Choc-orange Brownie Cakes

(From Donna Hays STM column)

125 grams butter                                                          3 tablespoons cocoa, sifted

125 grams dark chocolate, chopped                         1 tablespoon orange-flavoured liqueur

2 eggs                                                                              1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind

2/3 cup caster sugar                                                    icing sugar for dusting

2/3 cup almond meal                                                  double thick cream and raspberries, to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Place the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted and smooth.  Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk lightly to combine.  Add the melted chocolate and stir to combine.  Add the almond meal, cocoa, orange liqueur and orange rind and fold through to combine.  Pour into a lightly greased 4 x 1 cup capacity (250 ml) muffin tin* and bake for 25-30 minutes or until just set.  Allow brownies to cool in the tin.  Dust with icing sugar and serve with raspberries and cream.  Makes 4.

*I use a 20cm square tin lined with baking paper, then when cool cut the brownies into snack size pieces (around 16 brownies).

Pumpkin Damper

(From The Australian Women’s Weekly Fruit and Vegetable Cookbook)

1 cup mashed pumpkin                                                 ¼ cup castor sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten                                                       ¼ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

¼ cup milk                                                                      ¼ cup chopped raisins

2 ½ cups self-raising flour                                           1 tablespoon extra, milk

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon                                    1 tablespoon castor sugar, extra

60 grams butter

Sieve pumpkin into a bowl, stir in egg and milk.  Sift flour, cinnamon in to a bowl, rub in butter.  Stir in sugar, nuts and raisins then pumpkin mixture. Knead on a floured surface until smooth.

Place dough onto greased oven tray, press out with fingers to a circle about 2cm thick.  Brush with extra milk. Sprinkle with extra sugar.  Mark into 8 wedges.  Bake in moderately hot oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and damper sounds hollow when tapped lightly with fingers.

Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August: Lake Eacham

The Lake Eacham Tourist Park is quite small with only 8 powered sites, 6 cabins and some grassed area for tents and campers.  Being on the edge of the rainforest, there is loads of bird life which come in at 3:50 every afternoon in time for the 4pm feeding.  The Park is very quiet, tranquil and friendly, much nicer than the large caravan parks and we feel very fortunate that we found their brochure while camped in Normanton.

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Tuesday 14th August to Thursday 16th August: Normanton to Lake Eacham (Plan B)

Tuesday we intended to leave Normanton, free camping a couple of nights on our way to the Undara Volcanic National Park, where we had booked a site and thought we would camp a few days so we could tour the lava tubes and enjoy some of the bush walks.

Just outside Normanton we turned left on to the Savannah Highway, once again pondering the quality of the road, and to our relief it was 2 lanes all the way to Croydon.  The terrain changed yet again, this time to very thick bush with small stubby trees about 2-3 metres in height.  Along the way a ute towing a horse float containing 2 horses passed us and then a bit further along we see it parked off the road and inside a station gate. This must be the modern way of droving, because even further along the road here was the jackaroo driving a herd of cattle along the side of the road toward the open gate where he had parked.  We also noticed that there was a lot of quite full dams and billabongs just off the road, inside the station fences, there is a lot of water in this part of Queensland.

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Sunday 12th August to Tuesday 13th August: Normanton and Karumba

For the remainder of our journey to Normanton, there was 50 kilometres of single lane, then approximately another 50 kilometres of road works widening the road to 2 lanes and then the last stretch into Normanton was all 2 lanes.  Along the way we saw a live feral cat, and a couple of dead pigs.  We have not yet seen any wild camels!

While in Normanton we stayed at the Normanton Tourist Park, which was very nice, not too crowded and reasonable amenities.  Normanton is more substantial than we thought it would be (population about 2000) and although quite quaint is a very nice town.  The spent the afternoon walking the Tourist Historical Sites, which included the Artesian Bore, Council Offices, Old Goal and Trackers Quarters, Town Well and Purple Pub.

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Friday 10th August to Sunday 12th August: Mount Isa to Normanton

This morning we said goodbye to Mount Isa, heading toward Cloncurry and then on to Normanton.  We were among the few travellers leaving town, most traffic was heading into Mount Isa for the Rodeo weekend, which we believe is the 3rd largest rodeo in the world – the town was pumping!

The drive to Cloncurry included sighting a dingo at Dingo Creek, the Burke and Wills Memorial tree and the terrain had changed to pale apricot rock, dominating the surrounding ranges.  I have been unable to find the population of Cloncurry (no internet for a few days), we were surprised at how substantial the town is.  At least 4 hotels, 10 dine-in or takeaway cafes, restaurants and 4 banks, 6 fuel stations and 2 supermarkets; we had a walk around the main town and suggestion tourist sites and then back on the road we turned left onto the Matilda Highway, which would take us to Normanton and Karumba.

Our camp for the night was the Terry Smith Lookout, which was half full by the time we arrived so we were found a spot to suit our rig and although we needed the levellers for the van we had amazing views over the bush to a deep purple mountain range which filled the horizon.  The sunset was amazing, our camera could not capture the crimson brilliance of the evening sky suspended over the purple range, we just sat and watched in privileged awe.

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Tuesday 7th August to Thursday 9th August: Mount Isa

Our drive from Camooweal to Mount Isa included (sadly) loads of road kill, mainly Kangaroos, some raptors and budgies, where the flock had probably flown into the path of a truck – not nice.  Also a major bush fire east of Johnstone Creek and though we were fairly ‘out in the sticks’ there were helicopters and fire trucks in attendance and lots of CB conversation on how and where the fire fighting was taking place.

We travelled through the Pardoo Ranges, and past the George Fisher Mine and Hilton Mine, totally different set-up to the mining in our North West.  The miners live in and around the town, Mount Isa.

We booked into our caravan park, set up and then went exploring Mount Isa.

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