New England, Australia

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tastes of New England - A day at the Uralla Food and Wine Fair

Saturday was meant to be a lunch at NERAM Harvest. We arrived at the New England Regional Art Museum a little early. Gruner On the Beach 1912

When we arrived, we found that the NERAM Harvest team was off at the inaugural Uralla food and wine fair, Tastes of New England. What to do? Why, go to Uralla!

That meant a little time and organising, but I still had time to wander around the current NERAM exhibitions. They are simply fantastic. Here is an example from Mrs Newling's Drive, Elioth Gruner's "On the Beach", 1912.

For those who don’t know Uralla, it is a pretty little town about twenty minutes drive south of Armidale that has become a real arts centre. As we came to the showground, there were cars everywhere. The Uralla Rotary Club members were collecting post codes at the gate. Looking at me, one recognised me, they assumed that we were all from Armidale. In fact, there were multiple post codes. 

“How’s it going?” I asked. “Great” was the reply. It seems that there had already been 2,000 people through the gate. We wandered up the tree lined dirt track towards the sound of distant music, not knowing just what to expect.   P1010207

Coming through the entrance, we found that there were more than forty stalls plus a music tent and a number of kids’ entertainment areas. None had expected it to be as successful as it had been. This was the sign from the first stall we came to, Charley Ray’s Food Fusions. P1010225 

I had thought of pate as a different thing, for this was a terrine. It was only later looking it up that I found this description:

A pâté de campagne, or country terrine, is a rustic preparation, slightly more refined than a pâté grandmère mainly in that it uses only a small amount of liver—liver is a seasoning device here rather than the dominant flavor. Also unlike the pâté grandmère, some internal garnish, such as fresh herbs and chunks of smoked ham or duck confit, go a long way. The panade (notice that it's made with flour, not bread) helps to retain moisture and to enrich and bind the pâté.

Yesterday I ate the pate de compagne along with a trout dip from Deano’s Spring Water Smoked Trout with really fresh bread. Both were very nice indeed. I would give you links to both Food Fusions and Dinos if I could, but as local businesses selling locally they don’t appear to have web sites. Chaps, that’s a weakness.

Faced with multiple food stalls, the first thing that you have to do is orient yourself. So I set off to walk the stalls.P1010210

By Sydney standards the crowds weren't huge, of course, but it still took a little while to reach the music stage where The Jug Addicts were playing. This is the best Youtube video that I could find of them, but it actually doesn’t do them justice. You will get a feel for the raw energy and the crowd response, but not the range nor subtlety. 

Exhausted even after our short run through, we adjoined to the bar. I drank the first New England Pale Ale while my colleagues tried a Blickling Estate Riesling. I’m not sure that we can actually call it that any more, but that it is what it was.

Reinforced, we went shopping. That too time! Hungry, we gathered a bottle from the New England Brewing Company to go with lunch. P1010230

We had begun the journey because NERAM Harvest was cooking at the Fair. They proved to be cooking the gourmet fish and chips. We had come because of NERAM Harvest, so the fish and chips was where we went. This proved to be a longer wait than expected because of the size of the demand. Meantime, the girls drank New England beer. P1010231 

Having eaten, I went back to The Jug Addicts for a final thank you. They had been there throughout, P1010233  On the way out, I found an exhausted NERAM Harvest team having a very late lunch. They had no idea who I was. Still, I went over to tell repeat the story that I ran in A morning at NERAM - Flora, Cobcroft and Badham's Observing the Everyday.

The paintings are organised thematically to show different aspects of Sydney life - the beach, the buildings, scenes of day to day life. We really enjoyed it, but decided to take a break in the middle to have lunch at NERAM Harvest.

This was actually as funny as a circus. Outside in the rain, the men were trying to erect a marque to provide cover for Sunday's BBQ breakfast. "its like watching monkeys using tools for the first time", commented our waitress. "How many men does it take to erect a marque? Four, with one woman supervising."

It seemed only right, for all the participants were there at the table. Wandering back to the car, I thought what a nice day it had been.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Introducing the AA Company

While headquartered in London, the Australian Agricultural Company was New England's first big public company. It was also one that had a huge influence on our history. This post, Introducing the Australian Agricultural Company, does as the name says.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

History revisited - the changing UNE story through the prism of its wardens/VCs

This History Revisited column, History revisited - changes at the helm of UNE, is the start of a new series on the history of the New England University College/UNE seen through a prism set by Wardens/Vice Chancellors of those institutions. I will add the links at the bottom as I go along. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New England Lives - introducing Robert Dawson

Yesterday's post on New England's History was New England Lives – Robert Dawson (1782-1866), company manager, pastoralist and writer. I split the New England Lives series between this and the history blog, depending upon the person. Dawson was an interesting bloke, and a significant figure in early New England history. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Glimpses of New England Chinese life in the first half of the twentieth century

Yesterday's post on New England's history is as the title said, Family counts: glimpses of Chinese life in New England in the first half of the twentieth century.

I was talking to a colleague who grew up in Bundarra who remembers the Chinese store there. Its a long time since I have been to Bundarra. I wonder if the store is still Chinese owned?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Looking back at New England's Environmental Wars

Last year in the lead up to the Federal election, ABC's Background Briefing was going to do a full piece on the contest for the Federal seat of New England, including part on the environmental wars raging across the North.

I was going to be interviewed to provide historical context. In the end, the program did not proceed because of Richard Torbay's sudden withdrawal from the context. That reminds me, I need to update my personal piece on Richard; there have been newspapePilliga Protestr stories since I added the last entry.

I can't remember when I first wrote on New England's environmental wars. It was some time ago.

From memory, it started in Newcastle with the protests against the coal loader. Then, a little later, I drove through Gloucester on my way to Armidale and saw the protest signs. Later came Lock the Gate and a more structured campaign.

My impression is that the protests have lost some of their steam, but they are persistent. This photo from NBN shows the protest against Santos and coal seam gas in the Pilliga Forest. This post from Sharyn Munro, Sitting for Leard Forest, describes the protest against Whitehaven Coal. I see, too, that Sharyn has now published a book, Rich Land Waste land: how coal is killing Australia. On the North Coast, North Coast Voices maintains the rage.

Stage one of the environmental wars was driven by general fears about global warming. It was very much a Green activist thing. Then came the local phase as people at Gloucester, in the Hunter and on the Liverpool Plains became energised, creating a sometimes unusual amalgam of local protest and Green activists. It was this combination that was of special interest to the ABC.

Part of the local reaction was a NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) thing, but more was genuine concern about life style loss and significant environmental risk. I, for one, wondered about the potential impact on Liverpool Plains' ground water, a significant New England resource. Neither the companies nor the Sydney Government helped. At a time of contracting state revenues, the great big golden pot of royalties was just too attractive. Damn all of that royalties money benefited the areas in question. They paid a price without compensation or even recognition.

This brought a groundswell of protest that finally forced change. From Newcastle to the Queensland border, local newspapers in affected areas ran what were effectively protest stories. One side effect was the re-emergence of support in Newcastle for self government for the North.

In Canberra, the pivotal role of the New England independents and especially Tony Windsor finally forced a Federal response. In Sydney, the new O'Farrell Government enforced an effective if clumsy freeze on CSG development.  

We have now come to a new phase in New England's environmental wars. I think of it as the end game. I will explain why in my next post.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tragedy on Thunderbolt's Way

Those of us who know Thunderbolt's Way know just how steep parts of the road are. Travelling east down the escarpment is a break hugging journey. Wednesday, tragedy happened. The story that follows is drawn from the Manning River Times.  

Wednesday 5 February, two trucks were travelling down the mountain. A bit before 4pm, the truck behind carrying a load of sheet metal found that its brakes were malfunctioning. It radioed the truck in front to say that I have lost my brakes. The truck in front tried to slow him down by blocking him, essentially allowing the truck behind to run up its rear, thus forcing a slow down,

The manoeuvre failed. According to a spokesman for the Hunter’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, a trail of debris more than 100m long was left along the road. it was clear the trucks had attempted to reduce their speed by going up the high side of the embankment several times. Finally, both trucks went off the low side of the road and down a steep 45 degree incline.

Emergency service crews then struggled to reach both trucks and their drivers who were trapped more than 50m down a steep cliff. Specialist climbing gear had to be brought in by the SES to reach the trucks.

The driver and sole occupant of one of the trucks, a 32-year-old Karuah man, died at the scene.

A 47-year-old man and 51-year-old woman travelling in the second truck were airlifted to John Hunter Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Knowing that road well, I have always been concerned on the steep parts about the risk of crash. You just have to be very careful.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

New England must cooperate to survive

last Friday (31 January) I made a quick trip to Armidale for a meeting of the New England Writers' Centre Board (A fleeting visit to Armidale).P1010090 It was the first time I had flown for some time. Normally I go by car; flying is just so damn expensive!

I was struck by just how quiet Armidale's main street was. "Business is pretty bad", a local shop keeper told me. I could see what he meant. It was like a ghost town!

The pub on the right of the photo, the New England, has gone into receivership. It's shut. Who would have believed it?  This is the pub where Peter Allen sang professionally for the first time.

In my writing, I am trying to make New Englanders see themselves as a whole. From Newcastle to Lismore, from Moree to the coast, so long as they seem themselves in strictly local terms they don't count.

Say people in Armidale were to say we would really support Glen Innes's Celtic festival. Say the Armidale Express ran a campaign demanding that Armidale people go to Glen. Then Glen would support Armidale. Ditto for Newcastle.  

We don't have our own government to link us. We should. Hopefully, we will. For the moment, it is up to us as individuals to campaign for cooperation. To link our interests together so that we get the best result.

Can we do that? I would like to think that we could.     

Thursday, February 06, 2014