The drought across NSW has hit rural communities really hard.
But you can help them out by simply taking a weekend break, and heading to a country town. By giving local tourism a boost you’ll be supporting local small businesses as well, which is really important during tough times.
You might not think of the Hunter Valley as a drought affected area, but the big dry has had an impact there too, especially for the smaller, independently owned wine growers and restaurants.
Yellow Billy Restaurant in Pokolbin is serving one of the most exciting new menus in the region, thanks to young gun chef Sam Alexander and his newly-built custom fire pit. It’s a giant barbecue shed where he cooks whole carcasses of lamb, pork, as well as vegetables and nuts.
“We’re just trying to go back to basics,” Sam says, “Simple, honest food, super tasty, and seasonal and local where possible.”
It’s a menu influenced by his Mediterranean and Egyptian heritage and it’s exploding with taste, like his BBQ suckling pigs with apple jam, and simply the best crackling you will ever try. There’s also fried brussel sprouts with truffle oil and parmesan that takes any horrible childhood dinner table memories you might have and replaces them with a celebration of flavour. Also, make sure you try his BBQ squid with middle-eastern spices.
Just down the road, at the Ironbark Hill Brewhouse, Chef Julian White is all about smashing out a greatest-hits menu that compliments their classic craft beer range, brewed on-site.
Try his mussels marinieres with the Brewhouse’s India Pale Ale, or his famous beef ribs with an Old Nessie Scottish-style ale.
There’s also a range of fresh gourmet pizzas that go with just about every beer they make, and a cheese board that sits perfectly with a pint of Black Forest Stout; it’s a beer made with real chocolate and cherries – a chocolate cake in a glass.
And if you’re looking for a fun way to explore the wineries and restaurants around the Hermitage Road area of Pokolbin, try cruising on an electric bike from Sutton Estate Electric Bike Hire. Just remember – don’t drink and ride!
So, go on, take a country break next weekend and help beat the drought. You’ll find that contributing to country businesses has never tasted so good.