Serendipity

……………according to Dr Google is “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

This noun has become a regular part of my vocabulary since undertaking short day trips to outlying townships in line with Health Directives. The Queensland Premier is encouraging residents to support local tourism and to boost small business by visiting rural communities. Only too happy to oblige, Anna…..

With the Lockyer Valley less than 90 minutes drive west of Brisbane I’ve enjoyed exploring some of the smaller townships that don’t receive much publicity – the places Marketing gurus apparently don’t deem worth much exposure. Of course, it’s the little places that have remained relatively unchanged for years that I find so appealing. So turn off the GPS and don’t be afraid to deviate from the main drag. You might even come across some local produce stalls, like I did!

Helidon is one of those “blink-and-you’ll- miss -it” spots famous for what’s underground, rather than above : the internationally renowned sandstone and mineral springs.

There is a walk through town of only two or three streets with markers to highlight significant buildings, including the first bank which now operates as a Bed and Breakfast.

(And there’s also a great little dress shop that’s been operating for 18years though only God knows why. One supermarket, one pub, a community hall, and a frock shop. Bizarre, though I did drop a few bob).

Driving through Grantham with its paddocks full of cabbages you are reminded that the Lockyer Valley is Queensland’s food bowl. Many of the parks in Grantham have been beautified since the 2011 floods which were devastating. Who will forget the images of people being recovered by chopper from the roof of the Grantham Hotel?

Last stop for the day was Pohlmans Nursery at Adare, just outside of Gatton.

Seen one Nursery you’ve seen them all?

Pohlmans are the largest wholesale nursery on the Eastern seaboard, supplying a range of innovatively marketed quality plants to almost 1000 nurseries, garden centres and selected stores across Australia. Seedlings that don’t make the grade for the wholesale side of the business are sold through their onsite Factory Outlet. This obviously changes on a daily basis but look what I picked up for $1!


More little towns to visit next fortnight……

Awassi Cheesery, Grantham, in the Lockyer Valley, QLD.

Recently I alluded to a trip I had been invited to join by Queensland Tourism to discover the hidden treasures of the Lockyer Valley.

I don’t know about you but I’m getting antsy. I’ve had three trips cancelled so far this year – Margaret River WA, Longreach in Outback QLD and P.N.G – with a fourth highly questionable. Although we can’t travel yet, we can always start to plan our next, can’t we?

Every story is a ride to some place and time other than here and now. Buried in an armchair, reclined on a couch, prostrate on your bed, or glued to your desk, you can go places and travel through time. – Author: A.A. Patawaran

The Lockyer Valley is just over 90 minutes drive from Brisbane and both the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and sits in the shadow of the range up to Toowoomba. It is one of the most fertile and productive regions in Australia though floods, fire and drought have sorely tested the region over recent years.

Awassi Cheesery is a relative newcomer to the area and is a boutique sheep farm and dairy nestled in the Grantham Hills.

Never heard of an Awassi Sheep? Dating back to biblical times the breed originated in the deserts of Syria and Arabia and are a popular throughout the middle east. Not only are they hardy, they are a good wool-producing sheep (for carpets). Their milk is naturally homogenised, high in fat and proteins, low in lactose and makes a very high quality of cheese.

Awassi Cheesery is a ‘Farmstead Cheesery’ where all cheeses are produced from the milk collected on the same farm where the cheese is produced. Nothing is imported.They are handcrafted in the full sense of the word, from the paddock to the milking parlour to the cheesery. Every aspect of making the finest cheese is under the watchful eye of the cheese maker.

So, things to do at the Awassi Cheesery, other than be impressed by the rolling hills :

Cheese classes and tastings
Dairy and cheesery tours
Hands on cheese making experience
Farm gate outlet sales
Awassi all natural cosmetic and skin care range
Farmstays – milking, cheesemaking and animal welfare.

There are also special events such as enjoying an Awassi Luncheon in the Avocado Grove which you can read more about at http://www.awassiqueensland.com.au.

Slow Cooked Awassi

In typical farmer mode the Pigott’s are resilient and creative recently turning to producing a Fig Leaf Tea from produce in their Fig Orchard.

Did you know that an Awassi’s tail can be over 2 kilos in weight and the fat content is used to create an all natural line of cosmetics?

If you like your cheese put this on your Must Do List. Well worth the effort!

The Avocado Grove

Good News In A Week That The Media Are Determined Will Break us : Part 2

Yes, I know. Such a bizarre world we are living in right now, and yet I have more good news. Except that I read today that Dan Murphys has a shortage of rum across Brisbane. Just as well I only like rum on bananas en flambe, or poured over ice cream.

The Lockyer Valley is an area of rich farmland that sits between Toowoomba and Queensland’s capital city Brisbane. Farmers in the valley produce around 95% of winter vegetables that are supplied across Australia.

I was recently invited to travel across the Lockyer Valley in a tour hosted by celebrity chef Alastair McLeod, Ambassador for this area for some years. McLeod, some of you may know, is of Irish/ Torres Straight Island descent and has a passion for fresh produce. One evening he cooked for the group utilising the produce from local butchers and farmers where we had stopped along the way. One thing I took away from meeting McLeod, other than his sincerity in pushing fresh Australian produce, is that good meat doesn’t have to melt in your mouth. “It’s ok to masticate”, he said. And that he likes a red with his beef.

My travels across the Lockyer indicated lots of new growth with undulating hills covered in various shades of green and parklands fresh and full of new life. But looks can be deceiving. The Lockyer Valley is in “Green Drought” mode which essentially means that although the area has most certainly benefited from recent rainfall the moisture hasn’t soaked deep into the earth. Our farmers are still battling. When our farmers hurt, their communities hurt. And they need help.

Blogs covering my experiences in the Lockyer Valley will be published elsewhere in coming months 🙂

As a fellow blogger recently stated, thank you Karen J Schoff for the inspiration, “Sometimes we can be so keen to explore the rest of the world we can overlook the places and history that is just around the corner”.

Quintessential Heritage Listed Qld Pub in Forest Hill.

Ever so grateful for such a wonderful opportunity in retirement, on so many levels. Sending a rude gesture to the schmuck who berated anyone over 45 for wasting space. Don’t come anywhere near me if I’m holding a golf club ya dipstick.