the beach was like finding a needle in a haystack. We drove up and down the main drag for about 15 minutes before we spied someone about to pull out. In the end, we got an ideal spot, near the beach and near where we had booked for lunch.

Caloundra beach Australia Day

After a liberal application of sunscreen, we sat on the fine sand and enjoyed the sunshine and sea air. After letting the sunscreen absorb into our skin, we ran into the water and it was perfect. Cool but not cold and oh so refreshing. I love the feeling of swimming in seawater. It feels good. It smells good. It is good.

Caloundra beach Australia Day

I’ve been suffering for many years from two frozen shoulders. I have attended many physiotherapy sessions and over the last year or so after daily exercises, I feel like I have near my normal range of movement, albeit, I don’t have the strength I used to. It was nice to crawl and breaststroke against the current. I doubt I’ll butterfly again, but it was nice to have that movement in my shoulders.

Gary Lum at Caloundra beach Australia Day

After about an hour in the water, we walked up the beach towards our towels and dried off in the sun. It felt so good having sand between my toes, sun on my skin, and being buoyed by seawater.

Alfie’s Mooo Char & Bar

Regular readers will know my NRL team is the Brisbane Broncos and in State of Origin, I’m a Queensland Maroon supporter first and foremost. Alfie Langer played halfback for the Broncos, for Queensland and for Australia. He was the greatest halfback ever. He’s certainly better than the likes of Andrew Johns from Newcastle, NSW.

Alfie's Mooo Char & Bar Australia Day

Alfie owns Alfie’s Mooo Char & Bar at Caloundra. I’ve not been there before but my parents and brothers have been and they have raved about how good it is.

I plan to write a review over that Yummy Lummy, suffice to say, I went with the Hot and Cold Platter for two people. I shared it with one of my daughters. It was filling and it was really very nice. The platter is presented in two tiers and consists of a spanner crab, Moreton Bay bug, cooked prawns, deep fried battered prawns, crumbed fish, oysters natural, oysters Kilpatrick, crumbed calamari, hot chips and a nice Queensland nut and toasted coconut salad.

Alfie's Mooo Char & Bar Seafood Platter Australia Day Alfie's Mooo Char & Bar Seafood Platter Australia Day

Queensland nut Oyster Kilpatrick Australia Day
Queensland nut Oyster Kilpatrick

Dinner at Motto Motto

Even though we had a huge lunch, I took Mum and Dad out to dinner at Motto Motto. They really like it there.

Rather than a full main course dish, I just ate a side dish of soft shelled crab along with some Teriyaki chicken wings. We also had wagyu beef and green salad, pork belly ramen noodles and a chicken karaage roll

Wagyu beef and salad

Wagyu beef Australia Day Motto Motto
Wagyu beef

Chicken karaage roll

Chicken Karaage Australia Day Motto Motto

Soft shelled crab with Teriyaki chicken wings in the background

Australia Day Motto Motto Soft shelled crab and Teriyaki chicken wings in the background
Soft shelled crab and Teriyaki chicken wings in the background


I had a bit of a slow start on Sunday morning. One daughter had a party to attend on Saturday night and I happily took her there and agreed to pick her up. I didn’t realise how late the party would go for. I received a text message at 1.21 am and after a round trip into Fortitude Valley, got to bed at 2 am. I woke at 7 am and felt a little groggy.


I took Mum and my daughters to Hermosa in Chermside. We’ve been there before and enjoyed breakfast so I thought we’d have another go.

I like that on the menu there is an option to build your breakfast. The base is eggs anyway you like them plus some sourdough toast. You can then add sides. I went with some chorizo sausage, avocado, and sautéed mushrooms. It was pretty nice. Mum and my daughters also enjoyed their meals too.

Photograph of poached eggs on sourdough toast with chorizo, avocado, and sautéed mushrooms

Poached eggs on sourdough bread with chorizo, avocado and mushrooms from Her Mosa, Chermside Australia Day
Poached eggs on sourdough bread with chorizo, avocado and mushrooms from Her Mosa, Chermside

The end of a great long weekend

Like all good things, I had to end a great long weekend in Brisbane by leaving for Canberra. I managed to have a light lunch at the airport. It was some tuna and coleslaw.

Sunday lunch. Tuna and coleslaw. Australia Day.

On arriving in Canberra, I went to Coles and bought some groceries and meat for dinner.

Sunday dinner

My last meal for the weekend was roast chicken thigh and vegetables.

Photograph of roast chicken and vegetables

Sunday dinner. Roast chicken thighs and vegetables. Australia day.
Sunday dinner. Roast chicken thighs and vegetables.

Final words

It was a great weekend. I ate a lot of food. I enjoyed my time with my family. I loved feeling happier and healthier in the balmy Brisbane humidity.

The week to come will be busy. Catch you next weekend.

Focussing on food blogging and enjoying a Bânh mì

A week in Brisbane

A week in Brisbane

A few weeks ago, at the beginning of December, I wasn’t expecting to spend the end of 2017 in Brisbane. In my mind, I was attending a WHO meeting in Lyon, returning to work for fours days, and then spending a week in Canberra between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day enjoying some warmth and a little humidity.

Lyon to Canberra

That was until a close relative needed to have a colonoscopy which revealed a significant malignant tumour requiring immediate surgery. Then there were complications of the surgery which meant a long spell in intensive care which will need to be followed by time in rehabilitation.

I’m now in Brisbane helping to care for relatives.

The bright side

As is my want, I will try to spend part of my conscious living focussing on the positive aspects of this situation. I will be spending time with family. I will an opportunity to spend some time with my daughters. I will be in my hometown (Brisbane). It will be warm and not hot like Canberra. It will be humid and not dry like Canberra.

I think I’ve written this before and my closest friends know this too, I love warm weather, I don’t like hot weather. Anywhere between 28 and 32 °C is fine by me. In Summer, up to 34 °C is tolerable. Anything >34 °C is not what I regard as pleasant. Certainly, Tuesday’s 39 °C in Canberra would have been horrible.

In addition, through social media and messaging apps, I can continue to stay in contact with IRL and online friends who I rely on to keep me in good spirits. You know who you are JM, FC, SGM, BCM… 😃👍😁

Working remotely

One of the nice things about modern work as a public servant is the capability to work remotely. So long as I have a 4G connection, I can check e-mail and if I go to a shopping mall, I can use the free Wi-Fi to get deeper into the work IT system so I can access files and other areas of the network.

QF1546 waiting on the tarmac in Canberra

Airport coffee, waiting for my flight to Brisbane

Weight situation

Would you believe my weight didn’t go up while I was away in Lyon? I ate croissants for breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and occasionally dinner. I also ate cream and custard-filled pastries. It must be something in the water because I saw less than a handful of overweight people in Lyon. Everyone looked lean and healthful (apart from those smoking cigarettes).

I won’t be able to measure my mass while I’m in Brisbane but I hope to return to a low carb life. I will have to prepare meals suitable for others including a diabetic and heart disease safe meals. In many ways, a low carb life works well for people with diabetes mellitus.

Please note, again I should point out a disclaimer, I do not provide medical advice in my blogs, I will never form a doctor-patient relationship with a reader.

Diabetes mellitus

Getting back to a low carb life and diabetes mellitus though; diabetes mellitus is a small constellation of diseases associated with poor control of glucose. The islet cells of the pancreas produce insulin which is a hormone which helps regulate blood sugar. An insufficient amount of insulin causes an increase in blood sugar. This can create manifold problems acutely as well as chronic problems associated with pathological changes to blood vessels and nerves (blindness, heart disease, impotence, lower limb infections, amputations, kidney disease, kidney failure to name but a few problems). Because of the lack of insulin, people with diabetes mellitus should eschew foods with a lot of simple carbs and especially sucrose (sugar). This means bread, pasta and rice. Sugar and sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, albeit ‘natural’ should not be added to food. A diet rich in non-starchy vegetables and some fruit is good. Meat in moderation is also good along with some cheese. Proteins in small amounts help to sate appetite and ensure that overall carb intake is minimised. Fibre is also important for bowel health. As a first degree relative of someone with a bowel malignancy, I’m now even more conscious of bowel health and maintaining a good fibre content and a reduced red meat intake. If you follow my food socials, you’ll see more salmon and chicken and probably duck.

A low carb life can assist with a more stable and better control of blood sugar. If you’re reading this and wondering about the potential benefits or threats to your health, please see your own general practitioner (or what some people call a family physician). Again, I stress, see a proper doctor, not someone into supplements complementary and alternative medicine (SCAM) services. This includes people who claim to be integrative practitioners who try to combine modern conventional evidence-based science-based medicine with practices not steeped in the scientific method. Always remember good + bad ≠ good. Your GP may not be a nutritionist but your GP is a specialist in your life and can work with you and other professionals to optimise your nutrition.

Blue skies over Chermside

Black and white meeting rooms at the bank

Train Tragedy in the USA

What a tragedy. I paused as I read accounts on Facebook from friends in the USA. It made me think about the amazing train ride I had between Lyon and Paris last week. I finished that ride feeling very positive about very fast trains.

Christmas 2017

This coming Monday is Christmas Day. With Boxing Day a public holiday too, we have a four-day long weekend. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. I’ll be spending some time at the hospital visiting and then I hope to cook a chook for lunch. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to buy some prawns too. It’s not going to be an elaborate Christmas this year.

The food situation

I’ve been cooking for a family member and also taking some time out with other family members. When times are difficult, food is a good way to get some happiness.

Leftover lamb korma with two poached eggs

Scrambled eggs made with eggs and butter

Herb and seed crusted salmon with stir-fried kale and cabbage with horseradish cream

Mangoes in Brisbane are cheaper than mangoes in Canberra

Crumbed fish from the hospital tuck shop

Chicken wings ready for the oven

is worth having in the cupboard. Iodine is critical to the development of the brains of unborn babies and infants.

Iodine deficiency

Herb crusted chicken wings and hot chilli kale coleslaw stir-fry


The Wesley Hospital tuck shop chicken thighs and vegetables

Saturday night dinner to celebrate a little good news

Click on a photograph and scroll through the gallery. This was a Pork and Moreton Bay Bug (Thenus orientalis) spicy chilli kale and cabbage salad with horseradish cream. Here is the post on Yummy Lummy describing how to make it.

Kinn + Derm Chermside

We went for dinner here on Friday night. Read my Google review. We enjoyed chicken Pad Thai, crispy skinned chicken, crunch pork belly, soft shelled crab and a spicy green paw paw salad. Click on a photo to see a larger version and scroll through the gallery.

For dessert, I had a salted Queensland nut gelato

Salted Queensland nut gelato Brisbane Gary Lum


Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency

00:00 / 00:10:06

Iodine deficiency

Hello Friends,


I missed blogging last week because I went to Brisbane to visit my daughters and parents. I had a fantastic time. It rained heavily the entire weekend. I love heavy rain and I love driving in heavy rain. It reminded me of driving from Darwin to Katherine once with a colleague. It was February and the Monsoon was upon us. I could barely see what was in front of me and bear in mind this was the time of unrestricted driving, meaning, no speed limit. My colleague asked if I could see the road because he couldn’t. I replied, “No, but I can feel the road.” He elected not to join me for the return drive and decided to hire a car at his own expense for the return journey the next day.

I bet you’re wondering how I went with my weight loss dream while in Brisbane and visiting my family. Gee, I ate well. But I ate sensibly, well, in my opinion, I ate sensibly.

Weekend food highlights

I flew up on Friday evening and decided to only eat the chicken in the chicken curry that was served as a meal on my flight. I left the rice behind.

Chicken curry

iodine deficiency

🐓 Sorry for the crappy photo

On Saturday morning, I took Ms22 and Ms20 to breakfast to Cafe 63 in Chermside and enjoyed a big hearty breakfast of pork sausages, BBQ pork belly, bacon, beef, hash brown (I ate one of two), scrambled eggs, and a grilled tomato. I left the toast behind.

Cafe 63 big breakfast

iodine deficiency
BBQ pork belly, bacon, beef burger, pork sausage, hash browns and eggs

At lunchtime on Saturday, Ms20, Miss16 and I went to the Sandgate Fishmonger and I had a piece of grilled cod along with one of two crumbed squid tentacles.

Sandgate Fishmonger grilled cod

iodine deficiency
Grilled cod 🐟

For dinner, I took my parents along with Ms22 and Ms20 to Motto Motto in Chermside. It’s an interesting Japanese restaurant. Sort of fast food, order at the counter, speedy food service, eat and leave. I had a bowl of seared salmon, avocado, green salad leaves and Teriyaki sauce. I also had a side of two soft shelled crabs. I also managed to snag a piece of karaage chicken, a Teriyaki chicken wing and a pork gyoza dumpling.

Motto Motto seared salmon and avocado with soft shelled crabs

iodine deficiency
Seared salmon and avocado and salad
iodine deficiency
Seared salmon and avocado and salad

iodine deficiency

After dinner, Dad treated us all to a gelato. This is the first gelato or ice cream I’ve had in months. Gee, it tasted good. I licked that vanilla creaminess like to was the most important thing in my life.


iodine deficiency
Vanilla gelato

On Sunday, I was able to enjoy breakfast with Ms22, Ms20, and Miss16. We went to Hermosa in Chermside. I constructed my breakfast by asking for bacon, poached eggs, wilted spinach and avocado. The avocado was coated with seeds and crushed nuts and was really very nice.

iodine deficiency
Poached eggs, bacon, avocado and wilted spinach

All in all, I ate well on the weekend. When I weighed in on Monday morning I wasn’t shattered with the result.

See for yourself in the chart below.

Weight chart

iodine deficiency

Canberra is continuing to crush salmonella but not in a good way

iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency

On Tuesday night I attended a monthly meeting of medical officers who work in the Australian Government Department of Health. Our guest speaker was Prof. Creswell Eastman, AM. Prof. Eastman is a legend. He is best known for a lifetime of work on iodine deficiency and the role iodine plays in a person’s intellectual development. He’s shown time and again the problems of iodine deficiency not only in Australia but also in China including Tibet.

Check out my Twitter feed.

Click on the tweet and you should be able to follow the lecture from my Tweets.

I learned that in China, Prof. Eastman assisted the people by igniting the government into making a humungous change and iodise the salt which rapidly raised the intelligence quotient of millions of Chinese people living in remote and rural settings. Reducing iodine deficiency is the key.

I also learnt that at the time, Tibet became an unintended control group. There were villages in Tibet where the majority of people had goitres, cretinism still occurred and in addition to intellectual retardation, growth retardation also occurred. Prof. Eastman went in and assisted the locals by introducing iodised oil. The effect was dramatic by reducing iodine deficiency.

What Prof. Eastman also revealed was the population problems in terms of poor intellectual development in Australia. His collaborators used the much-maligned NAPLAN process to compare intellectual development in Australian children.  His group discovered that some time ago the Australian dairy industry made a decision to change milk vat disinfection from iodophors to chlorine without telling anyone. This had the effect of reducing the available iodine in dairy products. Iodine is inimical to bacterial growth so it was a fabulous disinfectant.

In addition, there has been a general move to reduce salt intake and to not add salt to food. While there is nothing wrong with that, instead of buying and using good old-fashioned iodised cooking salt people started following cooking fads and started to buy sea salt and rock salt and sadly Himalayan rock salt. I say sadly because that Himalayan salt, according to Prof. Eastman is murky and dirty looking because of the presence of noxious trace metals that don’t do anything positive for our health. The bottom line was that the little added salt people did use was not iodised and possibly had harmful effects.

Iodised salt is used in bread but with so many people eschewing bread because they believe they have a gluten intolerance (rather than having fair dinkum cœliac disease, this had led to a further reduction in iodine in our diets.

Prof. Eastman’s advice is that pregnant women in Australia should supplement their diets as soon after conception as possible with iodine. The risk of not doing this is having a child who may be a slow learner and all the consequences of that.

If you want a salty recipe you can use iodised salt for, check out this great looking pork crackling on Yummy Lummy.


Should Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?

When you look up Wikipedia and search for Thanksgiving it’s a revelation to see just how widespread thanksgiving celebration is.

While I know a lot of Australians resent following Americana on everything I wonder if we should spread the message that Thanksgiving could also be an Australian holiday but for different reasons when compared with our American friends. If we did it correctly we could do something to ameliorate the angst associated with Australia Day and the concerns expressed by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who consider 26 January to be what they regard as “invasion day”, that is the day the British arrived and began colonising Australia. I think we should still mark Australia Day (26 January) as an important day but we wouldn’t need a public holiday. We could transfer the public holiday to Thanksgiving which could be celebrated on another day. Thanksgiving could be a day to celebrate reconciliation.

Here is where I reckon we should look at the American tradition and use a specific day of the week, e.g, the third Friday of January every year. This way the public holiday isn’t ‘wasted’ on a Saturday or Sunday and we get a long weekend. Another possible day would be the second Tuesday of November so while the Victorians are having fun getting pissed at a horse race, the rest of Australia could enjoy some nice seafood and a mixed grill on the barbie followed by a pavlova. Morning tea could be filled with vanilla slices (bloody Victorians call them snot blocks) and lamingtons. After lunch, people would have time without affecting the national productivity to watch the horserace and waste the arvo drinking grog so by dinner time they can sober up and get ready for work the next day.

When Australia becomes a republic I want to run for President on a platform a long weekend every month.

I did not know that Thanksgiving is celebrated on Norfolk Island.

What do you reckon? Should we celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia?

Black and white

So if you’re on Facebook and/or Instagram you’ll have probably seen if not participated in the black and white challenge. It’s been fun shooting a photograph every day editing it to black and white and then posting it to Instagram and then out to Facebook and Twitter.

I wouldn’t say these photographs are any good but it was fun. The idea is not to include people you know and you don’t provide any explanation as to why you shot the photograph.

This is a gallery. Click on one photograph and then scroll through each image.

This week on the Medical Fun Facts Podcast

This week I talk about scabies. The show will drop on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time. I’m trying something different. Rather than a ‘fake video’ I’ve produced an Apple Keynote slideshow with a voiceover. This will be available on YouTube (also on Monday night at 7 pm Canberra time).

YouTube thumbnail for Monday’s show

iodine deficiency

Ekka 2017

Iconic Ekka Strawberry Sundae The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum

The Ekka 2017

Over the weekend, Ms22, Ms20, and I went to The Ekka 2017. Unfortunately, Miss16 could not join us. She had a sudden onset of fever with muscle and joint aches and pain. With the spike in influenza virus infections around the country, it’s likely she has influenza. I’m glad I just feel blergh and don’t have influenza.

Going to The Ekka has become an annual ‘thing’ for us. The Ekka or Royal Queensland Show or Show or Exhibition is like most other shows or what American friends may know as fairs (is that the correct spelling?). Only, The Ekka is better (IMHO). Far better than anything Sydney does at Easter and I have to ask, does Melbourne even have a show? Come on Melbourne lovers tell me about your show. I think Canberra has a show but I’ve never been or if I have, it wasn’t memorable. The Royal Easter Show in Sydney is okay and I enjoyed being there the twice I’ve been. When we lived in Darwin, there was the Darwin Show. I remember volunteering for the Territory Health Services booth and I gave out condoms and answered questions. My daughters entered their cooking creations into the cooking competitions. We’d see the animals and enjoy the sights and sounds of the show. Being a small show, it was something you could arrive in the morning, see everything and be home in time for a nap before dinner. The Ekka though is much bigger. It goes for 10 days and is jam packed with all sorts of events.

Now for people who don’t know me very well, the previous paragraph was deliberately provocative because I’m from Queensland and in my opinion everything from Queensland and the Northern Territory of Australia is better than anything else in Australia, if not the universe. Unfortunately, html has not progressed enough to demonstrate my facetiousness and sarcasm, hence this explanatory text as a block quote!

Friday night

I flew from Canberra to Brisbane on a later than normal flight. The cost of flights in and out of Canberra is very expensive so I went with the cheapest fare which was a late flight. At the airport I had a plate of Massaman beef and rice with some polenta slaw.

Beef massaman curry with rice and coleslaw The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Beef massaman curry with rice and coleslaw

I got into Brisbane and got an update on Miss16. She was obviously viræmic with fever, diaphoresis, cough, myalgia and headache. She would stay at her place and Ms22 would care for her overnight. This was a good decision. My parents don’t need exposure to an acutely unwell and infectious teenager.

Because I got in late, I had enough time to have a short catch up with Ms20, Mum and Dad and then a sleepless night coughing and worrying about Miss16.

Saturday morning

I called Ms22 and Miss16 had a quiet night sleeping. Apparently Miss16 was feeling slightly better with a mild reduction in her headache and she was less febrile.

Ms20 and I decided to proceed to go out for breakfast and discuss the day’s plan. We walked over to Westfield Chermside and ventured through the new food pavilion. We spotted a Cafe 63 and agreed to have breakfast there. The menu has dishes with names. We thought it would be funny to have three Garys at the table. So we ordered a Gary each plus a Bircher Muesli to share. The Gary is basically a poached egg with Hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon, and (s)mashed avocado on toast. I’m glad we agreed to eat this before the muesli because the Bircher muesli was quite sweet and was like having a breakfast dessert. I’d happily recommend these dishes at any Cafe 63.

Cafe 63 menu Gary the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cafe 63 menu Gary


The Gary at Cafe 63 is smoked salmon, a poached egg, Hollandaise sauce, smashed avocado and toast the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
The Gary at Cafe 63 is smoked salmon, a poached egg, Hollandaise sauce, smashed avocado and toast

Bircher muesli

Bircher Muesli from Cafe 63 the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Bircher Muesli from Cafe 63

After breakfast

After breakfast I went to top up my Go Card for the bus ride and then we went to visit Miss16 on her sick bed.

The wheels on the bus go round and round…

In years gone by we would drive to Alderley Train Station, park and ride a train to The Ekka. Ms22 explained that there were road works near the train station and we’d be better off catching the Chermside 333 bus from the Chermside Bus Interchange to The Ekka.

The bus trip is pretty good with a service leaving every 15 minutes while The Ekka is on. We get off at Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital in Herston and walked to the Royal National Association showgrounds which hosts The Ekka.

The showgrounds are close to the Queensland Museum which is a fantastic place to visit. One of these days when I come to Brisbane to visit, I should take my daughters to the Queensland Museum.

Woolworths food Pavillion

After getting through the entry gate we headed straight to the Woolworths food pavillion and line up for a tasting plate of free snacks.

Tasting plate

Woolworths tasting apple, pork and beef. the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Woolworths tasting apple, pork and beef.


The snacks are nice but hardly filling. So we look around the Pavillion for something to buy. In previous years we’ve had dumplings, satays, burgers and pizza. This year we went with Greek food and I had a souvlaki while Ms20 and Ms22 had halloumi chips.


Souvlaki from the food pavilion the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Souvlaki from the food pavilion (this was yummy)

Cakes, photography and animals

After eating lunch, we searched out the photography competitions and cake decorating. Ms20 has a special interest in the cake decorating. If find the detail in the cake decorating amazing. The talent people have is awe inspiring. Ms20 has a strong cake decorating bent, I’ve often suggested she consider entering competitions.


Cake decorating at The Ekka the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cake decorating at The Ekka 2017
Cake decorating at The Ekka the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cake decorating at The Ekka 2017
Cake decorating at The Ekka the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cake decorating at The Ekka 2017

After that, we wander and wander and wander around as many exhibits as we can. I really like visiting all the animal pavilions and seeing them. There’s just something special about seeing real animals, alive and up close and realise they live and die for us to be able to eat them and gain nourishment from them. I’m grateful for farmers who rear the beasts and then send them to abattoirs. At abattoirs, the animals are killed cleanly and efficiently and then butchered so we can have meat on our dinner tables every day. It’s circle of life stuff. It’s worth thinking about the life and death of an animal so we can appreciate it more.

Primary producers really should get more recognition for feeding us. I know we import a lot of food from Asia and we export a lot of our high quality produce to Asia. The buy cheap sell high approach helps our economy to grow. While I do bemoan the cost of produce compared with other economies, at least we have access to food in plentiful supply and in Australia, especially with our government managed welfare systems, the vast majority of people don’t experience famine. While we do have homelessness and poverty, our governments past and present have all maintained and sustained welfare systems which will provide assistance to everyone who needs it.

Amongst the animal pavillions, a dog collar is purchased and we enjoy a cow milking exhibition with milk, butter, cream, butter milk, curds, whey and cheese all being made in front of us.


Animals at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Animals at The Ekka 2017

Cows being milked

Cow being milked the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cow being milked
Cow at The Ekka. Her name is Pam. the ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Cow at The Ekka. Her name is Pam.


Clydesdale at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Clydesdale at The Ekka 2017

Great danes

Dogs at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Dogs at The Ekka 2017

Strawberry Sundae

Once we had our fill of seeing various animals we went in search of a strawberry sundae. These ice cream cones are the stuff of legend. These ice creams are an iconic part of The Ekka. In fact, in my mind, nothing says The Ekka as well as the Strawberry Sundae. The ice cream creations are put together by volunteers and all the profits are donated to The Prince Charles Hospital in Chermside on the North Side of Brisbane. Formerly known as the Chermside Chest Hospital, it’s now a place of amazing medical endeavour with an emphasis on cardiopulmonary health.

Strawberry Sundae

Iconic Ekka Strawberry Sundae The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Iconic Ekka Strawberry Sundae | The Ekka 2017

Sideshow alley and showbags

Not much to say other than I bought a Bertie Beetle showbag and we said goodbye to Ms22 who was going to a party that night.

Show meats. Lamb shank, ham hock and turkey legs. The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Show meats. Lamb shank, ham hock and turkey legs.
Show bag pavillion at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Show bag pavillion at The Ekka 2017
Bertie Beetle showbag The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Bertie Beetle showbag from The Ekka 2017


After sideshow alley we went to find a seat in the main arena so we could enjoy EkkaNites which is the main entertainment show for the evening with two sets of fire works, a woodchop relay event, precision driving (V8 Holden utes), freestyle moto-X, monster trucks, some form of artistic entertainment and some sort of comedy routine. It’s always good fun and it’s a good way to spend an evening.

While I kept an eye on our seats and things, Ms20 went off looking for dinner. In the 30 minutes she was away, the Machinery Hill stand filled to capacity and I had to keep people from taking her place on the bare concrete “step“.

Ms20 did well and bought burgers. I had one with bacon, cheese, pineapple and beetroot. It was pretty good. I was happy with it.

EkkaNites burger

Hamburger with bacon, pineapple, beetroot and cheese at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Hamburger with bacon, pineapple, beetroot and cheese at The Ekka 2017. (Captured in the dark of night. The iPhone did well to capture any detail.)

Here is the list of the EkkaNites entertainment:

  • Not one but two fireworks shows starting with the Children’s Fireworks presented by MG Motor: ‘Colours of the
  • Great Barrier Reef’ at 6 pm plus the spectacular fireworks finale at 8 pm Jaws of Death Aerial Straight Jacket
  • Escape featuring renowned escape artist Sam Powers
  • Horse Archery Combat Show The Rooftop Express Brumby Muster
  • Showtime FMX Battle for the Golden Helmet Ekka’s Tribute to the Holden Precision Driving Team presented by
  • Track skill V8 Show
  • Monster Trucks – Devils Taxi & Tropical Thunder featuring the RACQ LifeFlight Helicopter


Fireworks at EkkaNites at The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Fireworks at EkkaNites at The Ekka 2017

The bus ride home

It had been a full day and at about 9 pm we had one last Strawberry Sundae in Sideshow Alley and then took the Chermside 333 back to the Chermside Interchange.

Sunday morning

After another night of coughing, I awoke and called Miss16 to see how she felt. She was feeling significantly better but very congested with some back pain. She was well enough though to come out for breakfast.

We ended up at Cafe Cherry Beans in Chermside. Ms22 brought her BF along and so seven of us enjoyed a nice breakfast. I ended up having a very nice bacon and fried eggs roll with BBQ sauce. We all enjoyed our meals although we all wish the knives were serrated steak knives because the toast was difficult to cut with the standard dinner knives.

Bacon and fried eggs roll

Bacon and fried eggs roll with BBQ sauce The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Bacon and fried eggs roll with BBQ sauce

All good things must come to an end

I flew back to Canberra with a group of school students.

School students on the flight to Canberra The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
School students on the flight to Canberra

I had a great weekend with my family. Brisbane was lovely and warm. Did I mention that on Saturday the maximum temperature got to 29 °C? It was perfect for an August day in Brisbane (this is the sort of Winter I like). There were none of those dreaded westerly winds which evaporates all the moisture in the air. The air was still and in the crowd, the air was moist with humidity.

Final words

I love The Ekka. I could go by myself, but The Ekka is for family and even though we missed the company of Miss16, it was still a good time. Hopefully, in 2018, we’ll have Miss17 (as she will be then) with us.

Spending time with my daughters and parents is the most precious time I have. It was good to be able to help Dad buy a new telephone handset, help Mum fix a few things on her iPad and just be with my daughters.

As I finish writing this, it’s Sunday evening. I’m back in cold dry Canberra and thinking about the week ahead but also planning my next time with my family.

Chicken Kiev with salad (lettuce, tomato, spring onion, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil). The Ekka 2017 Gary Lum
Chicken Kiev with salad (lettuce, tomato, spring onion, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil).

Mum and Dad cooked a huge breakfast

Lamb chops with bacon eggs and scones Gary Lum

So after a big day of food on Saturday (go back to lunch and dinner), Mum and Dad cooked a huge breakfast for me and the girls.

Mum and Dad both love cooking and they love sharing how much they love their kids and grandkids by cooking large quantities of food 😃

Their small apartment quickly filled with the aromas of bacon, lamb, and scones.

This is my first breakfast plate. In all I ended up with four lamb chops, I estimate about four eggs worth of omelet and a couple more scones 🤣😂😋

Lamb chops with bacon eggs and scones Gary Lum

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Miss 15 will soon be Miss 16

Pork ribs with prime rib and mashed potato and pepper sauce at Hog's Breath Café, Aspley Gary Lum

My youngest daughter will soon turn 16. We went out for dinner, celebrated over steaks and then had some cake.

Grace, Larissa and Nicola at Hog's Breath Café, Aspley Gary Lum

We went to Hog’s Breath Cafe in Aspley because it’s close and Mum’s food allergies aren’t affected by slowly cooked steak.

I asked for the combination pork ribs and prime rib steak along with double mashed potato with pepper sauce. I did ask for some salad, but the server must have thought I said double mashed potato. I didn’t complain, I like mashed potato, especially with barbecue sauce from the pork and the added pepper sauce I asked for the steak. Often I’ll have the steak with some prawns for a surf and turn but I’d already eaten fish and calamari earlier in the day.

Pork ribs with prime rib and mashed potato and pepper sauce at Hog's Breath Café, Aspley Gary Lum
Pork ribs with prime rib and mashed potato and pepper sauce at Hog’s Breath Café, Aspley

Mum had made a coconut ice coconut cake as a birthday cake. It was really nice. It was moist and full of great coconut flavour.

Nicola and her coconut ice birthday cake Gary Lum

Coconut ice coconut birthday cake Gary Lum
Coconut ice coconut birthday cake

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Grace, Larissa and Nicola at Hog's Breath Café, Aspley Gary Lum

Sandgate fish and chips with seagulls

Gary with fish and chips at Sandgate Gary Lum

Today I took Miss 15 and Ms 19 out to Sandgate for lunch. We haven’t been back since November 2016. We went to the Sandgate Fishmonger and bought three pieces of battered cod, four potato scallops (not cakes), a serving or crumbed calamari and a large serving of really nice chips.

We also had the company of quite a few seagulls.

Gary with fish and chips at Sandgate Gary Lum Larissa and Nicola with fish and chips at Sandgate Gary Lum Larissa and Nicola at Sandgate Gary Lum  Larissa at Sandgate Gary Lum Larissa at Sandgate Gary Lum Nicola at Sandgate Gary Lum


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