Going to Mossman Market was my first experience of a local market in FNQ. (Far North Queensland) I had very few expectations. But what I did have, just caved! It was so very different to the more Southern parts of Australia with which I am far more familiar.
I rather felt like I was in South East Asia. All the magnificent tropical fruits that were on offer were mind boggling.
However, I was not. I’m nearing the top of Australia. To be exact, Mossman, 21km North of Port Douglas and 77km North of Cairns.
The Rambutan is a delicious fruit rather similar to the Lychee.
Once peeled they can easily be mistaken for Lychees…. or even golf balls?
Black Sapotes are also known as Chocolate Pudding Fruit.
In the foreground is a freshly cut up Black Sapote. It has a very soft texture and really does look like it is made of chocolate. Personally I was a little disappointed with the flavour… I may have been expecting a bit too much after it being called Chocolate Pudding Fruit. However, I did combine it in a blended fruit drink with banana, apple and pineapple and I have to say, it was totally exquisite.
These are chocos. They are a vegetable, grow on a vine and are part of the pumpkin family.
These are custard apples. Generally they are eaten raw. Best to cut or break in half once they are soft and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. The are considered a luxury fruit in many parts of the world.
These little beasts are called Finger Limes and can be eaten just like this. They are crunchy and have a sweet/sour crisp flavour. Generally however they are used in Asian fish and seafood dishes.
Rambais are a fruit and are said to be similar to a loquat.
A Rumbai sliced open and ready to be sucked!
The dragon fruit are becoming more widely known.
Did you know they grow like this? Did you know they were a cactus fruit?
The burst of colour that hit me as I sliced my first Dragon Fruit in half was unimaginable. Very similar to a beetroot in shade. The flavour is very gentle and lightly sweet, bordering on bland. Lovely texture. I can see why many people like them however.
In Cyprus, Taro was a very popular root vegetable yet we do not see it in Turkey. Originally coming from South East Asia and India, it is one of the most popular staples globally. It is cooked in a similar way to potato but it has a higher calorie content and can be quite fattening. It is a very good source of nutrients but it must be cooked properly. Eaten raw or undercooked it is toxic.
These are Paw Paws or Papayas. They are a truly delicious tropical fruit and usually the centre is filled with a multitude of small black round seeds. For some reason, this one below did not have any seeds at all. I asked if it were possibly genetically modified but the neighbour assures me it self seeded and was possibly a female version.
Papaya read to be eaten.
I’ve seen yellow squash before but it’s a first to see yellow zucchini.
Galangal (centre front) is a well used ingredient here. At the back is a strain of ginger that is far smaller than the one we are most used to seeing. On the left is lemongrass.
Due to the climate being so tropical, Asian cuisine is highly popular in the North of Queensland where every possible tropical treat thrives.
And then we came across all the other types of stalls. Many of these were run by travellers from every conceivable country.
A lovely French girl called Lougaya had learnt the art of making mocassins in Bali and was now travelling the world, fitting feet, and spreading the practice. She ran popular workshops and her footwear sells like hotcakes. Having trained in industrial design, she seemed to have a real knack for getting the fit right.
And then not to be outdone, we found her German counterpart (with French partner) just down the aisle a little, selling holes with a few pieces of material to keep them all attached!
This couple were a very bright bunch and had made an amazing hitchhiking trip all along the East Coast of Australia, selling their wares wherever they landed.
Trying to find a stall holder without dreadlocks was no easy task!
And then there was Steve. Steve had short hair. Steve spoke my language. Steve was Australian. What the hell was he doing here?
Well Steve was a real artist. His steel art was just insane. He collected tools and left them out to rust…. that sure wouldn’t take long round here I am telling you. The humidity could rust a glass bowl!!
He then shaped, welded, nailed and bashed them into place and out the other end came these amazing sculptured birds and animals. If I could have squeezed one in my suitcase, I would have been sorely tempted. If you want to see more of his work, take a look at www.stevessteelart.com.au
And then we came to the Parish. Every good town in FNQ (Far North Queensland) should sport a mission, preferably with a missionary or two as well. If you’re lucky it might have more than a couple of churches to its name. Well Mossman certainly did. We counted no fewer than 5 denominations. Quite impressive with its population less than 2000.
The Mossman market is based on the Anglican Parish grounds and has slowly grown and grown to take over every possible spare patch of grass the minister could afford them.
These wooden cutting boards were made with beautiful woods including these ones from Camphor Laurel. I asked her how to treat the woods. She said that vegetable oils were the best and olive oil would go rancid and should be avoided. Interesting!
A very popular stall was the Coconut stall. They not only broke open and sold the coconuts but had also gone into producing bamboo straws. Although straws are small, they cause enormous damage environmentally. I hope they succeed with their reusable, long lasting bamboo straws. I admire all these travellers so much who are forever inventing new necessities.
And the old pastor’s homestead is now the local Opp Shop. (That stands for Opportunity shop otherwise known to many as a charity shop.) Prices were ridiculously cheap and every item sold had been scrubbed or washed. It was the most delightful opp shop I have ever ventured into and you were tempted to buy something just to support these gorgeous ladies who solidly worked every market hour to make it work.
The pastor’s kitchen was also running hot. Teas, coffees, hot dogs, sandwiches, scones and cakes were just flying out this window!!
Lastly, I just want to talk about the loos! As you do. No denying it, we all have to use them sometime! Well, this one is actually in a park in Port Douglas, but as far as cleanliness goes, it’s completely typical. Perfect. A delight for the desperate! Free too… if you live in Europe, then you know what a bliss that is. Not having to find a euro coin or quickly order an expresso in order to use the nearest restroom.
Every public area round here seems to offer not only free barbecues but also free loos. All spotless. Sometimes, it really is the little things in life that make me smile!
But more to the point, how gorgeous are these mosaics? I love the way Australians are embracing their culture and heritage and display all they can offer. It’s not just a public convenience but a very nice piece of art. A delight to go visit and so clean! Sorry if I am ranting, but truly I can’t help but appreciate the little things. When you come from a developing country, you really notice these little disparities at times.
So there we have the first market visit of my 5 week stint in Port Douglas, 65km north of Cairns, Queensland.
Till next time…