What do you get when you combine a chef and an FTO's birthday?
It's obvious really.... A 98th birthday celebration, held off station, an all-time sensation vacation, filled with good vibrations!
Last week I had the great honour of joining Nick the chef, and Billy the FTO, on their combined celebratory birthday field trip. Destination: the last frontier of Macca — Hurd Point. Also the very southernmost, most untamed and arguably the most spectacular.
Like excited school kids counting down the last days of term, we too eagerly counted down the number of sleeps, while making important preparations like who was going to take what essential items: cheese, chocolate, cheese, sloe gin, bit more cheese, and wine.
Not long after leaving station Nick was bursting with so much excitement that his buckle blew clear off his backpack! Luckily, this is the kind of problem that FTOs are made for and before you knew it Billy had fixed on a brand-new buckle. Billy has everything in her backpack or pockets, you need it, she's got it (I swear I saw a kitchen sink).
Our first night's destination was Green Gorge Hut. Hands down Nick won the trubbalubbing award that day and reached the hut well ahead of Billy and I. This was the only night Nick was allowed to cook and he surprised us with a beautifully prepared, poem worthy, gourmet meal:-
Fillet minion resting on a bed of polenta with a side of buttery beans.
The steak was cooked to perfection and at no time was deb-mash ever seen!
Washed down with a fine 2013 Bekkers Shiraz from Maclaren Vale,
A birthday meal like this was simply too elegant for any ol' ale.
Then came the suspenseful and anticipated birthday-present unwrapping.
The calibre of gifts on offer certainly had the crowd clapping!
As beautifully crafted one-of-a-kind gifts were revealed,
Smiles of pure happiness and tears of joy could not be concealed.
Dang Jeffers- you did good!! Your presents just rocked the house!
But be wary now and be forewarned for these pieces are so lovely and grouse,
When word gets around you will end up with a plethora of requests and orders,
From the remaining 14 now envious Maccatallywacker boarders.
Day two was moist and wet, which turns out to be Billy's favourite conditions! But Nick and I are not entirely impressed as the cold bites into us and the rain soaks through our gear. However, the scenery is spectacular with bubbly pillow rocks, ancient mega shark fin-like sculptures, and enticing infinity pools to peek at from under our rain hoods (otherwise I'd probably have opted for an Uber if I'd had WIFI).
Finally, as we navigate the mighty Grassy jump-down, we excitedly announce over the radio to Shelley and Kim to put the kettle on. The wonderful hosts that they are greet us with big hugs despite being dripping wet, customary warm BCJ beverages (black-current juice) and a spectacular tinsel-decorated cheese platter. In case you didn't know, Shelley and Kim are not only top rangers but also hut-cooking iron chefs, who delivered a memorable second-night culinary feast:
Shelley's hot and crispy samosas seasoned to perfection with a side dollop of eggplant chutney,
Then Kim whipped up a hearty green curry that was worthy of top-restaurant kind of money.
For such fine dining it was only fitting that these meals be accompanied with a silky Pinot noir wine
To end the day on such a content note, with happy bellies and great company, was simply heavenly divine.
But alas in a moment of absent mindlessness I had opened Billy's birthday chocolate at my peril!
As the smooth Lindt raspberry delight went down Billy let out an almighty roar, "get ya hand off it Darryl!"
As I snapped out of my chocolate-induced moment we all broke about into laughter,
I then gently placed the packet back onto the table vowing never again to be trusted with chocolate hereafter.
Now I could wax lyrical about several more notable occasions, but being a BoM person, naturally I had pre-arranged only the finest weather for the trip's duration, and we were all very well-behaved expeditioners. So, while the rest is sworn to secrecy... for the 98th time… Happy B'day Billy and Nick! Cheers for the memories (they will go straight to the pool room) and thanks for being the awesome people that you are.
From Layla and your friendly neighbourhood Macca crew.