Thursday, 5 August 2021

Beer pressure: get set for the first Gold Coast Beer & Cider Festival

 The Gold Coast is gearing up for a Festival celebrating Australia’s best brews with the announcement of the first-ever Gold Coast Beer & Cider Festival on Saturday, October 23. 

The festival will be staged in the Broadwater Parklands between 11am and 5pm, with over 40 premium craft beer and cider producers expected to participate.  

The event is being organised by the Schwartz Family Company, which has operated the Canberra Craft Beer & Cider Festival for over a decade, as well as the Hunter Valley Wine & Beer Festival. 


Tickets will cost $20 per person for online pre-festival bookings or $30 per person on the day and will include entry into the festival, tastings from local and interstate craft breweries, gourmet food vendors, live music, and other festival activities. 

As with all Schwartz Festivals, the family-friendly atmosphere will include free activities for children. Children under 18 years old will be admitted free of charge. 


Announcing the new Festival, organiser Dr Jerry Schwartz from the Schwartz Family Group said that with the Gold Coast’s climate and the growth in local craft brewers, it was the perfect time to launch the inaugural event. 


“This is a golden opportunity to celebrate the Gold Coast’s reputation for hospitality,” said Dr Schwartz. 


“We have seen the positive reaction to both our Canberra and Hunter Valley events, with the relaxed, friendly and sophisticated environment.  


“The craft beer sector has matured rapidly in recent years with an emphasis on distinctive, fresh and innovative brews with real character. And the characters behind the brews will be available throughout the festival to share their stories and provide tastings across their product ranges. 


“We are looking forward to welcoming both locals and people from further away who want to make a great weekend of their visit with special packages at two of the Gold Coast’s most popular hotels.” 


The Schwartz Family Company is offering special accommodation and festival packages including accommodation, breakfast, festival tickets and a four pack of Sydney Brewery craft beer at its Gold Coast hotels – the Hilton Surfers Paradise and Paradise Resort Gold Coast, both within easy access of Broadwater Parklands. 

Rates start from $287 (per room, per night) at Hilton Surfers Paradise and from $425 at Paradise Resort Gold Coast. Conditions apply. 



Lorne sculpture festival aims to kick grass

For the first time in three years, the Lorne Sculpture Biennale (LSB) will return to delight locals and visitors to one of Victoria's favourite holiday destinations. 

Under new artistic direction, the new-look Biennale remains a free event. 

Titled Spirit of Placethis year’s LSB will explore the deep connections of nature, history and community. Held on traditional Gadubanud land, the works will explore the deeper histories of Lorne by taking a deep dive into the town's diverse and fascinating past.

Featuring 16 themed precincts from Point Gray in the south to the mouth of the iconic Swing Bridge over the Erskine River in the north, the invited artists have been selected by curator Graeme Wilkie OAM.  

The owner of Lorne art gallery QDOS, established in 1989, he has been involved with the Biennale since its inception in 2011. 

This year’s Lorne Sculpture Biennale will feature a range of styles including performance art, soundscapes, interactive and kinetic displays, all with sculpture at its heart. 

Spirit of Place will be at the heart of a program that will see other supporting cultural events including workshops, performances, film events and sculpture trail tours.


Wilkie said: “We’re delighted to welcome back the Lorne Sculpture Biennale this year after last year’s cancellation. 

"This year’s theme – Spirit of Place – promises to bring us back to the heart of Lorne, its rich history and strong sense of community. "

The exhibitions will be in situ from Saturday, October 30, to Sunday, November 21.  For more information head to 

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Leading winery takes a climate-change stand


Clare Valley-based Taylors Wines has become the first independent Australian winery to set ambitious emissions reductions targets in line with the Paris Agreement.

Taylors - known as Wakefield Estate in Europe - today announced its further commitment to environmental sustainability by becoming a signatory to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). 

The family-owned winery has set a target to achieve a 50% reduction in its scope 1 and scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, in line with the more ambitious target of limiting climate change to 1.5°C under the Paris Agreement. 

The 2030 target provides a clear pathway for the winery to show it is on track to becoming net-zero by 2050.

Taylors, whose winemaking is led by Adam Eggins (above), joins 31 other leading Australian businesses including Woolworths, Telstra, and Bank Australia who have committed or set specific targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The signing of this commitment is the latest sustainability milestone by the Taylor family who have championed innovative practices to reduce its impact on the environment.

“As viticulturalists we’ve always been intimately connected to the climate and changes in the seasons" said managing director Mitchell Taylor. 

"Our industry has seen first-hand the significant impacts of climate change on wine regions around the world. As a multi-generational family winery, creating a sustainable business is essential to the future of our industry and to the planet.” 

SBTi is a collaboration between CDP Global, the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). 

Taylors Wines has implemented a number of sustainability initiatives including energy-efficient tank refrigeration and barrel hall temperature control; regeneration of the local Wakefield River catchment area and organic cultivation practices in the vineyards including the use of sheep to manage winter grass and weed growth. 

Taylors has also become a member of Sustainable Winegrowing Australia - a collaborative initiative for Australia’s grape growers and winemakers to demonstrate a continued improvement in sustainability in viticulture and winemaking

For details see

Ballarat to get an international brand hotel

Ballarat is set to hit the big time with a new internationally branded hotel unveiled for the Victorian regional city. 

The planned Holiday Inn & Suites is part of IHG Hotels & Resorts expansion plans in conjunction with the Forte Group. 

Holiday Inn & Suites Ballarat Goldfields is described as "one of the most striking hotels in regional Australia". 

Designed by Hachem Architecture, the 110-room hotel is expected to open in 2024 and will be one of the region's premier business, leisure and MICE destinations, with 400sqm of flexible meeting space including a large ballroom, a 90-seat restaurant and bar, a day spa, gymnasium and outdoor pool. 

IHG's Holiday Inn brand has undergone a transformation over the last 18 months with new designs to the forefront. 

Holiday Inn Werribee, which opened last week, is a case in point. 

Abhijay Sandilya, IHG's VP of Development for Japan, Australasia and Japan, said: “Holiday Inn has made its mark as one of Australasia's fasted growing hotel brands, and we are thrilled to be adding this state-of-the-art designed property to the Holiday Inn family. 

“We have been steadily growing IHG's presence in regional Victoria and Holiday Inn & Suites Ballarat Goldfields will complement Holiday Inn & Suites Werribee  along with Holiday Inns in other great locations like Geelong, Richmond, Ringwood, Wagga Wagga and Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall.” 


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Digging the new Graveyard

Leading Hunter Valley winery Brokenwood had a succession plan in place for when legendary winemaker Iain Riggs retired.

Riggs had for several years worked with Stuart Hordern (above with viticulturist Katrina Barry) 
and Kate Sturgess, who have now taken the reins. 

So credit for the extraordinarily good Brokenwood 2019 Graveyard Shiraz ($350) is shared by all three.

From the third dry vintage in a row - a recent rarity in the Hunter - the old vines of the Graveyard Vineyard were harvested in the second week of February in pristine condition from what the winemaking team described as "an effortless high quality vintage"

The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz has long been recognised for its quality and history; it was included in the first Langton’s Classification of Australian Wine, and in 2010 elevated to the top Exceptional category, which it still holds today.

Viticulturist Keith Barry helped plant the site in 1968 and managed the vines for more than 30 years until his passing in 2016. Today, his daughter Katrina manages the vineyard.

Brokenwood purchased the Graveyard Vineyard in 1978. It was originally destined to be the Pokolbin cemetery, although was never used as such.

The 44-year-old vines produce intensely flavoured grapes, which are hand tended, hand-picked and fermented in French oak barrels for two years before release.

The 2019 is one of the best Graveyards I have seen over the past three decades - and the second great one in a row: powerful but elegant, super smooth with classic Hunter dark berry and soft leather characters that I gave 98 points. It is supple, beguiling and downright dangerous. A vinous Lolita.

Brokenwood suggest pairing with slow-roasted lamb shoulder. I paired it with steak and kidney pie. It will easily last a decade or more in the cellar if you have enough willpower, or would make a superb Father's Day gift.


Monday, 2 August 2021

Three new reasons to visit Cygnet

The Tasmanian hamlet of Cygnet - in the Huon Valley south of Hobart - is a popular weekend day trip destination for both locals and visitors.

Now there are three more reasons to visit a laidback place known for its many cafés. arts and crafts shops, galleries and waterfront bird reserve. It also happens to be where I live.

Cygnet is well-known Matthew Evans' Fat Pig Farm, for eateries like the Red Velvet Lounge and the Conservatory at the Old Bank, as well as the Port Hole Café, Japanese Diner, Ashcraig Farm Thai, two pubs, and several good takeaways - but now there is a new venue for sweet-toothed Tasmanians and visitors: Little Lush Cakerie (above).

In its first week of opening, Little Lush has a wide range of Carmen Tibuliac's sweet treats, cakes, scones and biscuits and offers a tea-room style experience with barista coffee as well as takeaways. Think pear fans, apple pies and sticky date puddings.

There are also treats from the oven like savoury goat cheese tart and old-school rock cakes. Little Lush will be open 10am-3pm Sunday-Wednesday as it produces commercial wedding and birthday cakes towards the weekend.

Also new are the new-age and eclectic clothing store Sacred Space Cygnet (above) - which shares the former Ilha Restaurant space with Lush at 23c Mary St - and CuckoO Etc.

Sacred Space has a very Cygnet vibe and in addition to stocking crystals, candles and joss sticks, it has a collection of home wears and clothing in addition to a selection of colourful garments imported from Peru.

Just down the road is CuckoO Etc (below), a creative workshop space and artisan store. It will soon also have an artisan market space. 

Open Wednesday to Sunday in the former Commonwealth Bank space, it offers a collection of artisan goods, a small selection of art and craft supplies, plus an ever-evolving calendar of creative workshops.

CuckoO began when Caroline Davies Choi, a textile designer, artist and curator, created unique, curated artisan markets in Hobart.

Joining Caroline, and putting the ‘et’ in ‘etc’, are Emily Hill and Tiffany Hutton, who also share a love of art, making and design.

Details unveiled for a 170th wine birthday party to remember

One of the most historic wineries in Australia will be celebrating its 170th birthday later this year. 

Sevenhill Cellars can date its history back to 1848, when a Jesuit priest fleeing persecution in Europe - Father Aloysius Kranewitter - landed in Adelaide and then headed north with a group of over 100 German and Silesian migrants.

Amid the rolling hills of the Clare Valley they decided to settle and, after purchasing 100 acres of land in 1849, the young priest named the property Sevenhill in honour of the seven hills of Rome.

The creation of gardens and orchards were prioritised along with the building of basic accommodation and the first grapevines were planted in 1851.

Just five years later and the first wines of Sevenhill were produced and, in 1858, went on to win first prize at the Auburn Agricultural Exhibition.

The first of many firsts for the Clare Valley’s first winery.

Until very recently, seven generations of Jesuits made the wine at Sevenhill. The most recent was Brother John May, who wine career began when he arrived in the Clare Valley in 1963. 

Brother May’s contribution to the wine industry was recognised as one of the initial inductees to the Clare Valley Wine Hall of Fame in 2014 and with life membership of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia in 2004. 

Sevenhill Cellars began a new winemaking chapter in January 2019 with the appointment of Will Shields, with experience in the Hunter Valley, Margaret River, and New Zealand as well as at Kirrihill in the Clare. 

He says his aim is to make "balanced, elegant wines." 

Sevenhill  is throwing its doors open to friends, families of Sevenhill Cellars and the Clare Valley community on Sunday, September 19. 

Tuck into some locally produced food by Auburn Smoke House Catering Co including gourmet burgers and chicken bao buns, and kid-friendly options. 

Food and wine will be available for purchase with live music by Caitlin Drew along with lots of free activities such as mini golf and games on our lawns and face painting. 

Entry is free. 

Other birthday events include the 170th Launch Party with a launch of a new range of premium wines, Coffin Bay oysters and locally produced Middle Eastern morsels along with live music from Courteney Hooper and a special long lunch on the Saturday. 

These are all ticketed events. Visit to secure your spots.