Pointing a lens towards all that is sun-drenched and sensory – from bleached-out beaches to afternoon cocktails and seafood feasts washed down with a glass of sparkling – Kara Rosenlund captures the essence of an Australian summer celebration rooted in landscape, culture and place on her island home of Minjerribah.
For Kara Rosenlund, the concept of an Australian celebration means connecting with the natural elements of the outdoors by stirring all of her senses. “I love to feel the anticipation and excitement of summer’s arrival, a faint fragrance of a eucalyptus tree mixed with sunscreen on the coastal breeze, and hearing the nearby waves of the ocean crash and fizz on the shoreline,” she says.
A sun-drenched beach filling with surfers. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Here, the fine art photographer and stylist captures the quintessence of this feeling by casting her lens on Queensland’s Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) over the course of a long, languorous day.
Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) on a fine sunny day. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Morning swims, picking up freshly caught fish, oysters and prawns and secluded beach picnics are followed by sundowners on the deck, a seafood feast and a glass of sparkling or two. Over the following pages, Kara takes us on a journey to her island home and shares tips and recipes for a perfectly pitched Aussie summer celebration that’s simple, sensory and always connected back to nature.
Day in the life
I love to rise early and make the most of the vibrant blue skies on the island. The kookaburras start early and always get me out of bed at sunrise. A morning swim is the perfect way to start the day. I love to see what the wind and water are doing by visiting a couple of beaches at Point Lookout.
It’s a perfect day to swim and surf. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
My favourite swimming beaches are Cylinder and The Gorge, the atmosphere of both on a blue-sky day feels iconic. I then like to head to The Prawn Shack to pick up locally caught fish, oysters and prawns.
Feel the warm ocean breeze. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Going into this cute weatherboard shop is such an experience. All the produce is laid out so beautifully and the blackboards are chalked up with the catch of the day. I love that connection to knowing where your food comes from.
Drop by The Prawn Shack to pick up locally caught fish, oysters and prawns. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Just before lunch, I usually pack an easy picnic of fresh crabs and 4WD to the other side of the island to avoid the crowds on the surf side. There are many secret spots on the island along the coastline where you can easily throw a towel down under a breezy she-oak and not see a soul. That’s pure luxury to me, and I crave doing it.
Get your surfboards ready for a ride on the waves. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
The perfect setting for a day on the sand. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
The art of celebration
My biggest tip for a great celebration is to keep things lo-fi, natural and fuss-free. I love to make the most of summer by eating outdoors and serving food that can be easily enjoyed with your hands.
Lay a picnic blanket by the beach. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
This creates a laid-back atmosphere and puts everyone at ease. There’s nothing that screams summer more than the ritual of cracking and twisting a crab claw with your hands. Or peeling prawns and shucking oysters.
Crack and twist crab claw with your hands. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Fresh mangoes are also a sensory pleasure for dessert. It’s the simplest of things that create memorable moments and add an air of nostalgia.
Enjoy fresh mangoes. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
Rituals and recipes
My family have, for as long as I can remember, always had a prawn sandwich when celebrating on the weekends. This sandwich isn’t flash or fancy, but always has a way of feeling special. Freshly peeled prawns and zingy lemon taste like the spirit of summer on a plate. I use either fresh bread or rolls. Both work.
The perfect prawn sandwich makes the perfect celebration. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
The Perfect Prawn Sandwich
1 kg of medium-sized prawns, cooked and freshly peeled
4 tbs of Kewpie mayonnaise
1 tbs of fresh chopped dill
1 tbs of lemon juice
4 fresh rolls or 8 slices of bread
2 tbs of salted butter, softened
4 cos lettuce leaves
Salt and pepper to season
Chop half of the prawns into bite-sized pieces. Place the chopped prawns and the remaining whole prawns into a bowl together. Add the mayonnaise, dill and lemon juice to the bowl and stir until the prawns are fully coated. Season well.
Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and smash it into a bowl using a fork. Add some more salt and pepper to taste.
Butter your rolls or bread and add a layer of avocado and a cos lettuce leaf. Top with a generous serve of the chopped prawns and garnish with the whole prawns.
A tropical take on the classic pineapple paloma. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)
When the holidays come around, evenings are spent on the deck. I create the tone by making a sundowner, such as the ‘Pineapple Paloma’. Refreshing, juicy and tart, it’s perfect for an uplifting summer’s night; plus it’s super easy-peasy.
90 ml pineapple juice
30 ml dash of freshly squeezed lime juice
60 ml tequila
1 pinch of sea salt
120 ml of sparkling pink grapefruit juice
Add the pineapple juice, lime juice, tequila and salt to an ice-filled carafe.
Fill the carafe with pink grapefruit juice and stir. Pour into individual glasses garnished with dehydrated slices of pineapple.
Spend laidback afternoons with seafood feasts and glasses of sparkling. (Image: Kara Rosenlund)