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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Byron Bay community spirit


by Roderick Eime in Byron Bay

Every Wednesday at 7.45am, guests at The Byron at Byron [www.thebyronatbyron.com.au] gather for executive chef, Gavin Hughes' farmers' market tour.

As a testament to their creativity and social acumen, Hughes involves in-house guests in his own weekly shop for fresh local produce at the popular local market thronged by regional producers and growers.

"It's our little way of giving back to the community who have supported us in the seven years since we opened," says Hughes introducing the group personally to the vendors, "just why all regional properties don't do something like this I don't know."

Hughes says The Byron sources over 80 per cent of produce from the local area and about 20 per cent from the market itself. Greens, fruit, nuts, sauces, mushrooms and vegetables are just some of the items he buys every week from the stands.

"This guy here asks me nearly every week 'what can I grow for you?'," he says introducing me to Alistair whose stall is awash with bright green organic buck choy and citrus, "here's a bag of zucchini flowers he produces especially for us. We deep fry them in our tempura batter."

Further along, past an interesting gent singing carols in bow tie and bare feet, we meet Donna Harper. When she's not working at the local ABC radio station as a journalist, Donna turns out some of the best mushrooms around. The two are obviously well acquainted and a cheeky banter is quickly struck up. Hughes is a fortnightly guest on her popular talkback show, swapping recipes and talking about the latest produce coming into season.

But the market is not just a commercial outlet for local, low volume producers, it's a statement about the quirky little town's ferocious independence. Only recently, carefully screened "guest growers" have been permitted to offer their goods alongside local farmers. Today it's white cherries from Orange.

"Let me introduce you to Martin and Pam,' says Hughes gently ushering me across to a relaxed couple quietly enjoying a sample of the out-of-town cherries, "Martin grows the best macadamia nuts around."

Martin and Pam turn out to be the owners of Brook Farm, a boutique producer who have found fame outside the mass market, supermarket melee that has damaged so many others. Yes, you'll find Brook Farm macadamia yoghurt muesli on your first class and business breakfast trays in Qantas aircraft as well as the lounges.

"We resisted going to the big two supermarkets because there is inevitably a compromise in quality one has to make to meet the prices imposed by these guys," says Martin, casually pulling a cherry stalk through his teeth. "Word-of-mouth (excuse the pun) has really been our best marketing tool."

As Hughes directs his team from a roughly scrawled 'battle plan', the produce is packed back into the van along with the guests and the whole operation is wrapped up in about an hour.

"It really gives me a good feeling," says Hughes, who has been with The Byron since day one in 2004, "my kids go to school here and we live and work in the community on a daily basis. It's a simple, pro-active thing to do and generates heaps of goodwill. Hey, and it's fun too!"

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Image: Local produce features at Byron Bay Farmers Market

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A VIETNAM TOUR FOR EVERYONE


FROM bustling energetic cities, to river villages and hillside treks to seaside towns, Wendy Wu Tours will have a holiday in Vietnam to suit your every need.

There are more than 12 group itineraries to Vietnam,  ranging from 9 to 27 days, including specialities such as cooking, junk boat cruises, homestays in the Mekong Delta, bike rides through the hillsides and beachside resorts all while taking in the multicultural influences of the French, Japanese and Americans that make up the wonderful Vietnamese culture.

The comprehensive 18-day Vietnam Highlights tour travels from Saigon to Hanoi including all the major highlights as well as visiting Sapa, an old French retreat hill station inhabited by hilltribe minorities. There are 16 departures for 2012 and priced from $3736 per person twin share from Sydney and Melbourne and $3936 from Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, with Perth costing from $3852.

For food fanatics there is the 12-day Flavours of Vietnam itinerary which concentrates on the country's exotic cuisine and learn-to-cook sessions with local chefs. It is priced from $4252 per person twin share departing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Combine countries on your travels with the Vietnam and Laos Discovery tour, 15-days to see the highlights of both fascinating cultures. Priced from $4198 per person twin share departing Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

All Wendy Wu group tours to Vietnam include return international economy airfares from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, Australian and Vietnamese departure taxes, accommodation, all meals, local transportation in Vietnam, daily tours and entrance fees, an English-speaking National Tour Escort and/or local guides and visa fees for Australian passport holders. It also includes airline fuel surcharge and tipping, which are subject to change.

For more details contact Wendy Wu Tours on 1300-727-998, visit www.wendywutours.com.au or contact your local AFTA Travel Agent.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Victoria's Secret set to be a secret no longer for Sydneysiders



International travellers have been enjoying Australia’s first Victoria’s Secret store, which opened in the newly refurbished Sydney International (T1) Terminal in 201, now domestic travellers and Sydney-siders will be able to take part in the glamour when the first Australian domestic Beauty & Accessories store opens its doors in T2, tomorrow (Saturday 10 December).

Victoria’s Secret ‘Supermodel Essentials’
now available at Sydney Airport
The store, which is accessible to both travellers and visitors to the airport alike, will offer the ultimate collection of fragrance, makeup, bodycare products and a gorgeous collection of Victoria’s Secret accessories, and is sure to be a favourite with travellers.

Victoria’s Secret’s unique range of accessories are exclusive to their international stores and are perfect for those looking for travel sized gifts. For that supermodel-on-the go, expect to find a wide range of bags, luggage, passport covers and travel wallets in both nylon and leather to cosmetic & toiletry bags, sunglasses, watches, bangles, bracelets and key rings.

The new store will showcase Victoria’s Secret ‘Supermodel Essentials’ range of apparel as well as the ever popular VS Fantasies body care line of botanically based skin-loving formulas to soften, smooth and pamper the skin from head to toe in an array of scents.

Victoria’s Secret stores are a must go destination in the United States and we are thrilled to introduce the first domestic Victoria’s Secret Beauty & Accessories store to Sydney. The store presents a novel way for domestic travellers to enjoy their time ahead of their journey, discovering Victoria’s Secret extensive range of pamper products, and the beauty of this store is that you don’t need to be a traveller to shop’, explains Andrew Gardiner, General Manager Retail, Sydney Airport Corporation Limited.
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