Northern exposure leads to increasing exports for Golden North ice cream

You would be hard pressed to find someone in South Australia who doesn’t enjoy the creamy taste of Golden North ice cream. However, the local market is only so big, and when the new SA owners came together 10 years ago the company’s key growth strategy was to look outside of their current postcode.

Trevor Pomery their director of marketing took on the additional responsibility for export sales, while the sales director expanded his focus to interstate sales.

Both streams have been a success and Golden North is now available in independent supermarkets across all Australian states and overseas, as well as through the foodservice market. Exporting to China, Malaysia, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Nauru, Golden North is also in the process of finalising a new deal that will eclipse the current markets.

Golden North was recently voted Australia’s best ice cream maker for the second year running by a Canstar Blue survey.

“Australia is the ‘green food bowl’ for Asia,” Trevor says. “We have a reputation for being a clean, green supplier of food with good food security. Putting ‘Australian Made’ on the products is akin to adding a tick of approval.”

Trevor says most of the export deals have come about as a result of attending trade shows that have been held in Asia.

“Unfortunately, taking samples of ice cream with you when travelling is particularly difficult,” he says. “Even more so when visiting warm countries. I often think to myself how much easier it would be if I could just put a few samples in my carry-on luggage. But, ice cream needs to be kept at between -18C and -20C, so it’s a bit harder than that.”

The product sold to China uses the same recipe as the product consumers buy here. For the Chinese market, Golden North has also launched a green tea flavour, conducting taste tests with first-year Chinese university students living in SA in order to get the right balance.

“The most popular line we have for sale in China is the 125ml individual serve vanilla ice cream,” Trevor says. “Food shopping in China is done very differently than how we do it in Australia. Not everyone owns a refrigerator, so often ingredients are purchased on the day a meal is to be made and eaten. It’s not surprising that the individual serves are popular.”

Golden North’s marketing director Trevor Pomery says China has been a big export focus for the popular ice cream products.

Some historians believe that ice cream was actually invented in China, though it has only become popular there in recent years.

“Ice cream is certainly becoming more and more popular in China,” Trevor says. “Our sales continue to creep up and we are happy with the way our export market has grown slowly and steadily.”

Even with the increase in their market, Golden North is firmly rooted in their hometown of Laura, in the state’s Mid-North.

“Laura is our home – it’s where it all started,” Trevor says.

The regional town of Laura has been the home of Golden North since the 1920s.

The company began in 1880 when William Bowker and his family began selling milk and vegetables from their property. Later, in 1923 they began making ice cream there.

“The original homestead is still located on the property where our factory is,” Trevor says. “All our infrastructure is there. All our knowledge is there. Why would we move anywhere else.”

Golden North employs about 60 people at the factory, which in a township of 550 people is a large percentage of the eligible workforce. Many of the employees have been with the company for a long time.

“Our research and development manager, for example, has been with the company for 40 years,” Trevor says. “Our people and their expertise are located in Laura, so that’s where we are staying.”

Recent investments have been made to the factory to improve efficiencies and upgrade equipment such as the churns and freezers. This has allowed Golden North to increase production to cater for future growth.

Golden North Giant Twins are among the brand’s most popular products.

The raw ingredients used by Golden North are largely supplied by growers in SA’s northern areas, and Trevor says the company consciously supports other local businesses including for transportation, and packaging.

“Operating a national ice cream business out of Laura is challenging and while we encourage South Australians to buy local, we make sure we lead by example,” Trevor says.

Golden North has again been rated Australia’s number one ice cream following an independent customer survey by Canstar Blue. This is the second year in a row Golden North has won the consumer award.

“There are lots of ways to make ice cream, but we still believe the best way to do it is with fresh milk and fresh cream,” Trevor says. “Some call it the old-fashioned way, but we think it’s the best way. Importantly, we also don’t use any palm oil in our products (for environmental reasons) and our products are gluten and nut free.”

The simple formula is clearly a winner, and the Golden North taste is one which continues to gain appreciation the world over.

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Jamestown’s one-armed shearer defying the odds

Josh Talbot may shear sheep with only one arm, but he gets the job done with twice the determination of most.

Learning to shear again at industry speeds with one arm isn’t the first time the 27-year-old has defied the odds and proved doubters wrong.

At the age of 16 Josh was driving when he misjudged a corner and his car rolled into a tree, the force of the crash throwing his body out of the car.

He died twice on the scene and again on the way to hospital. His mother Roslyn, an ambulance officer, was the one called to the scene.

“She reckons she had a feeling when they were driving out, like something was wrong, and as soon as they pulled up she saw the car and she knew. She did what she had to do,” Josh says. “They reckon every bone in my chest got broken.”

Josh Talbot, 27, defied the odds when he learnt to shear with one arm after surviving a horrific car accident at the age of 16.

Enduring horrific injuries, Josh spent two weeks at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a coma and eventually woke up to find his right arm had been amputated from the shoulder.

The first thing that came to mind was the threat to his shearing career, something he had pursued from the age of 13.

But while Josh was still recovering in hospital, his brother-in-law – also a shearer – went to the sheds and tried shearing a sheep with one arm tied behind his back to test how difficult it could be.

Two weekends after being released from hospital, Josh was back in the shed and giving shearing with one arm a crack.

“I wasn’t supposed to, I was still bandaged up, but I went out and shore my first sheep. There were a few laughs, but you can always learn something new.”

Now 11 years on from the accident, Josh shears between 80-90 sheep a day, dragging the sheep into position with one arm and holding it between his legs.

He says although he eventually learnt to shear “the same as everyone else” he faced doubt by some farmers who thought he would be unable to keep up to speed with one arm.

“Nobody would give me a go at their shed for a long time until I got my name out there that I could do it,” Josh says. “I’ve always had a bit of an attitude like ‘check me out, see what I can do’. If you want to do something just do it, have a go. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, get up and have another go.”

“The few people that did see me do it were mind-blown. It wasn’t until the first Jamestown Show after my accident when I sheared a few sheep for demonstrations to raise money for breast cancer, and so many people turned up to see it.”

Josh Talbot says once shearing gets in your blood, it’s hard to walk away from. Photo: Josh Talbot Facebook.

Now Josh shears around several areas in regional SA, and also participates in a number of speed shears and demonstrations at country shows and events. In March he took part in the Blades of Glencoe Shearathon in the South East that raised money for support service Beyond Blue. Josh is also fond of using blade shears, a traditional technique using hand-operated scissors.

“I haven’t done a lot of blade shearing, there’s not a lot of places in Australia that do it with blades anymore,” he says. “But when we go to a shed I’ll ask the farmer if I’m allowed to do it with the blades because it leaves a little bit more wool on and doesn’t get down to the skin like a hand piece does.”

Josh has shared videos of himself shearing with one arm on Facebook, attracting international media attention and praise from social media users stunned by his determination and speed.

But he admits that some of his videos have also attracted negative comments by some social media users concerned for the animals’ welfare.

“I got a lot of negative stuff, from people who don’t know really know the industry,” he says. “They reckon I was too rough, but you can be the best shearer in the world and still nick the sheep.

“The way I shear, I have to do a lot more with my legs, but none of my weight is on the sheep. When they’re not kicking, that’s when a sheep is comfy.”

Josh describes shearing as not a job, but a lifestyle and says it’s something he could never give up.

“It gets in your blood and once you’ve got the bug it’s hard to walk away from,” he says. “The people you meet along the way, you have a laugh and such a great time. Once you’ve met someone in a shearing shed you are friends for life.”

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Yorke Peninsula’s Fat Farmers tackle big issues

It is Friday morning and parked in the main street of Maitland, Yorke Peninsula, outside of what was once the local footy club, are half a dozen farm utes.

Stepping out of one is farmer Ben Wundersitz, but this morning he has swapped his dusty work boots for sneakers and gym clothes – not his normal get up.

Ben, along with a growing number of other South Australian farmers, is on a mission to look after his number one farm business asset – himself and his family.

He is a founding member of the Fat Farmers initiative, aimed at promoting physical and mental health in rural communities.

Fat Farmers founding member and Maitland farmer Ben Wundersitz running on his Yorke Peninsula property.

What started in 2012 as a network of just three local farmers has grown to include about 190 males and females across many parts of regional SA.

“Fat Farmers, it’s probably not the most politically correct name but at the time we thought that’s what we were,” Ben says.

Often working alone for long hours, farming is a tough gig, and Ben says taking on the family farm business often coincides with looking after a young, busy family, and also ‘retiring’ from team sports such as footy – which can mean a loss of a social connection.

“Blokes often start to wear the brunt of the family farming business in their 30s-40s,” he says. “What exercise does for the body alone, that’s well-documented, but just to get out and have a chat to mates about the weather, what’s happening with the kids or whatever is just so beneficial.

“You can go to the gym feeling crap and two hours later you just come away feeling like a different person. It’s not just about farmers, Fat Farmers is for everyone – male and female – it’s really about rural communities.”

Fat Farmers brings rural communities together to help promote a healthy lifestyle.

These days, Ben’s local Fat Farmer’s group in Maitland meets twice week, in addition to a local personal training session once a week. The local gym is in the old footy clubhouse, where most of these farmers were once meeting for a beer on a Saturday night.

“Thankfully for us, our town had a gym, and we’ve helped make it socially acceptable for blokes to go to the gym because that’s not always the way in a small town,” Ben says.

“Ironically, the gym is across the road from the local pub too, so slowly but surely we’ve changed sides and it’s become quite the norm going to the gym. We’ll now do a gym session and then be leaning on the bar of what was the old footy club, having a coffee and a chat afterwards.”

Fat Famers groups gather regularly in communities across the state, not just for gym sessions, but also cycling, walking, swimming, and running, often with families joining in.

Fat Farmers CEO Sally Fischer says the group is also involved in fun runs across the state.

The next generation – Edwina and Harriet Marshman from the Lower North Fat Farmers team at the City to Bay in Adelaide.

The group is now also involved in the Healthy Workers Across Industry Incentive – in collaboration with Grain Producers SA – showing the direct correlation between exercise, productivity and injury prevention.

For Ben, Fat Farmers has had a lasting impact.

“I’ve lost about 8kg or so, I couldn’t run before I started this. Now I’m running 12km in the City to Bay every year and most of us are maintaining a level of fitness year-round,” he says.

“But the social impact is the big thing – anything you can do to improve the health of local communities is a good thing, we’re losing far too many rural men particularly, to depression and suicide.”

Feature image: Some of the Fat Farmers crew Darren Stock, left, Pete Dutschke, Ben Wundersitz, Sam Johns, Bill Moloney and Nick McCauley at the Maitland gym.

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Living colours inspire Wilmington fashion designer

From hues of toffee, brown and gold that add a softness to the harsh dry of the Flinders Ranges to the brilliant blues of the Spencer Gulf, designer Nikki Atkinson creates with inspiration from her ‘backyard’.

From the family property in the Flinders Ranges and nearby Wilmington to Port Augusta, where she has opened a boutique selling her own Liv Sienne designs and fashion from other Australian designers, Nikki says it is easy to see beauty in even the harshest conditions.

“My inspiration comes currently from the drought conditions and the colours, I draw so much from the environment around me,” she says.

Nikki first launched into design and production after studying at Marleston TAFE, going on to co-own the successful Betrothed bridal boutique in Adelaide at just 26-years-old.

One of Nikki Atkinson’s Liv Sienne bridal creations.

After eight years, love lured Nikki back to the country, when she married husband Dallas and moved to Wilmington in the Mid North. She continued made-to-measure couture and design from home for a number of years with her young children often playing at her feet while she sewed.

As a farmer’s wife and mother of three, Nikki says her passion for the fashion and design industry was bubbling away under the surface and in 2013 she decided to launch her Liv Sienne label and eventually a store in nearby Port Augusta.

It has not been easy, but Nikki has been determined to make it work and share her passion for design and creating, forever fortunate for what her ‘home’ brings to her work.

Liv Sienne designer and creator Nikki Atkinson at home on her family’s Flinders Ranges property.

“The farm is my zen place – to go home at night and see the wildlife and hear the kookaburras really is very special, although I don’t slow down nearly enough to appreciate it at times,” she says.

“Life is busy, but I really needed some of me back. Designing and fashion is ‘me’ and so we make it work.

“When we’re shearing or crutching on the property, I have meals to prep before the kids go off to school, and it’s crazy and it’s busy but we make it work.”

As a woolgrower and also a farmer’s daughter who grew up on a grain, cattle and sheep farm at Buckleboo on Eyre Peninsula, wool and natural fibres have been an obvious choice for Nikki, who is fiercely supportive of Australian-made products.

“I’m very passionate about wool – it’s such an easy fibre to work with,” she says. “It is amazing, it’s pliable, you can do anything with it. It’s a long way from the scratchy, itchy fibre people associated with wool before we really discovered the beauty and versatility of fine wool.

One of Nikki Atkinson’s Liv Sienne designs, photographed in the Flinders Ranges by Meridee Groves Photography.

“I probably shouldn’t be so emotionally attached to Australian-made – it is more expensive to create and produce in Australia – but if we don’t, we lose the skills of being able to use a sewing machine, thread a needle and pattern making, and I’m passionate about keeping those skills.”

Nikki’s return to the fashion industry has been well-supported, her designs popping up at country race meets, weddings, formals and even as far as New York where she was asked to design the “perfect dress” for DeVoe magazine’s Full Figured Fashion Week.

Having concentrated the last 12 months on developing the Liv Sienne brand and storefront in Port Augusta, Nikki is now ready to launch back into her real passion for design.

“This is going to be a big year, I’m really excited for what lies ahead,” she adds.

Feature image by Meridee Groves Photography.

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On tour with the Clare Valley’s Mr Willson

Dave Willson is the quintessential Aussie bloke. He loves a chat, sharing a joke, and his smile is as wide as the brim on his hat.

Most people around the Clare Valley know him as Mr Willson – it started as a joke and more a tribute to his sense of humour than any desire from him for formalities.

A true character, the affable bloke has built up a tour company, Clare Valley Tours, selling the virtues of the Clare Valley and South Australia to domestic and international visitors.

It is an easy sell according to Mr Willson, who was born and bred in the Clare Valley, the son of veterinarians, he spent his early years exploring the area on ponies.

Travelling to every corner of the Clare Valley is a normal day in the office for Mr Willson.

“I’ve always had a wonderful affinity with the Clare Valley, it’s my home, and when I became involved in tourism I realised how much passion I have for our region,” he says.

“Being a local and transitioning into a tour operator makes you look at your home in a different light – you actually stop and smell the roses instead of driving past and you realise we really are sitting in one of the nicest, safest places to live in the world and it’s a real privilege.”

A former wool classer, excavation contractor (he was the local gravedigger), private wool buyer and machinery salesperson, a recreational pilot and former chairman of the Clare Aerodrome, Mr Willson knows a thing or two about the area.

So it’s no surprise that when he took on the tour business in 2012, his local knowledge and loveable nature helped him easily build a rapport with his guests.

With two small buses and a chauffeured car, Clare Valley Tours is gaining a reputation for quality, tailored tours of the Clare Valley, Mid North and through to the Flinders Ranges.

A quick read through Trip Advisor uncovers comments including “delightful, funny and very knowledgeable … a local treasure”.

Clare Valley Tours recently achieved Quality Tourism Accredited Business status, has current Trip Advisor Certificates of Excellence, and is part of the South Australian Tourism Commission emerging products program, a mentoring initiative which assists operators into new markets.

With departures from either Adelaide, Clare Valley or other areas, Mr Willson’s Clare Valley Tours offers guests either package or individualised tours.

He says SA has so much to offer and promises his tours are “no ordinary show”.

An avid reader, Mr Willson continually expands his local knowledge to ensure he can offer his passengers an insider’s view of a region, sometimes going off the beaten track to ensure they see the very best parts of SA.

In fact, don’t be surprised if you find yourself travelling down the bumpy Civilisation Lost Road, onto Dusty Creek Road and end up on World’s End Highway – real places, all with a story to tell.

“We actually live in Utopia here in SA,” he says.

Skilly Road, Clare Valley.

“So many people think the Clare Valley is about the wines, it’s not just wine though, it’s the whole Clare Valley experience – the wineries, the restaurants, the shop owners, agriculture, the vast history and stories from the past and present, the people, and good old-fashioned country hospitality.”

“Nearby there’s Burra which has such an important part in SA’s history and loaded with historical buildings, and Goyder’s Line – the 10-inch rainfall zone where the vineyards virtually meet the outback.

“Just north we’ve got the majestic Flinders Ranges and the Clare Valley is the gateway to them. I hear it so often, people wished they had more time, they didn’t know the Clare Valley and the area around here is so beautiful, that there is so much history, there’s so much to see, do and explore.

“I love being able to share it and if I can send my guests home happy, I’m very happy – I’ve created a lifestyle, not a job.”

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Eyes on the sky for spectacular Jamestown air event

All eyes will be on the sky above Jamestown’s Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome on Sunday, October 21, as the local flying group presents its triennial Air Spectacular.

The Jamestown Flying Group’s 11th air show promises to live up to its spectacular name, and World War II and vintage aircraft buffs and adrenaline seekers alike will be in their element.

A rare World War II Hawker Hurricane XII fighter aircraft never before seen in South Australia will be drawcard for the 2018 event.

Used during the Battle of Britain, the Hurricane aircraft is largely ‘under-rated’, having shot down more enemy aircraft than the better-known Spitfire.

The restored Hurricane now based in Scone, New South Wales, is the only plane of its type in existence in the southern hemisphere.

The Hawker Hurricane XII fighter aircraft will visit SA for the first time this October.

Aircraft co-ordinator for the event, Jim Best, says it was a major coup to secure the Hurricane and the air spectacular event will give spectators the opportunity to see it in action for the first time in SA.

“The plane will fly in for the event, it will do aerobatic manoeuvres similar to what they would have done in a dog fight (aerial combat within close range),” he says.

Hurricane pilot Paul Bennet will be in control and says spectators can expect to see him perform loops, rolls and wing-overs in the $4 million aircraft.

“It’s massive really for the event to get this aircraft,” he says.

“There’s every chance it will probably be the first and last time it goes to SA, the furthest it’s travelled so far has been the Illawarra Airshow in NSW.”

Just 2.5 hours drive from Adelaide in the Mid North of SA, Jamestown will be abuzz all weekend, with spectators on Sunday treated to some skilful flying by some of Australia’s best pilots and a fleet of rare aircraft.

A past pyrotechnics display and re-enactment at the Jamestown Air Spectacular. Photo by N Daw.

Among the other features will be an Australian-built Wirraway, Jim Whalley with his rare, historic Boomerang aircraft and Gazelle helicopter, a Grumman Avenger and other antique aircraft.

A heart-stopping aerobatics display by legendary pilots Chris Sperou and Paul Bennet, a dog fight re-enactment, a locally-owned General Grant tank and pyrotechnics display will all feature.

Behind the spectacular event is a small but dedicated group of flying and aircraft enthusiasts and community volunteers.

The Jamestown Flying Group (JFG) has just 28 financial members in a small community, but president Danny Keller says local support, the Friends of the Jamestown Flying Group, and sponsorship made the event possible.

Started more than 30 years ago, the JFG has worked tirelessly over the years, with fundraising and pure hard work to get the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome established to now include an all-weather bitumen strip, lighting, clubrooms and hangars.

It is a vital local asset, providing a safe landing spot for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and other emergency services.

A bird’s eye view of the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome at Jamestown, which will host the 11th triennial Air Spectacular this October. Photo by N Daw.

The flying group was borne from an incident which saw a retrieval plane clip trees at the end of a short, dirt air strip as it flew out with a patient, local doctor John Shepherd and ambulance officer and founding club member Tony Leesong all on board.

The close-call led to a handful of locals starting the group to develop a more adequate facility. The airstrip was lengthened, lights installed, surfaced with rubble and then eventually bitumen to make it the all-weather landing site it is today.

Club members also made many night-time dashes to the airstrip to turn the landing lights on in preparation for the RFDS to land safely for retrievals in what signifies a true, community effort.

The Australian-built Wirraway will be among the vintage aircraft flying in to Jamestown on October 21. Photo by Darren Mottram.

Last financial year, the RFDS landed 71 times at the Sir Hubert Wilkins Aerodrome for emergency retrievals and medical transfers.

“It’s used by the RFDS, for fire water bombers and general aviation access to the community,” Danny Keller says.

“It’s a very important facility and asset to the community and over the years the JFG has supported the RFDS through our Air Spectacular event.

“This year however, any proceeds from the event have been committed to the Jamestown Hospital auxiliary to support its refurbishment project.”

The air show beings on Sunday, October 21, at 10.45am (gates open at 7am) through until 4pm.

For bookings and information visit the website or Facebook page.

Header photo: A Jamestown Flying Group archive photo by Clive Palmer.

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Newly polished Grevillea House has country carers at heart

A cuppa and a chat, a lunch with friends or a day trip exploring South Australia’s Clare Valley.

These are just some of the simple pleasures not-for-profit organisation SA Country Carers in the state’s Lower Mid North is helping unpaid carers take the time to enjoy.

Supporting unpaid carers of family and friends with disabilities or of frail age is at the heart of the Clare-based community organisation that mainly services the Mid North, but is also visited by clients across the state.

It is estimated that 245,000 people in SA provide unpaid care to family and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, drug or alcohol abuse, or are frail.

Carers often provide physical and personal care and assistance including dressing, lifting out of bed and up from chairs, showering, feeding, providing transport to attend appointments, and managing medications.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in June, SA Country Carers held free hand massages for carers. The services were provided local business Unique Beauty.

Almost half of carers provide up to 20 hours of care every week, while more than 30% provide over 40 hours a week – more than the equivalent of a full-time job.

SA Country Carers provides information, counselling and advocacy to carers who are often faced with physical and emotional fatigue from their caring role.

In 1996 the organisation was established by a group of locals who saw a need for greater carer support.

Now the community organisation supports more than 500 unpaid carers and has offices at Clare and Balaklava, as well as a short-term respite facility, Grevillea House, in Clare.

CEO Eve Rogers says support systems are crucial for regional areas.

“It’s important for carers to have a break and for them to know that there are others out there, that they’re not alone in the world,” she says.

“It’s important to have trusted services in regional communities.”

SA Country Carers volunteers are thanked at an annual luncheon in appreciation of their services.

The short-term residential respite facility, Grevillea House, allows unpaid carers to take a break, while knowing their loved ones are safe and being looked after.

Carer recipients stay at Grevillea House for a short period of time, while the carer takes time out for themselves, or attends day trips, retreats and activities put on by the organisation.

Sometimes the activities are attended by both the carer and care recipient to allow for bonding time.

This month Grevillea House will officially celebrate an overhaul of the facility, which Eve says needed a little TLC.

“In 2016 we renovated the kitchen using donations from loyal supporters and the local community, including the Rotary Club which was very generous with their funding,” she says.

“But once we did the kitchen we looked around and realised that everything else looked really old.”

The finished hallway at Grevillea House.

A refurbishment of the house began in August this year with a paint job, new floor coverings and window furnishings.

Grevillea House’s landlord, Helping Hand, also chipped in to the facility’s rejuvenation by replacing all light treatments and heaters at its own cost.

Eve says many care recipients, who can be as young as five or of frail age, end up calling Grevillea House their second home, with activities, facilities and support on hand to meet their needs.

SA Country Carers relies on the community for support, conducting a number of fundraising activities throughout the year.

Its group of volunteers are key to these fundraising efforts and boosting the organisation’s profile in the community.

SA Country Carers is one of five carer support organisations in the state.

Access to SA Country Carers services can be provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, NDIS, and My Aged Care.

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Yorke Peninsula boutique winery stacks high against the rest

Vineyards and rustic cellar doors are not usually associated with the towns that line the traditional barley belt of South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

The coastal playground is more likely associated with camping and fishing, with its economy running on an engine fuelled by agriculture.

But 12km from Maitland not far off the Spencer Highway is a boutique winery offering visitors an unexpected experience.

Barley Stacks Wines husband and wife duo Lyall and Cynthia Schulz opened the cellar door 10 years ago and are now the largest wine producers on the peninsula.

While winemaking is usually left to the state’s wine-centric regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale the Yorke Peninsula still knows how to make a good drop.

Aside from Barley Stacks Wines, the region is home to a small handful of vineyards and another cellar door Emoyeni Wines at Ardrossan.

The Barley Stacks Wines cellar door.

“Because of the fact we are surrounded by wheat, barley, canola and lentils it’s probably the pollens that are impacting our grapes in a positive way, giving us flavours that a lot of people don’t expect,” says Lyall Schulz.

“We’ve done the Cellar Door Fest at the Adelaide Convention Centre for the past four years and people say to us that our wine is so different to anywhere else in SA.

“We have people drive up the road and come to our cellar door thinking it’s a practical joke because there is a winery on the Yorke Peninsula, but they come in and they’re amazed.”

Lyall and wife Cynthia bought the property 10 years ago from its previous owners, the Gregory family, who planted the original vineyard in 1996 and later launched Gregory Wines.

While Cynthia is originally from the Barossa, Lyall is a “local born and bred farmer”, harnessing his skills on the land producing wheat, barley, canola and lentils.

So when the pair decided to give viticulture a crack, they sought the help of local consultants and have since welcomed two esteemed winemakers, Tim Smith, who is widely regarded in the Barossa, and Colin Sheppard, of Flaxman Wines in Eden Valley.

Lyall Schulz of Barley Stacks Wines.

Colin is also well versed in the culinary arts having made it to the top 10 in the TV series MasterChef in 2014.

Over the past decade the Schulz’s have built the Barley Stacks brand through word-of-mouth and making appearances at a number of industry events.

Over the years they’ve also scooped a number of awards including medals at the Yorke Peninsula Tourism Awards, the Australian Small Winemakers Show and a gold medal at the Winestate Magazine World Shiraz Challenge in 2015.

Their wines are influenced by the peninsula’s climate, sea breezes and limestone sub-soils, with past reviews describing tasting notes of ‘plum’, ‘lingering liquorice’, ‘apricot’ and ‘passionfruit’.

Barley Stacks produces 25 different lines from four grape varieties, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and viognier.

They aim for an average production of 40 tonnes of grapes and between 2500–3000 cases of wine each year.

All growing, picking, processing and bottling occurs on site, except for the whites and sparklings which are bottled elsewhere.

The 2013 shiraz.

Most Barley Stacks Wines are sold direct from the cellar door, with some also sold through the Barley Stacks website, and at a couple of Cellarbrations stores in the region.

Aside from the four main varieties, Barley Stacks also puts out a rosé, sparkling wines, a fortified range and a verjuice.

Verjuice is a sour drink made from unripe grapes, made famous by SA cooking queen Maggie Beer who produces her own line.

“It’s like a Granny Smith apple juice and kids can drink it, it’s not alcoholic and you can mix it with soda water,” Lyall says.

“On the Yorke Peninsula we have the new Sunny Hill Distillery about to start up at Arthurton, so you could mix your verjuice with gin.”

Barley Stacks Wines also caters for weddings, functions and events.

Speaking of the new distillery, Lyall says he’s working with its owners as well as two other local business operators to look at ways of leveraging each other’s success.

“We are looking connectively to run tours and do things together to give a tourism experience on the Yorke Peninsula that’s quite unique,” he says.

“The tourism side of the peninsula is growing exponentially, we now have Watsacowie Brewing Co at Minlaton who are doing a great job at driving high volume tourist interest.

“We want to collectively work together.”

Barley Stacks Wines is open seven days a week at 159 Lizard Park Drive, South Kilkerran.

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Header image courtesy of SATC.

WSB’s 80-year partnership with SA agriculture

Anyone who knows farming, viticulture and even motorbikes in South Australia has most likely heard of WSB Distributors.

And it is easy to know why, after 80 years in business in the Clare Valley – and now also in Saddleworth and Jamestown – it is a name that is synonymous with agricultural machinery sales and service.

These days Phil and Rob Stanway head up the business, but it was their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker who started the legacy in 1938 originally as a tax and land agency known as AJ Walker.

AJ Walker was to see many guises over the years – taxation and property, fuel and cars, and a garage for servicing cars set up in 1952 in the very same building the business’s head office operates from today in Clare’s main street.

While the head office’s insides may have been modernised since WSB’s beginning, its attention to customer service remains as strong.

WSB’s long partnership with Massey Ferguson tractors continues today.

Phil and Rob’s late father Brian arrived on the scene after moving to Clare from Millicent in 1959.

He met their mother Raelene – who was working in her father’s business – soon after arriving in town and it was the beginning of a wonderful partnership in both marriage and a business that would eventually become known as WSB Distributors.

WSB’s commitment to service has been ever-strong throughout its history, however the business has honed its focus on agricultural and viticultural machinery sales and service in more recent years and gone from strength to strength.

Brothers Robert, a co-director and WSB’s accountant and economist, and Phil, co-director and sales manager, now head up the leading machinery dealership, although Raelene remains an ever-present guide.

With three branches now operating across the Mid North the business has seen, and survived, massive industry changes, including a rationalisation of farm machinery dealerships and machinery manufacturers.

Phil, Raelene and Rob Stanway cut a birthday cake to mark the milestone 80th year of WSB Distributors.

WSB Distributors now employs 43 full-time staff, three junior and three adult apprentices, and has a fleet of 16 on-farm service vehicles servicing as far as the Eyre Peninsula due to demand for their expertise.

“I’m really proud of the company’s longevity and our staff,” Phil says.

“We have several staff who have notched up 30, 40 and 50 years of service but the effort of all the staff regardless of how long they have worked for the company is what keeps the business going and we couldn’t do it without them.

“I think also part of our success has been our ability to stay ahead of the game and quickly recognise what will work and what won’t.

Massey Ferguson has been a strong foundation for the success for more than 50 years and introducing other brands such as Manitou and Kubota has supported the business well.”

Header image: Rob and Phil Stanway in front of WSB Distributors in Clare, originally started by their grandfather, a then young accountant AJ ‘Johnny’ Walker in 1938. Photo by Gabrielle Hall.

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The art of life on the land

Alysha Sparks stands bare foot in her studio applying liberal layers of acrylics, Posca markers and spray paints to a canvas.

With son Bodhi on her hip or playing at her feet underneath a growing baby belly, colour by colour, layer by layer, the talented self-taught artist brings South Australia’s landscapes to life with a modern twist.

For the girl brought up in the bush with a keen eye for colour, her passions come to life on canvas and be it human, bovine, botanical or landscape, Alysha has a talent for capturing something special.

Also a gifted photographer, she has a knack for encapsulating the personalities of the families she frames, and the raw character of the farm animals in front of her lens.

Right at home in the paddock are some of Alysha Sparks’s art works flanked by a few of her subject matters.

“My work is fairly eclectic I guess,” Alysha says.

“I paint cattle and birds but then do abstract florals and landscapes as well, I guess my style is a modern take on traditional.

“The florals give me the freedom to use any colours I want and everyone loves flowers, they make you feel happy and last a lot longer than the real thing.

“As for the cattle, they have so much personality, each one is individual and I love seeing them evolve on the canvas.”

Much of Alysha’s inspiration is sourced from the natural colour of the landscape, and now with a drone camera as well, she is given a different perspective from the sky to translate onto canvas in her studio at Jamestown in SA’s Mid North, about 2.5 hours from Adelaide.

Alysha’s works will feature in an exhibition in Adelaide’s Hyde Park as part of the 2018 SALA Festival.

“The colours and textures take on a new perspective from the sky and out in the country there’s such pretty light, you get those beautiful colours coming through,” she says.

“I see a colour combination I like and snap away on the camera, take it back to the studio and start creating inspired by it, and apply it to my landscapes.”

It was her mother who first bought a 13-year-old Alysha a blank canvas and paints, giving her the freedom to experiment with colours and styles and eventually develop her own niche.

The daughter of sheep, cropping and export hay farmers, Alysha has the country in her blood.

Like so many others before her, Alysha was keen to spread her wings, moving to the city and then travelling the world, but love eventually brought her ‘home’ to Jamestown and ultimately back to her roots.

With partner Tom – a local stock agent – Alysha has embraced country life again and it is not uncommon to see her out, boots on, son Bodhi in tow, helping Tom at the sheep yards or travelling across country with him.

It is all part of her inspiration, and as much as she has wholeheartedly returned to her roots, she is grateful for the community’s welcome back into its fold.

Alysha’s modern take on traditional landscapes looking right at home.

“We came back to Jamestown five years ago, the community has really embraced my art work and photography and they’ll come to me to buy my art or have their family photos, both because they like my work and because they want to support local,” Alysha says.

“The people have been so embracing and lovely, and that’s part of why my business is going so well.”

The shop local ethos is not lost on Alysha who works alongside local framer Clive Palmer in Jamestown to finish her works, and Daniel Blackman at Blackman Gallery in Clare who she entrusts to create “world class reproduction prints”.

“Local is best, if they support me, I support them,” Alysha says.

“It’s really just about everyone supporting each other.”

While she relishes her country life, the road to Adelaide is also a well-worn path for Alysha who regularly makes the trip to deliver her art to clients as well as restocking her ongoing exhibits at The Gallery on Waymouth Street in the city.

Locally her works are on show at café Bindlestick in Jamestown, and at Atore gift shop in Melrose, as well as through her website,

Alysha has an exhibition, Native, on show at Toop and Toop at King William Road, Hyde Park in Adelaide, as part of the SALA festival until the end of August.

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