Secrets Magazine - Issue 64 - Autumn 2021

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Autumn 2021




features The Pyrenees


Town support


An entrepreneur and a cute caravan


Autumn – the most beautiful season


How large is your footprint?


Surviving Covid and council elections


Published by Secrets Magazine (ABN 35 535 679 949) Mailing Address PO Box 356 Creswick VIC 3363 Phone 0427 103 217 Email Web Editor Norma Morton Cover Donna Crebbin Design & Layout Fon Charernsook (, Nick Morton Contributors Lyndall McQuinn, Rebecca Sprosen, Leah Armstrong Printed By Centre State Printing - Maryborough All content in this publication is copyright and may not be re-produced in whole or in part in any form without prior permission of the publisher. Secrets will be distributed quarterly throughout Victoria and various tourism outlets. Secrets is also available from cafes, restaurants, B&B’s, hotels and shops. All care is taken to ensure accuracy of articles and advertising, however the publishers accept no responsibility for errors or omissions and references are a guide only and not intended as a recommendation.

We’re on the road to recovery It is so exciting to be publishing this magazine again, especially with a terrific new look! Like so many, Covid hit us hard too and we agonised over whether we would/could revive the print magazine or go completely online. However, what we discovered through our forced inaction, was how much we missed producing Secrets and that people missed us. In this issue we have some interesting stories and pay tribute to a lot of clever and brave people who through resilience, sheer grit and determination stuck it out. A number have expanded their businesses, while others have actually opened new businesses and they are reaping the rewards. Many have told us that they are doing well – in fact, better than they were before Covid. The spirit


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of Victorians is phenomenal. Through the darkest days and we all know what they were like, most didn’t lose hope and retained a belief that “this too will pass”. It has also been gratifying to see how the public are “buying local” and moving around the regions supporting local businesses being very aware that once the doors close, towns close too. As restrictions loosen and we move around with more freedom, there is a greater optimism in the air. Smiles have returned even though we still need to wear masks in certain places, the smiles can still be seen in eyes peering above those masks. So we move forward toward recovery and that recovery can only be good for everyone. All our towns and beyond need to not only survive, but thrive – it isn’t going to happen overnight, but nothing worthwhile does. Cheers, Norma

25th April, 1915

The day Australia came of age When I was a child standing to attention at school assembly to commemorate Anzac Day, I experienced mixed emotions. Firstly, pride in my country, but sadness that so many young people had died on the battlefields in a war that held very little meaning to those of us standing facing the flag with hand over heart. The other emotion I felt was of disappointment – irrational as seen from my more mature eyes, but disappointment nonetheless because my father didn’t serve in the war. He was too young to serve in the First World War and too old for World War II. There were no medals in our family and I envied my school friends who wore their father’s and grandfather’s medals with pride in the ubiquitous marches held in every town. For a time, up to the mid seventies, it appeared that Anzac Day would vanish into obscurity, but the ensuing decades have seen a revision of the Anzac legend that has arguably become the one day of the year when Australians feel a deep sense of pride and connectedness. Each year thousands of people, primarily young people, travel to Anzac Cove in Turkey to commemorate the day that Australia came of age. This year Australian led commemorations in Turkey have been cancelled due to Covid, however vigils and marches have returned to our cities and towns as we move forward with greater freedom than we have for more than a year. However, the Aussie passion for a public holiday won’t be fulfilled as April 25th falls on a Sunday, so we have to wait for 2022. Why has Anzac Day become so important in the Australian psyche. Despite the eight months of conflict at Gallipoli that was unsuccessful, the time became defined as the Anzac Legend. It encompassed bravery, ingenuity, endurance and the comradeship that Australians call mateship.

Autumn 2021


The Pyrenees – it doesn’t get better than this The Pyrenees has it all. At just over two hours easy drive from Melbourne and just over an hour from Ballarat and Bendigo, the Pyrenees offers superb wineries, stunning scenery, inspired walking tracks, picnic areas, camping grounds, delicious food and so much more. A visit to the Pyrenees is an adventure, a place where you can explore and indulge your senses. If you have ever deserved a break, this is the year to make it a good one. Moving beyond one of the most challenging years we can remember and as we see life slowly, but steadily moving toward a greater state of normal, it is time to look toward time away for a weekend or longer. Your break will be made all the more memorable when you head for a region filled with all things wonderful – that region is the Pyrenees.

during the gold rush era. The garden is filled with a mixture of plants and features a traditional Chinese pavilion. Other picnic spots to consider include Avoca Riverflat and Forest Gate Winery. You don’t have to worry about packing food and drink before you leave home as there are heaps of eateries to choose from in Avoca and Beaufort as well as other hidden gems dotted in some of the local villages.

If camping is part of your DNA, you have choices here. Escape the crowds by picking a secluded campsite within Mount Cole, Mount Buangor or the Pyrenees State Forest. Each basic campsite has non-flush toilets, wood fired BBQs and a healthy dose of nature. If however, you prefer a few more amenities, Avoca and Beaufort caravan parks may fill the bill, or if you don’t wish to compromise on comfort, consider Cave Hill Creek Glamping tents. With six eco-tents all with comfortable beds, carpeted floors, heating and power and a spectacular view over the nearby Mount Cole State Forest it takes camping to a new level. And what about some bushwalking. It’s one of those hidden secrets that the Pyrenees has an extensive network of walking tracks, all beautiful and easily accessible. Mount Cole and Mount Buangor Parks are filled with lush green rainforests with stunning views, fern filled gullies and offer scenic walking trails that are dwarfed by giant ferns and towering trees. We think the secret might be out now. Picnic anyone? The Pyrenees has several parks, forests and meticulously maintained gardens, which means you are spoilt for choice for idyllic picnic spots. Consider the Avoca Chinese Gardens hidden away down a small laneway overlooking the river flats. Reflecting the Chinese heritage within the region, the gardens acknowledge the important contribution of early Chinese immigrants to Avoca


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The region is renowned for its wineries and it is worth making a plan for regular visits as you cannot take them all in over a weekend. Most wineries embrace outdoor dining as well as offering cellar door tastings. Imagine kicking back with friends, imbibing in excellent wines and enjoying delicious food while taking in the spectacular mountain landscapes. It doesn’t get better than that. You may know of the Pyrenees region, however you can only fully appreciate what this great region has to offer by visiting and making it a regular “go to” place on your recreation map. You will love it.

Town support Living in a small country town locals are very protective of their traders, so when circumstances threaten those businesses, local support comes into its own. When Covid hit, there was considerable concern for the survival of favourite businesses. Brothers, Jorban and Raj Singh of Creswick’s Smokeytown Café sat down together when the lockdowns first hit and discussed what they would do. Without hesitation, they agreed that no matter what happened, they would keep the doors open, albeit for take away only, but they knew they had to be seen to still be operating. Sometimes they were standing in their café, almost in the dark looking out, but it worked. Regular customers kept coming in for take away and new ones joined them. Jorban said, “Those first few months were really hard, but we hung in there until we could reopen house dining. It was the uncertainty that was the hardest – not knowing when we would have to shutdown again, however having done it once, we were prepared for whatever was thrown at us, and we still are.” Asked how they coped emotionally, Jorban said, “We actually had a good time. As brothers we have a great relationship and always have each other’s back, in fact, although it was tough financially at times, emotionally it has been fine, even fun”.

Operating now for five years, Smokeytown Café has become a ‘go to’ place. “Trade has been consistent since Christmas and if we don’t have any more lockdowns, we will survive” said Jorban, adding “In fact the whole town will, there are even knew businesses opening up and that is really positive. When it all started, people were too scared to come out, but now they’re more confident, we are seeing a lot more people around town, not just locals, but a definite increase in visitors”. The ’boys at Smokeytown’ as Jorban and Raj have become known around town have managed that elusive work life balance, giving them time to be with their young families. This award winning café is open Tuesday to Sunday 8.30am to 3pm, later on Friday and Saturday for dinner. Follow them on Facebook.

Autumn 2021


Yvonne George The Eternal Knot Each autumn and spring Mica Grange gardens opens their doors to lovers of gardens and art with their biannual exhibitions. The spectacular exhibitions of the blend of mother nature and artwork is remarkable and 2021 is no different. This year, Bendigo sculptor, Yvonne George is exhibiting new works showcasing her kinetic pieces that she describes as “These pieces are based on the eternal knot, the symbolism within wisdom, compassion, life and death. We are the result of what we think, what we focus on and what we believe.” Yvonne added, “these kinetic pieces are an interpretation of energy through movement. What we focus on is what we attract.” Yvonne has been a sculptor for thirty five years and learnt how to weld when she and her partner built their mud brick house back in the eighties. Her work ranges from smaller pieces suitable for home décor to very large, spectacular models. Yvonne says of her work, “The organic forms of nature continue to inspire my work today both in public and private commissions.” Yvonne’s work can be seen at The Gallery Workshop located at the Bendigo Pottery Complex and online –



Children free

Mica Grange Open Garden Sculpture Exhibition

Open 10am to 4pm each weekend Saturday 27 March to Sunday 25 April, plus Easter Monday. Group bookings available during week. Morning Tea, Light Lunch, Afternoon Tea Garden Art, Plants, Preserves available

373 Faraday-Sutton Grange Road, Sutton Grange 8

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Ph: 0499 897 242 & 0409 322 413

Mica Grange 2021 Autumn opening

Each weekend from 27 March to 25 April plus Easter Monday, the spectacular gardens of Mica Grange with their panoramic views across the Sutton Grange valley will open for their Autumn Sculpture and Garden Art Exhibition. The opening features sculptors from Victoria, South Australia and regional NSW, plus a vast range of garden art, plants and preserves. The exhibition provides garden lovers with an abundance of creative ideas to enhance the beauty and enjoyment of their own gardens. Group bookings are available weekdays only. This autumn Mica Grange is catering in eco friendly boxes and coffee cups. Soft drinks will also be available. It is the same delicious cakes, Devonshire Teas and light lunches.

Visitors can purchase their refreshments and enjoy them on the spacious decking or on seating placed throughout the garden. Fine food, fresh air, spectacular gardens, sculptures and social distancing will be the focus of Mica Grange’s autumn opening. Whether your interest be in traditional gardens, rose walks, proteas, Australian natives, vegetable gardens, fairy gardens or simply meandering and enjoying the beauty of gardens and wonders of art, you will find something to spark your imagination at Mica Grange. Mica Grange is easy to find at 373 Faraday Sutton Grange Road, Sutton Grange. Entry is $7 per adult, children free. For further information visit

Autumn 2021


An entrepreneur and a cute caravan

How do you define an entrepreneur? Most people think of entrepreneurs as high fliers, the huge risk takers of this world, whereas in truth a true entrepreneur is someone who isn’t afraid to take a chance and seeing opportunities no matter how obscure they may seem. Anthony Faure is an entrepreneur.

Anthony operates a coffee van seen daily outside the IGA supermarket in Creswick and in various spots around Ballarat. But this isn’t any ordinary coffee van – this is Little Ezra and Olive, a strange name of no particular origin that serves great coffee from the cutest little bubble van - an attention seeker in its own right. Anthony’s background is in graphic design and advertising, but when the industry lost its appeal, Anthony looked at other industries for his next career. He had always enjoyed the ‘coffee culture’, especially in Melbourne, so on a whim, he bought a café – The Old Fire Station in Preston. A little rundown maybe, but it was a first step and it was where he cut his teeth in the hospitality industry. With some effort, Anthony improved and upgraded the café making it a very desirable purchase to a potential new owner. That resulted in “an offer that couldn’t be refused”. So good was the offer, that Anthony decided it was time to be a hands on Dad, so with his family, he took off on an eighteen month tour around Europe, Egypt, the UK and USA.

comic books and collectibles where he operated Atomic Comics, followed by a move to Ballarat and another career move. Anthony credits his wife Tara as the ideas person in the family. It was she who suggested they buy their cute caravan that could be operated as a “one man band operation” while she continued commuting to her key role in health care in Melbourne. This has given them the ideal work/ life balance. It also allows Anthony the freedom to source the freshest quality produce and sustainable packaging ensuring that Little Ezra and Olive place a very small footprint on the planet. The caravan started making an appearance at various gigs around the Ballarat area and when Steve Sellars was looking for a quality coffee van to ‘perch’ outside the supermarket, Anthony was recommended and the rest, as they say, is history – the coffee is pretty good too.

Back in Australia, Anthony opened another café in Melbourne and when that became so busy it interfered with family life, he decided on another career change. This move was from cafes to


Little EZRA &Olive OLIVE Ezra and Coffee Caravan Little EZRA & OLIVE Coffee Caravan Serving quality locally sourced produce Coffee Caravan available for hire - call 0425 756 559 Located outside Creswick Serving quality locallyIGA sourced produce MonLittle - FriEzra 7am 2pm - Sat 8am - 1pm #littleezraandolive and -Olive available for hire - call 0425 756 559 Little Ezra and Olive 10Secrets S e cAd.indd r e t s M1 a g a z i n e

#littleezraandolive 14/3/21 12:39 pm

Everyone knows a Betty In a time when hospitality has taken a huge hit due to pandemic lockdowns, it is heartening to see a new café opening soon in Ballarat.

Betty’s Red Star Café is the brainchild of Pia Sims and Nic Bradley who bring with them a breadth of experience in various fields. Pia has had thirty years - on and off - in hospitality from pizza shops, top Melbourne pubs and restaurants, to the ski fields of Victoria’s High country. Conversely, she also has vast experience in the funeral industry from directing, mortuary, embalming, coronial transfer and as a celebrant. Pia has a wry sense of humour, especially on life and death from her years in the funeral industry and on moving back into hospitality. She says, “I treasure and am honoured to have been able to assist families at their worst times, but I’ve always wanted to open a café. If I died without giving it a crack, I’d be a bit bummed!” Nik’s background is equally varied from Real Estate to buying and selling collectables and vintage ware.

Their vision for Betty’s Red Star Café is one of simplicity. They said in unison, “We are certainly not looking to re-invent the wheel with this café. Quite the contrary. We just want to offer customers, simple, honest menus offering breakfast, lunch, Devonshire Teas and on special occasions, High Teas. And let’s not forget, superb coffee”. Asked why they’ve named their café ‘Betty’s Red Star’, Pia said, “Why not! Everyone has a Betty in their life somewhere, be it a grandma, auntie, cousin or friend and I share a birthday with veteran actress Betty White, so – why not!” Betty’s Red Star Café is on schedule to open in mid-April and is at the bottom end of Sturt Street at number twenty. You can’t miss it, the signage is a stand out. So if you’re looking for simple, wholesome food at respectable prices, Betty’s is worth a visit. Follow their progress at

Ballarat’s newest, cosy cafe offering outstanding coffee, simple and delicious breakfast, lunch and Devonshire Tea.

20 Sturt Street, Ballarat enquiries:

Opening April, 2021

Autumn 2021


Who said Covid was a problem It’s a brave person who opens a second store in the middle of a pandemic with the compulsory lockdowns and uncertainty about the future. But Bec Mason who opened her first store The Farmer’s Wife in Creswick in 2015 had been thinking of expanding to a second outlet in Daylesford for some time, so when the right premises became available, she jumped at the chance. Who said Covid was a problem? Bec said, “When it was really tough, our online store kept us going, so I guess it was unusual to open another ‘bricks and mortar’ outlet in those times, but I am so glad I did. Our Creswick shop had thankfully been very popular from the ‘get go’, which established the name The Farmer’s Wife and attracted customers from Geelong, Ballarat, Melbourne and further afield. That reputation


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travelled as well and we have customers who ask that we make sure that we carry the same stock in both stores as we like to drop into Creswick and then travel through to Daylesford”. And added bonus to the visitor stream to both towns. The Farmers Wife carries a range of gorgeous clothing and home wares and now with two outlets, at 49 Albert Street, Creswick and 26 Vincent Street, Daylesford, it’s easy to pick up something rather special. Follow at, also Facebook and Instragram.

Looking after locals There has been a fair amount of negative press on the metal health and wellbeing on people during Covid and yes, there are difficulties, there’s no denying. However, there has also been an increase in thoughtfulness and caring for others – at least in this part of the world. We have heard it from businesses who were supported during the lockdowns and who are seeing a distinct increase in custom since the doors started opening. Neighbours regularly checked on neighbours to ensure they were okay and there have been many stories of all sorts of kind gestures and goodwill. This one came across our desk recently, which clearly demonstrates that people are in general, willing to give whenever needed, usually without expectation of thanks or payback.

communities work.

Recently a local lady was recovering from surgery and being cared for by a friend. The friend was creating a favourite meal for dinner and found she didn’t have onions - essential for the dish she was creating. A quick trip to the supermarket found that there were no onions to be had. Being directed to the ‘fruit shop’ next door’ confused the issue further as this place hadn’t been a fruit shop for some years (obviously not a local who passed on that information) and was now a café - Meg’s Place. The now desperate friend asked in the cafe where she could find onions and explained her dilemma. Without hesitation, Meg went into the storeroom, emerging with three beautiful onions and handed them over with her compliments. The friend was relieved, the recipe was saved and a simple act of generosity proved once again how

She experienced that support personally on many occasions, especially when she first opened her café. As a single mother with a young son the demands of trying to balance between family and a new business, were sometimes onerous, but Meg found that others were only too willing to step in and help whenever they could. This even extends to her staff who she says, “always go that extra mile”. Meg adds; “I’ll help anyone who needs it, that’s what living in a community is all about”.

Helping out has always been second nature to Meg. Having grown up in Creswick where her father was the Police Sergeant for many years and who was instrumental in working with the youth of the area, including developing the Creswick Lighthorse Troop, so community service was a given in the family. Meg has seen how people have come together on many occasions to help when and where needed.

Meg’s Place is at 56 Albert Street, Creswick

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Allendale Nursery Hooked on Herbs

Smokeytown Cafe & Restaurant

Specializing in Herbs & Vegetable seedlings. 4141 Creswick-Newstead Road Allendale Phone 0411 551 550 Find us on Facebook

Open Tuesday to Sunday 8.30am to 3pm Friday & Saturday open for dinner till late 77 Albert Street, Creswick 5345 1557 0433 841 623

Catch me at the following markets: 1st Saturday of the month 1st Sunday of the month 2nd Saturday of the month 2nd Sunday of the month 3rd Saturday of the month 3rd Sunday of the month 4th Saturday of the month

Woodend Farmers Market Gisborne Market Kyneton Farmers Market Maldon Market Riddells Creek Farmers Talbot Farmers Market Daylesford Farmers Market


at Leaver’s Hotel

A cosy bar in the heart of gold country

THE CLOTHING FARMERS WIFE HOME WARES 49 Albert st, Creswick & 26 Vincent st Daylesford

Open Thur/Fri. 4pm till late – Sat/Sun. 12 noon till late

80 Albert St. Creswick 0428 694 258 Find us on Facebook


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Creswick’s dedicated music venue Every cloud has a silver lining, an old saying, but never so true than what people have found during Covid. Cameron Ivchenko of Odessa at Leaver’s Hotel in Creswick has used the ‘down time’ over the past twelve months to rebrand the venue. The first change was to engage a new chef, Kitt Mukaprom and introduce a Thai cuisine. The first weekend it proved to be a ‘baptism of fire’ for Kitt as they completely sold out both days. Although Kitt specialises in Thai food, there are other dishes on the menu for those who shy away from spice. As a consequence of Covid, where artists and performers were restricted in where they could travel and perform, Odessa at Leavers took advantage of the lockdown and engaged internationally known Australian artist C. W. Stoneking for a gig. Normally, the performer wouldn’t play in a small country town, but he loved his time in Creswick and has promised to come back. The popularity of this session changed focus for Cam who realised that they had a music destination on their hands. They are now working on plans to expand the music. On the list for the near future are artists Wendy Rule, Opal Ocean, Jarrod Shaw and more. Together with featured artists, there will be the opportunity for jam sessions, which “can happen on any night without notice”. Mixed in with the music, there are plans afoot for artists sessions including storytelling, poetry, spoken word events,

exhibitions and whatever else may present itself. A recent very popular event was gin tastings with Basil Eliades of Hepburn Distillery. Thursday nights are earmarked as open mike nights, designed for locals, but everyone is welcome. Cam recognises the attraction of a dedicated music venue in a small town that will draw visitors from other regions. This in itself is a bonus for the town although adding pressure especially in the incessant drive for that work/family balance. Plans for the very near future, especially moving into winter include expanding the outside area with more tables, installing extra outdoor heating and wind protection and creating an entertainment precinct. The open fire makes the inside area especially inviting and adds to the ambience of this interesting venue. Throughout the lockdowns and now during recovery the locals have been very supportive and have taken advantage of the take away menus, which are ongoing. The history of the building and the town itself holds great interest to customers and visitors. Odessa at Leaver’s is open Thursday and Friday – 4.30 to close for dinner. Saturday 8.30am until late for dinner and Sunday, 8.30am to 6pm for breakfast and lunch. Odessa’s is also available for private functions.

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A secret no longer

There are those special occasions in life that just have to be perfect. Be it a wedding or extraordinary event, the right venue is essential. Banyandah Homestead is that right venue. Set in a private, breathtakingly beautiful location, with rolling hills, a magnificent private lake and the natural beauty of Central Victoria, Banyandah Homestead manages to combine simplicity, charm, ultimate privacy with a sophisticated atmosphere. It didn’t happen overnight. Sue and Peter Quinlan, owners of Banyandah had a dream, a dream that developed over many decades. The family has always lived in the area of Wattle Flat and enjoyed the normal country pursuits of driving paddock bombs, early mornings feeding calves before school and swimming and fishing in their own lake. When their four children grew up, Sue and Peter moved away to pursue other business ventures, but their hearts always went back to where they truly felt at home and where their dream began. It took some time, but they eventually managed to purchase the land where Banyandah sits today. It had been left untouched except for grazing cattle and sheep. They then set about building the amazing property that it is today.

Sue says, “We feel very honoured to be able to share Banyandah Homestead with some very special people on their most important day. We can finally see and share our vision being fulfilled and we feel so proud” However, a special event is more than just a venue, it’s more than beautiful surroundings – it’s the attention to detail and the love that Sue – very much a people person – invests in each and every function. It’s also flexibility. Sue and Peter encourage clients to view the property to see for themselves how the magnificent grounds can be transformed into whatever they desire. The name Banyandah is an aboriginal word for ‘home on the water’ giving even greater meaning to the lake that is a magnificent backdrop for any function. Venues of this calibre simply do not present themselves every day. Until now, Banyandah Homestead has been one of Central Victoria’s best kept secrets – but not anymore.

Autumn 2021


Autumn – the most beautiful season Autumn is arguably the most visually stunning season of the year. Mild weather with soft misty mornings, the smell of wood smoke in the air and of course the changing colours of nature, painting its own masterpiece. Most festivals have been cancelled for this year, but there are some still raising their heads above the parapets. Even if events are limited, there is still plenty to do and see, in and around our towns.

Festivals & Exhibitions Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary Bendigo Art Gallery 20 March to 11 July Mica Grange Autumn Open Garden Sculpture Exhibition 27th March to 25th April Bendigo Easter Fair Fri 2nd to Mon 5th April Clunes Booktown 1st & 2nd May The Dirty Pig & Whistle Bike Race 15th & 16th May

To munch and quaff

Despite restrictions, most eateries have reopened and we have many to choose from. Just about every town and village has something to offer especially for the coffee culture. Add wineries, cideries and brewers to the list - you can’t go wrong.

Our outdoors beckon

Regions like the Pyrenees, Macedon Ranges, Hepburn and beyond have something to offer those looking for bushwalking, camping, bike riding, boating, fishing, whatever you desire.

To Market to Market

Most markets are back and who doesn’t love a market. Fresh produce, interesting crafts and maybe that bargain or two (or three). A trip to the Central Victorian region really does have something to offer everyone. Just jump in, you’ll be glad you did.

Banyandah Homestead Off Grid Lakeside Cabin Commune with nature and immerse in the peace and quiet of natural bushland and enjoy swimming, bushwalking, kayaking then relax in the charming, warm and cosy cabin. At Wattle Flat, close to Daylesford and Ballarat - 0448 015 842


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The natural way to unwind The Covid pandemic threw up a whole new concept for living that for many proved to be stressful. Lockdowns meant separation from family and friends, working from home, parents being teachers, Zoom meetings – it seemed that our lives were controlled by the internet. Little wonder that so many suffered cyber overload. There is a place where you can recover from those negative vibes. Imagine no phones ringing constantly, just peace and quiet and communing with nature. Banyandah Homestead Cabin on the Lake is a stunning farm, close to everything if you need it to be and yet private. The beautiful bushland and lake encourage you to let go and relax, while at the same time, enjoy some physical pursuits like walking, swimming, kayaking. Being pet friendly, Banyandah Cabin on the Lake is very welcoming to your pet buddys. Host Sue Quinlan loves her animals and knows that it’s hard to be separated from them, so when opening the cabin to guests, it was a natural progression to welcome pets as well.

Sue and husband Peter have a wealth of experience gleaned from their own travels around the world and have an understanding of what people are looking for in their break away. The cabin is charming and unpretentious and exudes simple home comfort. The wood fire says, ‘pull up a chair and sit awhile with a good book and glass of wine’. When you can be bothered cooking, the kitchenette obliges and the gas barbecue gives you choices.

Everyone needs a break away that guarantees relaxation and the opportunity to unwind, blow away the cobwebs and regain that inner equilibrium that is so often challenged. Call Sue on 0448 015 842 or visit – you won’t be sorry.

Sue says, “it’s great to see the dogs running free enjoying the space and guests often go kayaking with their dogs on board – it’s hard to work out who has the best time, the people or the dogs”. Autumn 2021


How large is your footprint? Real Estate Agents are reporting a marked increase in enquiries and sales from Melbourne residents wishing to relocate to regional areas. The image of the bush block and rolling plains, clean air and easier lifestyle that has been lurking in the mindset of many is now manifesting into firing up the moving van.

The country idyll is something many aspire to and there is a lot to recommend it, but there is more to consider when moving to a country area than first meets the eye. How big is the footprint going to be on the land? What about bushfires? The list goes on. Ray Draper of Central Highlands Environmental Consultancy has had a lifelong passion for the environment and the natural world in which we live. It was this passion that drove him to develop his Consultancy over twenty years ago working with Councils, companies and individuals to assess properties and report on the best strategy for making sure the footprint is as small as possible. The areas that come under Ray’s keen eye are habitat hectare assessments, bushfire assessments, environmental or land management plans and flora and fauna surveys. 20

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His work has taken Ray and his partner Cherie all around the State and beyond, often accompanied by their two young daughters, who benefit from a great outdoor classroom. Another of Ray’s passions is the study of the Growling Grass frog, once plentiful throughout south eastern Australia, but now under threat, primarily due to the effects of chytrid fungus. Ray was co-opted to work with James Cook University in Queensland over forty years ago to study the frog and now collaborates with Federation University to ascertain how well the frog is faring. Not too well it seems. Ray says. “There are 6,000 frog species worldwide of which 2000 are now critically endangered because of fungus. We have found some of the fungus in the Ballarat region, which has reduced that population by a third. Once we lose a species, we never get them back.” As populations grow and humanity encroaches further into the natural world, the need for caring for the environment is more important than ever. Australia is a vast country, unique in the world with amazing animals, flora and fauna and we have a responsibility to preserve it wherever we can. To contact Ray and learn more about your environment, go to centralhighlandsenvironmental

From PR to peanut brittle It’s easy to see that Greta Donaldson, owner and operator of ‘Bendigo Brittle – Gold for Your Gob’ has a background in Public Relations. Her eye catching presentation cart, decorated in black and pink made me stop to chat to her at a local market a year or so ago. However, with Covid lockdown and the cessation of markets I hadn’t come across her for some time, so it was an absolute delight to receive a gorgeous presentation box of her brittle in the mail.

The move from PR to gob smackingly good brittle is a stretch in anyone’s book. PR is a demanding career and after some years at the top of her game, Greta found that she couldn’t sustain the pace and needed a distraction So she started making candles while living in South Melbourne. The hobby grew to where her family became involved and eventually took over and built their own small business. Still looking for that ‘light bulb’ moment, Greta moved to Bendigo, originally for twelve months, but it has now become home. Then came the idea to start baking – not a natural transition, however both parents were bakers and both grandmothers, Meryl Donaldson and Norma Roulston were always baking. Greta said, “I tinkered with my Grandma Roulston’s brittle recipe to create my brittle-brittle, Bendigo Brittle treat.” Greta decided to get involved in providing something special for Christmas. She

made some peanut brittle and shortbread – the shortbread failed, but the brittle was a hit. It became such a favourite with everyone, it came to be the “go to” gift. The next step was to establish the brand. Greta attended TV presenter, Gorgi Coghlan’s fortieth birthday party, where she met designer, Mardi Featherstone who came up with the elegant packaging that is so recognisable wherever it’s sold. Next up was to develop a lightweight cart that could fit inside her car and make life easier at the markets. By researching the internet, the right cart was found, which is lightweight, fits into the car and is put together with a simple allen key. I love doing markets and I found out that the more people you meet and talk to, the better for your business”. That’s the Public Relations lady kicking in ... Asked how the Covid lockdown affected her business, Greta said “becoming known through the markets paid off. Through the Pandemic Bendigo Brittle developed a wholesale side. Moving to Bendigo was the best thing I ever did. It’s a town that looks after its own and I have been supported in so many ways, especially through Bendigo Business and Bendigo Tourism. Life is very full for this independent, driven business woman who in her spare time, is filled with exercising, gardening and now Tai Chi. To find out where to get Bendigo Brittle and to buy online, visit

Autumn 2021


New brewery opens its doors

Just down the road from AC Hops in the tiny hamlet of Dean is the latest small batch craft brewery – Bankhouse Brewery.

Home brewing has been a passion of owner Damien Norman for about eight years. He began by brewing mainly for himself then he started exploring the idea of going into small batch commercial production. Once he set the wheels in motion, he left his job and worked to his plan, until he opened the doors on the 9th January, 2021. The whole process took two years. But the word was out – “local support has been amazing”, said Damien. “as soon as I put the sign out on the first day, a man stopped wanting beers to take down to the beach and that was the start, I actually sold out in the first three days.” This took Damien by surprise and it meant he had to stop for two weeks and work hard to build up more stock.



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The building itself is an attraction. In a past life it was a bank then a post office dating back to 1861, which closed in 1980. The building itself isn’t large enough to operate as a cellar door, but people are welcome to look around and see where it all happens. At the moment, Damien is a one man band, but he and wife Davina hope that in the future, she will be able to join him. Along with beer, Damien also produces an alcoholic ginger beer, which comes with a warning to parents not to share with their kids. Bankhouse Brewery is only open on weekends, to check hours and to order, call 0407 687 291

From paddock to pint Hops is not a crop commonly found in the predominately potato farming community of Dean in Central Victoria. But hops are the preferred crop of craft beer lovers Alistair and Cass Tippett who are working toward supplying the ever growing small scale craft breweries with the essential ingredient of Australia’s favourite beverage – beer. Asked why they chose hops, Alistair simply said, “I love craft beer”. Al grew up in a farming family growing potatoes, cattle and crops, which one would expect would lead him to continuing along those lines, however after spending years as an agronomist, he became familiar with the hop bine (the word is bine, not vine) and was captivated. With the encouragement of friends who were brewers, the idea soon developed into cultivating hops. Victoria and Tasmania, with their diverse climates, are the primary regions for hop growing in Australia. The plant grows at a very rapid pace and they trail vertically over rather tall trellises. Keeping them in order can be time consuming, but this is a family affair and Al and Cass’ three delightful and lively kids, Chase, Allie and Andi love to help, albeit in a small way as they are only eight, six and four. Nothing like starting your children on a career path from an early age. However, when it comes to the big tasks, especially harvesting, Al’s family, who live close by, join in turning hard work into a fun time, more like family bonding than harvesting. With only one harvest per year there is some processing required to provide the right hop for the right brew throughout the year. The hops are presented as either wet, dry leaf and pelletised, each variety offering a different flavour to the beverage.

Al still works full time in his role as an agronomist, but this charming couple have managed to find the perfect work/life balance. Their home, sitting high on a hill with breathtaking views over valleys, pasture and bush provides a perfect setting to live and work. The very cute Jack Russell and friendly chooks round out this picture of idyllic family life.

Craft beer and small volume brewers, together with the home brewers offer a ready market for hop growers. If enthusiasm and knowledge of their product is any guarantee of success, Al, Cass and their family are well and truly on the right track. As Cass says, “We provide the absolute ‘Paddock to Pint’ experience. For further details and “to add a little extra story to your brew”, visit or call Al direct on 0448 384 963. Autumn 2021


Breathing Life Through Art The word retirement doesn’t figure in the vocabulary of artist Alison Parkinson. Alison has enjoyed a very full life as a portraitist, landscape artist, sculptor, jewellery maker, French polisher and teacher, however when asked about retirement, Alison says, “I’ve never been busier and I’m loving it.” Alison has had exhibitions, both solo and collaborative, in various commercial galleries around Australia. Most recently she had a very successful show of portraits at the Backspace Gallery - operated by the Art Gallery of Ballarat. She also has work in private and corporate collections, both in Australia and internationally. A farm girl born in Warracknabeal, Alison comes from a creative family. Her father and brother were always tinkering, restoring and creating furniture and French polishing fine pieces, which is where Alison learned the art of French polishing. In later life, her father added clock making to his interests. Amidst all this activity, they ran the family farm. Alison moved to Ballarat for art school, followed by marriage, children, running antique shops, a move to Queensland, then back to Warracknabeal, further study in Horsham then Melbourne where she continued her art pursuits, including a career in restoration and French polishing. Alison’s next life move was to Mt. Prospect, where her body told her that her time as a French polisher was over. “There is just so long you can breathe in toxic fumes,” Alison said. What soon followed was a teaching tenure at the Art Gallery of Ballarat with an emphasis on life drawing.


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While at the Gallery one of her students brought in a lump of modelling clay – enter another creative pursuit, sculpting and modelling. Asked if she drew her subjects from life or photographs, Alison said, “Life, always life, I will use a camera to capture an image of a landscape or other subject to work on later.” Alison uses a lot of colour in her paintings, but by contrast, her monochrome drawings, particularly those of the human form are movingly dramatic. Many of her portraits stem from a spontaneous view of her subject. As an example, she explained how she captured one of her easily recognisable portraits of Creswick café owner Willie Schaap. “I was having a coffee with a friend when Willie started clearing tables and the swift and lithe movement of her body inspired me to paint her portrait. I took the image home and the memory of how Willy moved I put on canvas.” Recently, Alison set herself a twelve month project to paint the volcanic hills that surround her home. Known locally as the Seven Hills, Alison sees the agricultural changes that occur throughout the year and her aim is to capture each season with all its variances. She is aiming to complete one hundred paintings in the series and has over forty complete so far. Alison is loving life and says, “I can choose the shape of my day and I’m more productive than I have ever been. Visit Alison’s website and on Facebook.

Bendigo wineries impress judges There are a number of recognised wine regions in Australia with quite a few in our own backyard. Two Bendigo region wineries picked up awards at this year’s Victorian Wine Show and Daylesford Wine Show, including a Wine Producer of the Year accolade. The awards were picked up by the small, boutique wineries of Black Estate Vineyard and Black Wallaby Wines. At the Victorian Wine Show, Black Estate impressed by taking home the Gold Award for its 2018 Black Estate Shiraz. For Vigneron Rob Black, this award is a recognition of the hard work and dedication that he and his wife, Leanne, pour into the vineyard. “The intermittent weather patterns during the last few growing seasons, including 2018, made grape growing quite challenging. This medal keeps the spring in our step and the smile on our faces as

our wine was awarded by our peers for its quality and taste,” said Rob. Other winners were David and Jayne Lawson of Black Wallaby wines. From their vineyard on the banks of Bridgewater-on-Loddon, David and Jayne are celebrating their wins at the Daylesford Wine Show. David won the Julian West Memorial Trophy for the best wine producer under 25 tonnes. His 2018 Black Wallaby Shiraz received the Top Gold Medal, Best Shiraz of Show and Best Wine of Show. David, the label’s Chief Winemaker, said that winning these awards indicated to his small team that their wines are being well received by their peers. “We are so thrilled that we did so well. There’s an undying love and passion you have as a farmer to produce something really special from the land you work.” These award winning wines can be ordered directly from and Autumn 2021


New Boots offers good cheer At first glance Newstead, a town with a population of only 572 people would appear to be a little backwater of no consequence, but that’s where you’d be wrong. This is a town that is full of surprises. A colourful history, a strong arts community and a music festival that attracts performers from around Australia and overseas and that’s only the start. Newstead is also home to New Boots Café. Established by well-known Newstead identity, Lou Brown, it can be argued the café is a reincarnation of the original Boots Café created by Lou a few decades ago in what used to be the boot factory. From there she moved on to another Newstead eatery – Dig Café and a couple of others in the region until a work accident incapacitated her for five years. But you cannot keep a good woman down, particularly one who has hospitality built into her DNA – hence New Boots came into being. The café caters for all tastes – meat eaters, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. Lou says,


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“we tailor our range for everyone and we are sticklers for ensuring all ingredients are fresh and wholesome.” Asked about how she coped with Covid, Lou said, “it was hard, I didn’t apply for any Government assistance, so it was a balancing act to get through, but we have and each week we see a pick-up in trade. The only problem we’re having at the moment is finding staff. I want to get out of the kitchen and need a good chef .“ Dining at New Boots is aesthetically appealing from the timber lined interior to the delightful courtyard – perfect for the beautiful days the region offers up throughout autumn. Lou has applied for a liquor licence and includes music events and comedy nights in her future plans. At this stage New Boots is open Thursday to Sunday 8.30am to 4pm.

Surviving Covid and council elections The year 2020 threw up some incredible challenges for many people, not more so than for Tessa Halliday of Central Vic Planning Consultants. Not only did Tessa have to contend with the constraints of Covid lockdowns, she also stood for and was elected to the Hepburn Shire Council. Asked how she coped with the lockdowns, Tessa said, “Covid was really stressful as some client’s pulled out and wanted their deposits refunded and together with reduced work coming in, our finances took a big hit in March and April 2020. Jobkeeper was a God send and meant that I could keep both my staff.” Tessa went on to explain, “Initially before Jobkeeper was announced I thought I would have to make my staff redundant. However, work started to pick up after the announcement of the $25,000 Federal Government grant to stimulate the building industry and by September our work load was back to normal. There may still be more hard times to come, but I’m sure we will be able to ride them out as well.”

As if dealing with Covid, lockdowns and financial stress isn’t enough, Tessa ran for local council in November 2020 and was elected. Not having been a councillor before, the learning curve in the short term was almost perpendicular. Having settled into this new role, Tessa set about separating her business work and council work. Part of that process has been to set up a separate office in Clunes where people can meet with Tessa to discuss issues at hand. The past few months have been busy with getting up to speed with all the council programs and initiatives, but she has managed to do that and to adroitly balance business and council – quite an achievement.

Autumn 2021


Autumn astrology 2021 All the astrological news has been focussed on AQUARIUS. Not only do we have both Jupiter and Saturn in this sign, but we had a line up of three personal planets there as well. One of which was Mercury who retrograded through the sign. So Aquarians this is your moment in time. Jupiter will offer many possibilities to Aquarians, but as you tend to have many plans at the best of times it may just make your cosmos bigger. Luckily Saturn is also winding its way through the sign and it brings groundedness and practicality. So, the Aquarians born between the 20th Jan and the 2nd Feb you have a very productive year. The rest of you will need to wait until 2022 to get your plans in place. Meanwhile it is time to explore options. PISCES You can also share some of the spotlight as Jupiter will enter your sign mid -May. This will only be a brief flash for a couple of months before it retrogrades back to Aquarius, but it is a glimpse of what is to come in 2022. Jupiter in Pisces has huge potential of creating new visions equally balanced by the shadows of massive chaos and legal deceptions. Given Neptune is crawling through Pisces as well, means both rulers of Pisces are in their home sign. This is a great opportunity for Pisces to touch base with the essence of what the Pisces energy is really about. Pisces flows with the currents of each day and can reach many dimensions all at the same time. Perhaps this is a portal for the weaving of visions both personally and globally. The other big story of Autumn is the square between Saturn in Aquarius and Uranus in Taurus in very close aspect. Being fixed signs, we expect there to be friction. TAURUS doesn’t like to change rapidly while Uranus brings energy that forces change. Taurus like Aquarius will have the personal planets also visiting late Autumn, so where we have seen the focus on Aquarius late summer/early Autumn the focus will shift to Taurus late Autumn. This battle between changes (Taurus)and beliefs (Aquarius) walks a finely balanced ravine. Taurus also has a lunar component of dark and full moon cycle so it really takes Taurus to the depths to review what changes exactly they may want to make. Better to be your decision than to have no choices at all.


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LEO and SCORPIO are the signs in opposition to the Aquarius and Taurus story. This means they are deeply affected by this story but aren’t the initiators. LEO could well be impacted through their partnerships and work colleagues being forced to participate in changes or beliefs they really don’t adhere too. In fact, Leo has probably adopted an isolated type of approach allowing the world to be “over there”. SCORPIO is more personally impacted as the changes brought about by the “times” we are in is more likely to impact on family and loved ones causing a deep emotive response both personally and collectively from the community. Scorpio sensitivity could be bombarded by community undercurrents. There may also be situations about past security issues that arise so it’s difficult for Scorpio to find emotional space. Our third player in this story comes from Chiron in ARIES who is a warrior stuck somewhere between the Aquarius and Taurus battle. Chiron has been causing Aries lots of pain because it has pulled our fast, moving knights to a stand- still to peruse why they gallop along so quickly and who have they slain along the way. Chiron is interesting in Aries because it is a planet of stillness but in a sign that likes movement and change. It also is the prod to move the fixed stand-offs between Taurus and Aquarius along. Too much oppression causes Aries reaction. LIBRA you are tired of listening to others’ wounds and bearing the brunt of underlying issues in the family and are ready to use the Aquarius and Pisces combination to help you return to creating. You may just enjoy the groups that drift around you and allow yourself to surrender to your creative soul. Take a break from relationships that wound you. GEMINI is also in motion as Mars visits for most of March until end of April and given the North Node is also here this means there is energy to get ideas into action pronto. Quick and speedy is Gemini mode of operating and both Jupiter and Saturn trine this from Aquarius so plans can have a bigger scope than usual. Saturn helps with the disciple to get results.

SAGITTARIUS benefits from a Mars opposition where others may inspire action and there is also contact from Jupiter/Saturn placing you in the community around you. Busyness is your forte and an eclipse on your full moon in May brings clarity of what is and isn’t working. Contacts from the past may revisit to clear old differences. CANCER life starts up for you in late April and throughout May when Mars enters Cancer. This is when we see you take action arising the deeply emotive time you’ve had with often others’ pain and troubles. Maybe you are realising there is a need to switch off from the pain of others even though you love to nurture and create the space you need for yourself. Study is a great enhancer.

VIRGO things are working for you in all areas. It’s great to be in love, inventive, to be working and many options are driving you crazy with what to do next. This is an optimistic time for you even though you sense there are some undercurrents that need your attention. This is a period where you can sense a deep impression of truly being your unique self. Blessed be

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CAPRICORN Life has quietened down for you. Pluto is left at the end of your sign so still creating deep change for those born at the end of Capricorn-16th to 20th of January. Pluto is dancing with the gentle energies of Neptune where the impact is more subtle and Jupiter in Aquarius. These three are weaving a powerful vision story which could well fly under the radar. So Capricorn after being totally oppressed in 2020 is now weaving idealistic wonder of a new way of being. Harbingers of hope.

Autumn 2021


In your garden One benefit of Covid has been in the garden especially The Vegetable Patch. So here are a few tips that may help the new gardener and maybe the seasoned gardener will pick up a thing or two. Companion planting

Companion planting is essentially a method of growing plants together that will assist each other in some way, like deterring pests, improving growth, enhancing flavour, attracting beneficial insects, fixing nitrogen. For example to deter flies from tomatoes it is said Basil is the answer, however the amount you would require would make your eyes water. A better option is to plant a Rue near your patch, which will attract flies.

Companion Plants to Deter Pests Aphids: Chives, coriander, nasturtium Ants: Tansey

Feeding your garden Manure tea: Manure tea can be made from any composted manure. Leave to soak for around 30 days. Collect about 1-2 cups per 9 litre bucket of water. Sieve and dilute so the liquid looks like a weak tea and water directly to your plants and seed. Comfrey tea: Gather a nice bundle of comfrey leaves and immerse in a bucket half filled with water. Weigh it down with a brick or similar weight. Fill the bucket with water and cover for three weeks. Sieve and dilute to one part tea to 10 parts water and use to water your plants weekly. Pyrethrum spray: Collect flower heads when they are in full bloom. Coarsely grind dried flower heads and to every firmly packed half cup of flowers, add 1L of warm water. Cover and leave to stand for three hours, strain and add a teaspoon of pure soap and one of cooking oil. Shake well before use. Don’t spray in temperatures over 32 C. The spray will kill bees so use it when they are not active – in early morning or evening. The spray will only remain potent for 12-24 hours, discard unused spray.


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Asparagus beetle: Pot marigold Cabbage moth: Hyssop, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, tansy and thyme. Dill: will attract white butterfly moth Flies: Basil, rue Tomatoes: Basil, oregano, carrots, onions, radishes, garlic, amaranth, chives, stinging nettle, lavender, thyme and lemon balm. Lavender: Makes an excellent companion plant for other Mediterranean herbs with similar growing needs such as rosemary, sage and thyme Borage: In or near your patch will attract beneficial bees. Chamomile: Deters flies and mosquitoes and strengthens neighbouring plant. The above hints are only a small portion of things to aid your garden, you can always Google for more.

Happy Gardening Rebecca Sprosen – Allendale Nursery

Markets Every Saturday Wesley Hill Market

1st Saturday Golden Plains Farmers Market Woodend Farmers Market Bridge Mall Farmers Market, Ballarat Bridge Mall Design Market, Ballarat Creswick Market

2nd Saturday Kyneton Farmers Market Ballarat Lakeside Farmers Market

4th Saturday Ballarat Lakeside Farmers Market Lancefield & District Farmers Market Beaufort Town Market

Every Sunday Daylesford Sunday Market

1st Sunday

Ballan Farmers Market

Castlemaine Artists’ Market

Bendigo Community Farmers Market

Castlemaine Farmers Market

3rd Saturday Trentham Farmers Market Glenlyon Farmers Market Leonards Hill Market Creswick Market

2nd Sunday Clunes Farmers Market Maldon Market

3rd Sunday Talbot Farmers Market Autumn 2021