Friday, 27 January 2012


"Perth Breakfast Paddles" banned by US Military as militant extremism! Our Hawaiian correspondent Aussie Geoff (supplier of wholesome Gorilla Biscuits to the U.S. Armed Forces) reported that when he attempted to check out the latest, the Navy and Marine Corp Internet had blacklisted the site, quoting 'militancy' and 'extremism'. Obviously outraged by this slight, Aussie Geoff was later seen calming down at a no-waiting-period Christian fundamentalist gunshop purchasing a belt-fed heavy-calibre weapon with 'Praise the Lord' engraved on the barrel. Apparently it was for 'home protection'...

In other news an Al Qaeda terrorist killed in Afghanistan has been found with a copy of the Eggs Benny index in his pocket...

I thought I was just writing about hungry paddlers, not causing the downfall of Western civilisation.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Beach St Cafe, Fremantle

Port Beach to North Cottesloe via several surf breaks, 13.2km, 2 hours

7am, Port Beach.
It was an early start, with thoughts of the Narrows to Fremantle until a last-minute text message from M4P arrived saying he couldn't come, and so without the required fourth car to do the car shuffle, we decided on an ocean paddle from Port Beach. And with that decision, what a magic hand the fickle finger of fate dealt us.

The car park was absolutely chockers when we got there at 7am, so full in fact that Travis had to put in some way north because he couldn't find a spot. Luckily Westy and I managed to park and it wasn't long before we were paddling north to join Travis at a leisurely pace. It was steaming hot even at this early hour and the day promised to be as brutal as the previous day's 41 degrees. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the water temperature felt like it was about 27 degrees, and as we looked at the vista of beaches before us we thought about everyone that had to work today, and how it sucked to be them. Those who thought that life particularly sucks were the crew of the sheep ship berthed at Fremantle that was quite obviously at least partly laden with its unfortunate cargo, as the stench attested to...

Westy, fresh from his work trip to Istanbul was raving about the place as we paddled North, and in particular his trip to Gallipoli and his other trip to Troy. Curiously, no mention of enhanced Gorilla Biscuit-making techniques or recipes came out...

Travis the Beetle and Westy
There was a nice little reef break near the Beach St groyne, but after a few dismal attempts to catch a wave whilst paddling into a stiff 15kt Easterly, Westy and I were dismissed by Travis the Beetle and made our way up to check out the beautiful people of Cottesloe. 
Just off Cottesloe Beach we were joined by a pod of dolphins for about 5 minutes, with the mammals initially looking like bastard sharks swimming underneath the ski, and it was a great feeling just to sit and watch them for a bit, right outside the Indiana Tea House. There was all sorts of stuff going on at Cottesloe, from Nipper contests to the massively-shite Havianas pool float world record attempt, where a gazillion people form a daisy chain of tools on floating Havianas thongs. I know I hate sharks but....

On the way back south, we were again joined by our dolphin mates, as Westy and I, with moderate success, attempted to keep pace with a couple of chaps on Think Evo ocean racers. Having picked up Travis, we all enjoyed the human scenery along the length of Leighton Beach, paddling very close to shore, with many calls of 'Mine's alright, but I don't fancy yours much, fnarr fnarr' coming straight out of Viz magazine. Oddly, I'm pretty sure I heard the same words being spoken on the beach...

It was about at this time that we saw a dog about 20 metres ahead, swimming some distance out from the beach. We headed towards him, and just as we got here some blokes head popped out of the water about 30 centimetres from Westy, scaring the crap out of both of them. After a few choice words from Aquaman, we continued on.

A further attempt to catch a wave in didn't end well for me, as the nose dug in, I skewed sideways and was thrown out, losing my beloved tattered yellow cap and sunnies to King Neptune. A brief search of the beach failed to produce anything, so with a heavy heart I put back in and continued south, welcoming the sun burn I was feeling, in self-flagellation for stupidly losing my prized possession.
As we arrived back at Port Beach I was pretty sure that the burglars in Balga must have been having a great time because it looked like everyone in Perth was on this beach. Threading my way through the throng carefully I spotted an opening and sped through towards the beach, only to have a family of four come out of nowhere, yelling 'Banzai' and throw themselves in front of the ski in a kamikaze charge that ended like you would expect a kamikaze charge to end.

Dead set, it was an outstanding paddle (notwithstanding my missing hat!) and only happened because the fickle finger of fate intervened - thanks Fate!

Travis bailed when we got back, admitting with a squeak that he is a mouse, rather than a man, and showing us Mrs T's thumb print, clearly visible on his forehead. Of course with Mrs Blue and the tin lids still in England, I am able to make remarks like this...

With vultures following us through the car park, we exited stage right to the Beach St cafe in Fremantle for a well-needed breakfast.
Beach St Cafe, err...Beach St, Fremantle, 93357208
Photo courtesy of because I forgot to take one.

Westy had been here for brekky not so long ago, and it came with a strong recommendation.  The menu is on a blackboard as you walk in, and we ordered at the counter. There was a mix of cyclists, people with dogs (this is a dog-friendly place), families and shedloads of those really irritating small flies.

Eggs Atlantic
One thing Beach St has going for it is quite obviously the great view. It's located opposite a ferry wharf, with plenty of parking available. There is lots of grass and shady trees around should you feel the need for a post-feed snooze.

Westy ordered his customary Eggs Benedict ($18.50), and I ordered Eggs Atlantic ($18.50), which was scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and spinach in it with a side of avocado, and sitting on a toasted baguette, with Hollandaise sauce. The Eggs Benny was huge, with lashings of thick bacon supporting the poached eggs. Westy remarked that it was more like a Big Breakfast with Hollandaise on it. My Eggs Atlantic wasn't quite as big, but the eggs were tasty, so much more so because the spinach was simply added to the mix rather than boiled to within an inch of its life like it was last week in South Perth. Unfortunately, the baguette was burnt, and the one teaspoon of jarred Hollandaise didn't do the dish any favours. The mug of flat white wasn't the best I've had, but certainly wasn't the worst, and I was more interested in the ice-cold ginger beer at the time.
Westy's Eggs Benedict
Service was prompt, although a bit of a dump-and-run style, but then again its that sort of place. If you want witty repartee from a waitress then you probably have a few issues to address, as well as a removal to arrange...

In the end, it wasn't bad. The portion sizes were good, service quick and it was just what was needed after a paddle. With a little more care and attention (and more Hollandaise), Beach st could score much higher. 6.5/10 Beach Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Atomic Espresso, South Perth

South Perth to Burswood, East Perth and return - 12km - 1hour 30 minutes

"Hi. My name is Blue. It's been seven days since my last paddle..."
Having been forced into joining Lazy Paddlers Anonymous for the last week, I probably should have said this as I lugged my ski down to the South Perth foreshore, carefully avoiding the broken bottles that clearly showed the high water mark. With the Gorilla Biscuit Factory swinging back into full production after the break, I had found myself furiously smacking my face down onto the table for first couple of days  (just to get back into the swing) and then into the dough continuously for the remainder of the week, so no opportunities to skive off on the ski arose.

M4P wanted to practice quick re-entries.
I was joined this morning by Travis the Beetle, freshly back from Deliverance, USA where he had suffered a broken ankle whilst being chased by a couple of chaps wanting him to squeal like a pig. Or he could have done it skiing - it was one of those reasons, anyway. Travis had wantonly ditched his ankle brace to get back on his Stand-Up Paddle Board, hoping to get his leg working properly again. Westy was unable to join us, having been sent to Istanbul to check out the Turkish delights at the company's new facility, where rumour has it that the biscuits are far uglier than ours. M4P had decided to become sharkbait in the surf this morning and James the Clingwrap Killer was out on his bike. So it was only Travis and I that set off under threatening skies for a lap around the island and a trip into East Perth. 

It had been about a month since Travis had paddled, and even with his injury you wouldn't have known he had anything wrong with him. As it was, every time he slowed down I made oinking noises that mysteriously seemed to get him to go faster.

The jellyfish were out in force this morning and like a serial killer at Camp Biggest Loser it appeared that every second dip of the blade was absorbed by blubber.

Despite the threatening skies, it was still pretty warm as we lazily paddled along the foreshore, checking out the Bootcamp classes and many other early risers pounding the pavement. 
As we rounded the North East corner of Heirisson Island (where the causeway crosses) Travis commenced a lap back around the island but to lengthen the paddle I headed up around the Graham Farmer Freeway bridge. 

East Perth. More lighthouses required.
It was on the way back that tragedy almost struck. As I diverted from the safe route to salute the rich people in the Mediterranean-like canal of East Perth, I came too close to the point at Claisebrook, grounding on a rock that was only barely marked by two bloody big lighthouses. The ski instantly took a 20 degree list to port, but instead of abandoning ship immediately, I thought about breakfast. It was about then that I tripped and fell into a Moldovan 'dancer'...err..lifeboat, to thickly-accented shouts in my head of 'Women and children last!'. 

Having survived my grounding and with no sign of either women or children onboard, I was able to right the ship and keep going, after a lap into the private lake of the rich and famous.
I once again met Travis, just north of the island and we pushed forth back to our cars, just in time to see a council ranger pull up in the space right in front of the Bluemobile. Having taken the chance that we would be back before the paid-parking period commenced, and failing dismally, I put the big ones in to at least have my door open and be making some effort to go before he started booking people. 

If there is one thing that I hate more than bastard sharks, it's bastard parkies. Like referees, it is a special child that grows up thinking 'I want to be a parking inspector'. So it was that I observed Mr Bastard Parkie pull up in a space that someone else could have used, not pay for it, and then start dishing out tickets to people who, like himself, had no ticket on their windscreen. He probably kicks disabled puppies for fun, just after he's finished putting broken glass on the foreshore where paddlers put in from. Bastard.

But all in all it was a good paddle - barely any traffic on the water, not much wind and only a little current. Just what I needed after a week of nothing.

Atomic Espresso, 21 Mends St, South Perth, 08 9368 0990

I make it a rule never to queue for anything, particularly pubs. It's an English habit, and it smacks of bad management. But with every other place in South Perth full, we joined the queue of two for the Atomic. I've never queued for breakfast before, so was keen to see if it was going to be worth it. The 15 minutes that we waited were spent perusing the menu, which was extensive and reasonably priced. When we finally were seated it was outside with a nice breeze blowing down Mends St.

Mrs T's Eggs Benny. Who knew phones could take pictures??
The Atomic doesn't take cards - just cash - a bit of an oddity, but it wasn't the end of the world, and when I ordered (at the counter, after queuing again!) I was greeted with a 5ft tall blond vision of loveliness. In fact, seated all around us were the beautiful people as well so the contrast of we two old men was stark. I ordered Eggs Norwegian ($17.50) - scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, capers and red onion on sourdough with spinach and a small dollop of creme fraiche. I'd put a photo here for you but my camera jagged in (or it could have been that I didn't charge it...). It was pretty tasty, with the eggs scrambled lightly and flatly, and the smoked salmon, capers and red onion combo working a treat. The spinach was, well, it was spinach. Like a dose of cough medicine, you know it is going to be bad, but there it was so I ate it anyway.

Mrs Travis and little Travisette joined us, and so the index could continue, Mrs T thoughtfully ordered the Eggs Benny. The eggs were nicely poached and the Hollandaise came in its own little pot rather than smothered all over the place, like it should be. Mrs T was satisfied, if not wowed by the Benny. Luckily her phone was at hand for the morning's only picture...

No relation to Mrs T.
 The tall flat white coffee ($5) was passable, lukewarm and nothing to rave about. 

In short, when you're hungry after a paddle you'll eat anything - even boiled spinach. Having to queue, then queue again to order, and no card facility was three degrees of inconvenience. And whilst the food was pretty good (standfast the spinach), the wait wasn't justified. The staff and the clientele were mostly good sorts, and that certainly didn't hurt the ambience, but I wouldn't go out of my way again to come here again for breakfast.

Atomic Espresso - 6/10 Atomic Espresso on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Mandurah Duel

Mandurah. You don't really need a passport to get there, and it isn't that far away unless you live in Joondalup. Likewise, I'm pretty sure the people of Mandurah would equate Joondalup with South Geraldton.
At 10am on Sunday, I loaded the Endorfinn onto the truckosaurus, packed a cut lunch and a Thermos, and set off down the worlds most speed camera-infested road to my first paddling race. Having stopped halfway for a cup of tea, a Bex and a little lie down, I soon arrived, and met my fellow paddlers Brett the racing snake and James, of glad-wrap fame. After doing the obligatory car shuffle, receiving a race brief ("Estuary - turn left and follow the boat, Ocean - turn right, keep Australia on your right, then take the first right") we made our way to the start point - The Cut at Port Bouvard.
It's a very nice part of the world in Mandurah and Bouvard. The canals are spectacular, as are the Taj Mahals that are built upon them. After some sound advice from my old boss at the Gorilla Biscuit Factory, I had been drinking a shedload of water for the previous 24 hours, so by the time we got to Bouvard it wasn't long before I was standing waste-deep waving to the occupants of Buckingham Palace, with a very relieved expression on my dial.
The Mandurah Duel is a 14km race with the vast majority of paddlers on composite ocean racing skis taking the ocean route whilst a few, mostly on the slower, plastic surf skis paddle the estuary. Needless to say, your fearless correspondent was paddling the estuary.
Despite putting my water bladder in upside down, rendering me a thirsty paddler, and my moobs flailing to-and-fro as I kept up a cadence, I ended up coming in about 20 minutes quicker than projected, in 1hr 27 min. I didn't come last, I actually overtook people, I never stopped paddling, and in the end won a shirt.
And the moobs? I think they're down to a C-cup.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Zephyr Cafe, East Fremantle

The Narrows to Dalkeith and return, 12.1 km, 1 hour 36 min. Wind Easterly at 12-15kts.

The launch point at The Narrows
Something about the best laid plans of mice and men? The plan had been to paddle from the Narrows to the Fremantle bridges, and when we intrepid paddlers put in at the Narrows it was looking good. You could tell it was building up to be a scorcher, and the promised Easterly just wasn't there.

Westy, M4P and I were joined by James - fresh from a couple of years at Gorilla Biscuit Pty Ltd HQ in Canberra, where he had been the fire warden. James had just driven across Australia with his sea kayak strapped to the roof and sheathed in multiple layers of Glad Wrap - not unexpected given his fixation with the movie Bad Boy Bubby. I suppose we should be thankful that it wasn't a cat that he had Glad Wrapped on the roof ("Be still!").

Not James' sea kayak on the roof.
 We had only paddled for about a kilometre or so when the Easterly came in, and pretty soon we were having heaps of fun surfing our way across towards Nedlands, making good between 10-11km/h. Unfortunately, we lost touch with M4P shortly afterwards and he was spending all his time trying to stay in his Spirit PRS. We had just naturally assumed that he would make a beeline towards Heathcote before turning due West, but instead he was making for the nearest land, near UWA, where it is very shallow. Westy turned and headed over on a rescue mission, but James and I kept going, and surfed our way over to Beaton Point, before we stopped and decided that we should show some concern. Going back around the Nedlands Yacht Club we finally caught sight of the other two rounding the spit towards Royal Perth Yacht Club. It was a bit of a hard slog paddling into the wind, but we finally caught them at Royal Perth before we paddled back to our launch point, the wind all but having disappeared by the time we got there.

James and Westy looking for a jetskier to run down
I felt good after the 12km, and could have easily paddled another hour. The down-wind run, which the Mandurah Duel is designed to be, was quick. Having left two of the four cars near Zephyr Cafe in East Fremantle, it made sense to eat there as well, and after a drive-by to pick up the wounded antelope, off we went.

Zephyr Cafe, 61 Riverside Road  East Fremantle WA 6158, (08) 9438 2800,

This shot is flogged from their website. Sorry!
I have to say at the outset that I like Zephyr - its been pretty much our default setting from breakfast for some time now. The menu is good, with both standard and left-of-centre choices, the prices very reasonable and the location is without peer. It gets a pretty mixed write-up on some of the review websites, but we've never had a problem.

Something that never happens on a Saturday paddle is getting the best seat in the house at Zephyr afterwards, but this being a Thursday, we did. Ordering at the counter, as you do at Zephyr, James and I had the Green Eggs and Feta ($16) with a side of bacon ($5), whilst Westy had his customary Eggs Benedict ($17) with a side of mushrooms ($5), and M4P went the Big Breakfast ($21).

Even the eggs had a good view
The Green Eggs and Feta were pretty good. Stirred through with basil and having sizable chunks of feta, they are served with two slices of thick, chunky toast (which sits on top of the two sachets of butter that you need to find quickly, before they melt!). The eggs were creamy and the balance of basil just right. There was enough there to feed a hungry paddler even without the side of two very big, thick rashers of bacon that sat adjacent. In fact there was so much on the plate that I couldn't get through it all. Westy was happy with the Eggs Benny, and there is no greater praise than that, and M4P couldn't get through his Massive Breakfast either.

Tom's Big Breakfast
Zephyr's coffees are always good, never bitter and always at the right temperature and it was no different today. James smashed in another as we sat out on the patio, a single step away from the beach and in the shade of two palm trees, contemplating the world and the impending shock of smashing my face back into the dough tomorrow morning. I think it was that shock that drove a short conversation on retirement and superannuation, that finished with a melancholy "Only 19 and a half years to go..." But nothing could take away the magnificent view that we had sat down to. And that's a good way to finish a paddle and breakfast.

Zephyr - 8/10 Zephyr Cafe & Kiosk on Urbanspoon

Like I said, best table in the house!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Build-Up to the Mandurah Duel (Part 1)

Palm Beach, Rockingham to the Grain Terminal and return, 7.72km, 53 minutes, Wind ENE 10knots

No breakfast review today as on this particular paddle we went back to the Boat Ramp Cafe, which I reviewed last week.

The Palm Beach launch site.
This morning it was the Magnificent Seven that left Palm Beach at 6.30am for a quick and dirty lap to the Grain Terminal and back. My mind filled with the horrors of having to return to work at the Gorilla Biscuit factory later in the week after a very extended break, we set off into the wind, biasing ourselves along the picturesque shoreline.

East Coast Steve was along for one of his last paddles before moving into a new position as Head Dementor at our company's Sydney gulag and as usual set the pace that we plastic ski jockeys aspire to. Stupidly, I found myself fumbling with my GPS watch early in the piece, giving East Coast Steve and Westy such a lead that I didn't see them again until the Grain Terminal. The big boys on the composites were well gone by that stage, and that was probably a good thing because the effortless way that they pull away from us is completely demoralising.

I thought I would use this short paddle as a bit of a build up to Sunday's Mandurah Duel - my first actual paddling event. I'm not fussed by the distance of the race so much (14km) but the thought of still paddling as the chairs are being packed up and the podium dismantled is quite motivational in an odd sort of way. As is the thought of getting a real live race sticker put on my ski that will show the world that I am a chisel-jawed man of action and adventure, rather than a mere fat bloke in an orange boat. So onward I paddled, not daring to give in to have a break at all until I got to the Grain Terminal and could reset for the way back with Westy and East Coast Steve.

East Coast Steve and Westy at the Grain Terminal
When we turned around, M4P was nowhere to be seen, and indeed we didn't see him until we returned to the boat ramp. Such was our concern for our paddling companion that we didn't give a single thought to the fact that he could have been eaten by a bastard shark, drowned, or that his thumb blister could have grown so large that it created a vortex that sucked he and his ski in.

The weren't many people around in Rockingham this morning, although we were fortunate enough to be heckled by a gaggle of semi-naked geriatrics standing waste deep in suspiciously-yellow water, who, whilst bagging us out for paddling at a speed not to their satisfaction, exalted us to turn around for another look. "Not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin" I thought, having actually seen the hirsute acreage where each of their three chins had once been as we powered past. Turning around, of course, would have been pointless as the imagery had already burnt out my eyeballs. The horror...

The paddle back, with the wind behind us, was quick (by my low standards). I had managed to activate my GPS at the turn-around and we averaged 9.2km/h on the return leg. I was pretty happy that I managed to keep up with Westy and East Coast on the way back, right up until I tried to get out of the boat only to find that my legs wouldn't work. Bugger.

So Thursday will be the last paddle before I am once again back to the grindstone, smacking my face into the dough every day at the Gorrilla Biscuit factory, and my last before my racing debut in Mandurah. Should be a good one too, as we are looking at a long, one-way paddle down the Swan. Stay tuned for a brekky review from some very hungry paddlers.

The return journey. 3.86km, 25 minutes.