Poachers Pantry welcomes the next generation – and the future looks delicious | HerCanberra

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Poachers Pantry welcomes the next generation – and the future looks delicious

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Poachers Pantry has played a part in thousands of Canberran stories across its 33-year history.

Weddings, celebrations, anniversaries, gourmet road trips, proposals…many a memory has been made looking out across the rolling hills from its paddock-to-plate restaurant, sipping a glass of Poachers Vineyard wine.

Now, the beloved venue is stepping into the next stage of its own story.

The brainchild of passionate farmers and foodies Susan and Robert Bruce, Poachers Pantry was originally established in 1991 as a providore of smoked meats, exclusively supplying restaurants and hotels.

Now one of the Canberra region’s most iconic countryside event venues and long lunch destinations, Susan and Robert’s son William Bruce is now at the helm alongside partner and General Manager Lauren Allen.

For Will, taking over the family farm, restaurant and vineyard is a privilege and the future he always hoped for.

“To be honest, it feels like a natural progression for me, having grown up around the family business,” he says. “Poachers began the year I was born. I’ve always wanted to carry on the work my parents started.”

To enhance the farm-to-table approach Poachers has always celebrated, Will and Lauren welcomed Chef Adam Wilson to the team in late 2023. Previously at OTIS in Kingston, Lauren says Adam’s innovative approach will surprise and delight restaurant guests.

“His passion, care and ability to create exceptional food using seasonal produce from around the farm and the region is extremely exciting for us and our guests.”

The HerCanberra team were lucky enough to dine at Poachers Restaurant and can attest that Adam’s food is both innovative and comforting, although he’s far too modest to agree.

“It sounds cliche but I’m just letting the ingredients shine and packing as much flavour as I can into each dish,” he says. “The menu is ingredient and technique-driven, while remaining seasonal. Often, I’ll work backwards when creating a dish from a single ingredient in the garden.”

Sharing Lunch Menu.

Standout flavours included the whipped brown butter served with Three Mills sourdough to start, the aged grass-fed rib eye with Poachers Vineyard Syrah jus, and the Strawberry Castella Cake, made with strawberries from Poachers’ garden.

Strawberry Castella Cake.

“Most of the ingredients we use are sourced from within NSW and ACT and the farm,” explains Adam. All of our herbs are used in dishes and flowers and foliage in our house-made cordials and syrups.”

“From the kitchen garden we’re currently using rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, horseradish and coming into season now we have sunflower and sunchoke. We utilise charcuterie from the smokehouse and even use Poachers wine in our sauces.”

Adam Wilson.

Wine is also a huge focus for Will, who has been getting to know the farm’s vines since he was a kid. To him, the Poachers legacy is about sharing the unique tastes of the farm far and wide.

“We hope to continue to provide our wine and smoked meat to people far and wide, allowing them to create ‘Poachers at home’ experiences through the distribution of our products across the east coast of Australia,” he explains.

“The Poachers Vineyard wines are an expression of Will’s love for grape growing, with only the best quality grapes being produced for every bottle,” adds Lauren.

Naturally, events and functions will continue to be a focus for Will and Lauren – music to the ears of those seeking a romantic rural setting for their special occasion. After all, there aren’t many 700-acre working farms (complete with 1500 Merino sheep and 50 acres of grape vines) where you can tie the knot just 30 minutes from Canberra.


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“The grounds around the Homestead, Restaurant and Marquee continue to evolve and provide the perfect backdrop in a relaxed setting for couples to exchange weddings vows and celebrate with their loved ones,” says Lauren.

“The combination of exceptional regional food, estate grown wine and the countryside so close to Canberra make Poachers an accessible and truly special destination whether it be a casual lunch date, a significant birthday or a wedding.”

Now raising their own family on the property, Will and Lauren are excited for more Canberrans to make Poachers a part of their story.

“We love getting together with family and friends over a delicious meal with good wine and great stories…these little moments become part of making a lifetime of memories,” says Will.

“Poachers is and always has been an extension of our family. When people come to Poachers, we hope they will feel the warmth of good country hospitality provided by us and our team and experience the genuine passion and care that goes into the space, the wonderful food and the wine in beautiful surroundings.”

“Lauren and I are excited to continue the Poachers story.”


What: Poachers Pantry
When: Restaurant: Monday and Tuesday: Curate your own smokehouse picnic, Wednesday to Sunday: Chef’s Smokehouse Snack plates from 11 am, Thursday to Sunday: Sharing Lunch Menus from 12 pm. Cellar Door: Complimentary splash tastings, 10.30 – 5 pm, daily. Farm Shop & Coffee: Open seven days a week from 10.30 – 5 pm.
Where: 431 Nanima Road, Springrange, NSW (a 30-minute drive from Canberra)
Website: poacherspantry.com.au

Photography: Thorson Photography

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