Discovering the Scenic Rim

Defined by a rim of mountains circling the area west of the Gold Coast, the Scenic Rim covers 4,000 square kilometres of land, a diverse area of natural beauty which includes six national parks, three lakes and many areas of fertile, arable land. It’s the source of a much of our food supply and food tourism, feeding millions of people and generating $402 million to regional economy annually through agriculture and tourism.

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We took part in a discovery tour of the Scenic Rim as part of their Eat Local Week, an annual celebration of the farmers, food and fare of the Scenic Rim. Let us tell you about some of the highlights of our tour which you could visit yourself:

Towri Sheep Cheese, 206 Saville Rd., Allenview Ph: 07 5543 1260

Carolyn Davidson brought a lifetime of knowledge to her new venture: making artisan sheep cheese. A sheep farmer’s daughter, she owned a turf farm before starting Towri Sheep Cheese in 2004.

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Towri’s milking follows the natural cycle of ewes, milking daily from May/June to December, letting the ewes go back to their lambs each day. They follow small vat production, making different types of cheese from their milk, maturation taking between one month and a year.

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Towri’s sheep cheese is simply delicious, our favourites being the Creamy Blue Ewe (arguably the best creamy blue we’ve tasted) and Eweghurt, a creamy herb-infused drained yoghurt or labna spread. Sheep cheese is also good for you! Carolyn is quick to espouse the health benefits of sheep milk and cheese: it’s a dense milk with high nutritional value including three times the protein of other milks.

“It’s a lot higher in calcium and vitamins, and sheep’s milk is naturally homogenised so it’s much easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant,” says Carolyn.

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Besides loving the product and the fabulous landscape, we were also won over by the humane farming methods used and most of all by the sheep, each one having a distinct personality. Visiting Towri is a delight.

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Burjurgen Estate Vineyard, 121 Brent Road, Boonah Ph: 07 5463 0270

Since David McMaugh released his first bottle of shiraz in 2005, his wines have developed a keen following. We sampled not only his Shiraz-Rosé and White port, but also David’s latest product: Sparkling verjuice. Made from chambourcin grapes grown pesticide-free, there’s no sugar added to the grape juice. This refreshing drink contains less than 7 grams of fructose per bottle; a great alternative to soft drink.

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With panoramic views across the Fassifern Valley, we’re served refreshments made from local produce by Andy Kendrick of Wild Grain Restaurant: Scenic Rim olives wrapped in the Gold Coast’s White Gold Creamery cheese and streaky bacon; Baby beets with macadamia crumble; Sausages from Elite Meats Boonah; Sticky Pork belly with honey glaze; Watermelon rounds with cucumber, radish and soft cheese; and Pork meatballs with Poppy’s Pantry chutney. Yum!Scenic Rim 4B

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Fassifern Valley Produce, 813 Boonah-Fassifern Road, Fassifern Valley Ph: 0431 199 997

Matt and Sarah Muller grew up on farms, returning to the land after careers in metal fabrication and National Parks. You may have eaten their tomatoes without knowing, but chances are that you’ve seen their heirloom tomatoes in specialty shops. With a gorgeous palate of colours, their early Italian varietals with exotic names such as Green Zebra, Tigeralla, Ida Gold, Black Cherry and the Mortgage Lifter.

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Seasonal produce is sold from the roadside farm stall, along with Robyn Muller’s Farmer’s Kitchen chutneys, jams and relishes.

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Scenic Rim Olives, Kulgan Road Ph: 07 54635441  

Abandoning the idea of a lavender farm, Glynn and Barbara Kelly planted olive trees on their rural block in 2003 and later opened The Grove B & B. Using Italian varietals Arbequina and Manzanillo, Glynn tells us that they’re on the limit of the furthest south that olives will flourish in Australia, needing 30 days below 8 degrees to shut down the tree in winter.

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While the process of making olive oil is mechanised today, its basic principles have changed little in 2,000 years. Glynn passes on a lot of information useful to consumers: why first press is the freshest, that ‘extra light’ olive oil from Europe is attained through chemical extraction of oil from pomace or leftover solids, and how to taste olive oil for pungency, bitterness and fruitiness. Scenic Rim Olives produce a boutique range of products, available from retailers, cellar door and online.

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The Scenic Rim is a large part of the food bowl of Brisbane and the Gold Coast, producing a wide variety of food in its rich alluvial soil, including various fruit, potatoes, greens, tomatoes, pumpkins, and over 90% of Australia’s carrots. With 15 wineries (including Witches Falls Winery), three micro-breweries and a distillery (Tamborine Mountain Distillery), Greenlee Macadamias, Tamborine Mountain Coffee, Tamborine Cooking School, as well as many restaurants, there are plenty of food tourism destinations to discover in our own backyard!

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Here are some other Scenic Rim destinations you might like to include in your travel itinerary:

Witches Chase Cheese & Mt Tamborine Distillery
Cedar Creek Estate Vineyard
Oliva Di Tabragalba

Find out more about the Scenic Rim’s Eat Local Week on their website.

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Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast was a guest of Scenic Rim Tourism for this tour.

This review has also been published on More Gold Coast.

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