In August we took the trip over to Brisbane, Australia catching up with Hayley’s sister Melanie, then travelled out to Tangalooma for a few days. Melanie is like us a keen scuba diver and has dived several spectacular sites around the world. In 2005 we went together to Vava’u in Tonga for a couple of weeks for some memorable diving, while Melanie later also has dived such places as Truk in Micronesia, the Maldives and the sardine run in South Africa. She is also big on marine biology and conservation. Considering that I’m spending a big part of my life with hunting/fishing/gathering one could imagine that we would be miles apart in approach to the marine environment. However, we’re both reasonable and respect each others opinions. (She happily comes with us diving for scallops when she visits New Zealand.) Questions & answers regarding how we fit into nature aren’t black & white…
Tangalooma is located within the Moreton Island National Park and it’s quite a gem so close to Brisbane. Tangalooma itself is also a bit of a contradiction. From 1952-1962 it was a whaling station, primarily processing Humpback whales. That factory type of whaling was a far cry from the sort of Minke whale hunting we do in Norway today. Humpbacks are long since accepted as a species which shouldn’t be hunted, in particular considering the population is fairly small. Today Tangalooma functions a Marine Education and Conservation Centre. They have a great wildlife on their door step with dolphins coming in from sea for daily visits, also resident pelicans and kookaburras.
A couple of action photos of Finn during some windy days at Tangalooma, and a Wobbegong shark photographed by Aidan & me while fishing..
The Moreton Bay also has plenty on offer in terms of fishing and diving. At Tangalooma there is an easy swim out to the wrecks of some of the whaling boats, which were purposely sunk there after the whaling operations ended. These wrecks can easily be explored by snorkelling, no scuba gear necessary. More spectacular just north of Moreton Island is the famous Flinders Reef, some of Hayley & Melanie’s favourite diving in Australia. In rougher weather the Curtin Artificial Reef is a brilliant alternative. Further south in the bay, by Stradbroke Island, are also some excellent dive sites and breeding ground for grey nurse sharks.
Finn, Hayley & Aidan (self-portrait)
Some of the most sought after seafood from the area are things like Moreton Bay bugs (a delicious type of lobster, which only in Australia could be given such an unflattering name..), mud crabs, sand crabs, squid, prawns and fish like bream, snapper, whiting, tailor and flatheads. Aidan and I caught various of these species, though what I wanted to test my culinary skills on was Coral trout! No problems with some tips from the locals! The Coral trout are amazing looking fish and highly regarded in the Queensland kitchen. They are piscivores, which means they are fish eating predators. They most commonly eat Damsel fish which they stalk and attack at great speed. The juveniles eat crustaceans, mainly prawns, which is why I decided to serve the fish with a sauce full of local Moreton Bay prawns. I’ve seen the Coral trouts when diving on coral reefs and being so highly rated as food by Australians, this was something very different to serve up. Having grown up in a fishing family in North Norway, now living & exploring the NZ coast and seafood, I was a bit surprised that the fish wasn’t more flavoursome. The meat is white and delicate but it needed that extra bit from tasty vegetables and sauce. For fine dining it presents well and is very inoffensive, even to people who don’t like fish. For us, a bit rougher around the edges, who command flavour from our catch on the plate, we’d like a bit more…!