Escape to Noosa

Paddle boarding on the Noosa River by Julie Fison.

You know you’re on holidays when you relish the chance to get out of bed at daybreak, and with the Noosa River calling, and a stand-up paddle board with my name on it, who has got time to sleep?

Daybreak is without a doubt the best time to be SUPing (that’s stand-up paddle boarding) on the river. Stingrays flit across the riverbed, pelicans sail past and a sea eagle keeps an eye on proceedings from the top of an old gum as I make my way towards the mouth of the river.

A handful of early-morning fishermen are heading for the bar (the one that doesn’t serve drinks), and there are a few other paddlers out, but I feel like I’ve got the river to myself. It’s so peaceful compared to the catastrophe of pleasure craft, sailing boats, kayakers, jet skiers, ferries and crazy cross-river swimmers that compete for space on the river during the day.

I fell for the Noosa River ten years ago and I’ve been holidaying here – on the North Shore – ever since. The North Shore looks a bit like an island when you see it from the restaurants on Gympie Terrace. It’s not, but it is only accessible by car ferry from Tewantin – which makes it serenely remote, even though it’s ten minutes by boat from Hastings Street.

On my first family holiday here, my kids teamed up with friends and spent the summer exploring sand banks, dodging stingrays, avoiding snakes and building camps. I was so inspired, I wrote a series of kids’ stories loosely based on their adventures called Hazard River. 

The gang in the books comes up against rogue fishermen, wildlife smugglers and dodgy developers while holidaying on Hazard River. The series is full of adventure and fun with some sneaky environmental messages thrown in. Just like our family holidays!

A Dark Horse

By David Ellis from vintnews

Rymill Coonawarra’s unusually-named The Dark Horse range takes its moniker from one of Judy Rymill’s favourite nags, Adlai whose lively and colourful history included bucking a senior Victorian Police Commander off at a public parade, resulting in him being condemned to death and a horrible end in a knackery.  


It was only Judy’s intervention that saved Adlai – who with her care and understanding actually went on to be chosen in Australia’s equestrian team at the 1960 Rome Olympics.  


A Rymill 2014 The Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon that’s just recently been released honours Adlai in appropriate form: it’s a young, lively and memorable drop, offering buyers a wine that’s all about juicy dark, and full-on blackcurrant, mulberry and dark cherry flavours, suggestions of chocolate and a hint of mint.  


Maker, Sandrine Gimon likes to think of it as a “modern twist on Cabernet Sauvignon,” and at $25 it’s certainly value-buying and a rewarding drinking now – we’d suggest with roast duck and cherry sauce – or for popping away in the cellar for around another five years of age and flavour development.  


One to note: Shaw Vineyard Estate’s owner/winemaker Graeme Shaw reckons he’s able to hold the price of his excellent Winemakers Selection range to a very reasonable $16 through what he calls “little tricks that keep down time and materials costs.”  


Whatever those tricks are, they certainly don’t impact on the quality of this range, with a 2015 Estate Winemakers Selection Semillon Sauvignon Blanc a ripper white to enjoy with a whole range of seafood or lighter-meat based dishes. Predominantly Semillon with just 10% Sauvignon Blanc, it’s interesting that Graeme’s Murrumbateman vineyards carry more Semillon than the rest of the whole of this area near Canberra combined.  


One to truly enjoy with this easy $16 price-tag.


Tassie Drop Perfect with a Tassie Cray

By David Ellis from vintnews

Tasmania’s Riversdale Estate has released a 2013 Crater Chardonnay that’s an absolute stunner from a cool maritime climate region that’s less than 20km from the Hobart CBD, and interestingly whose vineyard was for years a key player in the development of Penfolds’ famed Yattarna Chardonnay.  


While located in the island State’s renowned Coal River Valley, rather than from a property devoted entirely to grape production, Riversdale Estate’s vineyard in fact occupies just a third of a 120ha mixed farming operation.  


Established by Ian and Wendy Roberts in 1991, the vineyard flourished from onset, with Chardonnay in particular thriving in the soils and climate, and 2013 an outstanding year that’ll long be remembered as a virtually “endless summer” – warm, dry and sunny, and giving way to an exceptional autumn and outstanding vintage.  


Moderate yields of perfectly ripened fruit displayed superb citrus, grapefruit and apple characteristics, and winemaker Nick Badrice used oak simply to highlight what he sums up as “the wine’s vibrancy, minerality and extraordinary length of flavour.”  


Pay $52 at cellar door or online at  and enjoy with – what else – market-fresh Tasmanian crayfish, or your favourite seafood.  


One to note: 2014 was an absolute rollercoaster for growers and winemakers in the Eden Valley of the Barossa Ranges, with unseasonal late frosts to finish winter and start spring, the hottest summer on record including 13 days recording over 40C, the wettest day since 1969 with more than 100mm falling on February 14, and yet all resulting in surprisingly good fruit, albeit off a low-yielding vintage.  


From all of this, fledgling newcomer in the Valley, the Stage Door Wine Co came through with an exceptional 2014 Shiraz, a wine loaded with dark berry fruit flavours, a dusting of ripe, rich and exotic spice, and fine-grained tannins – one to enjoy now at $25 a bottle with barbecued beef ribs, or to tuck away for another five years or so bottle age.


A Pinot Gris right out of La La Land

By David Ellis from vintnews

They’ve only been around since 2013 and to now have made just two wines, a Malbec and a Tempranillo, but unusually-named La La Land Wines that are part of the larger Wingara wine group, have now released their first white – a very more-ish 2015 Pinot Gris.  


Made from fruit from the Murray Darling region that straddles the Murray River to embrace part of north-western Victoria and western NSW, this is a more than rewarding drop that’s both light and fresh, and has a flavoursome palate of crunchy nashi pear, white peach and hints of zingy lemon/lime.  


It can only help further cement Pinot Gris’ currently bourgeoning popularity in this country, and which is interesting because the variety – whose history dates back to the Middle Ages in homeland Burgundy – is certainly anything than new here. In fact it was first grown by James Busby who included Pinot Gris amongst some 363 vine cuttings he brought back with him in 1832 from a visit to Spain and France, and planted in what is now the Sydney Botanic Gardens. 


The La La Land 2015 Pinot Gris is nicely priced at $16, and makes for a perfect match with sushi, fish tacos or a butter chicken.  


One to note: when Peter Rymill founded the family wine business along with his wife Judy in Coonawarra in 1974, it was not as if he did not come with some “form” when it comes to our wine history – it was his great, great grandfather, John Riddoch who actually founded Coonawarra itself in 1890.  


Since 1974 one variety that Rymill has shown they’re consistent masters at is Cabernet Sauvignon, a recently-released 2013 is a classic drop redolent of rich dark fruit flavours, chocolate and liquorice, and nicely balanced acidity that all reflect the excellent vintage Coonawarra enjoyed in ’13.  


At $35 it will only further develop beautifully with some cellar age, or enjoy now with Beef Bourguignon.


Aussie Chardonnay for French dining

By David Ellis from vintnews. 

Andrew Margan used fruit off exceptional low-yielding vines on his Saxonvale Vineyard in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley for a 2014 White Label Chardonnay that Chardonnay buffs – and despite what many will tell you, there are still plenty of us around – will find a true delight.  



Because as well as coming off vines some forty years old, the fruit also thrived under these vines’ shaded canopies, giving Andrew marvellously fine-flavoured grapes for this lovely drop… one that makes for rewarding buying and enjoyment now, while showing it also has potential for aging if you’ve the patience to wait. 



Bright and sprightly with fresh honey and vanilla, together with some citrus overtones on the palate, and with a beautiful creaminess and nutty finish, at $40 this is a wine that Andrew likes to put in the Modern Australian Chardonnay category. 



While he says Chardonnay may have found a home in this country with a natural affinity to sharing with a range of local foods, his suggestion is to match this one with rich, French-styled dishes… we’d suggest maybe Chicken Cordon Bleu – chicken rolled with ham and Swiss cheese and served with lashings of a creamy wine sauce. 



One to note: it was a time just a few years ago when Semillon Sauvignon Blanc was looked upon in Australia as a “summer wine,” one to be enjoyed only during the warmer months of the year with seafood. 


No longer. Today it’s as popular in the cooler months as the warmer ones, a perfect match with fish and chips, freshly shucked oysters or fresh peeled prawns whatever the outside temperature; even more-so when you can get wonderful examples like Apple Tree Flat’s 2015 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc for a bargain $13. 


Made from 58% Semillon from Mudgee and 42% Sauvignon Blanc from Orange (both in the NSW Central Ranges,) this one has marvellous light tropical flavours and a crisp long-lasting finish. Perfect with that seafood or other lighter-style dishes.


Making Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums out there! Although everyday should be Mother’s Day, May 8 is the calendar date of the year set aside to spoil the one that will always love you; and why not show her that love by making her an edible gift this year?

Recipe from the book PODS by Lisa Bryant, published by New Holland.

Make these delicious Malibu Dream pods prior to Sunday afternoon cocktails so all you need to do is pull them out of the freezer and blend them up for a delicious boozy slushy! 

These hot chocolates on a stick are the perfect gift for the Mum who just loves her chocolate! Simple and easy to make, just wrap them in cellophane and your gift is ready. 

Recipe from Margaret & Me by Kate Gibbs, published by Murdoch Books.  

A box of shortbread is always a welcomed treat – imagine how surprised she’ll be when you tell her you made them yourself! This Scottish Shortbread recipe is from Kate Gibbs who learnt from her grandmother, Margaret Fulton. 

Recipe from Merle's Country Show Baking and other Favourites by Merle Parrish, reprinted by permission of Random House Australia.  

Instead of plain old Lemon Curd, why not rustle up some Passionfruit Curd for your baking, loving Mum, this one is perfect for dolloping over cakes, muffins, pancakes and slices. 

Recipe from A Table in the Orchard by Michelle Crawford, published by Random House Publishers. 

If your Mum has a sweet tooth for lollies, then why not make these salted apple caramels? Just wrap them in wax paper and remember to store them in something air tight.

Happy making Mother’s Day. 

Remember to share your edible gifts with us via Instagram (@ausgoodfood) or via our facebook page

Learn to bake for Mum with BakeClass by Anneka Manning

“Baking is love made edible.” - Anneka Manning. 

Have you ever been intimidated by the prospect of the techniques needed for baking? Feel anxiety rise when a recipe calls for a dense layer of skillfully executed steps to reach the finished product of a simple muffin. But fear not, there is an answer! For those out there kneading a hand in the basics of baking, Anneka Manning has you covered.

Growing up on her parent’s farm in southern New South Wales, Anneka was accustomed to tough life on the land – nothing here was sugar coated. She would help her mother out by doing the cooking in the kitchen and became obsessed with cookbooks from the age of seven. She would spend hours in the kitchen making scones and cakes to take to the shearers for their “smoko” and made the country women’s association a cinnamon tea cake every Sunday, a particular favourite of her father’s. 

Anneka admits that she understands baking can frighten some people, describing the familiar feeling of it being like a daunting puzzle they can’t decode. This cookbook differs from most in the way that it follows a unique lesson sequence that builds your skill levels and confidence first, before giving you an indulgent recipe to practice with to complete the lesson. The best part is, the lesson finishes with a delicious reward! There is even a chapter devoted specifically to setting up your baker’s pantry so you can begin on the right foot every time you open to a new page. 

Anneka takes the reader through a 10 lesson guide, meticulously describing each step needed to end up with a perfect product. Starting at the measure and mix method going right through to the kneading method, hands are guided by Anneka’s words of wisdom and experience.  Give your hand a go with the lessons here, or take some time to continue reading through this charming cookbook and get to know Anneka a little better. 

Caramelised Apple and Hazelnut Puddings, p. 144. 

Lesson One:

The measure and mix method, learn this through these delicious Pecan and Cinnamon Oat Biscuits.

Lesson Five:

The creaming method, best learnt via these Caramelised Apple and Hazelnut Puddings.

Lesson Eight:

The whisking egg whites and sugar method. This stage is commonly the barrier in front of more Pavlovas being enjoyed around Australia. Learn it with this fluffy Chocolate Soufflé Pudding. 

This cookbook makes a perfect gift for anyone about to step into the kitchen for the first time, and even those already adept at baking their family’s favourite sweet treat. Each page is captivating, with brightly lit photography and mouth-watering recipes that are sure to be a hit. Increase your skill set, share tasty morsels with your family and friends and most of all, enjoy the experience. 

By Freya Ensbey with edits by Annabel Rainsford. 

Spoil Mum in Style

Do you want to treat your mum to something a little different this year than simply a meal at your favourite local restaurant? For those with the chance to do so, we have a few things in mind we think you might like. Keep on reading to find out some ideas on how you can fancy up your feasting, wining and dining out in style. A quick hint from us: remember to play chauffeur for a day to make sure she feels extra special.

Thank her to enjoy a three course lunch in an idyllic Western Australian location, perhaps at RiverBank Estate. Just a 20 minute drive away from Perth’s CBD, the estate is a convenient option to escape the city rush and enjoy time to breathe in gorgeous surrounds. A special Mother’s Day menu is designed by Executive Chef Darren King and covers dishes such as citrus duck salad entrees with chilli orange dressing to braised lamb shanks for mains, paired with RiverBank’s own 2011 Cabernet Shiraz Merlot and finishes with decadent desserts such as blueberry and frangipane tart with anglaise and vanilla bean ice-cream, sure to satisfy Mothers who love to dine.

Delight her with a show and treat her to high tea, like at Sofitel Brisbane Central. Spoil her with the Sofitel’s exquisite Mother’s Day High Tea Party in Ballroom le Grand, while enjoying an exclusive performance by the Queensland Ballet. Book the classic option, or go all out with a platinum package including premium seating and table setting, French sparkling wine, Sweet French Pastries’ signature selections, a gift for Mum and Ronnefeldt loose leaf tea selection. The Director of Training at The Queensland Ballet, Christian Tátchev will provide exclusive insights into what it takes to become a true ballet dancer. The Dancers will also be hosting a Q&A session and photo opportunities for guests.

Spoil her with a set menu, such as at Q Dining and let her dive into bottomless Veuve Clicquot. Indulge yourselves in a three course lunch together from 12:30pm to 3:00pm as created by Executive Chef, Daniel Simpson. Combining culinary passion, creativity and locally sourced fresh and seasonal produce, you surely can’t go wrong. Pair this with an enviable location just up from the Sydney Opera House and you have brownie points in Mum’s boast book that will last you well into next year. 

Compliment her over cocktails before treating her with a leisurely lunch, like at Kaesler Kitchen in the Barossa Valley. While mum sits back, sipping a special Kaesler Royale cocktail, you can browse for a glass of Kaesler wine before delving into a delicious three course menu. A true wining and dining experience, this establishment is set in the heart of the Estate’s vineyards and winery. The menu will be guided by the seasons at the hands of Chef Wayne Hatenboer. Keep the day going after lunch with a visit to the cellar door and taste the range of premium wines.

Plan a perfect panorama as a backdrop to buffet dining, perhaps at Skyhigh Mount Dandenong’s Mist @ Olinda in the stunning National Rhododendron Gardens. Mother’s Day will be hosted in the upper floor dining space in the Functions & Event’s Centre, so opt for a table by the deck with doors that open out to unparalleled views over Mornington Peninsular and Port Philip Bay, or if cooler weather resumes, reside by the fireplace. Be sure to stroll around the gardens before or after a lunch to admire the season’s best blooms. 

Compiled by Julie Johnson, experiences and suggestions by the AGFG Foodies. 

Take Mum on a Wine Tasting Trail

Instead of just gifting her a bottle of her favourite wine, treat mum to a day out at her favourite winery. Chauffeur her there and stay for a meal, or introduce her to some new wineries in the same region. It’s possible you already live in one of Australia’s prominent wine growing regions, but may have not spent a day out and about exploring what’s old and new. It can be a chance for you and her to spend quality time together and get to know the area. Enjoy our quick overview of some of Australia’s prominent grape growing regions and some suggestions of where to visit.

Hunter Valley, NSW

New South Wales' Hunter Valley is Australia's oldest wine growing region. This region is also known for its many fine dining restaurants, cooking schools, art galleries, health retreats and golf courses. If your mum loves any of these things as much as she loves her wine, it could make for a great day out filled with fun, adventure and good tastes.

Perhaps visit Keith Tulloch Wine, Reader’s Choice Regional Winner 2016; the iconic and family-run winery offers an interactive experience to ensure that your visit to the award-winning establishment is as memorable as the beautiful, hand-crafted wines on offer, including the Family Collection of vibrant and full-bodied Shiraz. 

Clare Valley, SA

Best known for Riesling wines, Clare Valley holds a Mediterranean style climate for growing grapes. Around 40 wineries call the Clare Valley home, most of which are smaller in size and located along a 40 kilometre stretch between Auburn and Clare. Opt to travel in style by hiring a limousine for the day and spoil mum like a queen.

Perhaps visit Stone Bridge Wines, Reader’s Choice Regional Winner 2016.

Crushing 70 tonnes of premium fruit fresh from the vineyard and selecting parcels from 30-60 year old vines in Sevenhill and Watervale, Stone Bridge has produced a boutique collection of many different wine varieties, including award winning Clare Valley Shiraz and Riesling. 

McLaren Vale, SA

Boasting around 70 wineries all within close proximity, McLaren Vale wine region is the pride of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Cycle the Shiraz Trail from one town to the next, horse ride, or hire a tandem bike from The Carriage Café and book B’n’B accommodation if you wish to stay.

Perhaps visit Woodstock Wine Estate, Reader’s Choice Regions Winner 2016.  

Savour the fruits of McLaren Flat with a trip to Woodstock Wine Estate, a winery maintaining the tradition of tending to vines by hand. Enjoy views of the vines and the serenity of country living as you wander the grounds before taking a seat in the shaded al fresco seating area, encompassed by flourishing bushland and towering gumtrees. 

Barossa Valley, SA

First settled in 1842 by European immigrants, the Barossa Valley wine region still retains its old-world charm. With around 150 wineries and cellar doors in the Barossa Valley, locals of Adelaide need only travel a short distance to arrive at the first one. 

Mornington Peninsula, VIC

A short distance south of Melbourne, one will find the Mornington Peninsula, another prominent Victorian wine growing region. Home to more than 200 vineyards, it’s a wine lover’s haven and visitors are spoiled for choice.

Perhaps visit Nazaaray Estate Winery, Reader’s Choice Regional Winner 2016.

Step into a rustic shed and warm your hands over a potbelly stove before tasting and learning about Nazaaray’s family owned artisan wines, made from hand-harvested grapes and produced completely on site. Located in a cool climate wine region, focus is given to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grape varietals with red wines cellared before they are released for sale.

Yarra Valley, VIC

Home to more than 80 wineries and just a short drive North East of Melbourne City is the Yarra Valley. Wineries range from small, family-owned boutique wineries to multi-location estates. Typically, the Yarra Valley is renowned for producing premium Pinot Noir and sparkling wines along with excelling in a range of other cool-climate wines.

Perhaps visit Tokar Estate Winery, Reader’s Choice Regional Winner 2016.

Sweeping vineyard views, a panorama of surrounding mountain ranges and stunning skyline make Tokar Estate Winery an ideal location to drink in the best of the Yarra Valley. From humble beginnings as a modest planting of Pinot Noir, Tokar Estate’s fertile soil and enviable positioning has flourished, leading to 30 acres of thriving vines producing premium fruit by 1998.

Margaret River, WA

Awards are plenty in the Margaret River, a Western Australian wine region on the south west coast. The region is also known for producing black truffles and are plentiful when in harvest.

Perhaps visit Glenmore Wines on Caves Road in Yallingup.

Nestled into the sweeping landscapes of the Margaret River wine region sits Glenmore Wines, a winery and five hectare vineyard with valley views out to the Indian Ocean. The north facing plot provides an ideal place for grape-growing, with natural slopes and windbreaks providing protection from prevailing winds.

Swan Valley, WA

Just 25 minutes from Perth’s CBD, the Swan Valley makes an easy and quick option to go wine region exploring on Mother’s Day. Home to wineries for over 180 years, the vineyards here are certainly well established, with signature flavours running strong. The region is known for Chenin Blanc, Verdelho, Shiraz and Petit Verdot varieties. 

Tamar Valley, TAS

This flourishing cool climate location produces elegant wines, typically including varieties of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Standout wines include sparkling, Chardonnay and Riesling.

There are around 30 wineries included in the Tamar Valley wine region, perhaps visit Goaty Hill Wines, Reader’s Choice Regional Winner 2016. 

Offering panoramic views of rocky hillside and rolling greens, Goaty Hill Wines in Kayena encapsulates the essence of Tasmania. Owned by two families who are passionate about making multi award-winning wines in the beautiful Tamar Valley, Goaty Hill Wines takes particular pride in its 50 acres of lush vineyard. 

Happy Mother's Day

That special day has come around again, this time on Sunday, 8th of May, 2016, where we get to celebrate the incredible woman in our life whom we consider Mum.

Oftentimes, this is the woman who, in at least one stage of our lives, has done everything for us, knows us better than we know ourselves and seems to be there just when we need them. Show her just how much you appreciate her this Mother’s Day, spoiling her rotten as much as you can. Usually gifted on this day are flowers, chocolates and cards to symbolise love and appreciation. If you don’t see your mum regularly, it may be a fantastic opportunity to treat her with more than these gifts and a day to spend quality time together. If you are feeling a little lost for ideas on how to do this, here are some quick suggestions: 

High Tea together at a classy establishment,

An adventure hike and picnic to her favourite waterfall, perhaps Crows Nest Falls or Wentworth Falls,

Gift her relaxation time at the lush oasis, Peninsula Hot Springs, or Katherine’s Mataranka Thermal Springs,

A leisurely lunchtime cruise the whole family can enjoy, perhaps along the Swan River,

A road trip to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop and pick her out some gourmet delights to enjoy,

An indulgent experience with Melbourne Foodie Trails where you can gorge yourselves silly. 

Peruse our What’s On guide for more Mother’s Day ideas and special offers and Mother’s Day inspired recipes

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