Western Downs food trail secrets revealed

TSBE and Western Downs shine spotlight on exceptional produce

Life & Style
Some of the producers featured in the glossy Taste Western Downs magazine at the lunch launch at the Dulacca Hotel.

Some of the producers featured in the glossy Taste Western Downs magazine at the lunch launch at the Dulacca Hotel.

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Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, in partnership with the Western Downs Regional Council, this week launched Taste Western Downs, a publication highlighting the best of the region's produce and where to find it.

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Food tourism, usually associated with French provinces, has come to Queensland's Western Downs.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, in partnership with the Western Downs Regional Council, this week launched Taste Western Downs, a publication highlighting the best of the region's produce and where to find it.

Listing almost 80 outlets and producers of everything from high-grade beef, pork, fish, lamb and eggs to watermelon, chickpeas, mung beans and garlic, it encourages visitors and locals alike to tour themselves around the region on food trails.

Highlighting the creators' belief that more of a spotlight needs to be shone upon the quality and variety of the produce to be found as well as the volume that Western Downs producers are responsible for, the launch took place at Dulacca's distinctive pink pub.

Dulacca Hotel publican Nat Scotney ready to serve 17yo Drillham local Payton Leahy's mini-desserts to launch guests.

Dulacca Hotel publican Nat Scotney ready to serve 17yo Drillham local Payton Leahy's mini-desserts to launch guests.

One of the hotel's owners, Nat Scotney said they lived in the best food producing part of Queensland and it was important to show how the produce shone.

"That's our job, to take what's been created and respect it," she said.

Cooking an average 30 meals on week nights and 50 a night on weekends, that might increase when the magazine makes its way around the state.

Western Downs mayor Paul McVeigh said launch lunch guests, who dined on either slow roasted Rangelands Quality Meats eye fillet or herb crusted Condabilla Murray cod, wouldn't have eaten better anywhere else in the state.

TSBE manager export food and agri, Justin Heaven and Western Downs mayor Paul McVeigh ready to spread the region's food story far and wide.

TSBE manager export food and agri, Justin Heaven and Western Downs mayor Paul McVeigh ready to spread the region's food story far and wide.

"We hope the local community will be one of the big consumers of this initiative, and extend the word out," he said.

"This is not just about grey nomads.

"It's even something for our FIFO community, so they see it as a place to live not just to work - this is about the liveability of the region."

SQ Country Tourism CEO Peter Homan had high praise for the initiative, saying that from a tourism perspective, people travelled on their stomachs.

"This is about provenance, about eating local," he said. "SQ Country is a diverse area - this part is different to Stanthorpe for example, but food binds us together."

According to TSBE Food Leaders Australia general manager Bruce McConnel, the region's agricultural sector is well deserving of the spotlight, continuing to produce an immense variety of products.

"Renowned for their rich agricultural land and exceptional intensive livestock producers, Taste Western Downs shines a spotlight on not only the incredible food, but the stories of the farmers and families who produce the products," he said.

The magazine contains highlights from Dalby, Bell, Jandowae, Chinchilla, Miles, Condamine, Dulacca, Tara, Glenmorgan, Kaimkillenbun, Kogan, Meandarra, Moonie, Warra and Wandoan.

Chinchilla's Cara and Kevin Jackson and Dalby's Leon and Lois Schroder grow pastured eggs, heritage pork and garlic between them.

Chinchilla's Cara and Kevin Jackson and Dalby's Leon and Lois Schroder grow pastured eggs, heritage pork and garlic between them.

Among the producers at the launch were Burando Garlic growers Lois and Leon Schroder, who said they were hoping the initiative would help circulate their name to more local outlets.

"We post our product all over Australia but very little locally," Ms Schroder said. "The belief is that you can't grow garlic in Dalby."

For KC Ridge pastured eggs and heritage pork producers Kevin and Cara Jackson, the magazine is a way they as small producers can connect with consumers.

Chinchilla Farmers Market representative Angela Wales said finding out about new suppliers was one of the benefits of the idea for her, as well as its promotional aspect.

"It's good to have a ready reference in the one place too," she said.

Bonnie Challis oversees a Foodworks outlet at Tara offering a diverse range of food that is already attracting customers from all over.

Bonnie Challis oversees a Foodworks outlet at Tara offering a diverse range of food that is already attracting customers from all over.

One of the hidden gems featured is the Foodworks shop at Tara, which has a level of sophistication comparable to many a metropolitan outlet and its store manager Bonnie Challis said it was good to be able to showcase it to a larger audience.

Its diverse range is already known to customers from Moonie, Glenmorgan, Meandarra and The Gums, as well as some living halfway to Chinchilla and Dalby, who prefer to travel west and south to shop.

"We trade seven days a week and I think that's brought a lot of people in too," Ms Challis said.

As well as highlighting individual businesses, the magazine incorporates the various Visitor Information Centres across the region that offer tasty treats such as homemade jams and relishes and local honey.

Local events such as the Timbertown Festival at Jandowae and the Back to the Bush Festival at Miles are given a page, as well as the Chef's Table afternoon of gourmet dining at Jimbour House.

The magazine will be distributed across the state to encourage tourists to check out the Western Downs.

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