Food Features

Exploring Killarney: Southern Queensland Country

by Christine Salins on March 3, 2015

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Killarney is less than 130km from Brisbane as the crow flies, but it may as well be a million miles away. In a moment of quiet contemplation after we returned from a walk to Queen Mary Falls late one afternoon, the stillness of the bush was punctuated only by the sound of kookaburras laughing, a couple of kangaroos hopping through the bush, a blue wren fluttering its wings, and lorikeets darting in and out of the trees. It had been a fairly torrid few weeks before we set off for Killarney, but at that point we didn’t have a care in the world.

The steep and winding road, the most direct route, from Boonah to Killarney runs close to the Queensland/New South Wales border. It traverses an idyllic landscape of rolling green hills and deep secluded valleys, with contented cows grazing by the side of the road. We almost ran over a snake basking in the sun and we had a fleeting glimpse of a lyrebird before it retreated into the bush. There is also the occasional river crossing to keep things interesting.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday and checked into Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, run by the very welcoming and extremely capable Bev Ruskey. Bev is a keen and talented cook who bought a gorgeous patch of land on the ridge top overlooking Cambanoora Gorge, a short stroll from Carr’s Lookout.

When she decided to go into the hospitality business, she obtained formal qualifications as a chef – there was no doing anything by halves for Bev. Along with Brisbane chef (and Killarney girl) Jocelyn Hancock, who we also had the privilege of meeting, Bev is the driving force behind the Southern Downs Harvest lunch. This annual event, held on the lawns at Melrose Station, sounds awesome and you’ll have to hurry if you want to secure tickets. The next lunch takes place on May 2.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Some of the local wildlife was on hand to greet us as we checked into our King Parrot cottage, one of three guest cottages that sit side by side but still afford plenty of privacy. At 1030 metres above sea level, the café and cottages have impressive views of the gorge and the Border Ranges. Each cottage has a wood fire because it gets chilly here in winter. The temperature was perfect for our summer sojourn.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

The drive from Spring Creek to Queen Mary Falls, one of a number of dramatic waterfalls in the area, took all of about 10 minutes. We stopped first to have tea and Louise Reed’s yummy house-made scones with jam and cream at Queen Mary Falls Café. The bird life on the front lawn was nearly as colourful as the yarn-bombed trees – we saw lorikeets, robins and galahs.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Suitably fortified with Louise’s scones, we set off to walk to the falls, which are located at the south-west end of Main Range National Park. It’s a short walk on a well-defined path through the bush to the viewing platform from where you can see the 40 metre falls; hardier souls can continue on the track to view them from creek level.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Over our two nights at Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Bev turned out some lovely meals using seasonal local ingredients, including succulent Killarney beef, and rhubarb and juicy ripe tomatoes from Mal Smith’s farm, which we visited the following day. Bev’s Honeycomb semi freddo with salted caramel sauce and macadamia praline was completely decadent, and there was little room for breakfast the next morning, although it was hard to pass up her freshly baked croissants.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

We were up bright and early the next day to meet with Louise Brosnan, a 5th generation Killarney girl who loves the place so much she started a tour company, Cambanoora Co, to show it off to others. Louise knows everything there is to know about the region, and can tailor her tours to suit her guests. She does 4WD tours through Cambanoora Gorge, as well as doing more food-orientated tours where you can meet some of the local producers.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Killarney is at the heart of a mixed-farming district where farmers such as Mal Smith and his father, Sam, have had to adapt to changing markets. The region was once felled for timber and the land cultivated with potatoes, both to control the regrowth and to feed the workers. Sam still has a couple of hundred acres planted to potatoes – mostly Sebago but also some Dutch cream, pink fir apples and pink eyes.

Mal has had to rework the depleted soil on his neighbouring property, Fern Hill, where he grows a wide range of produce, as near to organically as he can. Sweet corn, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, six different varieties of tomatoes, melons (honeydew, rockmelon, watermelon), gherkins and cucumbers thrive. The seeds for his Queensland blue pumpkin have been propagated for around 80 years; his grandfather brought the seeds with him when he moved to the region in 1936.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Our next stop with Louise was at Peter and Colleen Lindores’ property, Melrose Station, which they bought in 2002 and have invested an enormous amount of time and money into. The results are breathtaking with its beautifully restored homestead, manicured gardens, productive crops of corn, wheat, barley, lucerne and oats, and their heard of 300 Ultrablack cattle. Bred for Australian conditions, their marbling sits between Angus and Wagyu, according to Peter, and he can’t produce enough.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

It’s all about the beef in this part of the world – a big, juicy rib is the signature dish for the Southern Downs Harvest lunch, and Killarney beef has become a marketing success story thanks to butcher Greg Power who can pretty well tell you which paddock the meat in his Killarney Butchery shop comes from. A lot of the meat Greg sells in the shop comes off his own property, and we can vouch for its quality, having tucked into one of his thick juicy steaks at Spring Creek Café.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Heading into Cambanoora Gorge with Louise is a rich experience as she knows this country like the back of her hand – she lives on a property in the gorge and her family have owned land here for generations. We picnic beside one of the 14 river crossings, where the gently meandering Condamine belies the fact that it is part of Australia’s longest river system (it’s the longest tributary going into the Murray).

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Louise explains how Killarney was named by nostalgic Irish settlers who thought the hills around it looked like the hills between Tralee and Killarney in Ireland. Although we’ve travelled around much of Ireland, we haven’t been to that part of the country, so we don’t know if it’s true or if it was merely wistful longing. But Louise has seen those hills in Ireland and she understands exactly how those early settlers would have felt.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Christine Salins, Killarney, Southern Queensland Country Tourism, Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages, Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Queen Mary Falls, Cambanoora Co, Southern Downs Harvest lunch, Melrose Station, Killarney Butcher, Carr’s Lookout, Cambanoora Gorge.

Fact File:

Spring Creek Mountain Café & Cottages
Spring Creek Road, Killarney Qld
Tel: (07) 4664 7101
www.springcreekcottages.com.au

Queen Mary Falls Caravan Park, Cabins & Café
676 Spring Creek Rd, The Falls via Killarney Qld
Tel: (07) 4664 7151
www.queenmaryfallscaravanpark.com.au

Cambanoora Co
Tel: (07) 4664 1655
www.cambanoora.com.au

Southern Downs Harvest lunch
www.southerndownsharvest.com.au

For information about the region, visit: www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au

You might also like: Postcard of the Week.

Christine and Maurie were guests of Southern Queensland Country Tourism.

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www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

I first met John Marshall about seven years ago when he was making his superb Frugii icecream in his spare time at his Canberra home. Fast forward seven years and he has given up his day job in IT to concentrate on his passion for making icecream, chocolate and extravagant cakes and pastries.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

John and his wife Ed opened Frugii Dessert Laboratory in the Ori building in Lonsdale Street, Braddon, in mid-January. Already the business has exceeded all expectations. The queue on the opening night snaked outside the building and onto the footpath, and 180 cakes were sold in 30 minutes. They’ve been run off their feet almost every night since.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

John is, admittedly, a man of big ideas who is nuts about doing things to perfection – he makes his own vanilla extract from vanilla beans and often even roasts the cacao beans to make the chocolate for his chocolate icecream. He was a regular stallholder at the Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC, where hardy souls would queue before 9am on a winter’s morning to buy his icecream.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

Who would have thought a couple of years ago that here he would be with his own shop, catering to cool, young Canberra hipsters as much as to serious foodies who appreciate the artisan nature of his product?

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

Lonsdale Street, Braddon, is rapidly emerging as one of the city’s hippest quarters. The design of the new Ori building in which Frugii is located is reminiscent of origami (get it?) and the building will soon house suitably hip businesses – an upscale retro-look barber shop has already opened, a luxury gym is going in upstairs, a paleo restaurant is about to open out the front.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

To create the sleek, minimalist-look fit out for Frugii, John worked with Nick Bulum, the creative director of B & T Construction, the company that developed Ori.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

There is a changing menu of icecream on offer but John says it will always feature vanilla, chocolate, caramel and two sorbets. On the day we visited, the chocolate icecream was made from Callebaut single origin chocolate, but once things have settled down, he plans to again be making the chocolate himself.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

We loved all the flavours we sampled – mint would normally be my least favourite but with its lovely, natural flavour even this one tasted great. The salted caramel icecream and the rosewater icecream were outstanding. “Mmm. How good would a dessert be with rosewater icecream, Turkish Delight and some Persian fairy floss?” I mused. Forever dreaming up new ideas, John quickly responded: “How good would a rosewater cake be with Persian fairy floss on top?”

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

Knowing John, it’s likely to be on the menu sooner rather than later. John has attended some of the best courses in order to perfect his cakes and pastries, and together with his colleague, Ali King, is creating innovative products, some of them with pipettes, dispensers of liquid to squeeze into the pastry before eating. We sampled (and gave thumbs up to) Lemon, Lime and Bitters, made from choux pastry with Angostura bitters in a pipette; Burnt orange cake with hazelnut syrup in a pipette; and a divine Lemon meringue cake (below).

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

Frugii offers tea and coffee, made on a very grand top-of-the-range Kees van der Westen espresso machine. John is using a Wooloomooloo blend of coffee from Toby’s Estate. “I met Toby about 10 years ago. Ed bought me a coffee appreciation course (with Toby) in Wooloomooloo. We got on well because we shared the same passion. I said to Toby, ‘If ever I have my own place I’ll do a Wooloomooloo blend and that’s what we’re doing. I don’t do decaf.”

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

Thickshakes, “proper” hot chocolate and affogato will soon be included in the line-up. Eventually, John plans to do plated desserts with a molecular bent, using liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide. He is not a fan of liquid nitrogen for icecream but sees a place for it in specialty creations.

www.foodwinetravel.com.au, Fruggi Dessert Laboratory, Frugii icecream, John Marshall, Ed Marshall, Capital Region Farmers Market, regional producers, Canberra food, food in Canberra, places to eat in Canberra, Food Wine Travel, Christine Salins.

You’d think John is being a tad ambitious in opening an icecream shop in a place known for its chilly winters. Not so, he said. “We used to sell icecream at EPIC when it was minus 6 and minus 8,” he said of the farmers market stall that he had to relinquish when he opened the shop. His theory is that when the weather is hot, people are too languid to go out, but when it is cold, they rug up and go out. “That shows on all our sales over the last few years,” he said.

Fact File:

Where? Frugii Dessert Laboratory
30 Lonsdale Street,
Braddon ACT Australia
When? Wednesday to Sunday, midday till 11pm.
More information: www.frugii.com

Frugii Dessert Laboratory on Urbanspoon

Words by Christine. Photos by Maurie & Alise.

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How to travel the world … and get paid for it

by Christine Salins on February 27, 2015

The Hotel School Sydney

For those of us who love travel, embarking on a career that allows us to see the world is the ultimate, isn’t it? The hospitality industry is one of the most portable professions – and that really becomes apparent when you look at where graduates from The Hotel School Sydney have been placed.

Its graduates have gone on to become restaurateurs, business owners, sommeliers and senior management around the world. They have been placed in jobs in New York, China, London, Canada, Las Vegas, India, Indonesia, Spain, Sweden, Germany, South Korea, Thailand, the United States and Guam.

The school offers a Bachelor of Business in Hotel Management in association with Southern Cross University, as well as certificate and diploma studies in international tourism and hotel management.

Working at major hotels is part of the training and most degree students are employed in the industry when they finish studying. An impressive 97% of The Hotel School’s 2013 graduates are now employed, 88% of them before they even graduated.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview a couple of The Hotel School graduates for an article I was writing for Hospitality magazine on female sommeliers. Breanna Lawler is venue manager at Flying Fish magazine and encourages women planning to become sommeliers to “go for it”. “Wine is an amazing product which has the ability to allow continual learning,” she says.

Pip Anderson The Hotel School SydneyAnother of Sydney’s leading sommeliers is also a graduate of The Hotel School. Pip Anderson (right) is head sommelier for Ivy. She says the increase in the number of female sommeliers echoes the steady growth of females in all sectors of the hospitality industry over the last 20 years.

“It provides a lovely balance to the dining industry,” she says, although she thinks the subject of whether women make better wine tasters than men has been slightly embellished.

“What tasting comes down to is training your memory palate to recall aromas and flavours quicker. The simple case of the more you taste – especially in group situations were you can get confirmation of what you are discovering in the glass – the more aromas and flavours you can identify.”

You can read more of Pip’s thoughts on the subject in another post, but in the meantime, if you would like more information about courses at The Hotel School Sydney, you can visit their website here. This is NOT a sponsored post, just sharing the love for those planning a career in hospitality. The world might be your oyster too. :-)

You might also like: Do women make better wine tasters?

Photo of Pip ©Patrick Riviere. Both photos supplied by Free Publicity.

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