Simply Living Journal


Clothing waste

How to reduce, reuse and recycle unwanted clothes

Clothing waste

Every 10 minutes, six tonnes of clothing and other textile items go to Australian landfill. It’s the second largest polluting industry globally that emits more than one billion tonnes of carbon every year. To change it requires more than our actions; it requires a change of mindset and reassessing our values.

When we follow the latest fashion, we often buy cheap, poorly produced clothing that is worn a few times and then thrown out. A low price tag may convince us we’ve made a sound purchase economically but if we look instead at how much the garment costs us per wear; it can then become expensive. A $20 item worn 5 times will cost $4 per wear, whereas a quality $40 item worn 40 times will cost $1 per wear. Also the cheap, poor quality garments we purchase have very little after-life use, while better quality, well-cared for garments can more easily be repurposed and recycled.

Instead of feeling good in commonly worn fast-fashion items, we can feel just as good if not better wearing well-crafted, unique garments that express our own individual style. If it’s a particularly beautiful piece, why would we only wear it a few times and then throw it out? With care, some quality items of classic clothing can be worn for up to 30 years or more and that’s an achievement to be proud of.

Apart from the monetary value of the clothes we wear, we should also consider the extensive work that goes into the production of the fibre, fabric and the manufacturing of our clothes. This reflects the value we have of ourselves, the efforts of others and the health of the world we live in.

To Reduce unwanted clothing going to landfill:

  • Purchase timeless clothing items that suit you and express who you are rather than follow the latest fashion.
  • Purchase fewer clothes that last longer and proudly wear them often.
  • Care more about what you like wearing and less about brand names and what other people think you should wear.
  • Choose ethically and sustainably produced clothing for a healthier environment.
  • Purchase clothing that can be layered for multiple seasons and add accessories to change the look.
  • Purchase unique pieces from charity outlets or second hand shops and add accessories to develop your own unique style.
  • Upcycle your garments to create a new look or reuse the fabric to make accessories, children’s clothes or household items.
  • Plan your purchase rather than buy on impulse so it can be worn with other garments you have in your wardrobe.
  • Consider sectioning your wardrobe into (1) work clothes, (2) wedding, funeral and christening outfit, (3) casual clothes and (4) your party dress, so you can plan your purchases.
  • Carefully follow the care instructions and look after your clothes so they last longer and look great while respecting the natural resources used to make them and the work others put into producing them.
  • To maintain the quality of the fibres of your clothes and to avoid fading, wash them if you can in cold water and line dry them in a sheltered place.
  • Hang your clothes or fold them carefully after drying to avoid the need for ironing.
  • Invest in repairing your clothes, accessories and shoes so they last longer.
  • Keep in mind that while knitted fabrics are more comfortable, woven fabrics last longer and clothes made from natural fibres are healthier to wear and will break down at the end of their life.

To Reuse unwanted clothing and other textile items:

  • Clothes can be added to, or subtracted from, for longer life or a new look. You could change the buttons, take out sleeves, shorten, add lace or embroidery to create a more romantic look. Jeans can be made into shorts, long sleeved dresses into pinafores, vest or skirts.
  • Before reusing fabric from a garment or discarding an old garment, consider removing any working zips, ribbon, lace or buttons that can be recycled in charity outlets or to keep in your home haberdashery box and used to repair, repurpose or upcycle your next garment.
  • Woven fabric can be made into scarves, hats, produce bags, shopping bags, cushions, patch work quilts, children’s clothes, toys or dress up costumes, aprons, pot holders or oven mitts, rag mats, place mats or coasters.
  • Woven wool or mohair can be made into teddy bears or cut into squares and made into patchwork throw rugs.
  • Woven cotton fabric can be made into hankies, serviettes or hygiene items and fine knitted cotton can be made into underwear, baby clothes or baby hats and rugs.
  • Knitted jumpers can be unravelled and the good wool used to knit beanies, scarves, patchwork throw rugs, floor rugs or tea cosies. Sleeves can be made into leg warmers or fingerless mittens.
  • Old towels can be remade into facecloths, baby wash cloths, hand towels, tea towels and cleaning cloths and old tea towels into dish washing cloths and cleaning cloths.
  • Tissues, paper towels and paper cleaning cloths can’t be recycled and often clog up septic and sewerage systems. Cleaning cloths made from plastics and microfibers when discarded do untold damage to our natural environment, which in turn affects our health so there’s value in upcycling our unwanted fabrics to replace them.

To Recycle unwanted clothing and textiles:

  • Clothing and textiles can’t be recycled through kerbside recycling bins. They can get caught in sorting machines contributing to wear and tear and slowing the sorting process.
  • You can recycle your unwanted clothes by handing them onto to others, swapping with friends or by selling them through community and online marketplaces and garage sales.
  • Many charity outlets and second hand clothing shops will take unwanted clothing but keep in mind when you donate that they are also liable for any costs associated with sending items they can’t use to landfill, which is currently $13 million a year.
  • Vets, wildlife carers and wildlife shelters will sometimes take old towels and blankets for bedding (not pillows or doonas).
  • Community gardens and Landcare groups may accept donations of clothes made from natural fibres to use as weed mats or for mulching and worm farms.

Other clothing and accessory recycling organisations:

Sheridan retail outlet will take donated used quilt covers, sheets and towels.

King Cotton is a resource recovery company that coordinates the recycling and reuse of clothing and household textiles that are collected through their clothing bins.

Clothing Cleanup offers a pick-up service for unwanted clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories (including hats, belts, scarves) and manchester.

Manrags accepts clean old, worn or damaged clothing items, pairs of shoes, old sheets, towels, fabric off-cuts and textiles with a fee of $25 for collecting 10 kgs.

















Dandelion flower

The cheerful dandelion’s many uses and virtues

Dandelions are considered a herb by some and a weed by many but the sunny yellow flower with fluffy silver seed heads welcomes the beginning of spring and has many qualities, benefits and culinary attributes.

The plant, which is native to Europe is thought to have evolved more than 30 million years ago and was initially introduced to America as a food crop. They can now be found growing in the temperate regions of North America, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Southern Africa and India and commonly colonise disturbed environments.

The common name ‘dandelion’ comes from the French words ‘dent de lion’ meaning ‘lions tooth’. Some believe it’s in reference to the plants spikey leaves while others believe it refers to the plants long tap root, which is difficult to remove from the ground. The perennial plant produces one to ten flowering stems of up to 40cm in height. The dandelion flower is actually a bouquet of more than 100 very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head and each flower is a perfect seed producing component.

The dandelion’s bright yellow flowers are visited by many types of beneficial insects. They attract pollinators and provide an important early food source for bees.

While the plant has many benefits, it also has interesting characteristics. The flowers open during the day when the sun is out and close again in the evenings. They also close on dark overcast days when pollinating insects aren’t flying. The flower stems stand erect until later in the season when they bend towards the ground to protect the seed head while it ripens. The flower stalks then stand up again and the head opens ready for the seed to disperse. The attractive seed heads often attract children who blow them into the air believing it helps fairies travel and they can then make a wish.

Dandelion plants have been used throughout history as a herbal medicine across Europe, China and by indigenous Americans in an attempt to cure various ailments including skin problems, heartburn, liver and kidney disease, upset stomach, abscesses, fever, diabetes, reduce eye inflammation and provoke diuresis.

The plants are rich in nutrients including protein, calcium, iron, Vitamins A and C. The leaves, which are high in vitamin C, have more iron and calcium than spinach.

While dandelions are popular as ornamental flowers, the flowers can also be used to make dandelion wine, dandelion jam and jelly. Some people deep fry dandelion flowers in a light batter for a tasty snack.

Unopened dandelion buds and young leaves can be eaten raw in salads and have a slightly bitter taste similar to mustard greens. The leaves need to be picked before the plant blossoms so they aren’t too tough or bitter. Older leaves can be cooked, steamed or added to soups and stews. Some people add sautéed chopped onions and a small amount of garlic to the leaves when cooking them.

Dried leaves can be infused in hot water to make dandelion tea. The washed roots of the plant slowly roasted in the oven on a very low temperature or put in a food dehydrator if you have one, can then be ground up and brewed into caffeine-free dandelion coffee.

Removing the plants from the ground with the roots in tact can be done more easily with a kitchen fork. When picking dandelions make sure they are from your own garden so you know they haven’t been sprayed with any chemicals or visited by pets.

‘Dandelion and Burdock’ is a drink that has been popular for a long time in the United Kingdom. It was originally a type of mead made from fermented dandelions and was consumed during the middle ages. It’s believed both plants help liver function. The fermented drink has since evolved into a carbonated soft drink that is still commercially available.

Dandelions are also used in Saison ale called Pissenlit made by Brasserie Fantôme in Belgium. The French nicknamed the plant Pissenlit, which means ‘wet the bed’ due to its diuretic effect.

Some species of dandelion produce a milky substance that can be used to make latex or natural rubber and were used as an emergency source of rubber during the Second World War. The Russian dandelion Kok-Saghyz gave the best yields producing up to 200 kg of rubber per hectare.

The dandelion is also symbolic and throughout history, the plants characteristics and it’s happy, sunny yellow flower has been the subject of many poems, songs painting and stories.

It seems the dandelion seen to many as an annoying weed actually has many virtues and uses. Before mowing them down, consider the many ways they can be used and if you do mow them, perhaps wait until later in the season when the flowers drop to the ground and the seeds are ripening, so bees and other beneficial insects can make full use of them first.


fats and oils

Let’s chew the fat about oils

fats and oils

I’d like to demist a few of the fallacies surrounding fats and oils, more particularly what’s great to use cold and what’s good to cook with.

Too much information often leads to confusion and thus we sort of just give up and grab whatever’s closest, which may not be healthy. We all know fat and oil makes food taste great. It gives flavours more depth and enhances them like nothing else does and finally, there’s scientific proof that fats and oils can be good for us! HOORAY for modern day science! However, many health professionals including myself will still suggest using everything in moderation and to always be mindful of the quality and source of what you choose to consume. The quality and source of fat and oil is very important especially if you’re heating it or using it in your baking.

A simple a rule of thumb is: ‘If it’s solid at room temperature it’s safe for cooking,’ with very few exceptions. The reason for this is solid fats or oils are more stable at higher temperatures.

Let’s go through a few fats and oils used for cooking: coconut oil is perfect, vegetable oil – there’s enough scientific research to support avoiding this one for most uses. Ghee is  fine, lard is  great, olive oil is okay for some cooking, extra virgin olive oil – maybe not, avocado oil – maybe not.

Let’s roll back a little. Why a maybe not for avocado oil and EVOO? Avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil (especially) and other similar oils have many health benefits at room temperature but may not be as good for cooking as we’ve always thought. Although they have been popular for a long time and the food and health industries have promoted them as the healthy fat that can be used for everything, new research has shown that heating some oils over specific temperatures can break down or oxidize it. This is what those ever-so-loving antioxidants that you consume work so hard to clean up and we want to help our antioxidants out as much as possible, which we can by avoiding oxidized oils.

To do this, choose the right oil for its purpose, and base it on source and smoke point. If you’re cooking above 160 degrees Celsius, choose a fat or oil with a high smoke point like Ghee (Clarified butter) or coconut oil. The smoke point of the oil is normally easy to find if you do a quick search and most products will have the smoke point on the label. Save the Evoo and other delicate oils for more gentle low heats or even after plating your food, they’re great as a salad dressing or a last minute drizzle on your fresh food to enhance the flavours while keeping the nutrient value of the oil true.

I always encourage clients and people I help to do a little research into what they’re using and eating so they are empowered with knowledge that helps them make healthy choices and I strongly encourage readers to as well.

By Holly Kendall of Holly Kendall Organics

Holly Kendall’s Organics, provides families with easy access to fresh, seasonal certified organic produce sourced from Australian farms where it is grown free of chemicals or pesticides and hasn’t been subjected to any long term storage. The business is operated with the help of her family, from her small organic farm in the hills of Wandong, Victoria.

Making bread

Deliciously simple home baked bread and a few variations

Deliciously simple home baked bread

Real bread made from a few natural ingredients is a wonderful basic food and so easy to make. It has a delicious flavour, requires little more than a dab of butter and one slice is substantial enough to quell any hunger.

When I was young, my father told me that during the course of history, all cultures throughout the world had what he called a gut filler. He said meat and vegetables were expensive and gut fillers always carried the food further. Italy had pasta, Asia had rice, for others it was potatoes and for some it was bread. Bread was our family gut filler and it was served with fresh home-grown produce from the garden.

I now think sitting outdoors with freshly baked bread from the oven, a glass of wine or home-made lemon cordial and some fresh home-gown produce from the garden is so enjoyable.

You’ll love this 1, 1, 3, 3, 3 recipe. All types of flour can be used and all sorts of seeds or grain can be added. Personally I like just plain unbleached white Australian flour.

Dry ingredients for bread

1 kg of plain white flour (unbleached white or stone-ground wholemeal or ½ of each)
1 level dessertspoon of dry yeast (use good quality yeast)
3 level teaspoons of ground sea salt
3 cups of warm water (body temperature)
3 level teaspoons of raw sugar

proven bread dough

Put flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl (stainless steel is best, it’s light and easy to clean). Dissolve sugar in the warm water. Add to dry ingredients and mix into a dough. Knead the dough in the bowl a few minutes (sprinkle with more flour when dough becomes sticky.) Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave it to rise until it doubles in size.

Knead the dough a few minutes, divide it into two parts and put into two small greased bread tins. Cover with the damp cloth and leave it to rise until the dough reaches the top of the tins (double its size). Bake in preheated oven approx. ½ hour at 200˚C.  The bread is cooked when you knock on the bottom and it sounds hollow.

Taking baked bread from the oven


After the bread dough has risen once, roll it out thin and flat and place it on greased trays. Spread a tomato or garlic sauce on the top and then your favourite finely sliced or chopped vegetables and/or cooked meat. Bake in preheated oven approx ½ hour at 200˚c. (This makes enough pizza for a family of four. If you are cooking for less people, use half the dough for pizza and the other half to make one loaf of bread).

Add to dry ingredients:
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
2 cups of dried fruit
Add ¼ cup of raw sugar to the warm water (not 3 teaspoons).






Tomato sauce

Turn your tomato glut into traditional Aussie sauce

Tomato sauce

For more than 100 years, tomato sauce or ‘dead horse’ has been a staple in many Australian households.  Many people are now growing their own tomatoes, so we decided to search through history books for the true Aussie traditional tomato sauce recipe (without ‘Ezy Sauce’ but with the same flavour). Enjoy!

9 kilograms of tomatoes
1.5 kilograms of finely chopped onions
115 grams of crushed garlic
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1.5 kilograms of raw sugar
140 grams of salt
375 millilitres of vinegar
1 teaspoon of cayenne
2 tablespoons of allspice

Dip tomatoes in very hot water to pop the skins and peel them off.

Boil the skinless tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger for 3 ½ hours. Add sugar, salt, vinegar, cayenne, pepper and allspice. Simmer until thick enough (approx 1 hour) and pour into sterilised bottles with lids that seal.

(Add a very small amount of flour mixed with a small amount of cold water if you want the sauce thicker)


Elizabeth Maskiell

Elizabeth’s raw harvest takes care of nutritional and dietary needs

Elizabeth Maskiell

Elizabeth Maskiell is a nutritionist with a passion for healthy food. She is the founder of Raw Harvest, an online enterprise that provides nutritionally-designed, deliciously simple snacks, treats and meals fulfilling all types of dietary requirements and using only the best, local and organic produce. She then added another arm to her business by opening the Raw Harvest Café in Newborough in Regional Victoria and said the response has since been incredibly positive.

“The first week was crazy,” Elizabeth said, “We had quite a strong online presence; particularly in social media, which really helped it take off. Letting people know we were opening reached 25,000 people overnight on Facebook, which was amazing. The first few days were a little overwhelming because we didn’t really know how many to prepare for but it’s all worked out perfectly. I think I was running on about two to three hours sleep a night for the first week but I still turned up loving it every day.”

Elizabeth loves sharing the food she creates with the community and catering for dietary requirements and nutrition. She likes to see people who genuinely suffer food intolerances or people who haven’t made choices not to be able to eat something, come out and enjoy eating in a safe environment with their family. “We do a lot of celebration cakes for the same reason,” she said.

The entrepreneurial nutritionist is herself celiac and lactose intolerant. She comes from a family with autoimmune issues where there have always been some food intolerances, which she said was what drove her to becoming a nutritionist. “I have worked with clients who struggle to go out and enjoy their food due to the need for specialised requirements and I do think it socially isolates people.”

Seeing the need to cater for specific nutritional requirements and a gap in the market, Elizabeth set up her online business in 2014 and has operated it successfully since.  She supplies other Gippsland cafes with healthy alternative treats and provides pre-pared meals. “The meals are a bit like ‘Light and Easy’ sort of thing but made using local organic produce,” she said. “We focus on local as much as we can so we use Gippsland Jersey Milk, Hope Farm Bakery Bread and other locally produced items.” Another focus in the business is hiring staff that have either been unemployed for a while or are wanting to upskill with more training.

Raw Harvest Cafe

Elizabeth purchased the pre-existing café business in the building she now leases and rebranded it to fit into the present Raw Harvest business. “It was a café with lots of bright punchy colours,” she said, “but I wanted to bring in the more mellow tones. The idea was to make it a space where people could mindfully relax and enjoy social time with their friends and family, and I think we’ve created a space that does that.”

She said many people have questioned why she chose an out of the way place like Newborough but it’s where she grew up and where she now lives. “It’s also only a few minutes off the highway and it’s central to Traralgon and Warragul making it a reasonable distance either way for customers collecting our wholesale products. People are also leaving five minutes earlier in the morning to come into Newborough to pick up their morning coffee and lunches from the cafe.”

Elizabeth gained a degree in nutrition at Latrobe University and for a while afterwards, she worked for Latrobe Community Health Service as a nutritionist. Later she took a break from the industry and worked in other areas in Gippsland and for a few years she worked in Darwin. She said now its Raw Harvest and it’s worked out perfectly for her. “I love it.”

The café is open five days a week. Elizabeth also works 16 hours a week for ‘ReActivate’ a not-for-profit organisation in the Latrobe Valley and through it, she runs two 50 Mile farmers markets a month and is part of the ‘Get Stuffed Project’, a new Latrobe Valley food network. “Through the organisation we are showing people with job losses and income insecurity that they can grow things in their back yard, produce goods or sell produce on and bring in an income through local food networks. We work a lot with farmers and food producers both primary and secondary.”

The food for every part of the Raw Harvest business is cooked in the new café. The wholesale treats are delivered to cafes throughout Gippsland on Tuesdays and Fridays and the pre-prepared meals are collected from the café on Tuesday evenings. “Some are distributed to a few local fitness clubs as well and collected by their members,” she said. “It’s an arrangement that brings a bit of business both ways and it’s really nice to be able to collaborate with other like-minded people.”

Raw Harvest

Nick is the café barista and someone Elizabeth has known for a long time. “We went to school together,” she said. “Dillon also works in the café and the other gentleman is my dad James who hasn’t been working for a while. It’s nice to have him helping out and he does most of my deliveries.”

She also employs a few weekend staff who are wanting to train or have left school but haven’t found the jobs they want. “One of the girls we have working for us is studying to be a personal trainer so she is looking forward to learning more about nutrition and it’s nice to be able to share that knowledge with someone.”

On the wholesale side of the business Elizabeth employs one woman who works in the kitchen helping her on the days they cook the pre-prepared meals and treats. She said in the future she would like look at a few more collaborations with more artists and health conscious people.

pre prepared meals

Main Image: (Right to left) Nick, Elizabeth’s father James, Elizabeth and Dillon in the Raw Harvest Café.



Holly Kendall

Simple ways to add lots of nutrition to your diet

Over the past few years, ‘Superfoods’ have gained a lot of attention in media and culinary circles due to their high level of nutrition and the health benefits of adding them to your diet. Some superfoods like kale, turmeric and blueberries are well-known and wonderful but I find many people overlook our very easy to get ‘normal’ fruit, vegies and herbs, some of which are packed with just as much, if not more nutrition and can be easily grown in your own garden.

Silver beet

Firstly, consider old-fashioned silverbeet. I find many vegie gardens are often bursting at the seams with (usually self-sown) silverbeet, which is great for those who want to make sure they’re getting nutritious greens. The humble leafy green silverbeet is very high in essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients including calcium, iron, vitamin A and C, which promotes healthy skin, eyes, bone health and immune function. If you’re not a confident gardener, this is one vegetable most people can comfortably grow well and it will always be a very healthy and nutritional addition to meals.

Growing a leafy vegetable that you can pick and lightly cook soon afterwards is something I highly recommend. It’s when you will get the most nutritional value from it. You can easily steam it, mix it into your salads raw or even pop it in your fresh home- made juices and get a healthy dose of chlorophyll. It’s a natural blood cleanser that helps the body detoxify and clears out any nasties that may be lurking around our systems.


Next consider the normally prolific growing herb, Parsley. It’s one that doesn’t gain a lot of attention for its nutritional properties or health benefits but always steps up to the plate (no pun intended). Parsley is a humble little herb rich in the important Vitamins A, K, Folate and energizing B Vitamins. Its health promoting benefits range from protecting our DNA through to providing antioxidants. Its high levels of iron and calcium assist with anaemia, improve our digestive health and is a natural diuretic, plus much more.

Adding MORE of these naturally nutritious foods to some of your meals during the week is a simple way to provide your body with the essentials it needs to improve digestion and feel more energised.

There are so many delicious recipes available you can try that include these ingredients. It’s an excuse to get in the kitchen, experiment and become excited about preparing healthy meals.

By Holly Kendall of Holly Kendall Organics

Holly Kendall’s Organics, provides families with easy access to fresh, seasonal certified organic produce sourced from Australian farms where it is grown free of chemicals or pesticides and hasn’t been subjected to any long term storage. The business is operated with the help of her family, from her small organic farm in the hills of Wandong, Victoria.



Growing organic godetia flowers

If you want a spectacular garden display for early summer then you can’t go past the beautiful Godetia (Clarkia Amoena). It’s silky, satiny petals are gorgeous and hence it is sometimes called the Satin Flower or Silk Flower.

Godetia cut flowers

Common as a cut flower in Europe and native to Western North America, it is not often seen in Australia. I absolutely love them and I love the joy they bring when you hand someone a bunch of these beautiful flowers. This year I handed a posy of Godetia to a woman who was so taken with them she danced happily around the room like a little girl saying “they make me feel like a bride”. It made me feel fantastic that I had brightened her day so much.

Godetia was named after the Swiss botanist, Charles Godet and is also called the prairie rose because of where it occurs naturally and ‘Farewell to Spring’ because it flowers with the first of the summer heat.

Growing godetia fowers

Godetia is an annual growing about 30 to 50 cm high and comes in a range of colours such as pink, lavender, cerise, white and salmon. It is easily grown from seed and will self-sow if there is not too much competition.

Plant the seed in spring as the ground warms up. Godetia love the heat and will grow rapidly as summer approaches. Choose a well-drained soil with lots of compost. Dig in some good old chook poo, but not too much or they will grow lots of foliage and fewer flowers. Make a shallow drill and sow your seeds thinly and cover lightly with finely tilled soil. Keep moist but not soggy until they germinate. If conditions are right with warm weather they will flower in about 10 weeks.

Beautiful godetias

Then fill your house with amazing fresh flowers and sit back and watch with delight the joy they bring to everyone.

By Heather Gillespie, Organic flower grower



Beach picnic

Simple, classy alfresco Aussie dining

If you’re going to eat fish and chips do it with style. One of the nicest places to eat is outdoors in a natural environment with a sensational view, particularly with children.

Summer dining at the beach or near a river can be simple, inexpensive and more enjoyable than going to a restaurant.

Pack a hamper with an attractive table cloth, serviettes, a cold bottle of wine and glasses, cold drinks for the children, plates and cutlery.

Make a home-made tartare sauce or delicious fish sauce (recipes below). Chill and put in a sealed container.

Prepare a simple shredded tossed salad using lettuce, tomato, spring onions or salad onions, cheese, parsley, rocket or whatever else you have in the fridge. Dress with a combination of olive oil and a light wine vinegar or lemon juice and place in a plastic tub with some tongs.

Find a quality fish and chip shop on the way and purchase some cooked fish… and the chips if you enjoy them.

Find a picnic table on the beach or near the river, spread the table and place the fish on plates with the salad. Dress the fish with the sauce and enjoy outdoor dining in some of Australia’s beautiful locations. Do it with real flare and style!

Fish and chips at the beach

Traditional Tartare Sauce
Combine 1 tablespoon of minced or grated red onion
1 dessertspoon of lemon juice
3 tablespoons of finely chopped gherkins
1 tablespoon of finely chopped capers
1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
Combine ingredients and mix in enough Aioli or mayonnaise to suit.

A delicious Fish Sauce using purchased or home grown produce
2½ tablespoons of raw sugar
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of vinegar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of dry mustard
2 large eggs beaten
¼ cup of water
1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped cucumber
1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped celery
1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped dill or parsley
1 heaped tablespoon of finely chopped asparagus
1 small clove of crushed garlic
A sprinkle of salt and pepper
Stir constantly with a whisk over a low heat until it thickens. Remove from the heat before it boils and chill. Makes approx. two cups.



Barry Goldsmith

Be nice to snakes

Be nice to snakes

Barry Goldsmith, a Victorian snake catcher and conservationist, loves all Australian native animals, particularly snakes. For more than 30 years he has made it his business to rescue and relocate Australia’s venomous snakes while educating people to dispel the myths surrounding them and to reduce the fear many people have of what he believes are a beautiful and necessary part of our environment.

Like all Australian native animals, snakes are protected so it’s illegal to kill them. ”Almost every second person I talk to has a story about how they killed a snake and it’s just not necessary,” Barry said. “If they’ve got the time to go and grab a shovel, then their life is not in danger and they’ve got time to call a snake catcher to have it removed and taken to a safer environment. Killing a snake can attract a fine of more than $6000.”

He said trying to remove or kill a snake is very dangerous and it’s often when people are bitten. “Cutting off the snakes head is dangerous and really, really cruel because it doesn’t die straight away. It remains alive for about 15 minutes watching you. People then often bend down to pick up the severed head and are bitten.

“There is no evidence of a snake attacking anyone without a reason; dogs and humans are not on their menu as food items so they have no reason to attack anyone. They are easily scared and very scared of us. If you scare a snake the first thing it will do is quickly move away from you. If it’s cornered, it will attempt to bluff you by puffing out its neck to make it look larger. If you persist on engaging with it and the snake has no other means of escape, then it could be dangerous for whatever or whoever is involved.”

Copperhead snake

Snakes are protected because they are essential to the health of our natural environment. “If there were no snakes, the environment would suffer,” Barry said. “We would be completely overrun with rodents and other species they prey on. In many areas, they are an alpha predator and if you take an alpha predator out of the environment then you’d have a lot of ecological problems. Snakes are a sign the environment is healthy.”

He said some people try to keep snakes away from their house or garden using electronic devices or chemicals, which he believes are a scam. “They don’t work. Ideally you don’t want to give snakes too much cover. If you’ve got low lying shrubs in one area and a bit of rubbish in another area, the snake is going to go from one to the other. They don’t like to be out in the open because their main predators are large birds. Rubbish, long grass, standing water and rodents are very attractive to snakes. If you have pets though, it’s a good idea to have a place for a snake to hide so if it’s chased it has somewhere to go, which will save the life of the snake and the pet.

“I know for many people having short grass and only a few plants may not be practical because everyone enjoys having bushy or native gardens with water features to attract birdlife. They should have that, but they need to be aware that snakes are attracted to it too. In a dry area during a dry time of the year, snakes need to drink so they will also be attracted to swimming pools, water troughs and people watering plants and they are excellent swimmers. You won’t see a snake on a really hot day; they usually come out then early in the morning or late in the evening.

Copperhead snake

“There are some resident snakes. If they find a nice habitat with lots of food and water, shelter and they feel safe, they may hang around but nine times out of ten, they are just passing through, so if they are left alone, they will often just move on.

“Snakes don’t have ears, they are deaf so you can scream till the cows come home and it won’t make any difference to a snake nor does stomping the ground. You’d have to be a herd of cattle or horses to create enough vibration to chase away a snake. They have poor eyesight but can see over short distances and they can detect slow movement, which is how they catch their prey. If you keep perfectly still, they will have trouble focusing on you. They also have heat receptors and can pick up heat radiation.

“The only time you are likely to be bitten by a snake apart from engaging with it in some way, is if you actually step on it, but if you wear boots, long pants and watch where you walk you’ll never be bitten. If you are walking through long grass, grab a long stick and use it to part the grass before you put your foot down. That way you are giving the snake notice before you step giving him the chance to move along.”

Baby snake

Barry said many people believe baby or juvenile snakes are more dangerous than adults. “The juvenile snake has the exact same toxic venom as its parents but it has small fangs and venom glands so it’s dangerous, but less dangerous than an adult. Some people believe adult snakes will only give them a dry bite. While both adult and young snakes do sometimes give dry bites, it’s not something anyone can rely on.

“Also when some people see a young snake, they believe the mother is close by but most snakes are live bearers and as soon as black snakes, copperhead snakes or tiger snakes are born, they all go in different directions. Snakes don’t have any maternal instincts. Eastern brown snakes lay eggs but leave afterwards.

“People will often say ‘I have blue tongue lizards so I won’t have any snakes’, which is a common myth. I quite often find blue tongue lizards with snakes. Another myth is that snakes are attracted to milk and some people think they can’t cross kerosene or oil but they can.

“I have also often heard people say that a snake chased them, but snakes don’t chase humans or dogs. A snake that feels threatened will have a couple of lunges at you to get you moving and while you are running away, it will turn around and make it’s retreat.

Tiger snake

“Red-bellied black snakes are very gentle. I once had a black snake swim over to me while I was floating down a river on a rubber tyre. It rested its head on my leg for a while and then kept on going. Copperheads are very shy and gentle. They always stay low to the ground and they eat tiger snakes. Tiger snakes have a bad reputation for being aggressive but they aren’t. They do prey on birds and can sometimes be seen in trees.

“The Eastern brown snake is considered the most dangerous snake in Australia simply because its main prey is rodents and wherever you have humans you have mice and rats. The eastern brown snake is not as shy and it will follow the scent of its prey and not really care about what is going on around it. They are very common out in the bush and a lot of people try to kill them, which is often how they get bitten. They are the most common snake to be killed and it’s why they are responsible for the most deaths.

“In Northern Australia we have coastal taipans, which have caused very few deaths and in South Australia and Queensland there are inland taipans, which are the most venomous snake in the world but they have never killed anyone.”

Barry said there are many things to be more wary of in Australia than snakes. “Many snake fatalities are caused by people not looking where they are walking and stepping on them and not knowing the first aid needed when they have been bitten. If you run around screaming after you’ve been bitten by a snake you’ll work the venom though your body much faster than if you remain still. Don’t wash or clean the bite, apply a compression bandage and call an ambulance. If you have the compression bandage on properly it will instantly give you approximately eight extra hours.

“Very few snake bites result in a fatality. In Australia each year an average of 3000 people are bitten and of those only one or two are fatalities. Many of them could have been avoided with the right education and first aid.”

Barry has been catching venomous snakes for around forty years and in all that time he has never been bitten by any of them. “Pretty much everything else has bitten me,” he said, “koalas, wombats, possums and sea birds. I’ve been bitten many times by pythons and I’ve been bitten by a white lipped snake and a little whipped snake but their bite is like a bee sting. Unless someone has an allergic reaction to their bite, it just becomes itchy.”

Baby snake 2

Barry removes and relocates several hundred snakes back into the wild each year. When he catches a snake, he grabs it by the tail and uses a hook to keep the other end away from his body and places it in a special bag. He doesn’t recommend that anyone copy him and try to do the same. “In the early days we didn’t need to have licenses and insurance and I did it then for the love of it. Someone would call me up and say they had a snake, so I’d call around to collect it and they would give me a cup of tea or a beer and that was it.”

He said fear of snakes is a problem. “If people could get over their fear of snakes then that’s half of my job done. I spend most of my days trying to educate people that snakes are not out to get them, they are not evil killing machines. I show people the snake when I’ve caught it and sometimes by the time I leave they’ll say it’s a beautiful animal. Quite often people contact me after watching my videos on my Facebook page and say it has changed their attitude totally and they’re not scared any more.

“I want people to respect them. This is Australia and it doesn’t matter where you are, even if you are in the middle of the city, there’s a chance you’ll see a venomous snake. They are beautiful, but they are deadly animals so never interact with them. Never touch them and if you do see one just take a few steps back. If a snake sees you stepping back, he’s not going to come forward.”

For more information
call Barry on: 0408 067 062 or visit