Archive | June, 2011

Love at first chai

28 Jun

White Love Tea - Love Chai

My first encounter with Love Chai was some years ago when the cute, whimisical packaging caught my eye in a local cafe. It was only a few days before Mothers Day so I decided they were ideal gifts for my tea loving mum and mother-in-law. The chirpy assistant at Organic Larder was pleased to inform me that my gifts could also lay claim to being the product of local enterprise.

I was slightly intrigued by the entrepreneurial story of duo Emma and her partner Amon who had gotten into the tea business after noticing a gap in the certified organic, chemical free tea market. Their confidence to invest in an idea and have  dreams big enough to see it through. So often our products are stamped ‘Made in China’, or marked ‘From imported ingredients’ and here was a locally produced product that hadn’t travelled the sea’s or been the concept of a global organisation with their spin and  clever marketing campaigns. Just by buying the product I  felt like I was supporting local business at a really grassroots level.

After successfully gifting the tea to my mum’s I headed back to the shop to purchase some for myself and my non-coffee drinking, all things natural loving, complete chai fan, sister.

Years later and Love Chai is still going strong. They are now distributing an expanded range to over 100 stores nation-wide. From a simple idea to nation wide distribution, Love Chai stands as a great example of local entrepreneurism and enterprise and serves as a reminder of the quality products that are owned and produced in our own region.

You can see a list of Geelong stockists or buy online at the Love Chai website

Love Chai owners Emma & Amon

Emma & Amon

* I have no affiliation with the owners of Love Chai and have not be paid for this post, I just like to spread great local stories.

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Up, up and away

24 Jun

It’s no secret that tourists flock to the Great Ocean Road, just travel the Melbourne – Geelong freeway at 8am any weekday morning and you’ll see plenty of packed tourist buses headed to the famous beach road. Most of us that live within its proximity have travelled the road countless times and whilst beautiful, its convenience to home means we probably don’t lap it up as much as a German tourist for whom it is a once in a lifetime experience.

Recently we headed to Warnambool stopping en route overnight at Port Campbell to visit some friends. 

Our friend happens to be a pilot for 12 Apostles Helicopters so he took us out to the airfield to check out his ‘office’. The place was teeming with visitors from every corner of the globe. Barely and English word could be heard.  We sat and watched group after group hit the skies to see the Great Ocean Road from the air. After landing every one of them disembarked the chopper brimming with ear to ear smiles and a camera full of snaps.

It occurred to me that whilst this beautiful, world-famous road is in my backyard I’ve never considered seeing it from the air, so when the chance arose to take a ride, I quickly climbed aboard. It was a great ride, spectacular scenery and such a different perspective to see The Great Ocean Road, the farmland, the bush, the Ocean and the inlets – from the air.

Great Ocean Road - Helicopter FlightIsn’t it strange how sometimes we need enthusiastic visitors to remind us of the great things that are right under our noses!

Living in a box?

15 Jun

Cardboard box

If you like miniature lands made out of Lego then BoxWorld might be right up your alley!

Box World is a miniature city made entirely of recycled boxes, bottles, cans and other recycled materials. It consists of over 900 buildings and has been the ongoing play work of Warren Thomas for the past 12 year. BoxWorld is touring the eastern states and showing in Geelong from 13th June – 17th August at the National Wool Museum.

It promises to be a box full of surprises!

St Regis Winery & Vineyard

10 Jun

St Regis Winery & Vineyard Cellar Door

If you love a bit of rustic charm at a winery, then St Regis is for you. It’s a bumpy drive up to the Cellar Door on the unsealed road, the bush scrub blocking any view of what is ahead. Finally something comes into view and as you swing around into a car park you notice the signs directing you to the Cellar Door.

It was a cold and rainy day when I presented at the St Regis Cellar Door. But, Peter Nicol owner and wine maker, was more than happy to step aside from his work in the winery to indulge me in a sip or two or three!

The intimate Cellar Door is a lovely room with a vista out to the vines. The Cellar Door is just big enough for you to enjoy you tasting without someone breathing down your neck and just small enough to engage in a conversation as you survey the room and outlook. The walls are lined with interesting artwork of African animals sipping on glasses of wine – well, why not, of course all creatures great and small should have the right to enjoy fine wine! Strange as they are, they make for interesting conversation about why they grace the walls of the Cellar Door. Yes, I could tell you myself, but I suggest the story is much more authentic coming from Peter.

There are three wines to taste – a Shiraz, a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. Not being a Chardy fan, I was tempted to skip the Chardonnay until Peter informed me of its award winning status. Surprisingly, it was very pleasant and on a warm sunny day I could quite easily picture myself sitting outside the cellar door perched at a table under the grapevine covered pergola, soaking up the warmth, enjoying the vista and getting myself to the end of a bottle! But as it was a dreary day with no sun to enjoy I instead had Peter box up half a dozen of the 2008 Shiraz.

St Regis is a small family run boutique winery, they don’t have a team of sales reps heading out to every bottle shop requesting they stock their wines, so unfortunately if you want to get your hands on some you’ll need to head out to the Cellar Door yourself. There is one exception; Highton Cellars, clearly they know a good thing when they see taste it, so I am assured you can find St Regis wines there if you simply cannot make it all the way out to the Waurn Ponds Cellar Door.

St Regis Winery & Vineyard

Self-appointed winery tour challenge

5 Jun

One of the nicest things about living in a recognised wine region is the opportunity to skip the mass-produced, widely distributed wines and instead quaff on something that has been cultivated closer to home. The Geelong wine region is one of the oldest wine regions in Australia and has a range of red and white varieties on offer.

The region cannot claim recognition like McLaren Vale or the rustic character of Rutherglen. You won’t find the big brand and big production wineries but you will find charming, boutique, family run operations that ooze charm and produce beautiful Pinot, Shiraz and Chardonnay varieties.

So determined am I to show off the region to you that I have decided to embark on self-appointed challenge to visit every publicly accessible winery in the region. Geelong Wine distribute a map of the region which I will use plan my assault. At this point, I should mention that I am no wine officianardo, and I have no  intention of blogging a running commentary of my amateur tasting notes. I’ll leave that to the professionals.

I’ll be kicking off my first Geelong winery visit this week by heading out to Waurn Ponds and the St Regis Vineyard & Winery.

Bay ride from our own backyard

1 Jun

Bike riding Geelong

Around the Bay in a Day is a cycling event held annually and run by Bicycle Victoria. Whilst many lycra clad riders tackle the complete ‘Round the Bay in a Day’ there are a few shorter options that the casual cycling enthusiast can part take in.

This year Bicycle Victoria has added a new ride to the ‘Bay in a day’ family. The new ride starts right here in Geelong, so local residents can wake up, throw back a coffee and then hit the road. No need to get up in the middle of the night and travel to Melbourne just to start the ride.

The Geelong option has riders starting at Rippleside Park in North Geelong then heading along the esplanade and down the Bellarine to Queenscliff. At Queenscliff riders board a dedicated ‘Round the Bay’ ferry where they can sit back, relax and refresh their batteries whist they are whisked over to Sorrento. Arriving at Sorrento riders will need to get reaquainted with their bicycles as they complete the home stretch into Melbourne’s Alexander Gardens.

Bicycle Victoria’s Round the Bay in a day is held on Sunday 16 October 2011. Entry for the Geelong – Melbourne ride is $125 but is limited to 1000 participants. Check out their website for more information.