We were seated next to a 15 year old New Zealand boy on a recent…
Winter kicks off in the Snowy Valleys with a tasty new festival aimed at luring visitors back to its bushfire-ravaged communities.
The lands are green and lush, the music stage is being set up. Marquees are rising on verdant lawns and a fleet of food trucks are on their way.
Courabyra Wines plays host to the first day of the Snowy Valleys’ new food festival, Winter Bites.
It’s been an especially tough year for the Snowy Valleys. Regional tourism ground to a halt when crippling bushfires swamped the region, followed by COVID-19 restrictions slamming all doors shut while the smoke from the fires still lingered.
“We lost last year’s vintage, but also our trees and grounds, all our fencing and the,” recalls Courabyra Wines owner Cathy Gairn. “The houses either side of us were also lost, too, and the fires burnt right up to our house. It was pretty horrendous.”
Now, she says, the valleys are green and beautiful. “It’s good to move on, and people have been so very supportive, coming back straight after the fires and after COVID. It’s pretty exciting to bring new people in the region and to showcase what Tumba has.”
To woo visitors back to the valleys, local farmers and foodies have teamed up to serve up the best of the region’s produce in the three one-day festivals spread out across the cold season, moving from Tumbarumba to Adelong and then the apple capital of Batlow.
Each day features a hero speciality of the three town, such as beef and lamb from Adelong, apples, hazelnuts and cider from Batlow, and the cool-climate wines, chestnuts and berries of Tumbarumba.
On the grounds of Courabyra Wines, blues duo Busby Marou and songstress Emily Wurramara will lead the line-up on stage, surrounded by marquees and food trucks serving fare from such local producers as the Tumut River Brewing Co, Crafty Cider and Local at Learmonts in nearby Tumut.
Back in Tumbarumba township, the local cafes, hotels and motel are celebrating with fringe events such as more live performances and a gin tasting by the new Rivierina Gin, by Tessa and Jake Eaglesham.
“My brother and dad were fighting fires with the local fire brigades on New Year’s Eve,” recalls Tessa, whose family lives in Tumbarumba.
“The Winter Bites Festival is about revitalising the area and bringing people back, because the community still lives on after the bushfires.”
The party moves to Adelong on July 17, where country singer-songwriter Kasey Chambers will take the main stage, and pit masters will battle it out at the inaugural Meat-Up BBQ competition.
The final day, at Batlow on August 28, sees Aussie rock royalty You Am I headlining an epic music line-up.
On the food front, an empty esky is the ultimate accoutrement, as wine tastings, workshops and cooking demonstrations will feed an enthusiastic crowd, featuring produce that’s organic, high-quality and hyper-local.
The festival is partly funded by Destination Riverina Murray through the Regional Tourism Bushfire Recovery Grants.
Dates: Adelong, July 17, Batlow, August 28
See winterbites.com.au for more information