Today marks exactly six months since we left Hanoi. On some days it seems a lifetime ago but at other times, I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown. In the past 4.5 months we have really felt welcomed into the Barossa both by people who are recently arrived like us and by those who can trace their families back to some of the original German arrivals. A few events have really reinforced for Simon and I that we have made the right decision to move here with our boys.
On the first Friday in December, Simon and I were among 300 people at the Tanunda Show Hall for the annual Generations Lunch. Described as “an afternoon of food, fellowship and wine shared with generations of the Barossa community”, we both figured it would be a good opportunity to meet some new people, build our networks and learn more about this place we now call home.
We were greeted on arrival by some of the Young Ambassadors. This programme aims to identify and raise the profile of future community leaders by offering young adults the opportunity to undertake training and networking in the local community, and to actively participate in events such as the Generations Lunch and the Barossa Vintage Festival.
The show hall had been transformed with long tables, and canapés set up on the back on old Bedford trucks (such a Barossa icon) and the Apex bakery van. Fabulous catering from Elli Beer saw us starting a day of feasting with terrines, olives, pate and of course, what Barossa event could happen without mettwurst, lacchsschinken and Apex bread.
Guests were all asked to bring their own glass and a bottle to share, so the array of wines set up on the communal table was amazing. Many had heeded the call to bring an interesting glass and given some of the retro items on display, I think the local op-shops were probably a little emptier.
The theme of the lunch was “Barossa – Who are you going to be?” and we were very excited that our son Angus’ class had been asked to draw some pictures about their future careers which were displayed around the room, together with some possible future newspaper headlines. In keeping with recent discussions about opening a restaurant, Angus’ picture was about how he wanted to be a waiter “because he has been to lots of restaurants”.
Lunch was a shared platter affair with large pots of smoked Berkshire pork hock, German potato salad, modern sauerkraut and salad. I believe dessert was also fabulous, but I was too busy talking and then had to leave to collect the boys from school so I missed out.
Apart from the opportunity to meet with lots of fabulous people, the panel discussion focused on theme was really interesting.
The panel was quite diverse including John Angas, who I have had the pleasure of chatting to at his Hutton Vale lamb stand at the Farmer’s Market but who is also a Councillor on the local council and a descendant of George Fife Angas, who played a significant role in the establishment of South Australia. He made some really valuable points including the fact that you only get out of life what you put in, and on the future development of the Barossa – the essence of which was that while the Barossa will evolve, we need to ensure we retain its character. Chatting with him at the markets the next day, I agreed that as a recent arrival, I had moved here because of what the Barossa was and what it offered and so while recent arrivals like my family were obviously adding to the population, we did not want to see over development that would fundamentally change the area. Other panelists included Canadian-born graphic designer Jen Turner who moved to the Barossa in 2008, and Emma Welling, the restaurant manager at Appellation Restaurant (where we had a fabulous anniversary meal in October) who moved from Sydney in early 2013. Both spoke about why they loved living here and what it offered, and James Fox, the son of Angus’ teacher who as a young wine making student spoke about the value of travel to see just how special the Barossa was.
It was fantastic to be in a room full of people who were so passionate about the place they call home and who want to ensure that while the Barossa evolves and obviously develops, its done in such a way that retains the character, history and spirit of the place.
Later that afternoon, we joined a huge crowd for the annual Barossa Christmas parade through the main street of Tanunda. Walking down to meet the Tanunda Primary School float, I was amazed by how many people had turned out to line the main street. The parade was another great example of community spirit and tradition, which almost hadn’t happened due to rules and insurance requirements, until a local business stepped in to ensure the parade went ahead. It was a great experience to join with other families and children from the school; a tradition I hope is retained for many years to come.
Capping off a fantastic couple of days, last Tuesday I went along to Whistler Wines for the launch of the Vintage Festival. I am very excited to be working on the parade sub-committee and the launch was a good chance to meet some of the sub-committee and others involved in this unique festival, which dates back to 1947 making it the largest and longest running wine tourism festival.
In 2015, the Vintage Festival is really focusing on its history as a celebration of the hard work done during vintage. There are a huge number of events being held during the festival from 15-19 April, which fall into three main categories – the Arts, Food and Wine and Heritage and Community. Key events including the Ziegenmarkt (or goat market) which was a produce and livestock market held in Tanunda in the mid-1800s which was brought back as part of the festival in the 80s. There is also The Feast – a night of eating, drinking and dancing. Saturday starts with the parade from Nuriootpa to Tanunda, around 7 kilometres and apparently the longest parade in the Southern Hemisphere. The parade finishes at the Oval, where Barossa Comes Home will be an open-house picnic which will include wine tastings, entertainment, kids activities and a market bazaar. You can find the whole program at the festival website and many wineries and local businesses are putting together some great festival packages in the lead-up to Christmas.
After only a couple of meetings, I have started to learn so much of the history of the Barossa, and I love that the festival is very much about showcasing to locals and tourists alike what is important to Barossans and why its such a special place. Participating in some of these events in recent weeks, and getting involved in the festival has also reinforced to me the value of getting in and learning about the place you’re living, getting involved in the community and truly embracing where you live. I am really very lucky at the moment that we have moved somewhere where there are so many opportunities to be involved, to contribute and to be a part of something so special.