Bush

Bush

By
Lyndey Milan
Contains
13 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742707846
Photographer
Stuart Scott

Only 1.8 million Australians of our 23.3 million population live in rural areas. Yet ‘the bush’ has an important place in the Australian psyche. It has been revered as a source of national ideas by poets such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson, celebrated by the Heidelberg school of artists, including Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin, and also by country singers like Slim Dusty and John Williamson. Other writers, poets, artists and songwriters have followed as have movies and it was in the bush that the concept of Australian ‘mateship’ developed. More importantly, it is in the bush that we feel more connected with Indigenous Australia and are finally embracing some native foods. Yet ‘the bush’ is a feeling that can mean everything from big country towns and lush pasturelands to the harsh outback or thriving vineyards.

Canberra, the seat of government in Australia, is also sometimes known as the Bush Capital. The name Canberra is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, derived from the Aboriginal word kamberra. Famously chosen because it was between Sydney and Melbourne, the city was designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin.

Floriade is a floral extravaganza held every spring with colourful displays of over a million bulbs and annuals. Lake Burley Griffin is a popular venue for dragon boat racing, a Chinese sport that is more than 2000 years old. I had fun with a female team ranging in ages from 13 to 70 – though with the very early morning start the temperature was below zero! Things warmed up at a working pastoral property at family-run Gold Creek Station. Here visitors can experience sheep mustering, shearing and, for me, tractor driving. To wash it all down, there are 33 cool-climate wineries within 35 minutes of Canberra, with Murrumbateman winemaker Ken Helm staging an annual international Riesling Challenge. Another highlight was visiting the smokehouse, farm shop and café of Poachers Pantry.

Further south on the New South Wales–Victoria border lies the historic town of Albury, nestled on the banks of the mighty Murray River. At the crossroads of regional exploration, it stands as a reminder of the determination and hard work of previous generations who survived flood, drought and the gold rush. The arrival of the first train from Melbourne into Albury in 1873 largely spelt the end of the paddlesteam era for the Murray River and changed the face of both Albury and travel in regional towns forever. The Albury railway station, opened in 1881, has the longest railway platform in the southern hemisphere and was an important transfer point between Sydney and Melbourne.

The Hume Murray Farmers Markets in Albury are a showcase for regional produce, including cheese, award-winning ice cream, smallgoods, locally grown meats, wines, plants and herbs – the perfect ingredients to cook in the communal wood-fired oven in Hovell Tree Park, regularly fired up by an expert for all to enjoy. I was there on Grandparents Day and the park was alive with people of all ages, queueing up to put their pizzas and other creations in the oven. I was also there for the Albury Races where I joined the locals who had dusted off their fascinators and suits for a flutter on the horses.

The region abounds with native produce. The Murray Bank Yabby Farm, west of Albury, is a little haven where visitors can stay and play. I loved catching my own yabbies. The farm also makes and sells marmalade, to honour their late grandson Stewart and raises money for a charity in his memory, Stewart’s Way, which helps educate Nepalese children.

Nearby, the Wonga Wetlands have a special place in the hearts of the Wiradjuri people, the traditional landowners of the area. The wetlands are rich with yabbies, Murray cod, yellow belly, kangaroos, emus and an abundance of plant life, including wattleseed and medicinal plants. This was one of the most moving experiences for me. I was blown away when local woman Leonie McIntosh, who has learned the ways of the bush from her elders, handed me a stone tool, like a mortar and pestle. As I felt it, I imagined all the hands which must have used it – especially when she told me it was at the very least 2000 years old. When I asked her the best advice her revered grandmother had given her she said, ‘Education. Education is the key to our survival. Our cultural survival as well as our people’s survival. Without education we can’t share our culture, we can’t get and give things a go.’

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again