Monthly Archives: April 2016

Food, wine and sunshine for Hook and Vine

The vibes and the weather were sunny and bright at the Sustainable Hook and Vine Festival, held in Torquay at the weekend. The event attracted more than 1,300 people who enjoyed the tasty treats served up in pop-up kitchens hosted by local restaurants, accompanied by regional wine, beer and cider. Now in its second year, the festival again focused on sustainable food and practices, with ambassador Matt Dempsey of Gladioli sharing his views and tips on living, cooking and eating with the environment in mind. Festival director Vicki Penrice said she was thrilled to see so many people enjoying themselves on the day. “It was another successful event and great to see everyone relaxing in folding chairs and on picnic rugs to share food and wine and enjoy some fantastic live entertainment. The kids loved the mechanical surfboard and giant inflatable shark slide too. The biggest surprise was the sun shining so brilliantly all day – we couldn’t have asked for more!”


Some years ago now I had the pleasure of spending three days as a guest of Ian Hollick and his family in Coonawarra at their winery and vineyards – Hollick Wines. I’d actually never been to Coonawarra before this! Yes, sad but true. After a leisurely four and half hour or so drive, there we were, slap bang in the middle of Australia’s Cabernet heartland.
You could instantly see why the original land surveyors like the famous John Riddoch were so impressed at the promise of this region for growing fruit – dead flat, rich red soil, a mild cool climate and plenty of water – ideal. Underneath the (at times) thin layer of this justly famous rich terra rossa (red earth) is a limestone base – again, perfect for wine production. Thus, the legend that is Coonawarra grew from these very characteristics.
The year was 2011 and as we rode into town, the harvesters were working the vineyards over at a cracking pace – it was now or never to get as much of the good fruit off the vines as possible – conditions hadn’t been great that year and botrytis and powdery mildew was affecting most, if not all producers, with some tending to write off the vintage altogether, but then, we found so many other vineyards with pockets of fruit that were absolutely delicious – ripe for the picking so to speak.
I could not have asked for a better introduction to one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, with our incredibly generous hosts Ian Hollick and his family giving us a thorough tour of the region and its surrounds (including Wrattonbully) with lashings of history, current issues, and the odd piece of local gossip thrown in.
Hollicks is a small, quality outfit committed to reflecting real regional character and complexity in their wines. The winery is established on what is known as “Neilson’s Block”, one of the original John Riddoch Coonawarra selections.
Ian Hollick has a hands-on approach to making the wines, which are sourced from three main vineyards – Neilson’s Block, planted in 1975, the Wilgha vineyard, purchased in 1987 and the relatively new Red Ridge vineyard, developed in 1998 at Wrattonbully, just next to Coonawarra. Red varieties predominate of course, however, there is a small selection of white wines made.
How about (re)discovering their story for yourself via their terrific range of wines? The vintages are very good, which is reflected in the wines. Or why not jump in the car and go for a visit, it’s not that far away… HOLLICK COONAWARRA “TANNERY BLOCK”

A classic Coonawarra style, with vibrant berry and cassis aromas and flavours along with smooth tannins on the finish. Full, rich forward, fruit packs out the middle and makes this the kind of red you want around when the occasion calls for something flavoursome, juicy ‘n soft on the finish! The 2012 vintage delivered great quality fruit and it shows.

Very impressed with the depth of fruit here and the deep dark colour, yet it doesn’t feel heavy or overdone at all. There are good black fruits, savoury black olive/tapenade nuance and spice on the nose and palate that really add to the interest and complexity of the wine with its core of rich dark plums. The tannins are smooth and the feel is full and the flavours show good length on the finish. Great stuff!

There’s a lot to like about this wine. I could say that the richness of the blackcurrant fruit is damn good, the tannins are beautifully ripe and balanced and the integrated oak and slight savoury character really complete the picture, which is to say that what this wine is really all about is its structure. Beautifully put together, very fine indeed with elegance, feel and complexity all in harmony leaving you in no doubt as to its provenance – Coonawarra.

This is a delicious “nectar” indeed. A really refreshing dessert-style wine made from late harvest Riesling grapes that give brightness to the fragrant apricot/crème brulee/pear aromatics and flavours on the palate, with an ever so light tinge of acidity underpinning it all and keeping it in line – luscious, yet lithe and for the money, simply great value.


The vaccine is being rolled out by the federal government, and is an upgrade rom the previous three-strain vaccine following the arrival of the Brisbane flu strain last year.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley said up to 4.48 million free doses of the new flu booster will be available.
“Last year we saw the arrival of some nasty strains of flu, like Brisbane, that led to nearly one in five recorded influenza cases ending up in hospital…
“While many of us view the flu as nothing more than an annual inconvenience, some recent strains have seen serious complications in normally healthy people and it’s important for the health, safety and productivity of not only yourself, but the nation, you get the flu shot before the flu gets you.”
The vaccine will be free for high-risk groups including pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months to five years and older than 15 years, people aged over 65 years, and people with a medical condition such as severe asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
Commonwealth chief medical officer, Chris Baggoley, encouraged all Australians – and those at-risk especially – to plan for their vaccinations now.
“Receiving the vaccine from April allows protection from the flu to develop well ahead of the peak transmission period, which usually falls around August,” he said.

New program for fit bodies, healthy minds

Launching on April 30, the “Fit Body, Healthy Mind” 12-week program provides individuals with a collaboration of exercise science, strength and conditioning and yoga as well as ongoing nutrition and behavioural change workshops.
Hayley from The Fitness Movement AU creates individualised programs based on exercise science and functional strength and conditioning methods, and aims to provide her clients with the knowledge and technique to get the most out of their bodies. Food Intelligence director Hannah aims to educate on the benefits of eating the right foods and demonstrates that food can not only give you the body you want, but also make you feel amazing.
“I’m going to teach them how to eat, how to change their behaviours around food and how to become a healthier version of themselves using the behaviour change”, she said.
Workshops will cover topics such as basic nutrition, how to create a healthy plate and understanding your relationship with food.
The program provides each individual with three active sessions a week, two nutrition workshops and ongoing support throughout the 12 weeks.
Free introductory Fit Body, Healthy Mind training sessions will be held on Saturday (April 16) and April 30 at Geelong’s Eastern Beach fountain at 8am. A gold coin donation on the day will go to Ella Jefferies for her World’s Greatest Shave fundraising campaign.
For further information, email Hayley at


This happened to me recently when I started reading some of the work of Dr Libby Weaver. She is a PhD-qualified nutritionist who has focused her whole practise and education around what she has coined “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome” (although we could lump a lot of fellas into this category too).
I started researching as part of a collaboration I am conducting with my mentor for a series of coroprate presentations I will be undertaking later on in the year.
The big focus for my research and these presentations is stress and adrenal health. I have spoken about adrenal health before, and I know that it rang true with a lot of you.
What I did not expect this time around was to feel as though someone was writing about me. I like to think that I have good balance in my life: work, home, kids, social and me time. But you know what, sometimes that balance is so far out of whack that your body tells you, screams at you, to SLOW down.
I am sharing my experience in the hope that if it resonates, you too can use the tools to restore that balance.
When did life become so busy? When did it get to the point where we had to schedule friends in? Why on earth are we taking our phones to the toilet with us? When did we become so obsessed with social media and technology that we panic if we don’t check our phones every five minutes?
Are you feeling anxious, on edge, irritable, hypersensitive to noise, zero stress tolerance, emotional, tired, angry, low libido, PMS out of control, falling asleep in the afternoon, craving sugar and caffeine, using caffeine to wake up and alcohol to wind down?
If so, you are a may be a rushing woman juggling a million balls and it is only a matter of time before we drop one. Exercise is fast-paced, life is fast-paced, we always have to be doing, going and ‘on’. Yes, the answer lies in many facets of management: diet and nutrition, mental health, happiness, appropriate exercise and relaxation.
But hands down, my advice to everyone is to slow down. Switch off your phone for an afternoon, go for a stroll barefoot in the sand, meditate, incorporate something in your daily routine that promotes relaxation and reduces your body’s production of cortisol, to give your adrenals a break because they are screaming at us.
Bec Winkler is a qualified naturopath with 10 years’ experience. She works at the Chiropractic Centre, Jan Juc.

Groundbreaking eye treatments available

“We’ve had treatments for ‘wet’ macular degeneration for 10 years and these drugs have more than halved the blindness rate,”
OPSM Waurn Ponds principal optometrist Rowan Prendergast said.
“However, for the majority of AMD patients, there has been little potential, apart from monitoring their vision loss.
“Now we finally have the possibility of treatment options, and we’re keen to assess and refer people who meet the criteria.”
Dry AMD treatment is injected into the eye treatments vitreous, similar to wet AMD injections.
The trials will compare efficacy of injections every four versus six or eight weeks, and the slow-release form which is injected much less frequently, every three months.
The three trials will be conducted over two years.
Researchers will measure the success of the drug by measuring the size, rate of growth and number of atrophic holes in each patient’s macula.
Patients eligible for the studies can have available dry AMD in one or both eyes, but people with early disease are not eligible.
If local residents wish to take part, an initial assessment at OPSM Waurn Ponds can determine their eligibility for the studies.
This examination can be bulk-billed apart from one component, which costs $60.
For further information about the clinical trails, email Rowan Prendergast at
To book an initial assessment, contact OPSM Waurn Ponds on 5243 9288.

Ginger Mac Slice [ RECIPE ]


2 x 250gm packets ginger nut biscuits
1-2 teaspns ground ginger
250gm butter
4 tablspns golden syrup
395gm tin condensed milk
2 x 250gm blocks macadamia milk chocolate
1/3 cup Dutch cocoa
1 tablspn (extra) ground ginger


Use a food processor to make coarse crumbs from the ginger nut biscuits. Place these in a bowl with the ground ginger. Meantime, slowly melt the butter with generous tablespoons of golden syrup and the tin of condensed milk. Stir this mixture so that it doesn’t catch or burn in the saucepan – it will deepen in colour as it caramelises.

Combine the melted butter mixture with the crumbs and tip this mix into a plastic or metal slice tray (approx 20 x 30cm) which is lined with cling film. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the tray. Melt the blocks of macadamia milk chocolate and spread this over the biscuit base. Leave to cool for five minutes and then dust the lot heavily with the Dutch cocoa mixed together with the extra ground ginger. Allow this to set overnight – do not store in the fridge. Turn the slice out on a chopping board – the cling film helps to draw it out of the tin. Cut into slices or blocks. Makes 16 generous pieces.


I know I shouldn’t hoard so many things, but sometimes you’re just not ready to ditch the knick knacks, the old diaries, the collection of CDs that are rarely, if ever, played. In time I will toss these in various directions – to the op shop or wherever is most appropriate – but only when ready.
Same goes for just a couple of recipes that are still held under lock and key, because for now I have a need to just keep them as uniquely mine. Sorry.
But I do want to share with you a handy kitchen tip that I picked up recently while watching one of Rachel Khoo’s food programs.
Whoever said you can’t teach an old dog a new trick had it wrong.
In all the years of cooking, and all the kilos of green ginger that I have peeled, I’d never have thought of using a spoon? Would you?
I mean who would have thought? I hasten to add that I am definitely not a kitchen gadget type person.
I have no need to have the latest little thingy-me-bob to clutter the second drawer down.
But watching Rachel peel ginger with a spoon had me intrigued – and it does really work!
So may I share Rachel’s handy hint with you. I used a dessert spoon and found it so easy to get in and around all the nobly bits. Give it a try.
This leads me back to the use of ginger in many much-loved recipes of mine, and also has me musing over the nickname “Ginger” for anyone with red hair and freckles.
I’ve been called “Blood Nut” or “Ginger” over the years. Not that I would be now as I’m “silver maned”. And I’m impressed with that talented Tim Minchin who penned the following line in one of his songs: “Only a Ginger can call another ginger, ginger.” So true. We redheads are quite clan-like!
But enough of my musings and back to the kitchen.
Of course there are many types of ginger – fresh, crystalised, ground ginger powder, pickled – and each has the ability to add a bit of warmth, zing and uplifting notes to many recipes. For example, ground ginger added to your favourite banana cake recipe, or adding fresh ginger to plain ol’ pumpkin soup works a treat!
So, back to the sharing (or not) of recipes. Here’s a slice recipe that I created as a nod to another addictive slice I make from time to time. And when I do, everyone just raves about how yummy it is.
And here is its transmutation – a ginger and macadamia nut slice that I think has the potential to knock the socks off the original chocolate-hazelnut one!
The recipe requires melting chocolate – and I’m hopeless at melting chocolate in the microwave oven – but I know many others who are expert at this.
So I use the method of a metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water – but you must not allow any steam to curl over into the bowl, nor the water to touch the base of the bowl as this will make the chocolate “seize” and make it difficult to spread.
The melted nut chocolate becomes a luscious thick icing.
I have dubbed this the Ginger Mac Slice – mindful of that cartoon character Ginger Megs. It’s a bit cheeky on the palate, with the hit of ginger.
In fact you could also add into the biscuit base some finely diced glace ginger. Yum!


Close to 200 came to the event at Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre to soak up Indigenous art, music, food, and the relaxed atmosphere.
Deadly Duo had the crowd participating early with a mix of covers and original material, and was joined by didgeridoo player Lyndon Perry, who again proved to be the hardest working muso at the festival, collaborating with popular acts Olly Friend and Alister Turrill.
Olly Friend won many new admirers with his solo stint and Alister Turrill’s swampy slide guitar and stompbox-infused set kept the audience absorbed. Jayden Lillyst’s engaging performance included influences from rock, roots and blues and mellow country, while Cherrywood’s Josh Seymour was joined by Andrew Walker on violin, offering a stripped back take on tracks from his recent solo release Rope Tied Hope.
Headliner Yirrmal, a rising star in Indigenous music, had the crowd hanging on his every word with a unique blend of traditional language and contemporary folk roots.
Yirrmal closed the event with a rendition of Yothu Yindi’s 1991 hit “Treaty”, which served as a poignant reminder of Narana’s message of “Listening and Learning” while promoting positive messages of reconciliation.
Narana Unplugged II continued the success of last year’s inaugural event, and precedes NaranaFest, which will return in early November.


Through a Camel’s Eye recounts, in part, a local legend about the theft of a circus camel from near the Point Lonsdale Surf Club in 1957.
As the story goes, the camel was loosely tethered by a rope near the stairs of the surf club, and with a dose of Dutch courage, a group of young men whisked it away – all the way to Ocean Grove. Dorothy remembers hearing this story in the 60s, when the Geelong-born author holidayed regularly in Point Lonsdale, and it returned to her when she moved to Ocean Grove from Canberra in 2008. It became the opening for her sea change, murder-mystery novel, which explores small town traditions, contrasting an idyllic setting with the gravity of murder and features comic relief from a bunch of schoolboys. It’s the first in a series of three “sea change” novels, and Dorothy said she enjoyed bringing the region to life in a new light, and revisiting her childhood memories.
“I feel so intimately connected with the place and the land here and I don’t have to go looking for inspiration so it’s a wonderful place to be for me as a writer.
“I used to love walking barefoot around the surf club, working in the milk bar in the 60s and exploring the area – it was a much smaller township then, but it’s still such a beautiful place.”
Through a Camel’s Eye is not Dorothy’s first foray into the crime genre.
She has written a quartet of mysteries set in Canberra and the first of these, The Trojan Dog, was joint winner ACT Book of the Year.
Two of her literary novels, One for the Master and Ruth, have been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award and she has also published short stories in journals and anthologies. Dorothy said throughout her career, her style of writing has been disorganised and unconventional, but something she takes great pleasure in.
“Writing for me is such wonderful fun. I’m not a planner – I don’t know what’s going to happen to the characters, what they will say or how they will react.
“The characters live in my head – that might sound strange but they do – and I don’t know what they’ll do, they develop as the time goes on.
“It’s a funny way to work, a lot of people would hate it but I love it, it’s an adventure.”
Dorothy Johnston is appearing at The Conservatory at Vue Grand, thanks to The Bookshop at Queenscliff on Saturday April 23 from 4pm, entry is free.
To book, email or phone 5258 4496.
For more information about Dorothy and her books, head to