Limestone Coast

30 Years of Country Style

“In my old country, we never had a dream – and even if you had them, you couldn’t go for them. Here, we can have a dream for our future and while it may take us longer than others, we are willing to try. It’s up to us – that’s what I feel.” – Lal Lian

Kalangadoo Organic’s Chris and Michelle McColl loaned Lal, a refugee from western Myanmar, almost a hectare of highly prized organic soil so that he could produce his own crops to sell at local farmers’ markets. My November 2013 story of their inspirational friendship appears in Country Style magazine’s hardcover 30th anniversary compendium.

I have written many articles for Country Style over the years, and have made some wonderful friendships. I’m so thrilled that this gorgeous magazine endures.

Meet the Tower Guy

I love writing stories on people living the dream…

As a mobile travel agent, Ben Deering’s office can be anywhere with Wi-Fi and a laptop, so why not make it on top of a mountain?

Photo credit: Ockert le Roux

Mount Gambier’s Centenary Tower had been closed for two years when Ben volunteered to become its caretaker. He has brought the 114-year-old landmark back to life, with visitors from across the globe soaking up the epic view of the surrounding crater lakes and beyond.

Photo credit: Ben Deering

During quiet patches, Ben dons his other travel hat, booking itineraries abroad for corporate clients in Adelaide and the eastern seaboard. He also takes some pretty epic photos from his castle in the clouds…

Photo credit: Ben Deering

My article on Ben can be found here at InDaily.

Generations in Jazz – Mount Gambier

Mount Gambier in SA’s Limestone Coast is Australia’s jazz hot spot largely thanks to Generations in Jazz, and it’s my job to help spread the word. This spectacular annual event on the outskirts of the city made famous for its Blue Lake not only attracts the jazz legends of today, but the bright stars of tomorrow, bringing together up to 4400 of Australia’s most talented musicians, along with a growing list of global artists.

High school students from more than 100 schools around the nation compete in the Stage Band Awards, while highly coveted Jazz and Vocal Scholarships help to secure the musical destiny of individuals with enormous promise. And then there are the daily concerts – the sound inside the James Morrison big top pavilion, seating up to 6100 people in the middle of a paddock, is simply incredible!

The big top-style James Morrison Pavilion is the largest tent to have been erected in Australia for a seated audience, with more than 6100 chairs!

The James Morrison Pavilion is the largest tent ever to have been erected in Australia for a seated audience.

Australian music icon Kate Ceberano was a special guest at the 2016 event, and I interviewed her about her visit to Australia’s “jazz capital”. What a glowing endorsement!

 

What a Waste – Recycling Videos

I am an enthusiastic and committed recycler, but after working with Marcus Jones from Film It All to produce a series of five clips for the City of Mount Gambier, I discovered that I, too, have been getting it wrong. For starters, bottle tops are too small to be recycled, and should be disposed of in general waste. Who knew!

The videos are designed to give the community an insight into what happens to waste and recyclables once thrown away, and reflect the council’s strong commitment to improving environmental sustainability.

The clips also provide information and best practice tips for waste, recycling and organics disposal, with bin audits giving audiences a realistic look at the typical contents of a household bin. They can be viewed on the council’s website, The City of Mount Gambier YouTube channel, and on screens at the Civic Centre.

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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South Australian Food Producers

It has been a busy few months uncovering the stories of some of South Australia’s most passionate producers.

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The work is part of a major national project designed to increase education about primary industries in our schools…teaching kids where our food and fibre comes from.

Rob2The passion, vision and lifestyles of the producers interviewed has been incredibly heartwarming and inspiring. They have built a strong foundation for the next generation of farmers and growers.

 

Welcome!

I’m Gretel Sneath, accomplished freelance writer & storyteller. When I'm not on the road, you'll find me on South Australia's Limestone Coast.

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