Kangaroo Island networks help bring fig wine vinegar to fruition

Dan Pattingale is a farmer who understands the necessity of innovating.

The Kangaroo Island orchardist, whose Stokes Bay property has abundant figs and olive trees, has cleverly designed many food products under The Figgery brand to address unexpected crop gluts, droughts and varying cost shifts that have affected his business.

However, he also knows that innovation alone will not sell his wares.

“I’m a hands-on farmer, but not a marketer,” admits Dan. “I need to get my products into people’s mouths to make them love what I produce, and to do that from somewhere as isolated as Kangaroo Island, I need a network.”

Dan Pattingale picks figs on his Stokes Bay property.

Dan has achieved this, largely thanks to the deliciousness of his products. Beyond producing exceptional extra virgin olive oil for the past 20 years, Dan has created sticky figs, and sold the preserving fluid as sticky fig syrup.

Now he is creating a unique fig wine vinegar that will be available from July.

“I can’t sell 12 tonnes of fresh figs that I harvest – they’re too delicate to transport – so I’ve got to keep thinking of new ways to prolong their shelf life.

Now I’ve got 200 litres of fig wine – it’s quite sweet and spicy – that I’ll be converting into fig wine vinegar. Sure, it’s different, but just having an interesting product from Kangaroo Island is not enough. It has to be exceptional and consistent – and available when customers want it.”

Dried and sticky fig products and the sticky fig syrup at the central market. The newest addition will be the fig wine vinegar from July.

Achieving this is difficult due to high freight costs, but Dan’s great allies have been Justin and Jane Harmon, who run the Kangaroo Island Stall in the Adelaide Central Market.

Since 2014, they have stocked more than 50 of Kangaroo Island’s boutique food and drink producers, providing a first opportunity for many to reach the Adelaide market.

Importantly, the stall also gave customers a first taste of The Figgery’s unique products, which triggered word of mouth demand.

The Figgery products are now distributed to 50 stores throughout South Australia, although Dan says the Kangaroo Island Stall is where he will officially launch the new fig wine vinegar.

“It’s been an essential supporter for small producers,” he says. “They’ve employed young people from the island; my daughter Nina still works there. It truly represents the island.”

Jane and Justin Harmon of the Kangaroo Island Stall in the Adelaide Central Market help promote island produce to city folk.

One more crucial cog is required to make boutique food production on Kangaroo Island a viable proposition – cost-effective distribution to the mainland.

Tiff Turner has filled this role by creating KI Complete, a food distribution and transportation service. The former general manager of Island Pure sheep dairy now makes weekly runs to Adelaide, ferrying goods from about 20 small producers (including The Figgery), and returns to the island the following day with supplies of artisan milks, breads, fruits and vegetables.

“I’ve seen first hand that freight costs can destroy a business on KI before it really gets going, but I also know that if we work together, we can solve a lot of the problems,” says Tiff.

“That’s why I decided to pitch in. I really want to see the island get ahead.”

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Garlic glory on Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island man Shane Leahy is on a mission to ensure South Australians have a better chance of consuming locally grown garlic.

His fledgling enterprise, Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic, is the island’s first commercial garlic farm, and Shane says this year’s harvest is his first successful yield after three years spent perfecting his growing techniques.

He is a strong advocate against imported garlic, saying the flavour of the local produce compared to imported is second to none. He is also passionate about the health and environmental benefits of choosing Australian grown garlic.

“It stunned me when I first started growing and learning about garlic about what they do to imported garlic,” he says. “By the time it gets here to Australia and it’s put on our plate, you may as well eat a cardboard box.”

According to the Australian Garlic Producers Group, Australia imports about 95% of its garlic from China, where the garlic is treated with a growth retardant to prevent it from sprouting and is also sprayed with chemicals to extend its shelf life.

Shane Leahy of Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic based at Stokes Bay on the island.

Australia also imports garlic from Spain, Argentina, Mexico and the US, with all imported garlic treated with methyl bromide upon arrival to ensure it meets stringent quarantine import conditions.

Australia’s garlic crops are generally planted in autumn, ready for harvest by late spring, depending on the conditions and growing region.

To combat the seasonality of locally grown garlic, Shane has launched a range of value-added products so consumers can enjoy locally grown garlic all year round. He invested in peeling and dehydration equipment to make garlic granules, garlic powder and garlic salt, made with no additives or preservatives.

These products have launched into independent supermarkets and selected greengrocers across metropolitan Adelaide and regional SA, with distributors also in Queensland and Darwin.

The fresh, whole white and purple hardneck garlic bulbs are currently only available on KI, but Shane says plans are afoot to distribute the produce statewide.

Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic also supplies freshly peeled garlic to top restaurants and cafés in Adelaide and on KI, including Southern Ocean Lodge, Rockpool Café, Sunset Food and Wine, and the Aurora Ozone Hotel.

Aside from fresh bulbs, Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic also makes garlic salt, garlic powder and garlic granules.

“Because of the strong flavour of Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic I only need to use one third of the quantity to achieve the same flavour as inferior products,” says Aurora Ozone Hotel head chef Lenny Numa.

Shane took to garlic growing after spending most of his working life in the wool industry as a wool classer. While born in SA, his family moved to Fremantle in WA where he spent most of his childhood and adolescence, completing a TAFE course in wool classing.

He then spent years travelling around the country, hopping from shearing shed to shearing shed until he one day took a wool classing job on KI.

He still moved around during the off-season but grew tired of the constant travelling. In 2003, KI became his home base, with its population of 4000 people and the many mates he made at the front bar of the local pub.

Two of those mates were brothers Lachie and Sam Hollitt and over a few beers the trio came up with a grand plan – to grow garlic on the island and sell it to market.

Shane says Sam was the brains behind the idea, with the three men eventually taking a trip to the Mid North to “pick the brains of an old fella” who had been growing garlic for years.

But on the cusp of launching their enterprise, Sam was killed in a car accident, leaving the small community devastated. In a second bout of tragedy, Lachie later fell ill with testicular cancer and nine months after the diagnosis he passed away.

This year’s harvest is Kangaroo Island Fresh Garlic’s first successful yield.

Months later, Shane toyed with the idea of continuing the garlic venture in honour of his two mates, believing “it was what the boys would have wanted”.

And so he carried on with the plans in their memory, eventually meeting a grower in Renmark, buying seed and planting thousands of them by hand over one acre on his property at Stokes Bay.

Four years later and the garlic crop of about 300,000 plants takes up about 3ha of his 250-acre farm, which also runs 400 crossbred ewes for meat production.

Shane says he hopes to do the brothers proud with his garlic enterprise, which is still a one-man operation besides a small number of workers employed seasonally.

He says KI’s cold climate helps accentuate the strong flavour of the garlic and says his go-to garlic recipe is a simple garlic butter.

“Work half a pouch of the garlic powder into a knob of butter and you have the best garlic butter in the world,” he adds.

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Café with a cause at Kangaroo Island Airport

Airline passengers touching down at one of South Australia’s most popular tourist destinations are now able to get their caffeine fix after a disability service organisation established its first social enterprise at the Kangaroo Island airport.

Not-for-profit organisation Mobo Group strengthened its presence in the state’s regions this week when it opened a café at the newly upgraded Kangaroo Island Kingscote Airport, providing employment opportunities for locals living with a disability.

The yet-to-be-named café is currently serving hot beverages and small treats to visitors flying in and out of the the island, giving Mobo employees a chance to build social and vocational skills.

CEO of Mobo Group Andrew Ramsey says he is looking forward to witnessing the many benefits the café will create for employees, patrons and Kangaroo Island’s tourism industry.

Airline passengers order coffee at the newly opened café run by the Mobo Group at the Kangaroo Island Kingscote Airport.

Not only will Mobo employees be provided with employment, they will have the chance to receive barista training, develop their social skills through engaging with customers and will also become tourist ambassadors for the region.

“This new café will enable people living with a disability to be the best that they can be, by giving them the opportunity for sustained employment within the community as well as employment-related support,” he says.

“The café is our first business enterprise on Kangaroo Island and we really look forward to being an even greater part of the community and helping to support the tourism trade and those transiting through the airport.”

Although the airport café is the organisation’s first social enterprise on the island, Mobo Group is long delivered youth services, alcohol and drug programs and run the local Centrelink agency.

The new café complements the recently upgraded Kingscote airport.

“We hope that this will be the first of a number of social enterprises which can be developed on the island, building on the support that we already provide to Kangaroo Island residents living with a disability,” Andrew says.

Kangaroo Island Council CEO Andrew Boardman says the café will be a welcome addition to the airport, which recently underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade.

The State and Federal government funded the works, with the council also developing the project.

“The opportunity to leverage council infrastructure to create opportunities for all in our community is a key thrust in the design of the new facilities, and the council is looking forward to this initiative being the start of great things to come in this area,” Mr Boardman says.

Mobo Group employee Bec Davis restocks the beverages. Bec, along with fellow employees Carmel and Julie, were instrumental in bringing the café to fruition.

Mobo Group supports more than 200 people with disabilities in finding employment and engaging in employment-related support services across metropolitan and regional SA.

The organisation was formed from the merger of two disability enterprises, Hands On SA and Finding Workable Solutions and has a presence in regional areas of Berri, Brinkley, Goolwa, Totness, Mt Barker and Victor Harbor.

Mobo runs a number of business enterprises across the state in document destruction, firewood, food packaging, garden maintenance, mailing campaigns, packaging and processing services, product assembly, print finishing, sewing services and salvage shops.

It is a registered provider of NDIS services, and supports people with disabilities in finding a job, transitioning from school to work, accessing alcohol and drug awareness, and youth services.

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Vintage-inspired food truck a mini delight for KI beachgoers

‘Coffee at sunrise and cocktails at sunset’ – that’s the motto of Kangaroo Island foodie Em Woskett, owner of pop-up food truck Mini De Lights.

The pop-up cocktail bar, kitchen and beer garden is fast gaining popularity with KI locals and visitors to the stunning Emu Bay beach, one of the island’s most popular swimming spots.

The vintage-inspired food van is one of Kangaroo Island’s first licensed food trucks, joining a growing fleet of pop up vendors helping to push the region’s profile for being one of the state’s leading food and wine destinations.

Mini De Lights serves bite-sized street food, coffee, cocktails and desserts. Its summer menu includes honey popcorn chicken with spicy slaw, prawn, ginger and carrot balls with wasabi mayo, as well as all-day breakfast granola, zucchini fritters, and eggs Benedict with prosciutto.

The Mini De Lights popcorn chicken.

Em says sourcing local produce, beer, wine and spirits is essential to the small business which rolled onto the food truck scene in February this year.

“I’ve been using local cheese and family farms down the road supply the pork and lamb, we use Fleurieu Milk and our coffee is from a local coffee roaster,” she says.

“Our cocktails are made from Kangaroo Island Spirits, and we have False Cape Wines, The Islander Estate, Bay of Shoals and Kangaroo Island Brewery beers on offer.

“As local businesses, we try to promote one another, that is our bread and butter. If you don’t have local support you’re standing on your own. We are all passionate about the region and we want to see each other succeed.”

Mini De Lights joins a small fleet of other food trucks operating at various events and locations across the island, and Em says they each have a knack for creative thinking and a passion for food.

The arrival of the Mini De Lights food truck marks the first time in more than a decade that swimmers have been able to access food and beverages at Emu Bay, with a nearby kiosk closing some time ago.

“Emu Bay is a beautiful beach, 70% of the houses are holiday rentals so it’s full of people in the holiday periods, but there is nothing here on the beach front,” Em says.

“The pop-up concept was always an idea I’d loved because there are no boundaries and you can play around with what you serve and how you serve it.”

Mini De Lights has also popped up at local businesses and catered for special events. From December 1 and throughout summer it will open seven days a week at Emu Bay from 7am–7pm.

Originally from Adelaide, Em has spent most of her working life in hospitality in Australia and overseas.

Em Woskett is the woman behind Mini De Lights.

She spent time in New Zealand and London before returning to Adelaide and heading for Kangaroo Island, taking on the role of restaurant manager at Southern Ocean Lodge.

It was during her time at the luxurious boutique hotel that she fell in love with the island’s produce, and also met a local stone mason, who is now her partner.

She says Kangaroo Island is growing its reputation as a premier food and wine destination and that locals and visitors are “spoilt for choice” with culinary offerings and landscapes to explore.

“It’s taken some time for Kangaroo Island to have its time in the light, and it’s just starting to get there,” she says.

“It’s almost like a hidden treasure, we have so much to showcase, the coastlines, the wildlife, once you cast your eye around there is so much choice, we are spoilt rotten.

“The island’s charm is that it’s untouched. It’s simple, yet so beautiful.”

Header photo courtesy of The Islander.

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Kangaroo Island spins its own unique wool story

When sheep and grain farmer Christine Berry walked into a Japanese clothing store and saw suits tagged with ‘made from Kangaroo Island wool’, she couldn’t resist buying a jacket to take home to Australia.

“When we walked into United Arrows, it’s like Myer in Japan, and saw a suit presented so beautifully and with the Kangaroo Island label it was wonderful, it was so powerful,” the chair of Kangaroo Island Wool says.

It’s been a dramatic change in approach for the collaborative group of 22 shareholders and producers who joined forces in 2012 to create a new way to market and sell their wool.

Before Kangaroo Island Wool was jointly started with veterinarians Greg Johnsson and Deb Lehmann, local producers would sell their produce with little idea of its end destination.

“Traditionally, our wool would take us 12 months to grow on the island, we’d shear and the bales would go to Adelaide and then be sold in Melbourne, we’d have no idea where it would go,” Christine says.

The fabric of the island.

Now they can trace where their wool lands in a global market and they are paid a premium for the high quality product.

This year, they’ve even managed to take it to the next level in selling their own range of wool jumpers, beanies and scarves online and at seven Kangaroo Island stores.

“For me personally, I’ve always wanted to wear a garment made from wool from our farm,” Christine says.

“I do now, I wear a jumper every day made from our wool, it makes me feel proud, I love what we do on Kangaroo Island.”

There’s a strong emphasis on sustainability and animal welfare for the producers who mainly sell through their biggest customer, Australian Wool Network.

The network combines Kangaroo Island wool with New Zealand possum fur to make luxury knitwear for MerinoSnug, and is now also helping to produce products for the group’s own brand.

In fact, it was Kangaroo Island that was the first region in the nation to help launch the Australian Wool Network’s unique Direct Network Advantage (DNA) wool supply program in 2015.

The DNA scheme enables consumers to follow the wool’s journey from bale to garment – when they buy a MerinoSnug product it comes with a QR code to scan and links to a video showing how the wool was produced.

Kangaroo Island wool grower Geoff Nutt.

Christine says the group is committed to a code of practice ensuring farmers focus on sheep health and welfare, social good and environmental care.

And, as a result, the company has a reputation for producing high-end fibre, consistently producing wool finer than the national average.

“As professional woolgrowers our simple philosophy is that looking after our sheep will ensure they look after us,” according to the group.

As demand for the group’s new range grows, it has employed Lucy McNaught as sales and marketing officer and plans are afoot to design a 100% Kangaroo Island wool rug with a local artist.

“On the island we have beautiful food and we have beautiful wine and honey, we know people love that but they are all consumables and we thought there was space for a tangible product for people to buy and take home to remember Kangaroo Island,” Christine says.

At her own farm Deep Dene, she cares for more than 5000 merino sheep with her husband Lloyd and daughter Caitlin.

Kangaroo Island Wool chair Christine Berry.

Lloyd’s parents arrived as Soldier Settlers in 1955 and when Caitlin returned to the island in 2015 after studying animal husbandry in Adelaide, she became the third generation to be farming the land.

They also crop 600ha with GM-free canola, broad beans and wheat, and “we can trace where everything we produce ends up,” Christine says.

Much of the wheat is sold to South Australian company Laucke Flour Mills at Strathalbyn for bread flour and Arnott’s for biscuits.

The family is part of a proud history for the island that began farming sheep in 1836 and, at its peak, was home to 1.24 million of them.

Others among the Kangaroo Island Wool ranks are third generation farmer Simon Wheaton, whose family has been working land across the water from Kingscote at Redbanks for 100 years.

While Mitch Wilson is a fifth generation farmer whose ancestors arrived from England in the early 1860s, buying land at Willson River in 1867.

He and his wife, Ros, now shear about 12,000 sheep a year.

“Wool is a natural, renewable fibre, and Kangaroo Island Wool is dedicated to the long-term development of an industry that is socially and environmentally responsible,” the Wilsons add.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Shop South Australia is home to a unique collection of over 300 South Australian gifts and goods from more than 70 local makers and producers. Choose local and Shop South Australia.

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Thornby Premium Lamb shares prime produce with the world

Thornby Premium Lamb has diversified its business model by entering the export market for the first time with its self-branded lamb products.

Thornby Premium Lamb products, including retail and consumer-ready packs, hit Japan in July this year, with plans also underway to target the Chinese market.

The longstanding family business is run by Paul McGorman, his brother Alex and father John who operate the family farm at Sanderston on the outskirts of the Murray Mallee.

They also run a premium breeding property on Kangaroo Island, mating merino ewes to white Suffolk rams to produce high quality lambs raised for meat.

Paul McGorman says the family farm supplied to wholesale markets before making the decision to value-add to the business by launching their own premium meat brand, now spotted in butchers and restaurants across SA and interstate.

Alex, left, Paul and John McGorman of Thornby Premium Lamb, which won the title of Australia’s Best Lamb in 2014.

A full-time sales and marketing role was created recently to help push the Thornby brand.

“We have always been big on diversification,” Paul says.

“While we sell our own branded product in Adelaide and Melbourne butchers and restaurants, we’re very excited by our first export to Japan this year.

“We’re taking full control and we’re also looking actively into the Chinese market – we’re going to a trade show in Shanghai in November.”

Paul says the decision to branch out from the farm’s traditional ties to the saleyard market was spurred after Thornby snagged the title of Australia’s Best Lamb at Lambex in 2014.

“We always thought that one day we’d have our own premium branded products and after winning a few awards we decided it was time to put our lamb out there,” he says.

“We’ve identified that there is a trend in the food industry where people want to know where their food is coming from.”

About 6000 lambs are bred at Thornby’s Kangaroo Island property, where they are raised until they reach weaning at about six months of age.

They are then brought to the Thornby feedlot at Sanderston where they are fed a grain-based diet for about 10 weeks before reaching the end stage of production.

The McGormans crop about 2400ha per year of wheat, barley and hay to feed the livestock. They also practice in wool production.

“With our self-feeders, the lambs can access high-quality grain 24/7 and there is plenty of room for them to roam naturally.

“They therefore grow at a faster rate because they’re eating a good quality diet and not having to forage for grass all day long. You end up with produce that is tender, with a milder flavour.”

Paul, front, and Alex McGorman are behind Thornby Premium Lamb which begun exporting its own branded products this year.

Thornby Premium Lamb turns over more than 50,000 lambs a year, breeding about 6000 of them while buying in the remainder from other farmers.

The business employs a team of 14 and Paul says many of its workers are in their mid ‘20s, proving that a career in South Australia’s agribusiness industry is still a viable pathway.

“The average age of our employees is about 23, and we employ attitudes not skills. Our employees are keen to learn and willing to get involved,” he says.

“There is strong jobs growth in agriculture and the meat and wool prices are going up, so it’s definitely a good time to be involved in agriculture.

“We’re excited by the future, enough so that we are significantly investing in a new shearing shed with a purpose-built showroom to display our product range.”

Thornby Premium Lamb products can be found at The Barossa Co-op,Feast! Fine Foods at Unley, Norwood, and the Adelaide Central Market, and increasingly in a number of SA restaurants supplied by Galipo Food Company.

“When you support local brands you’re supporting local farmers,” Paul adds.

Industry in focus: Agribusiness

Throughout the month of October, the state’s agribusiness industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian farmers, producers, agricultural researchers and biosecurity workers are the lifeblood of our country communities and are big players in the state’s overall economic welfare. Read more stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Kangaroo Island showcases pure grain to the world

Kangaroo Island Pure Grain (KIPG) is helping to further strengthen the island’s clean and green reputation to drive export markets and support local farmers.

For more than a decade KIPG has endeavoured to provide premium returns for local growers of non-genetically modified grains, oilseeds and pulses that are fully traceable back to individual farms.

While the domestic market is an important part of KIPG’s operations, its export market makes up the majority of its sales.

Recently the company hosted a delegation of Japanese buyers who visited the island for a first-hand insight into the local grain industry and the pristine environment.

“We have high interest from Japan in our non-GM canola, so we’ve been doing business with them for nearly 11 years,” says KIPG CEO Shane Mills.

“Our canola goes to Japan as pure non-GM canola oil and they’ve really embraced the clean, green and pristine environment it comes from.

“That’s the real success story to date for KIPG.”

Delegates on their visit to KIPG in 2017. A group also visited the island this September.

Recently KIPG has branched out to help local farmers find new niche markets, particularly with well known brands in the food and beverage industries.

KIPG collaborates with iconic South Australian brewer Coopers to supply Westminster barley used for making beer.

The barley is malted at Coopers’ $65 million new malting plant in Adelaide and is also supplied to boutique breweries.

The collaboration has eventually led to the making of the island’s very first whiskey, produced by Kangaroo Island Spirits (KIS).

KIS is preparing to distil the single malt whiskey also with the help of the island’s Drunken Drone Brewery and port barrels sourced from Bay of Shoals Wines.

KIPG CEO Shane Mills says relationships with well known companies such as Coopers and other leading businesses on the island “gives another arm to help the growers’ profitability”.

He says KIPG also supplies biscuit wheat to Adelaide’s Allied Mills which makes Arnott’s Tim Tams.

Drunken Drone Brewkery’s Greg Simons, left, Member for Mawson Leon Bignell, Kangaroo Island Pure Grain manager Dennis Jamieson and Kangaroo Island Spirits’ Jon Lark each enjoy a Lark Whiskey. They’ll have to wait two years before the island’s first whiskey is matured.

Kangaroo Island’s grain growers provide up to 20,000 tonnes a year to KIPG, with commodities including wheat, canola, broad beans and malted barley.

“Our broad beans that we grow on the island go right through South East Asia and they go into snack foods – similar to how we eat peanuts,” Shane says.

“We’re marketing that right through Indonesia and through Taiwan and we’re just breaking into the Middle East now.

“That’s another success story that’s provided our growers with another profitable crop.

“If you look at dollar terms our percentage of export is somewhere around 70% and tonnage wise it’s about 50%.

“We’re pushing to grow the export business a bit and maximise the value of our crops.”

KIPG was established in 2009 by a group of local grain growers who were looking for a more viable alternative than the local silo system to market their grain.

Shane says costs for transporting freight off the island to the mainland was a “real catalyst” for establishing KIPG.

“Our job is to market the grain at a profit that negates the freight factor, so we’re very much into niche marketing because we don’t accumulate hundreds of thousands of tonnes,” he says.

KIPG’s site near Kingscote on Kangaroo Island.

KIPG receives, classifies, stores, processes and markets the majority of the island’s premium grains, oilseeds, and pulses.

At harvest time – usually in early December – grain is sent to the KIPG receiving and storage facility just outside of the island’s main business hub of Kingscote.

KIPG partners with local trucking company Ugly Dog Transport to send the grain on the SeaLink ferry to domestic buyers.

It also has a processing facility at Osborne in Adelaide where the product is graded and packaged ready for export.

Kangaroo Island local Ben Pontifex is a fifth generation farmer, growing canola, broad beans and malted barley.

He says having a collaborative approach to grain growing on the island is “beyond integral” to the local industry’s livelihood.

“It gives us a fighting chance with the freight rate, and logistically too, all the way through from harvest to the end markets.”

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The island beekeeper and his pure passion for the sweet stuff

After years spent hanging around hives of hardworking honey bees, Kangaroo Island local Peter Davis is still fascinated – and never in fear – of the industrious insects.

“You become fascinated by their ability,” says Peter, owner of one of the country’s biggest organic honey producers, Island Beehive.

“If the conditions are right, they can be so gentle. I never wear gloves.

“I’ve had people who are allergic or afraid of bees and within three minutes their hand is comfortably covered in them.”

Peter David grew up around bees on Kangaroo Island, home to the world’s only remaining purebred population of the Ligurian honey bee.

After growing up on his family’s mixed-use farm on Kangaroo Island, Peter developed a soft spot for one of his homeland’s major differences – the Ligurian honey bee.

Kangaroo Island is home to the world’s only remaining pure strain of the Ligurian bee and is also the world’s oldest bee sanctuary.

The Ligurian bee, originally from Italy, was imported by the SA Chamber of Manufactures in the early 1880s and shortly after the 4500 square-kilometre island was declared a bee sanctuary.

Bees cannot fly the distance between the mainland and Kangaroo Island, meaning the island has remained free of bee diseases.

Peter, who grew up near the government apiary at Flinders Chase in the 1950s, has dedicated his working life to protecting the Ligurian bee and learning of its heritage.

Peter’s hives are scattered throughout the island.

“It’s really important that we make Kangaroo Island locals a part of the heritage and that they want to participate in it,” he says.

“Over the last 12 years there’s been a dramatic change of awareness in people around the world doing everything they can to protect all bees.

“But I think we can do much more.”

Learning how to breed queen bees from a young age, Peter continued his passion for beekeeping and producing honey products.

He first sent queen bees to Denmark in 1991, and two years later received a request from Sweden for 250 more.

In 1995, he sent another 250 queens and was fast becoming well-known among overseas apiarists.

Now the 71-year-old runs the Island Beehive factory in Kangaroo Island’s main hub of Kingscote and produces up to 200 tonnes of honey per year.

Ligurian honey has a delicate, subtle flavour.

“We export about 60 tonnes of honey a year, with 40 tonnes going to Japan,” he says.

“They’ve been our customer for over nine years, however, one of the best ways to export honey is by people coming through the doors and taking products home with them.

“You can’t take honey to New Zealand or WA, but you can virtually anywhere else in the world.”

Island Beehive has more than 1000 beehives scattered across the island and employs 14 people.

Kangaroo Island Ligurian Honey is sold in the factory’s shop and in other outlets across the island.

It’s also sold in 200L drums and sent across Australia and to Japan.

Peter’s honey has been known to support many other South Australian food manufacturers, including Spring Gully and B.-d. Farm Paris Creek.

“We created a demand,” he says.

“Ligurian bee honey tastes so much better than other honey because we have such a diverse range of flora on Kangaroo Island.

“We have species of mallee that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.”

So you wanna be a beekeeper?

TAFE SA is offering a short course in beekeeping on March 17 and 18, April 7 and 8, and May 12 and 13.

The two-day beginners short course at TAFE SA’s Urrbrae campus and beekeeping site in the Adelaide Hills covers topics including new hives, diseases, honey extraction and legal requirements.

For more information click here.

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Pure joy for Tiff on Kangaroo Island

There aren’t many general managers whose daily to-do list of meetings and paperwork also includes crutching sheep and taking care of abandoned lambs.

But that variety is part of the joy which Tiff Turner finds in her role at Island Pure Sheep Dairy at Cygnet River, Kangaroo Island.

Previously an earth mover and panel beater in Western Australia, Tiff holidayed on Kangaroo Island and fell in love with the natural surrounds.

“I looked at the countryside with its mix of rural landscape and ocean views and decided this was where I wanted to be,” Tiff says.

Her first role at Island Pure was as a part-time milker, a job she did alongside earthmoving, operating rollers and a water cart as part of a road grading team.

Tiff Turner with Coco at Island Pure Dairy.

During the Christmas/New Year period one year, when road grading is put on hold because of the annual influx of visitors, Tiff took on the milking role full-time.

She was an excellent fit for the company, so the owners asked her to stay on full-time.

Working her way up into the role of general manager, she makes a point of staying hands-on and connected to the animals and the farm.

“If I am not careful, my role can get bogged down in paper and office work,” Tiff says.

“So I try to spend around three or four hours each day with the animals, and make sure I continue to be involved in all the roles including front-of-house, tours, the dairy and factory.

I like to be immersed in everything I do, and I wouldn’t ask my staff to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.”

The business, owned by Geoff Rischbieth, encompasses a dairy, cheese making factory, cellar door, permanent food van and soon, a micro-brewery.

Pure Island Sheep Dairy is not only a production facility, but an interactive tourism experience. It’s also soon to launch a micro-brewery.

Kangaroo Island Beer Co, as it will be known, is awaiting the final pieces of paperwork to come through, and the beer should be flowing in a couple of months.

If you visit before then, you’ll have to be satisfied with tasting the new cheeses that are on offer, including a Jersey Cheese, made with 100% Jersey milk from Fleurieu Milk Company.

A camembert and curd are also on offer, in addition to a red wine cheese made by repeatedly “drowning” the Island Pure kefalotiri in Kangaroo Island Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, drying it and ageing it.

“It is a unique cheese – not hard, not soft,” Tiff says.

“People who have tried it, love it, and they keep coming back for more.”

The products are available from the Island Pure online store, in IGA supermarkets, the Adelaide Central Market’s Kangaroo Island Stall, and at the Wayville Farmer’s Market.

“It is great to see the increase in visitors to Kangaroo Island,” Tiff says.

“Even better, people tell us they are staying for longer periods, or that they will be back to see us on their next holiday.

“The island is a beautiful place, and I love sharing that beauty and peacefulness with everyone who visits.”

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Top 10 places to visit in SA (while the weather’s still playing nice)

It’s official.

Summer is over and autumn is here.

The good news, however, is that the good weather won’t disappear overnight, so consider this your last chance to get out there and enjoy some of South Australia’s most iconic and Instagrammable spots.

With a couple of long weekends on the horizon, we’ve rounded up 10 amazing local sights that have to be seen to be believed.

(And yes, it was nearly impossible to cap it at 10 – we sure do live in a beautiful place!)


1. Locks Well Beach

We all love the Eyre Peninsula for a long weekend getaway and Locks Well Beach is of the most reliable locations for catching salmon in SA.

There’s also a lookout with panoramic views of the beautiful rugged coastline and the perfect photo opportunity to capture a stunning west coast sunset.

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2. Lake Bumbunga

Drive two hours north of Adelaide (approximately 25 minutes from Port Wakefield) and you’ll not only think pink, you’ll see it.

Lake Bumbunga is made up of three salt pans that have been harvested for over 30 years for use in swimming pools, water softener and – wait for it – fish and chips. Yes, really!

3. Umpherston Sinkhole

Who knew a sinkhole could be so beautiful?! Located in the heart of Mount Gambier, this naturally formed limestone cave was transformed into a garden late in the 19th century and it’s been a tourist magnet ever since.

However, we doubt Instagramming your visit was around back then…

4. Seal Bay

Kangaroo Island’s south coast is not only home to white sandy beaches, but – as the name suggests – plenty of seals.

You’ll literally find yourself surrounded by the cute sea creatures lazing around on the sand. They’re Insta stars in their own right and know how to strike a pose.

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5. Talia

The tiny town of Talia is another Eyre Peninsula hidden gem.

Waves have crashed against the granite cliffs for many years to create this stunning seaside destination which is known for rock fishing, fossils and its beautiful turquoise coloured ocean.

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6. Fishery Bay

Located in Port Lincoln National Park, Fishery Bay is a spectacular section of coastline bordered by high cliffs.

A popular fishing area, the bay was the site of a 19th century whaling station and some of the remains are still visible on the eastern rocks.

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7. Lake Eyre

Lake Eyre – despite its name – is usually dry and only fills up once every eight years. Despite this, it remains one of SA’s most well-known natural landscapes.

The vast, dry expanse of shimmering salt is so large that it crosses the borders of three states and on a cloudless day, seems to merge into the horizon.

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8. Remarkable Rocks

No visit to Kangaroo Island holiday would be complete without a trek to one of its signature landmarks.

It took approximately 500 million years for rain, wind, and crashing waves to create the Remarkable Rocks which are now part of the Flinders Chase National Park.

Word has it that early morning and early evening are the best time to visit and take a snap.

9. Wilpena Pound

Wilpena Pound is more than 800 million years old, located in the heart of the Flinders Ranges.

A large natural amphitheatre created by millions of years of erosion, it’s surrounded by ancient mountain ranges, spectacular gorges and sheltered creeks.

It’s also is a favourite for nature lovers and bushwalkers alike.

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10. Innes National Park

If you’ve ever wanted to get away from it all, head to Innes National Park.

You won’t be completely alone as it’s home to emus, kangaroos and tammar wallabies, and you may also see whales, dolphins and seals swim past.

This stunning location is a natural playground with beaches, bushwalking trails and secluded fishing spots with the most incredible view of the stars.

Sonia Bavistock is a fashion and lifestyle blogger and also has her own social media management and copywriting business. Sonia is passionate about all things South Australia and can often be seen dining out with a glass of wine in hand.