Category Food

Wine and long-held traditions in Victoria’s King Valley

Victoria's King Valley wine region has a strong Italian flavour

Victoria’s King Valley is a laid back wine region where you’ll not only meet the makers but you might also sit down with them over a few bottles of wine and a hearty family-style meal, much of which comes from their own veggie patches and orchards groaning with oranges, figs and apples.

Family is king in the King Valley whether it is Aussie settlers like fifth generation cattle farmers Anna Marie and Graham Forge or the Italian families, like the Pizzinis, Dal Zottos, and Politinis, who settled here after World War II. The Italians first grew tobacco but, at the encouragement of one of Australia’s oldest wine-growing families, the Brown Brothers in nearby Milawa, they became contract grape growers. In the last couple of decades, the grape growers became winemakers and today they are passionate about Italian varietals… Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Arneis, Barbera and, of course, Prosecco.

Packing Prosecco

The Forge family is the last remaining settler family on the King River

Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King ...

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Best Luxury Resort in New South Wales: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa: luxury and conservation

The Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa offers a beguiling mix of unbridled luxury and environmental sustainability.  If you are looking for the best luxury resort in New South Wales, this is it. Even better, it is immersed in a dramatic outback landscape which the resort has gone to great pains to preserve, restore and protect.

It feels like you have entered a lost world when you arrive. The 4,000-acre conservancy reserve is located at the base of its own hidden canyon surrounded by ancient sun-drenched escarpments in a tucked-away part of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains several hours’ drive out of Sydney.

It is the first carbon neutral resort in the world to be certified through an internationally accredited greenhouse gas program and one of its key initiatives has been to restore the indigenous habitat of the former cattle property, including planting of more than 175,000 indigenous plants and restoring of the original 1832 homestead.

Occupying just two per cent of the reserve, the $125-million resort features a two-story barn-like main homestead building, constructed of wood, sandstone and glass, plus on-site recycled building materials, and an entire flotilla of 40 free-standing luxury Federation-style bungalows.

The r...

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Romantic Paris: best hotels, best restaurants, best experiences

There's nothing more romantic than a Parisian sunset.Ah, Paris and Romance…the two go hand in hand like, well, those in love.  And the only way to enjoy Paris as a couple is to be “flaneurs” or saunterers. It’s not about rushing around ticking off the sights.

The City of Light makes a perfect backdrop for couples: from its tree-lined boulevards and parks to the quays and bridges of the Seine. Forget the tourist-clogged Champs Elysees and Eiffel Tower and stroll arm in arm with your beloved admiring the city’s voluptuous sculptures and luminescent light.

Why not indulge in a sublime pastry then choose an art exhibition or a performance at the Opera Garnier or buy your sweetheart a bouquet of blushing roses. You won’t find more exquisite blooms than those in Paris’ tucked-away flower shops. Luxuriate on a café terrace clinking glasses of the palest pink rose. Eschew a cab, and take out a free Velib bicycle to peddle slowly along a boulevard bike path under the dappled light of plane trees...

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What to Do Along the Great Ocean Road: beaches, forests, coastal towns

Victoria's Great Ocean Road is one of the world's great drives

Photo by Robert Blackburn

Not the ok ocean road or the good ocean road, Victoria is home to the GREAT Ocean Road, one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives that spans 243 km of Victoria’s stunning coastline southwest of Melbourne.

All too often visitors zip past The Great Ocean Road’s spectacular beaches, zigzag around its jagged cliffs, plough through its soaring rainforests, and scarcely make a pit-stop in its pretty beach towns in their rush to get to the 12 Apostles.

If the truth...

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Hawaii’s Big Island Gourmet: chocolate, coffee, honey and more

Big Island Chocolate is the only bean to bar chocolate farm in the United States

The Big Island of Hawaii — with all that rich volcanic soil, a delicious diversity of environments from mountains to valleys, plus oodles of tropical sunshine and rain — grows some fabulous foods. I recently discovered some truly amazing local gourmet goodies such as chocolate, coffee and honey. Here are some suggestions for a great gourmet touring route.

Big Island Chocolate

I am wander...

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Photo Friday: Packing Prosecco Picnic in Victoria’s King Valley

Forges Farm offers a Packing Prosecco picnic in the King Valley

I took this Photo Friday image in the bucolic King Valley in Victoria’s High Country.

The afternoon sun glints on the Prosecco glasses set beside platters of local Milawa cheeses and crusty bread. Ancient river red gums shade our picnic area, set with hessian-covered hay bales, blankets and bright pillows as Hereford cows feast on clover in a nearby paddock. Our horses also enjoyed chomping on those sweet green grasses on the 20-minute pack horse ride…more of a lazy amble really…to the picnic spot along the King River on Forges Farm.

How do you pack a horse

Fifth generation cattle farmers Anne Marie and Graham Forge are the last original settler family on the King River. Before we had set out, they’d demonstrated the fine art of packing horses, once used to take supplies into the high country.

“I am so proud to be living and working on the same piece of property as my forefathers,” says Anne Marie. “And it’s great to be able to show visitors our packhorse skills.”

Lo...

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Review: Brae is Australia’s Best New Restaurant in Country Victoria

Dan Hunter's Brae has swept the Australian restaurant awards

Brae is the best new restaurant in Australia

Dan Hunter’s new restaurant Brae  is on the top of Australia’s best restaurant lists less than 12 months after it opened outside the Victorian country town of Birregurra, 90 minutes southwest of Melbourne.

Brae was named by Australian Gourmet Traveller as Australia’s best new restaurant and best regional restaurant for 2014. It also received three hats and The Good Food Guide’s 2014 restaurant of the year for Victoria.

I re...

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Eyre Peninsula Seafood Trail: tuna, oysters, lobster and more

Port Lincoln is the tuna capital of Australia

Slurping down a sweet Coffin Bay Pacific oyster at Port Lincoln Fresh Fish Place as workers shuck them at lightning speed, I ask owner Craig McCathie what it is about the Eyre Peninsula that makes the seafood here so special.

“On one side you have the warm saline waters of Spencer Gulf, which are ideal for prawns, calamari, and blue crabs, and on the other side are the cold, high-nutrient waters of the Great Australian Bight where southern bluefin tuna, snapper, and squid hang out,” he explains. “There are also the shallow estuaries, which are perfect for oysters, garfish and whiting. And let’s not forget the abalone, which live on the rugged limestone rocks. There is such an incredible diversity of environments for sea life and the waters are pristine along this isolated coastline.”

Then...

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Insider’s Guide to Fez

The leather dyeing vats in the Fez medina

The leather dyeing vats in the Fez medina

Fez is the cultural and spiritual heart of Morocco, its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Medina the world’s largest car-free urban area. The American writer and longtime Moroccan resident Paul Bowles called it “an enchanted labyrinth sheltered from time”. Today people live and work in its 9000 lanes in much the same way as they have for a thousand or so years. Donkeys remain the main form of transport. For a visitor this ancient city can seem inscrutable so it is important to find ways to connect with the locals in order to gain an insider’s view of this fascinating place.

On my first visit to Fez I had felt very much the tourist with an official guide leading me along a hackneyed path of historical highlights (such as the tomb of its founder, Moulay Iddriss II, the great, great, grandson of the prophet Mohammed) and shopping meccas where I’d bargained for leather, carpets and jewelry in government-approved shops.

Yet I was fascinated by this place of secrets, of veiled women and hooded men navigating narrow passageways that weave between high windowless walls. It was so radically different to Marrakesh, six hours drive to the south, which has become a sort of Sub-Saharan Costa Brava, with mega resorts and nightclubs fed by a constant stream of budget flights filled with sun-starved Europeans. Fez, on the other hand, followed a fervent daily rhythm in a time capsule, like a lost tribe in the middle of a maze, unaware that the rest of the world had moved into the 21st century.

It was time to take a different tack on my next visit.

Lucki...

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The Best Farm-Based Cooking Class in Tasmania

Rodney Dunn teaches at Tasmania's Agrarian Kitchen

Locavores strive to eat food grown within a hundred mile radius, but The Agrarian Kitchen goes one better by creating Tasmania’s first hand’s-on, farm-based cooking school, where many of the ingredients are found just outside the kitchen door.

The ...

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