The WinterWild program is out and it’s as weird and wild as you would expect

Words by Jay Dillon
Images supplied

Originally created to raise funds and ignite community spirit after the 2015 Colac Otway bushfires, the WinterWild festival (Aug 25-27) has grown into one of the highlights of Victoria’s events calendar. With the first round of the 2023 program just announced, we pull out a few highlights so you can start planning your trip.

The festival will be officially started with a Welcome to Country by members of the Eastern Marr Aboriginal Corporation at 6 pm Friday, August 25. After which the party mode sets in with an energetic performance from Wemba-Wemba rapper RidzyRay (free event).

Apollo Bay Festival

Over in the Mechanics Hall, Indie rock legend Jen Cloher will be headlining with local singer-songwriter Sid O’Neil, along with the body-shaking Zoë Fox and the Rocket Clocks and indie-jazz five-piece Outtatime. Jen Cloher has been a stable of the Melbourne indie rock scene since the early 2000s and has been instrumental in supporting and promoting emerging Australian artists.

On Saturday morning, early risers are invited to join performance artists The Midnight Horrors on the Apollo Bay Foreshore for a surreal and haunting guided ‘bird walk’. Or else rev up your engines by joining Mark Kluwer for a two-hour meditation and cold-water therapy session that is sure to quell the debauchery of the night before.

WinterWild

The Wild Feast commences along the foreshore from 4 pm, where the whole festival community will come together to bond and nourish. Expect to find open pans of seafood and vegetable paella, slow-cooked meats, soups and lip-smacking bao buns. There will be craft beers from Prickly Moses and Apollo Bay Gin Distillery will be mixing up the cocktails.

As dusk descends, watch for the arrival of Dogwatch, a dreamlike performance of fire and light from an eclectic collection of local artists, dancers, musicians and general misfits (free event). For those kicking on through the night, Dane Blacklock & the Preacher’s Daughter will be causing all sorts of chaos at the Mechanics Hall and the Apollo Bay Sailing club will play host to Moongarden, with electronic maestros DJ Harvey Sutherland with Milo Eastwood and Post Percy.

Ease yourself into Sunday morning by joining Qigong  practitioner Dani Cullen who will realign your body’s energy with a Qigong session beside an open fire on the foreshore. Or come along to a coffee roasting workshop with the guys from Hello Coffee. Get your caffeine fill, whilst exploring the process of coffee making from bean to cup.

Festival Great Ocean Road

The rest of Sunday is designed to ease you gently back into reality with a celestial performance by local concert pianist Estelle Shircore Barker in a location only revealed with your ticket purchase. And artist Amy Tsilemanis will give you plenty to think about on the drive home with a creative oral history of the Apollo Bay region that was created as part of her artist residency for the Apollo Bay Museum with support from the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund Fellowship program.


THE DETAILS

What: 2023 WinterWild
Where: Apollo Bay
When: August 25-27, 2023
More info: WinterWild

 

We wish to acknowledge the Eastern Maar people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Savour the flavours of the past at Sovereign Hill’s Heritage Harvest Weekend

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

As autumn sets in, bringing with it auburn leaves and crisp morning air, many of us are looking for ways to warm up — our hearts and our bellies.

The Heritage Harvest Weekend at Sovereign Hill returns on May 27th – 28th, bringing together the community for a celebration of abundant seasonal harvest and heritage craftsmanship. It’s a golden opportunity to journey back to the Gold Rush era and discover how our nineteenth-century ancestors preserved and prepared their produce.

Heritage Harvest Festival

Over 30 vendors, mostly local, will take over the historic Sovereign Hill site for the weekend, showcasing their skills in fermenting, drying, salting, and curing food, as well as distilling. These age-old skills have been passed down through generations, and this event provides an opportunity to experience them firsthand.

But it’s not just about observing these skills in action. This weekend is designed to get your hands dirty, your plates full, and your mind inspired.

Three chefs, including the renowned Tony Tan and Tim Bone will be on-site to provide demonstrations, showcasing their expertise and sharing their culinary tips and tricks.

Tim Bone — Ballarat’s own Masterchef semi-finalist turned professional chef — will put his flair for bold, hearty flavours into gear with a special and intimate Miners Fare Masterclass. We’ve been told he gives the iconic baked bean a modern-day twist — which obviously must be seen to be believed.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration of Gold Rush food without a taste of Asia. Australia’s top Asian cuisine chef and teacher Tony Tan unveils the ancient art of dumpling making in his interactive workshop.

For those looking for something extra special, a separately ticketed lunch will be available, with a menu designed by chef Julia Busuttil Nishimura — also known as Julia “Ostro” after her bestselling cookbook — in collaboration with the Peter Rowland Group. The menu promises to be a delicious showcase of local produce and culinary talent.

Visitors to the Harvest Weekend can also explore the world of beekeeping, sourdough, cheese, and more at the Harvest Village. A botanical bar featuring gin, as well as a whisky and wine area, will be on offer for those looking to imbibe. And if it’s a taste of life on the goldfields you’re after? Head to the diggings, where you can indulge in damper and stew.

Sovereign Hill Festival

Even the littlest visitors will be entertained at the Harvest Weekend, with a Little Explorers Zone providing a fun play area for kids.

With so much to taste, craft and stock up on, we recommend taking a gander through the Harvest Weekend Program to plan your trip.  Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or just looking for a fun day out, there’s something for everyone at this family-friendly event.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Heritage Harvest Weekend
WHERE: Sovereign Hill, Golden Point
WHEN: 27 – 28 May 2023
MORE INFO: Heritage Harvest Weekend

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Annie Smithers announces month-long festival to celebrate 10 year anniversary

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

Annie Smithers is a force of nature. The author, broadcaster, farmer and chef has been championing real seasonal and local cuisine in Central Victoria for decades. She opened the doors to her Trentham restaurant Du Fermier 10 years ago and to celebrate she is closing the restaurant for the month of May.

Instead, she is holding a month-long mini-festival to celebrate the farmers who supply her kitchen, the winemakers who fill her cellar and the women who have mentored her or supported her in the kitchen during her career.

Food Festival TrenthamThe recipe writer for The Saturday Paper and resident chef for Blueprint for Living on ABC Radio National grows much of her fruit and veg at her Lyonville farm, Babbington Park, 10km from Daylesford. The lamb she cooks comes from a farm she can see from her kitchen garden and is grown by farmer Bruce Rolfe. He and Annie are doing an all-day lamb masterclass on May 18 which includes morning tea and a three-course lunch with wine and loads of dishes cooked with tender, sweet, and beautifully full-flavored Suffolk lamb. Annie is also doing a pork, beef, duck and chicken masterclass.

One of the big ticket events is the Mother’s Day Lunch with Stephanie Alexander on Sunday 14th May. Annie spent her early years cooking under Stephanie Alexander at her Hawthorn restaurant and the two have remained close since. They celebrate Mother’s Day with a four-course meal. Annie’s du Fermier is normally open for lunch, but for May only she is opening her doors for Friday night dinner on 5th, 12th, and 19th May.

Expect candles, shared plates and beautiful evening meals cooked with autumnal produce from the kitchen garden. On May 6th and 13th Annie is baking and making charcuterie for her French-style Petite Marche or little market where customers buy produce direct from Annie’s kitchen. Annie is also throwing an afterparty for the Trentham SpudFest starting at 5.30pm where she’ll be serving up her own rendition of potato cakes and pouring vodka made with Trentham potatoes. Gascony is one of Annie’s favourite regions of France and she is revisiting the trips on which she toured the auberges and taverns tasting the traditional dishes, and the honest food of the farmhouses. On Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st she is holding a five-course Gascon feast complete with wine and a limited-edition book about the food of Gascony.

“Du Fermier is all about cooking exceptional fresh produce from the farm and surrounding farms,” says Annie. “This month of celebrations is about putting the people who support our beautiful little French farmhouse style restaurant in a historic weatherboard shop front and foremost.”


THE DETAILS

Who: Celebrity chef Annie Smithers
Where: Du Fermier, Trentham
What: Thirty days of events celebrating local and seasonal produce with a very accomplished chef
When: Month of May 2023
Why: Exclusive and one-off events
More info: Annie Smithers

We wish to acknowledge the Dja Dja Wurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Beechworth’s old-fashioned soda bar with a cheeky hidden secret

Words by Gwen O'Toole
Images supplied

Bringing back the nostalgia of the local soda bar serving up your favourite ice cream spiders, sodas and milkshakes, Billson’s Soda Bar in the Victorian High Country region of Beechworth is hiding a cheeky secret only accessible with a password.

Soda Bar

What was once a printing press has been transformed into Billson’s Soda Bar, an old-fashioned experience where a bartender serves up all your favourite Billson’s cordials from a selection far beyond what you’ll find in your local supermarket.

The enormous range of cordials is created just a short stroll away at the historic Billson’s Beechworth brewery where pure spring water, filtered through Beechworth granite helps create handcrafted beer, small batch gins and liqueur, a range of cordials including flavours both traditional and not-so-traditional such as Cloves and Peppermint, Pine Lime and Grape Bubblegum, sodas and the hugely popular premixed spirit drinks.

The brewery itself is well worth the visit for the opportunity to take the popular tour and learn about the brewery’s fascinating history and visit their tasting room and taste every drink they make, for free. You can also order from their casual dining menu, or treat your dog to a day out in the beer garden. And while these things alone make the road trip well worth the journey, it’s the Soda Bar’s cheeky cocktail lounge hidden behind a cool room door that’s certain to delight.

Beechworth Bar

Accessible by adults only using the password, (hint: it’s hidden somewhere on their website) the elegant Isabella’s Cocktail Bar is named for the enterprising woman behind the Billson’s name. She and her husband George travelled from England to California and Bendigo in search of gold in the 1850s and began a legacy in Beechworth by building a brewery and brand that has carried through the years.

While you’re visiting, try their signature 50/50 cocktail. Called “a gentle approach to a classic martini” it uses the signature small batch Isabella’s Gin, aged for three months in muscat barrels and sold exclusively at Billson’s cellar door in Beechworth.

Pop in for a cheeky cocktail or book reservations to enjoy dinner courtesy of Chef Douglas Elder’s seasonal menu designed to pair with the drinks list. You’ll also discover a wine inspired by the surrounding King Valley and Rutherglen regions.

High Country Restaurant

The recently launched Billson’s Cocktail Class, is an immersive hands-on two-hour session where groups of up to 10 are taken through the fundamental techniques of shaking, stirring and of course, sipping various spirits, flavours and garnishes. Led by Billson’s own bartenders, you’ll create three fabulous cocktails using your new skills, paired with canapes and cheeses. Afterwards, you’ll want to stock up on cordials to re-create these delicious beauties at home.

Held on Sunday afternoons and priced at $89 per person, it’s also a great group activity that can be booked privately for a special celebration such as hen’s parties, birthdays and corporate events. Don’t drink? Book a $79 ticket and learn how to whip up some incredibly delicious mocktails.  

Beechworth is a three-hour drive from the Melbourne CBD via the M31 Hume Freeway. Take the Great Alpine Road B500 to Tarrawingee and the C315 to Beechworth.


THE DETAILS

What: Isabella’s at Billson’s Soda Bar
When: Open 12 pm – 10 pm, Thursday to Monday, Cocktail classes are Sundays or by private booking
Where: 37 Camp Street, Beechworth, VIC, 3747
More Info: Billsons

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

An East Gippsland arts collective is bringing a unique program of eco-walks and events to Lake Tyers

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

The East Gippsland Walking Festival is a collaboration between local environmental enthusiasts, storytellers, entrepreneurs and former artists-in-residence, aiming to reactivate the towns surrounding the Gippsland Lakes.

All the creatives involved have spent time working and living on a purpose-built houseboat, aptly entitled FLOAT, that is permanently moored on Bung Yarnda – Lake Tyers’ Indigenous name – and are sharing their enthusiasm and individual responses to their experience.

The activities invite participants to experience the natural surrounds in a variety of interactive ways.

There’s a two-hour beach meander, where you pack a journal and marking tool, and record your sensory journey on the page, with storyteller and visual artist Sofia Sabbagh.

A Sound and Plant Walk will focus on edible, native succulents that grow around the lake and you will be accompanied by a downloadable musical score, composed by Dylan Martorell, that will make the flora you’re discovering audible as well as digestible!

East Gippsland Walking Festival

The Cherry Tree Walk is an early evening event, that will literally take you back in time by discovering fossils and following and hearing the Indigenous stories of the estuary, as you stroll around with FLOAT curator Josephine Jakobi and Whadjuk/Balladong Noongar designer, researcher, Jack Mitchell.

Geology buffs can book the Red Bluff walk that will focus on what lies underneath the water, how it got there and where it’s headed in the current environmental climate.

Filmmaker Isaac Carné will be leading a nighttime forest walk, where it’s BYO torch, to light your way through the pitch-black bush to try and spot threatened species like the Yellow Belly Glider, Greater Glider or the Sooty and Powerful Owls.

A Plant Diary walk will teach you how to read the story of various fauna – from ancient trees to fresh saplings – gaining an understanding of how the individual environment dictates growth of the same species.

The analysis will then turn toward human parallels, with thoughtful discussion led by artist/curator/writer and Honorary Lecturer and Researcher at ANU School of Art and Design, Simon Cottrell.

The festival winds up on Sunday, 2nd April with a costume parade along the beach, soundscapes, afternoon tea, live music, and an invite to head along to the Water Wheel Tavern to feast on local produce and take in a last view of Lake Tyers while you ponder all that you’ve learned and experienced.


THE DETAILS

Who: School of Untourism
What: East Gippsland Walking Festival
When: 26 March – 2 April
Where:
Lake Tyers
Bookings: HERE

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Slow, self-guided and all inclusive Ballarat tour shows off the best art, food and hidden gems

Words by Anthea Riskas
Images supplied

If the idea of group tours gives you the ick, then sign up for this self-guided, slow travel offering in Ballarat, from local company Hidden Lanes.

The Ballarat Art and Culinary Journey being hosted on Saturday, 4th March, is a hybrid experience combining a hands-on art class, 2 hours of solo walking time with a podcast and digital guidebook for company and lunch at one of The ‘Rat’s best beer barns.

Your day begins at The Lost Ones Makers Studio where you’ll join local artist Pauline O’Shannessy-Dowling for a one-hour creative workshop titled “I Can’t Draw” which leaves no wiggle room for anyone who believes they aren’t creative.

An hour later you begin your meander around some of the town’s more secret spots, with stops of historical and cultural significance and scenic beauty mapped out along your virtual itinerary.
Pop your earbuds in and listen to the tales only locals would know about at each landmark and really lean into the concept of not needing to jam in all the “sights”.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to search for the literal hidden lane that houses Hop Temple, where your lunch and a refreshing beverage are all included in your ticket price.

Tour Ballarat

This venue is the perfect pairing for this style of touring, it’s a welcoming, relaxed, light-filled space, with no pretensions but high standards when it comes to food and drink.

Take your time to enjoy your meal and when you’re refuelled and ready, head back onto the Ballarat streets to tick off the rest of your walking list and figure out the treasure hunt to locate a little culinary treat!

Not so keen on such a prescribed outing or can’t make this particular date? No problem!

Hidden Lanes offer their standard, self-guided tours Wednesday-Saturday, 11am-4pm, which take 3-5 hours to help you discover hidden laneways, art galleries and studios, antique and local gift stores, quirky cafes and beautiful scenery.

There’s no need to rush, when you’ve got a curated, virtual local in your pocket, you’re guaranteed not to miss a thing.


THE DETAILS

Who: Hidden Lanes
What: Ballarat Art and Culinary Journey Self-guided Tour
When: Saturday 4th March
Where:
Ballarat
Tickets: Book Here

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Shepparton Festival uses the arts to dive deep into life’s big questions

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Kristen was 18 years old when she decided to leave her home town of Katunga in the Goulburn Valley and make for Melbourne in search of new possibilities.

As a young woman with a zest for adventure, she knew there was much to discover in the world beyond.

‘There is this belief here that young people need to stay (in Shepparton) that I kind of disagree with,’ Kristen says. ‘I think they need to experience other ways of thinking and then be able to return which I think is a much more powerful thing.’

Kristen says life in the city opened up her mind, and she was able to return to Shepparton years later with a deeper appreciation for the region she grew up in and a yearning to drive change – particularly in the arena of the creative arts in which she is trained.

As a visual artist, her return to the region saw her work as a council arts and culture officer as well as a gallery manager in neighbouring Nathalia. This year, Kristen takes the reins as the director of the Shepparton Festival – an annual program of events that combines performance, music, literature, visual arts and food into one melting pot of artistic brilliance.

Kristen says she believes the festival is one avenue for strengthening her town’s creative landscape and to effect change in her ever-evolving community.

Shepparton Festival She says the arts are a powerful medium to explore topics relating to climate, acceptance, equality, equitable living, and she hopes others feel inspired by the festival and feel comfortable to converse openly on such important issues.

‘One of the things I reflected upon before coming (back) here was I was really worried and afraid about conversations around those topics and the divide they might cause. But I was so pleased that the community around the festival meant those conversations weren’t necessarily always negative and often people are discussing similar ways of thinking,’ she says.

‘Shepparton has made huge progress when it comes to certain areas and I believe that has a lot to do with having those involved in arts and culture present. People who make art are generally big thinkers, and them having a place in these communities allows for the nurturing of strong ideas.’

The two-week Shepparton Festival will take place across a number of spaces, with a diverse program that also includes workshops and networking events for local creatives – an element which Kristen says is necessary for artists especially following the challenges of the recent floods and health pandemic.

One of the program highlights is the sound installation OnBelonging which is comprised of musical compositions created from field recordings of the Shepparton area’s environmental resonances and sounds.

The installation is set to provide a connection with place while also leaving the audience feeling that their presence will, in some way, affect their environment.

Kristen says the work plays on the idea that sound can be art in and of itself – something which is is really quite novel.

The program will also showcase the region’s finest artists and creatives including the likes of Yorta Yorta artists Tammy-Lee Atkinson and Brady Jones aka BRICKY B. Along with Dery Theodorus, Rachel Doller and Meg Doller.

‘Shepparton has this quiet achiever thing going on with the arts,’ Kristen says. ‘There have always been artists and creatives around but it’s never been loud and public.

‘I think this is good because it’s a blank canvas every time and there’s no national expectation for the Festival. That might change but I think at the moment, anything is possible here.’

The 2023 program is live and tickets are now on sale.


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Shepparton Festival
WHEN: March 17 to April 2
FIND OUT MORE: Shepparton Festival

We wish to acknowledge the Yorta Yorta people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

New festival is heading to Flinders in February curated by celebrity milliner Melissa Jackson

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

This February, for three days and nights, the seaside town of Flinders will be home to some of the nation’s most talented artists and performers in a brand-new festival curated by celebrity milliner Melissa Jackson.

From February 17 – 19, 30 different performances, events, walks, talks and workshops will be taking place around town in different venues from the iconic Flinders General Store, historic St John’s Anglican Church, Flinders Ocean Beach and the Flinders Hotel.

Some of the highlights include appearances by Melbourne Opera and Soul Circus plus a new work called DIRT by internationally renowned cabaret performer, pianist, and composer John Thorn. This is a clever and witty collection of songs exploring the existential crises we all face in these first decades of the 21st century. With titles such as Why Are We Here? And Inconvenient Fruit this is a good chance to see this talented man in action.

Also performing is Sunny Reyne, daughter of musician and presenter David Reyne, with her smooth summery songs. She will be singing at the Flinders Bowls Club as will young artist Holly Hebe, known for her beautifully introspective and thoughtful songs. This is also the venue for a screening of a documentary made about the Flinders General Store called House of Commons. Made by local filmmaker Tasma Pittock it tells the story of local storekeepers Frank and Olive Commons who ran the store in the mid-20th century, a time when the fire brigade siren was inside the back door and people made their doctors’ appointments at the counter.

Foodies will not be disappointed as ABC breakfast TV star Alice Zaslavsky will be appearing at a literary lunch at the Flinders Hotel. Flinders Pier’s famous resident weedy sea dragons will also be celebrated with the creation of giant weedy sea dragon puppets by master puppeteer Ian Cumming.

With beach foraging, choirs, kite-making workshops and even former Sale of the Century host and Flinders local Tony Barber hosting a British pub singalong this is a beautiful celebration of place and people. Artistic director Melissa Jackson, a person with strong ties to the area, says “The festival will celebrate the beauty of the Mornington Peninsula’s natural environment and create economic benefits and opportunities for … local artists living on and frequenting the Mornington Peninsula. This event is truly diverse, and people of all ages will be excited by the mixed music and creative arts program on offer. There will be something for everyone.“


THE DETAILS

What: Brand new festival in beautiful Westernport village
Where: Various locations around Flinders
When: Fri 17 – Sun 19 February 2023
Who: The Mornington Peninsula’s best artists plus some talented out-of-towners
Why: Stunning landscape, some free events, great performers, summer on the Peninsula!
More Info: Flinders Fringe Festival

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

A food grower’s haven at Creative Harvest in West Gippsland

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images supplied

Picture this: rows and rows of straw-tucked vegetable sprouts reaching their way towards the sun. A rusty wheelbarrow bursting with fresh herbs. Fruit trees laden with colourful, plump spheres in a sprawling backyard. All this might sound a little dreamy for an city dweller who, contained to their (approximately) 54 square metre apartment, may aspire only to keep their temperamental peace lily alive.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we knew more? If we could see the possibilities of a functioning, flourishing veggie garden — and better yet, learn the ways of the gardeners that tend to them? Creative Harvest, West Gippsland’s open food garden weekend, is back on 28 and 29 January 2023 to inspire and educate all the hopeful home growers out there, from the beginner to advanced.

The two-day event opens the gates to fifteen private food-producing gardens—from small suburban backyards to large family farms. Creative Harvest is all about sharing gardening know-how and sampling some of the fresh fruit and veg grown by locals. This year, the event’s sixth iteration, 30 local artists and creatives including beekeepers, winemakers, jam makers, jewellers, mosaic makers, painters, printmakers and sculptors, will be dropping by select gardens to share their work.

“Creative Harvest is a celebration of sustainability and community and a showcase for West Gippsland’s creative movers and shakers. We aim to demonstrate how simple it is to start or expand your own thriving food garden – in your kitchen window box, small backyard or on a large lifestyle block,” said Kristy Plumridge, Chair of the Creative Harvest Committee.

And what better timing? Post-pandemic, people are looking to unshackle themselves from the supermarket monopoly and grow their own food. Whether it’s a strawberry or two on a windowsill or a towering tomato plant by the backdoor, any homegrown produce is a step towards self-sufficiency and sustainability. The organisers are expecting their biggest turnout this year, up from the 1000-strong crowd of 2022.

An additional four hands-on workshops will take place across the weekend as well. Visitors can buy tickets to learn skills in hot composting, preserving and fermenting homegrown produce, growing veggies from seed or extracting dye from local flora. If you’re looking for more of an informal education, growers and makers will be milling around all weekend for a yarn.

Enjoy a great weekend in West Gippsland; bring the family, or your friends, or your dog. Just don’t forget to bring a basket for the tasty Gippsland produce you’re bound to discover. Tickets can be purchased online and Single, Family & Senior Weekend Passes are also available.


THE DETAILS
WHAT: Creative Harvest
WHERE: West Gippsland, multiple locations
WHEN: 28 and 29 January 2023
MORE INFO: Creative Harvest

We wish to acknowledge the Bunurong people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

New regional experience sees guests lunch, learn and reconnect with themselves

Words by Della Vreeland
Images supplied

Partners in life and business Gorgi and Simon Coghlan have launched yet another inspiring enterprise, set to allure lovers of nature, food and wellness.

Set amidst the stunning surrounds of the Coghlans’ Bermingham Farm (and aptly titled as such), the project aims to nourish the body, mind and soul through a series of special events that will “provide a space for people to be the best version of themselves. To be better connected to their own story and the stories of others”.

‘We’re doing this for people to connect with themselves and come home to themselves,’ Gorgi says. ‘It’s a magical place for people to reconnect with who they are.’

People have come out of the pandemic after so much self-reflection, thinking – I am in control of my happiness and destiny, and that’s where I want to spend my time and my money.

Located just outside of Ballarat, the Coghlans have lived on their property for 10 years and have spent a decade pouring time, love and energy into perfecting their home. Now, they are ready to share it with all those who would like to partake of its wonder.

‘We’ve been planning this unconsciously for 10 years,’ Gorgi says. We’ve had friends here for parties and events who have said this is exactly what they’ve needed – to be back in nature, to reconnect and have their loads lightened.

‘There is something special about this place and about simplifying your life.’

The initial events to be held at the farm include a series of Lunch and Learn personal growth and wellness workshops at the property’s stables – facilitated by leading health professionals who will explore the acclaimed works of Dr Brené Brown, and hosted by Gorgi herself.

The events are comprised of meditation sessions, tours of the perfectly-manicured Bermingham gardens, delicious locally-made fare, immersive presentations, and – ultimately – the chance to “come home to yourself”.

‘When you want to seek help, you don’t know where to start. But Dr Brown’s work is so relatable. She shares her own flaws and struggles, and we are so lucky to have her work and her facilitators coming to our farm and acting as an entry point.’

From next year, the space will also play host to the Bermingham x Chef series and Bermingham Farm Garden series which Gorgi says would be a ‘celebration of agri-tourism’.

‘The Garden series will be really cup-filling and feature nourishing country cooking and preserving techniques, bringing exciting people to Ballarat and also showcasing bigger names in exciting different ways.’

With the Coghlans’ award-winning boutique Ballarat hotel The Provincial now on the market, the duo now has more time to spend on this labour of love and other projects – including more on-stage performances and a return to broadcasting for Gorgi in 2023.

‘We love hospitality and entertaining and so we thought – how do we combine all those things together? That’s what Birmingham farm has ended up being.’


THE DETAILS:

WHAT: Bermingham Farm
WHEN:  Events commencing in 2023
BOOKINGS: Bermingham Farm

We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.