• Sonia Ghiggioli

Starting over in the Beef Capital of Australia...

If given the chance to choose which source of protein I eat, I prefer seafood, chicken and lamb so I never thought I would ever move to the town that is declared as Australia's Beef Capital. It is the largest rural town I have ever lived in, classed as the 4th largest regional city in Queensland, topping 120,000 people. Although it bears the unflattering reputation of having the most takeaway businesses per capita, the food scene is vibrant and it's not difficult to find a gastronomic venue or event to suit even the most discerning tastes. Some of my favourites are Headricks Lane in the Rockhampton CBD, Vue Wine Bar at Yeppoon and Beaches Restaurant at Rosslyn Bay.

Organically locally grown produce - Rockhampton, Central QLD Australia

The soil is deep here, it is naturally fertile and for a farmher like me it is a case of throwing in seeds and waiting for the rainfall before I can harvest dinner ingredients. For the past 7 years I have lived in agricultural regions that have marginal soil, with high acid (low pH) granitic or sandy soils so my full focus was on making compost and sourcing mulch to create microbe rich soil before I could grow anything successfully. This was my realm of expertise so I wasn't too fussed, but now I can experience how easy it is to be growing food in fertile soils with using less resources, time and energy to maintain its fertility.

The streets in Rockhampton CBD are lined with highset open verandah Queenslander houses to catch the river breeze and are made from local timbers with large tropical shade trees, bananas, mangoes, palms, hibiscus and citrus. The design of the town was an unusual choice in the mid 1800's with wide streets and laneways which give the impression of space and boosts my romantic image of D'Arcy Doyle's unique capture of Australian country life. The city boasts the longest street of heritage listed buildings and the architecture along the river front is a sheer delight.

There is an abundance of native food that grows in this region. Prostrate ruby saltbush can be found in cow paddocks, pigface in the rocky outcrops, native almond along the ocean front and native seaside tumbleweed. I have had the opportunity to wild harvest the pods of the introduced species of tamarind from trees beside the creek, and make a tamarind paste for the base of many of my wok dishes. I'll endeavour to upload my recipe soon.

Zeke Ghiggioli - Muso

I have had the pleasure of continuing my tradition of hosting dinner parties with friends and relatives since I have arrived here. We are blessed with not only a diversity of local seasonal food but also entertainment now that Zeke, Master 15 is performing his original songs and covers throughout the region. He has certainly found his mojo having won his school 'Battle of the Bands' earlier this month.

It has inspired his direction in tertiary studies, aiming to complete a Bachelor in Music in a few years and I am grateful this region offers such variety in education and opportunities for students. I am also broadening my horizon in study, opting to enrol in a Master of Business Management majoring in Social Innovation with a strong focus on environmental/agricultural issues. With regenerative farming uptake becoming a global trend alongside the decline of industrial farming, many innovative business solutions will need to be identified and implemented. I am glad to be at the forefront of this global paradigm shift and in the thick of cattle grazing country, Rockhampton the beef capital of Australia.

Sonia Ghiggioli

Barefoot FarmHer

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