Monet’s island garden?

THE iconic water-lily pond and Japanese bridge within artist Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny in northern France (Fondation Claude Monet à Giverny) has often been emulated in landscapes throughout the world, but it’s the last thing I expected to happen-upon on a subtropical island in Queensland.

Here on Coochiemudlo Island, pedestrians are treated to a glimpse of a shaded lake scattered with native water lilies, sporting a bridge that would have caught the eye of the French Impressionist, with a reflection to match.

The lake is part of a property known as ‘Mudlo’, sporting extensive gardens set back from the island’s Main Beach, open on occasion to visitors during various island festivals.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) escaped the confines of Paris for Giverny after the tuberculosis death of his wife, Camille, in 1879. He spent the rest of his life creating, and painting, his own little corner of Woop Woop.

Passing Coochiemudlo Island’s lake in the evening, you’re likely to hear the unmistakable croaking of cane toads, but don’t let that spoil the delight of our own little taste of France!

© Australian Country Life, all rights reserved.

Follow Michael Burge on Twitter @burgewords

Talking of Spam

A FEW weekends ago, the Woop Woop Twitter account was temporarily hacked-into to spread some dreadful weight loss spam.

We were tipped-off by one of our followers (thanks Megan), and the problem’s been fixed, but we’ve decided to celebrate this milestone by sharing one of our favourites from the cook book shelf.

This unique title, which I don’t even think Mary Moody has in her extensive retro cook book collection, is bursting with ideas for turning the humble pressed meat into delightful culinary experiences.

SPAM is a registered trademark for chopped pork and ham owned by Hormel Foods Corporation. SPAM The Cookbook, by Marguerite Patten, is published by Hamyln.

For that reason, we cannot share the recipe for SPAM Porcupine here, but let the image inspire you to explore something different for dinner this weekend in your part of Woop Woop.

We did think of embarking on a Julie and Julia-style year-long exploration of the book, but one of Woop Woop’s resident chefs may be willing if there’s enough interest.

© Australian Country Life, all rights reserved.

Follow Michael Burge on Twitter @burgewords

City Sophie, Country Cathy

154468_548292038570845_843911423_nTHOSE of us who watched events unfold in the political division of Indi in north-eastern Victoria would have been forgiven for wondering what on earth the issue of Sophie Mirabella’s unseating had to do with us.

The answer was ignited, and burned brightest, in the social media.

In the wake of the Coalition’s decisive national victory on September 7, 2013, Indi’s knife-edge result became an even stronger symbol of victory for progressive voters.

Successful Independent Cathy McGowan’s live press conference at 3pm AEST on September 18 drove an attention-grabbing gash through Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s so-called ‘Day of Action’ after his cabinet’s swearing-in that morning.

This state of affairs was a result of Sophie Mirabella’s divisive political career within the Coalition (Stolen Generation denier is one indelible description of her), but also because, as a Melbourne city girl, she was always an awkward fit for the traditionally rural region she represented.

Mirabella-1.The Westminster political system has long been utilised (some would say abused) by all sides to ‘parachute’ candidates into safe seats, and it was no different for Mirabella, who held the seat comfortably from 2001, but often struggled for local relevance.

But there is something new at work in Indi. Cathy McGowan brimmed with tears as she committed herself to the people of the region she was born in, adding that the place is: “Where I intend to die”.

“People do care, they care about being part of designing their future,” she went on to say.

Pundits have been making much of what this win means for the notion of the ‘safe seat’, but particular warnings have been aimed at all sitting members with large majorities, the likes of which Mirabella enjoyed before an independent alternative came along.

With all eyes on Indi, guaranteed cabinet numbers resulting from the foisting of outsiders on traditionally rural communities may be a thing of the past.

© Australian Country Life, all rights reserved.

Follow Michael Burge on Twitter @burgewords

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