The Northern Territory news Sat 16 Apr 2022
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
46 WEEKEND Saturday April 16 2022 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 In the hills of Byron Bay, inside a dimly lit tin shed surrounded by lush rainforest, we gather around an old barrel. Were at Cape Byron Distillery, the makers of artisanproduced Brookies Byron Gin. Weve just sniffed, touched and toured our way around the picturesque 38ha property where 17 of the 25 botanicals used in their signature dry gin are grown, and now were settling in for a taste test of their handcrafted range of spirits. Cellar door manager Mel Olson introduces the group to George the businesss faithful copper still, which mixes, steams and expresses each of their four booze lines; and shares the Brookies story delivered with a sense of humour as dry as the gin itself. Were even given a cheeky taste of their new make spirit, which will soon become the brands first whisky after it is aged in imported bourbon barrels from America. After five half nips and a G&T on arrival, were all feeling a little buzzed and grateful not to be driving. Instead, that task is managed by Kiff & Culture a fabulously fun, new Brisbane-based tour company specialising in gourmet experiences. Run by ex-Ipswich Grammar boys Drew Campbell and Alex Baker, the operation offers a range of foodie experiences around Brisbane and the Gold Coast, with this two-day Brissie to Byron adventure the latest to launch. Our tour kicks off with an optional stay at Crystalbrook Vincent in Brisbanes CBD. Within the Howard Smith Wharves culinary and lifestyle precinct, this contemporary five-star hotel is admired for its 500-plus artworks by Australian artist Vincent Fantauzzo; and its palette of dining options within a forks reach whet your appetite for what is to come. The awaiting escapade requires some seriously stretchy pants and a killer appetite. There are wine tastings at Mt Tamborine at the bucolic Witches Falls and Mason vineyards, and a stop at Tropical Fruit World in Duranbah, in northern NSW much more than another tacky tourist attraction with a giant fruit statue (though theirs is a big avocado). Instead, this incredible 65ha property boasts an unfathomable 500-plus varieties of fruit trees grouped into 14 gardens based on the plants origin. Aboard a tractor-pulled carriage, were shown tree after tree of imported and local flora, much of which youve probably never heard of rollinia, mabola, canistel. Then its tasting time for some of the in-season harvest like mamey sapote, which has the pulpy, thick texture of pumpkin pie filling and is as sweet as a lollipop; or the cinnamon-y, soft fleshed sapodilla. Just a pineapple toss down the road is our next stop, Husk Distillers. The stunning country ranch-style property in Tumbulgum was put on the map by Aussie actor-turned-Hollywood superstar Margot Robbie when she posted on social media a photo of the distillerys magical butterfly pea-infused gin, which changes from purple to pink with the addition of tonic water. Within 48 hours of the stars post, the business had 30,000 new social media followers, plus calls from everyone from the Ritz-Carlton to Vogue magazine wanting to work with them. The tours visit here includes a behind-the-scenes look at the operation, a tasting of its two gins and three sugarcane, rum-style spirits and a share-style lunch at the gorgeous alfresco restaurant, where a cocktail or two using the house-made booze is a must. With Indigenous culture so integral to Byron Bay, a bush tucker tour by Explore Byron Bay is also on the itinerary. Arakwal Bundjalung woman Delta Kay walks guests through the native flora, explaining the food, natural medicine, tools, weapons and artefacts, including a tasting of everything from finger lime to bunya. The restaurant at our accommodation for the night, Forest at Crystalbrook Byron Bay, is also committed to showcasing indigenous ingredients, with head chef Jordan Staniford creating a beautiful, produce-driven tasting menu incorporating the likes of bush tomato, karkalla, sea purslane, and rainforest honey into our dinner in a way that feels natural and intentional, not trivial or kitsch. All that food has me close to comatose, with the ridiculously comfortable beds at Crystalbrook and the lullaby of natures sounds among the rainforest retreat the final push into a deep sleep. The next morning is free to do as we please maybe hit the hotels treadmill, tennis court or lap pool for a spot of exercise before another day of feasting. Theres also the beach a short walk away, or the opportunity to hire one of the resorts complimentary bikes and go for a ride into town to check out the local shops and the iconic lighthouse. With our stomachs now stretched like a rubber band, we head to Byron Bays hugely popular The Farm a 36ha working property where a crop of farmers rent space throughout the property and run individual businesses from beekeeping to egg producing and floristry. Farm manager Andy takes us on a fascinating tour of the verdant fields, explaining the collectives approach to chemical-free, biodynamic farming and their unique regenerative techniques to try to create a more sustainable future. The gardens supply about 20 per cent of the food for the on-site restaurant run by acclaimed hospitality group Three Blue Ducks, which is where we are having lunch. Set on a sprawling wooden deck, under a tin roof in the middle of the farm, the eatery serves up a seasonal menu of share plates designed to hero the ingredients rather than over-complicate them. Its then off to Byron Bays iconic Stone & Wood for a brewery tour and tasting led by the charming event manager and cicerone (like a sommelier for beer) Jess Flynn. The brew guru explains and lets us look, touch and sniff the different hop varieties used, before opening up one of the tanks and pouring us a glass of golden ale right from the stainless steel. For any beer enthusiast, this is a true treat. With our blood alcohol levels pushing legal driving requirements, its a reminder of why a tour like this is just so great. Theres no need for a designated driver who has to miss out on all the fun. This is laid-back wining and dining that will expand your mind as much as your stomach capacity, with the chance to make some terrific new friends. The writer was a guest of Kiff & Culture Tours and Crystalbrook Food for thought A new tour company takes visitors south from Brisbane on a two-day odyssey A new tour company takes visitors south from Brisbane on a two-day odyssey to sample the food and drink delights all the way to Byron Bay to sample the food and drink delights all the way to Byron Bay Review Review Anooska Tucker-EvansAnooska Tucker-Evans KIFF & CULTURE TOURS Brisbane to Byron Bay trip (guests can also be picked up on the Gold Coast). Includes: Mt Tamborine wineries, Tropical Fruit World, Cape Byron Distillery, Husk Distillery, The Farm, Stone & Wood and stay at Crystalbrook Byron Bay; Crystalbrook Vincent option for 15 per cent off with code KIFF. From $1875 pp twin/double Tours run once a month. Private tours from $2475pp can be booked any time. kiffandculture.com.au BOOK IT NOW An aerial shot of Cape Byron Distillery in Byron Bay, main; Husk Distillery in Tumbulgum; and a spread of food at Three Blue Ducks in Byron Bay.