Pemberton Unearthed 2018

Thursday 26 – Sunday 29 April 2018


Less than 2 weeks after reading about this fabulous opportunity we were finding ourselves driving down south to the Pemberton / Manjimup area ready for a few days of networking and learning so much about this amazing food bowl area.

After some greetings, we all got onto a Bus driven by Michelle Tilly and arrived at our first destination for the day – Newton Brothers Apples. We listened to a talk by Nic Giblett, followed by a tour of their processing plant that used advanced technology in the sorting, grading & packing of the apples which was very interesting. unearthedapples2.jpgWe were astounded to learn that approximately 1 million of apples are left as waste fruit and the only solution at present is to sell to Harvey Fresh for juicing at 10c per kilo. We were lucky to taste an array of apples, including some new varieties like Sweet Granny & Bravo (which hadn’t been released to the market when we were there). Nic’s young daughter described the Bravos as a stunning deep red apple that looks like the sunset and a night sky with stars.

We then went to Manjimup SHS where we had a light lunch and then we enjoyed donning our aprons and cooking delicious Apple and Almond Frangipane tarts using the Bravo apples and seeing how they performed being used as a cooking apple. For many of us the last time we were in a commercial kitchen cooking with colleagues was at University!! Lots of fun & laughter was enjoyed by all!

Next stop was to the Mountford Winery, in this stunning setting we tasted cider, wine and vinegar while enjoying Holy Smoke platters. Johnny Della Franca shared his Buckwheat story, Gary Cass dazzled us with his champagne dress. It was an apt setting for his presentation as this is where the Nanolose story started with a contaminated wine vat. In this case a mistake turned into an amazing opportunity, a brand new sustainable fibre for clothing. We all left with our own bottle of Mother Bacteria, ready to make vinegar.

After a very busy & informative first day, we were driven back to our accommodation. We were all so full from all the days eating, not many of us were hungry for dinner. But, somehow most met up for a light dinner and a good chat. Some of us took the opportunity to get to know the locals a little better.

The next morning after a hearty country breakfast we got on the bus to head to our next destination. Here, we were greeted by two young boys who embodied the spirit of country life. Their parents – Charlie & Colleen are passionate farmers who regenerated their land with their innovative farming practices. The mobile chicken caravans are moved every 7 – 10 days allowing the girls to forage to their hearts content. The delicious eggs produced are highly nutritional and have minimal shrinkage when cooked. We all had the opportunity to collect eggs from the caravan and get up close and personal with the chickens. Gary Cass proved he is still a “chick magnet”!

unearthed2.jpgOur next stop was the Blue Ridge Trout and Marron farm. This is a semi intensive Marron farm, using a poly farming system as they also grow trout in the dams. The majority of the south west Marron as well as their own is processed for the Perth and export market. Mark smokes his own Trout for personal consumption and he treated us to some of this delicious Trout still warm from the smoker.

Back at the commercial kitchen at Manjimup SHS, we prepared a salad using local produce, topped with smoked trout. It made for a delicious lunch. We powered through 3 very interesting presentations, with a hands on session with Gary Cass growing seeds to micro herbs.

  • Stephanie Godrich – Food security & classroom strategies.
  • Evelyn Collins – Food for thought & the future of our food systems.
  • Merilyn Elson – Food for Reasons & Open Agriculture.
  • Margaret Millar – A new app: game to assist and support healthy food choices and understanding of sustainable food production.

A quick trip back to our accommodation to get ready for our dinner. This was at Foragers, owned and run by Chef Sophie Zalokar and her husband. They also have accommodation onsite. Her husband built that and the restaurant/ kitchen part almost all himself. The meal was outstanding using local produce including apples, buckwheat & trout, which we saw either growing or learnt about during one of our many tours. Sophie also spoke to us about the food bowl that is the great south West area they live in, why she chose the dishes & where some of the ingredients are sourced.

We also learnt that Sophie was the second apprentice that Maggie Beer had. So, her connection to the land and the idea of paddock to plate has been instilled in her since her early career. We also listened to another guest speaker, a lecturer from Curtin University who spoke about a study she was involved with and also about Food Waste. We left feeling very full and so grateful for this experience.

Saturday, was our last full day, and it started with the Pemberton Farmers Markets. These are usually held in Manjimup but moved down to be part of the Pemberton Unearthed festival. We enjoyed meandering through the markets and talking to local producers as well as buying lots of fresh produce & handicrafts.

Lunch was at the Three Ryans, who are 3 brothers who run the business together with 2 being down south and the other brother in Perth overseeing the marketing side of things. We were showed an innovative way to use waste cauliflower & broccoli. The cauliflower & broccoli are chopped finely and packed into eco packets and marketed as cauli or broccoli rice. We sampled this with a vegetable korma curry made by Raj from Cilantros Restaurant / Catering in Manjimup. The lightly microwaved steamed cauli & broccoli rice was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy dish.

After that we had a surprise stop at a local orchard to hand pick some local apples to take home and enjoy for weeks to come. Going up and down the orchards picking these delicious Kanzi apples basking in the warm afternoon sun shining through the branches was such an enjoyable way to spend part of our Saturday afternoon.

unearthed1.jpgWe were then taken back to our accommodation to get ourselves ready for our last dinner together.
This was held at Pemberly of Pemberton, where our hosts were David & Monica. We had an exciting start by driving in the bus to an embankment to help catch some marron, which would be used as part of our dinner. Well, those of us that were brave/adventurous enough! Pemberly’s was also hosting a Sculptures in the vines (their smaller version of our sculptures by the sea in Cottesloe).

This was a magical start to our visit here. Armed with a lovely Pemberly sparkling wine we wove through the Art installations. Some very creative, others let’s just say interesting! After that David invited us to go see his vegetable patch where there was a healthy crop of whatever vegetables you could imagine. Our dinner all lovingly prepared by Monica showcased produce mostly from their own garden. The setting was in a marquee where they had encased one row of the vineyards in it, all adorned with fairy lights – the ambience was so beautiful. We all heartily tucked into gnocchi with marron, potato bake, spiced chicken tenderloins, truffle bread, fresh garden salad to name a few all washed down with a selection of lovely Pemberly wines. Monica also made us a lovely array of desserts to enjoy. After dinner we listened to guest speaker Claire Savage who has been recently employed with Margaret River tourism but brings with her a wealth of tourism experience from back home in England to here in WA. We also did an activity in groups related to the WA curriculum in developing sustainability and ethical practices in farming. It was great to hear other people’s point of view . The evening sadly came to an end and we said our thanks & goodbyes to our lovely hosts. Many of us purchased Pemberly wines to take home and let the experience live on a bit longer at home.

Sunday morning was the final session at Manjimup SHS and it was called ‘cycle of giving’ where participants provided opportunities for the local community in a range of skills based short workshops. Unfortunately, some couldn’t attend as they had commitments at home with family, from which we had temporarily escaped from!

We had such an amazing time and the biggest bonus was getting PL (professional learning) for the sessions/workshops we attended. We can’t recommend enough taking a few days out of your term 1 holidays and enjoy exploring this wonderful food bowl of the south west of our state. A huge thankyou to Michelle Tilly for being our responsible and safe bus driver and Catherine Macdougall and Wendy for organising it all. Without them, it would not be at all possible. Everything they did was immensely appreciated. See you next year, it’s in our diaries!!

Maria Biscotto (relief) & Ellen Beemster (Rossmoyne SHS)