• Blog

    Let’s talk Australia Day this Taste of Tuesday – or Australian supermarket treats


    Arnotts Tim TamsIf you’re not from Australia you may not be aware that January 26th is Australia Day. Australia day is to Australians what 4th of July is to Americans, or that’s the closest approximation I can make.

    Truthfully it marks the day Captain Cook landed in Australia, (This wasn’t such a great day for the indigenous Australians who were already living here because no one bothered to ask them if it would be okay if the English took over their country. No treaties were signed, no recompense was made. Until the white man came there was no disease here, they brought that with them. I digress).

    Australia Day is a hot day where people host bbq’s (cook outs), go to beachside picnics and enjoy the end of summer. (School goes back this same week but summer doesn’t officially end until the end of February but we all know that when school goes back it feels like an ending). Lots of citizenship ceremonies are held on Australia Day and the Australian of the Year is also announced.

    It’s a day when most Australian’s feel pretty bloody lucky to live in this country of ours.

    There are lots of things that people love about their home country, wherever it is, and food is a big one. So I’m going to share with you some classic Australian foods.

    That photo up the top is of Tim Tams. These are biscuits/cookies with a chocolate cream in the middle and then redipped in chocolate. They’re pretty wonderful. People who move abroad get homesick for the Tim Tam. A great way to enjoy them is to bite the end of and then suck your coffee or better yet your Irish coffee through the Tim Tam. This is known as a Tim Tam Explosion. You’ll thank me later.

    Most foreigners know of and fear our beloved Vegemite. A thick salty spread that is the by-product of beer manufacturing it is a truly acquired taste. You need to have it on toast with butter and then smeared sparingly on top, if you wish to adjust to this salty treat. The truth is Australians (who drink like fsh) have some of the highest Vitamin B levels in the world thanks to Vegemite.

    The Australian meat pie is another iconic choice. I shared a recipe for one last year around this time so you can make your own if you like.
    Of course the frozen foods section of our supermarkets have a lot of shelf space dedicated to the pie so if you find yourself down under you’ll be spoilt for choice. Perhaps you fancy a kangaroo pie just for something different.

    Tumblr now has whole sections asking if certain Australian foods ( and wildlife and language) are actually real. Well we really do have a very delicious ice-cream called a Golden Gaytime. These were the sorts of ice-creams that as a kid they were so expensive your parents never let you have one. You had a Paddle Pop or an icy-pole and your mum got a Gaytime.

    Here’s a sneak peek of the iconic TV commercial that states quite rightly “It’s so hard to have a Gaytime on your own.”

  • Blog

    Australia Day – some of my favourite classic Australian stories


    Australian Newspaper old IllustrationIt’s Australia Day today so I thought I’d do a post of some of my favourite Australian novels. I have chosen classic stories that have stayed with me over the years.

    1. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute

    I loved this book. I have read it several times. It’s an epic love story about an Aussie soldier and an English woman who meet when both are prisoners of the Japanese in Malaya after the fall of Singapore in WWII. It’s about their struggles through the war and their journey home afterwards. There is also an excellent mini-series but read the book.

    2. Harp in the South by Ruth Park

    This is one of Australia’s must read books (or 50 Top Australian novels) in case my opinion isn’t valid enough. This is about a family growing up in the slums of Sydney between the first and second world wars. It paints a picture of poverty and hardship but it’s ultimately a story about love and family. It certainly shows how much Australia has changed since that time. I love all Ruth Parks books and her autobiography is also fascinating.

    3. Come in Spinner by Dymphna Cusak & Florence James

    This is a book about the lives and loves of three women who work side by side in the beauty salon/hairdressers in Sydney’s nicest hotel during WWII. It shows how war impacts these women all at different ages and stages in such different ways. This is quite a long book but it’s worth the effort.

    Obviously there are so many more amazing Australian books but I wanted to focus on books that have impacted me and that highlight how different life is now to Australia of a hundred or even sixty years ago.

    Happy Reading.

  • Blog

    Australia Day Blog Hop – memories of Australia Day…


    Dee Why Beach
    I’m the first in line for this Australia Day Blog Hop…

    Australia Day Coastal Blog Hop

    So here comes another great blog hop over the next three weeks from an all Aussie contingent… leading up to a celebration of Australia Day. Over the next three weeks you’ll be reading about what being an Aussie author means to the crew below, or how they celebrate Australia Day, or maybe even a lamington or pavlova recipe. It will be full of surprises!
    And you’ll hear about new books to add to your TBR piles!
    Don’t forget to call in every day and visit the blogs, leave a comment, enter the raffle copter for the fabulous gift basket.


    My Memories of Australia Day

    I thought I’d think back on what Australia Day means to me. It’s a funny thing because I have no memory of Australia Day as a child. In fact, the first memory I have of it is during the Australian Bicentenary and even that isn’t my own memory as I was overseas at the time while images of Sydney Harbour replete with tall ships and ferry boat races were beamed around the world.

    Even for the couple of years after I don’t remember doing much for Australia Day. Maybe I did or more likely I was packing my bags and heading to the country to help with O-Week at the University I attended.

    Then I got married and lived a block from the Dee Why beach where the local Council, in it’s wisdom, decided to start a free breakfast picnic for the locals. (This event still runs every year and is no longer free and is generally so crowded I no longer attend). Still, I have always thought of this as a spectacularly Australian way to celebrate Australia Day. A bacon and egg roll on a picnic blanket, a quick swim, watch the surf boat races and listen to local musicians sing in the park. It’s inclusive and it’s egalitarian.

    When we were first married we’d meet up with friends and sit in the sun, have a few adult beverages and let the day roll away. It was romantic to go home with a smile on your face and sand between your toes having shared the day with good friends. A couple of times we ended up back at our flat dancing on the coffee table as young people in love do.

    Some times there was a new boyfriend or girlfriend for my husband and I to meet and the next year they might be gone, maybe replaced, maybe not. Australia Day, falling as early as it does in the year, was a day full of promise and opportunity. Resolutions hadn’t yet been abandoned, summer felt like it still had lots of puff left and lots of people were just back from travels with tales to tell and enthusiasm.

    As an adult now, and as the parent or a school age child Australia Day has a different feel. In my state it means the end of school holidays. It means school goes back, the routine resumes and reality takes hold again. Not so back then…back then it was a day of romance and hope and friendship.

    (Dee Why Beach is located on Sydney’s Northern beaches about ten minutes from Manly where much of Mr Right and Other Mongrels is set.) Mr Right and Other Mongrels is currently on sale for 99c.

    Mr Right and Other Mongrels
    Australia Day Coastal Blog Hop

    You can enter via Rafflecopter below….also below is a list of all the talented Australian authors who are participating in this wonderful blog hop…where you win….(drum-roll!)

    $100 and 26 e-books (some print) from our generous authors
    drawn Australia Day

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    January 1 Monique McDonnell
    January 2 Sara Hantz
    January 3 Annie Seaton
    January 4 Imogene Nix
    January 5 Caitlin Nicholas
    January 6 Tima Maria Lacoba
    January 7 Nikole Flockton
    January 8 Wendy L. Curtis
    January 9 Jacqui Carling Rodgers
    January 10 Susan Horsnell
    January 11 Susanne Bellamy
    January 12 J’aimee Brooker
    January 13 Victoria Purman
    January 14 Ann B Harrison
    January 15 Cate Ellink
    January 16 Jenny Schwartz
    January 17 Donna Gallagher
    January 18 Lily Malone
    January 19 Tea Cooper
    January 20 Fiona McArthur
    January 21 Max Henry
    January 22 Jennie Jones
    January 23 Allison Brideson
    January 24 Eve Rabi
    January 25 Kendal Talbot
    January 26 Annie Seaton-Prize draw

    Annie Seaton http://annieseatonromance.com


    Alison Stuart
    12/31/2013 08:57:27 am

    I don’t think Australia Day was such a big thing when we were young Monique. Our sense of identity as Australians does, as you identify, seem to date from the bicentennial when it seemed we were “given permission” to be who we are and celebrate our Australianess. The ongoing debate about whether Jan 26 is the right date continues but as the years pass it will become impossible to change.

    Janie McGaugh
    1/2/2014 01:09:00 pm

    This is the first I’ve heard of Australia Day (to my recollection). As Mary M. says, it does sound a lot like our Independence Day celebrations (except for the fireworks that we have).

    Susanne Bellamy
    12/31/2013 09:03:39 am

    It’s really become a celebration of our lifestyle, hasn’t it. For me, this year is going to be a bit different and I’m thankful that I live in Australia where so much is possible. Great post to start off, Monique.
    12/31/2013 09:08:29 am

    I agree it has become a celebration of our lifestyle Susanne, that’s a great way to describe it.

    Alison I think you’re right about the Bicentennial being the start of the celebrating of the day – I wasn’t sure if that was truly the case or if as a child and teen I just wasn’t aware of the event as much.

    12/31/2013 10:14:59 am

    I only emigrated to Australia in my 30’s a few years before the bicentenary…. I love the way it is celebrated and am now an Australian

    Angela Hogan
    12/31/2013 11:57:14 am

    I love australia day

    Jennie Jones
    12/31/2013 12:43:24 pm

    Lovely memories Monique – I’ll never forget my very first Australia Day!

    Annie Seaton
    12/31/2013 02:20:51 pm

    Monique..I can still remember watching the television broadcast and the yachts on Sydney Harbour in 1988. Proud to be an Aussie

    12/31/2013 05:23:00 pm

    I was in the City the day of the bicentenial with our 4 young children what a day loved it so many people it will stay with me forever 🙂

    Have Fun

    Marcy Shuler
    1/1/2014 11:04:36 am

    I’m in the US so Australia Day is new to me. I have trouble picturing January 1st as being warm since I’m in frigid Michigan. LOL

    Susan Horsnell
    1/1/2014 11:45:25 am

    Hi Monique
    Great to read your post. We lived in Dee Why a few years back too, beautiful part of the world.

    Mary M.
    1/2/2014 05:27:10 am

    Interesting to hear everyone’s memories of Australia Day, a holiday we never celebrate here in Wisconsin. It does put me in mind of our Independence Day which is a nice, warm holiday to think about as I shovel round 6 of snow off the driveway….

    Karen H in NC
    1/4/2014 07:03:53 am

    Hope your holiday was pleasant. From the looks of the pictures, it was. Enjoy your hot weather. It’s the dead of winter here right now and it is bone-chilling cold! And my old bones don’t do winter so well anymore!

    1/4/2014 07:26:08 am

    I still haven’t been to Australia, but it’s great to hear about the holiday!

    Holly Letson
    1/4/2014 07:26:52 am

    The beach looks very nice.

    Rita Wray
    1/4/2014 08:13:56 am

    I grew up in Australia and still have a sister and two brothers living there.

    Natasha Devereux
    1/4/2014 06:10:35 pm

    I don’t remember Australia Day as a child (50/60’s) or even much as a teenager. When the kids were small it was family picnics in Kings Park overlooking the Swan River and Perth or a day at the Zoo then 30 years ago there was this fantastic innovation called Skyworks and Australia Day burst onto the Perth scene – special events, shows, concerts, all one the Peth foreshore and at night the most spetacular fireworks display set to music – nowadays people come from all over the world the celebrate Australia Day in Perth ( http://skyworks.showmeperth.com.au/ ) I have attende many but when I moved to Mandurah (75km south of Perth) I discovered that my not so little new home town had a wonderful celebration of its own – Oz Day by the sea does it for me

    1/5/2014 10:17:08 am

    Nice memories

    1/6/2014 07:06:49 pm

    I think Australia Day has got more important, I remember being in the UK one year on Australia Day and it made me think of barbecues and beach in the middle of rain and snow, but now there are organised events which I think is great

    Juliee Fitze
    1/16/2014 08:01:11 pm

    I’m Canadian and had never heard of this before , would love to be at the beach in Jan. Going to go read up on this some more to check out what my cousins are up too.