SA Freelance Writing

The Growers Behind Penfolds Grange

The iconic positioning of Penfolds Grange in the global wine industry is undisputed, but how many people realise that the grapes that go into a bottle of Grange are sourced from all around South Australia? “If it’s the crème de la crème, we will take it,” says chief winemaker Peter Gago, describing the subsequent blending process as “that synergistic sum of the parts”.

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Image supplied by Penfolds

I spoke with some of the growers behind Grange for SA Life magazine. Don Oliver, from Oliver’s Taranga at McLaren Vale, describes gaining selection as like winning the grand final – “And if you get a decent quantity, it’s like winning the lottery,” he said. Barossa Valley grower, Paul Georgiadis, is another regular contributor, and likens the achievement to climbing Mount Everest. “The first time I got in, I thought they were having a lend of me – I actually felt weak at the knees when I found out it was true,” he said.

Their story appears in the June 2015 edition.

SA Gardens – ‘Ellora’, Wrattonbully

Wrattonbully, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is serious wine country – local grapes were selected for the latest vintage of Penfolds Grange! Gardens also flourish in these fertile soils, however they’re fairly sparse in number, making the stately property ‘Ellora’ something of a head-turner.ElloraTucked beyond an exquisite stone wall on a long, empty road, Ellora commands a strong presence among its paddock surrounds. Ellora-2My story on ‘Ellora’ is in the May 2015 edition of SA Life magazine. BTW the owners also make fabulous wine!

James Morrison’s Academy of Music is where?

James Morrison could have chosen anywhere in Australia to set up his musical academy devoted entirely to jazz. He settled on South Australia’s largest regional city – Mount Gambier.

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Photograph by Marcus Jones

I interviewed James about his bold new venture for the February 28 edition of SAweekend magazine, and he shared his view on why this country location offers the best learning environment for students: “In a big city, there are too many distractions, but if you move away from home, particularly to a place where almost everyone else doing the course is also ‘away’, then there is an immediate momentum towards forming a community. When class ends for the day, instead of all going their separate ways, the students can hang out together and maintain the jazz atmosphere. It’s not that there is nothing else to do – it’s that the hippest thing in town is the academy.”

Click here to read the article in my portfolio.

James is fabulous interview talent, and I love his re-telling of a conversation he had with this year’s artist-in-residence from LA, Jeff Clayton: “He is a professor at five universities in the US, including UCLA, and has absolutely no reason to leave America to go anywhere, but when we talked about it, he said ‘This is the place that I want to teach, I want to be there…now where is it exactly?’” It’s the new Aussie home of jazz!

 

Lucindale – The little town that could…and did.

I am forever intrigued by country towns – how they came to be, and how they manage to survive. Lucindale, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is the ultimate rural role model of sustainability. I shared the story of this little town that could (and did) in the February/March 2015 edition of Outback Magazine.

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“Small town, big vision” is its motto, and you would expect nothing less of a place which welcomes 22,000 visitors to its annual South East Field Days (the usual population is 400).

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The town also has a host of sporting clubs – including a triathlon club and a karting club – a country club, caravan rallies, camp drafts, music festivals and the unique exhibition Art in the Sticks, hosted by local farmer-artist Hamish Macdonald. He sums up Lucindale well: “Most little towns are dying, but our town has stayed alive because the town has decided it wants to exist.”

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Country Style Home: Robe, SA

Summer holidays meant catching up on a stack of magazines. The November 2014 Country Style featured my story on ever-so-stylish Robe couple Kristina Alexander and partner Christos Stoios.

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Photo by Mark Roper

Home is a row of cottages filled with gorgeous finds – reminders of a blissful life beside the ocean.

Chef Profile: Kirby Shearing

I have interviewed prominent Limestone Coast chef Kirby Shearing several times in recent months.

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Photo by Joanna Fincham

Kirby’s hunter-gatherer food philosophy is shaped by regionality and seasonality, and in a recent story I wrote for Outback magazine, he shares the thrill of the hunt; landing in fungi heaven after venturing deep into the woods:

“I was almost ready to give up after searching for about 45 minutes, but I turned a corner and came across the thickest mat of pine mushrooms, parasols and slippery jacks,” he says. “It’s true organic produce; wild mushrooms that have just popped out of the earth – there’s no one planting them, no one spraying – they have just grown at the perfect time in the right place.”

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Photo by Joanna Fincham

Here’s one of Kirby’s dishes: Native spiced kangaroo, coastal herbs and organic chickpea puree – delish! The recipe is in the October – November issue of Outback Magazine.

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Recent freelance adventures

Freelance work has literally been taking me all over the countryside lately. Yesterday, I flew to Melbourne to conduct a video interview on Collins Street at Harley House. Imagine working so temptingly close to Hermes…

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Melbourne. Could it get any funkier?

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Last week I was in Lucindale, SA’s agricultural heartland – so pretty in spring.

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And last month, it was Bourke, NSW. The post office looks straight out of the movie Australia.

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Can’t wait to bring these stories to life…

What lies beneath – Kilsby’s Hole, SA

I recently discovered the secret to the success of a South Australian sheep property, and it was locked in a vast underground chamber…

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Kilsby’s Hole lies beneath the pastures of Bringewood in SA’s Limestone Coast, and in addition to being a priceless water source for owner Graham Kilsby’s successful prime-lamb operation, it’s rated among the world’s best cave diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

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Image supplied by SA Tourism Commission. (No – I’m not the diver!)

This is why I love being a freelance writer – such a privilege to be able to share stories about such interesting people and places. My article on Kilsby’s Hole appeared in the Aug / Sep 2014 issue of Outback magazine, and I’ve added a link to my Portfolio.

A day in the life…of a rock lobster fisherman

We had some fabulous audio and footage left over from a recent commission from the South Australian Rock Lobster Advisory Council, and I was able to script it into a promotional piece for industry. Fishermen from Port MacDonnell through to Coffin Bay tell the story of their day at sea…filmed and edited by Robert Tremelling.

Best Friends: Pets and their People

Mount Gambier photographer Tanya Ewen is compiling a limited edition book ‘Best Friends: People and their Pets’ celebrating the relationship between animals and humans. She plans to donate all participation fees to Friends of Native Wildlife SE, and enlisted my help to spread the word. We distributed a selection of gorgeous images to local media…

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No sign of the Sneaths, as our cows, chooks and sheep aren’t exactly huggable, but I did take advantage of my visit to Tanya’s studio to update my profile shots for my website as the previous ones were six years old, and I’m definitely six years older!