Two Nights in Texas (Queensland) - and a Smooth Chai Concentrate

Most of the time when we travel - even just for weekends - we rent a cottage or a house. Then, for whatever time we're there, we get to settle into an alternative life - with a wood stove and neighbours and a chance to sit on the back step with a chai and a great book of poetry and be someone different for a time. Or someone (at least) unburdened by laundry and grant proposals and garage-cleaning. It's like playing dress-ups, except you're trying on all those things you think you might want to be, sans commitment. Farm-wife, baker, poet, bushwalker. A real local. 

That's a holiday.

And one of my favourite holidays in the last year was to a tiny town in Queensland called Texas. This cottage is seriously cute, don't you think? Tin roof, flower garden, a clawfoot tub and fireplace. I could die happy here.
Rachel's Cottage in Texas, Queensland

I love country towns, probably because I grew up in between several of them in southeast Iowa. In some inexplicable way, I find fields of grain (particularly corn) reassuring. I like wide-open skies and turn-of-the-century houses that lean just a bit, like my Grandma's old place. And exploring inside and out makes me happy.

So Rachel's Cottage was my kind of perfect. Quiet, but a short walk to the pub, not far from wine country or hiking - the kind of house in the kind of town that part of me craves for life. Until I remember how much I love the city. We keep meaning to go back, actually, but you know how life goes. You end up in Sri Lanka instead.

But Texas itself is interesting, and if you need a place to getaway, it's only about 3 1/2 hours southwest of Brisbane. There's a historic rabbit processing plant (now a museum) that apparently kept locals employed all through the Great Depression and helped diminish the plague of rabbits that overtook Australia in the early 1900s.

I loved the gorgeous old doors and rails to nowhere.

The old rabbit works (now a museum) in Texas, Queensland

And not far up the road is the western, Broadwater section of Sundown National Park, where you're likely to see more wild eastern grey kangaroos than just about anywhere else in the area. A colleague and friend of ours from the University of Queensland even studies them here because they're in such high numbers. So an easy walk up and over the hillsides will give you great views of the countryside and the wildlife - and an opportunity (bottom, right) to explain the birds and the bees to your 5 yo daughter when you come across a couple of amorous 'roos on your hike. (What can I say, she's the daughter of 2 ecologists!) 

Yup, that's where baby kangaroos come from, folks. (Sorry you can't see the action properly. Obviously I need to work on my kangaroo porn shots.)

the Broadwater section of Sundown National Park, Queensland (+ lots of 'roos)

Whether or not you choose to leave the house, though, is up to you. Me? I like to balance any short hikes with plenty of tea-or-coffee-and-reading time, and this trip was no exception. Just bring your  stovetop espresso maker and your favourite grind, a great book or two, and you're set. (And if you forget anything, don't worry. There's a grocery store with Merlo coffee in stock about 20m down the street). 

But in case tea's more your thing, I'd like to share this chai recipe with you. You all loved the DIY chai recipe I posted a couple years ago - but as it's nearly summer here in Australia, I thought I'd give you a cooler alternative: a rich, cold concentrate to add to a hot or cold black tea, spoonful by spoonful. You might even drizzle it over ice cream, if you're really feeling steamy ...

Have a great weekend, friends, wherever it takes you.
Amanda xx

Quiet time and plenty of tea - my kind of holiday

Chai Concentrate
makes just over 1 cup
inspired by this recipe

The time
5 min

The ingredients
1 x 14oz (397g) tin condensed milk, sweetened

+1/2 tsp each:
  • ground cinnamon
  • ground clove
  • ground aniseed
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cardamom

+ seeds of 1 organic vanilla pod
+ raw honey, to taste

NOTE: I don't often use condensed milk, but I figure if I'm going to - may as well use the not-nonfat version! If you can find organic, please use it.

The process
1. Stir everything together and store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 6 months

2. To use, stir 2 tsp of the concentrate into a cup of hot or cold strong black tea (or hot chocolate, or coffee). I often brew extra tea and store it in the fridge for just this purpose. Add raw honey to each cup, to taste.

The cost
Around $4.50 for around 30 servings! Yum.