A few years ago Carl and I went to Far North Queensland for what I thought would be a calm, peaceful and relaxing few days. When we arrived Carl told me he had organised something very special and with the benefit of women’s intuition I knew immediately he had booked the romantic sunset cruise I’d been looking forward to where you sip champagne and eat canapes while the sun is setting over the Whitsundays.
Carl spoiled my moment of intuition by saying, ‘Tomorrow we’re going white water rafting. We have to be up at 4.30.’
I hadn’t ever wanted to go white water rafting unlike my desire to sip champagne on a yacht while witnessing a beautiful sunset.
The next morning we were up within minutes of having fallen asleep and bussed to the top of the Tully River in the hinterland of Cairns. I was pleased to see the river was very calm and thought the paddle to the bottom would therefore be very civilised. But the young Canadian guide then informed me that the river is dammed and that’s why little water was running. In a few moments we would be on the water and the gates would be opened and a torrent of water would instantly descend giving us a hair-raising ride to the bottom. Thank you Carl!
We were in a party of eight and being looked after by the Canadian guide. He put us all in life jackets and gave us hard hats to wear and then asked us to sit at the bottom of the raft while he gave a demonstration in technique and safety issues. We were sitting in the raft and the guide was wearing short shorts like rugby shorts. He sat above us on the edge of the raft. When he began the demonstration he threw open his legs and we were all alarmed to discover that he was doing what Archie calls ‘free-balling’.
It was difficult to know where to look because right at eye-level I had a full view of scrotum. I tried divert my eyes to something more scenic but the guide yelled out to me, ‘Charlie! Eyes to me, this is really important’. And when I reluctantly returned my eyes things had shifted around in his shorts and now there was far more to see than just scrotum.
Everyone had the same view and no one said anything. We weren’t sure if ‘free-balling’ was standard practise back in Canada.
Finally we were on the water but we were a disaster. No one had listened to the guide’s demonstration as our attention and focus had been elsewhere. We lost three out of the raft at the first rapid and two out of the raft at the next. Then the English tourist who was part of our group wildly swung his paddle and with full force whacked the back of my hand. And he didn’t notice.
When we arrived at the lunch spot we were a disheveled bunch soaked through to the core, covered in bumps and bruises and wondering who to blame. My finger was pointed at the guide who hadn’t made it easy for any of us by drawing our attention to the socially private parts of his anatomy.
When we arrived back at the resort we’d missed the sunset. And the sundowners.
Would you prefer a sunset cruise with champagne or a thrill-seeking, hair-raising trip down a raft?
When we reached the lunch spot we were fed a fairly bland lunch with biscuits. And the biscuits were packet biscuits and it would have been so much nicer to have been offered something better like these homemade Monte Carlos biscuits.
Monte Carlos Biscuits
Makes: 20 biscuits
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: Quite minimal as most of the ingredients could be found in your own fridge and pantry.
- 200g butter
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 tspn vanilla exract
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
- 3/4 cup plain flour
- 3/4 cup coconut
- 100 gm butter
- 3 cups icing sugar
- 1 tbspn vanilla extract
- 2-3 tbspns milk
- raspberry jam
Preheat oven to 180C.
Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until well combined. Add flours and coconut to butter mixture, mixing well with your hands.
Roll the mixture into little balls and place on baking trays. Slightly flatten balls with a fork to give that rough Monte Carlos look.
Place in oven for 12-15 mins.
Remove biscuits from the oven and allow to harden on trays for 5 mins. Place on a wire rack and allow to cool. Fill with filling and raspberry jam.
For the Filling:
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Add enough milk to make a smooth consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.