As we roll into each little town, or bigger regional centres, and finally into the bigger cities, we are more and more aware of what’s been ‘pushed’ on us for ‘refreshments’. Travellers have not got a chance if they are relying on the first shops they hit as they enter town! You really have to do your homework if you want to keep on the straight and narrow and not eat a daily diet of ‘crap’. We ignore the standard bakery/cafe outlets with the big producers’ signage hanging outside and look beyond to find out if there is a small health store, organic artisan bread shop, independent juice bar or healthy cafe. We’ve been trying to eat our own food as much as possible, but sometimes it’s not worth getting all the gear out of the back of the van to make a sandwich for lunch!
Seeking out small locally owned businesses, have allowed us to meet somefantastic people, who have poured their passion into their little shop, cafe, vineyard etc, and are producing, and doing great things. And for some of them, they are doing it for the love of it, because you know they are not raking it in, especially in towns who favour fast food over healthy food.
After our stint in Adelaide, we hit Clare Valley and sought out the small wineries, avoiding the bigger established producers such as Taylors and Annies Lane. We found three amazing vineyards, but one in particular stood out. Rasa and Rich own ‘Shut the Gate’, a Watervale-based wine farm in the Clare Valley. It was like stepping into Rasa and Rich’s lounge and they treated us and everyone else like old friends. They are a pretty funky couple, who could be road managers for a rock band in another life (maybe they were!). The whole layout of the small homestead is arty, comfortable and creative. Their wines are unbelievable (sangiovese and Barbera reds) and each label is beautifully designed with a picture of an animal and a fable to go with it.
Other vineyards we loved: Mount Horrocks 100% organic wines (the Riesling and Semillon); Crabtree wines (grand Muscat and Shiraz)
We are passionate about fitness and healthy lifestyles and sharing our knowledge with others, so to meet and find those with a passion for food, wine and beer, creating their crops from scratch is wonderful. We know the ‘hard yards’ it takes to get something off the ground & make a go of it.
We are also seeking out local beers too and we have to mention a few crafted beers below: Robe brewed beer: Amber Ale and pale ale, both lovely drops and created by a local fella who has set up in an old shed out of town and is behind the new Robe craft beer festival.
Barossa Beer: We found this in a local bottle shop and it was outstanding, shame we never got to the Barossa to try it from the source!
If we hit a small town, we try to go the local pub for a quick beer (it gives you a sense of the place) and we always ask for a local beer if possible. These days, Coopers is the only Australian owned beer (of the big players, anyhow!), so it’s good to ask the pub owners for local beer in the hope they will keep stocking the local brew. Most of them do!
We also can’t go past a good cuppa of coffee and try to stick to one a day in our plunger traveller mugs. We are constantly on the search for the best cup of coffee and I think we’ve found it! It’s called Slitti Coffee, and was sold to us by two lovely girls from the UK who’ve set up a coffee and chocolate shop in Port Fairy, Vic. They are surrounded by over 40 establishments serving coffee in the immediate area, but they have no need to worry – it’s the best coffee we’ve tasted by far. We were so upset when our 250gram bag ran out after Adelaide. It’s organic coffee from Tuscany and outstanding. We hope we can source some in Perth. It’s hard going back when you’ve had the best! Good luck to the girls, I’m sure the handmade choccies were good too….. but we gave them a miss!
Interestingly, when we’ve been visiting local businesses, which are all independently owned, we’ve heard the same thing: as a small business owner, if you want to make it work, you have to be there and chatting to customers and working in the business, it’s what makes you stand out from the ‘super chains’
Whether it’s fitness, food, beer, wine, people want the personal touch and interaction with the people behind the place who care about the business and their customers, not a worker who maybe does not have the businesses best interests at heart. It’s great to see so many out there!
Shut the gate vineyard: https://www.facebook.com/ShutTheGateWines
Crabtree wines: http://www.crabtreewines.com.au/
Port Fairy Slitti coffee: http://www.slitti.com.au/
Mount Horrocks Wine: http://www.mounthorrocks.com
Robe Brewery: http://robetownbrewery.com
Barossa Valley Beer: http://www.bvbeer.com.au/