Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nuts about Kingaroy

It's been a weird week in the town where I live.
For those who aren't playing at home, I live in a country town called Kingaroy, in the South Burnett.
We moved here originally as a bit of a tree change. Life is generally cheaper, quieter and slower paced than in the city, and it's easy to fall in love with the rolling farmland, quaint towns and constantly-changing scenery and seasons.
But as anyone who has lived on the land or in small country towns knows, life can be tough. In fact, it can be brutal.
It's a time when many businesses are for sale or closing down, and some of our most talented people have to travel to the cities and coast for work opportunities. Nothing new there. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.
It's well-known that farmers regularly struggle to make ends meet as they provide food, produce and drink for Australia and overseas. But what's lesser known is that business people battle to make a living as well. Even when their products and service are very, very good, and deserve to succeed very, very much.
This week, our local Target and Foodworks shut their doors. Our region's only private hospital is still slated to close at the end of the month, although the South Burnett Regional Council mayor Wayne Kratzmann is moving heaven and earth to stop that from happening.
It's heartbreaking to see people losing their jobs and homes. Having to move away from the area they love. Away from friends, family, schools.
The people here are incredibly innovative and are always finding ways to make an income. From the dairy farmers turned winemakers. Those who take in paying guests at romantic cottages and family-oriented farmstays. Those who have turned to making organic cheese, olive oil, or growing macadamia nuts or avocados instead of traditional crops.

Dusty Hill Vineyard (above) and (below) an example of the delicious food on offer: Seafood Bisque

There are restaurateurs doing innovative things with food, and thinking up extra ways to get bottoms on seats and tummies filled. All conscious that their customers are often struggling themselves and can only pay a certain amount to dine out.

A vegetable fritatta from Magpies takeaway, Kingaroy. Made from scratch and with love. They also make the best pies - Barkers Creek pork belly and apple sauce; Corned beef and white sauce; Chicken, Camembert and Asparagus anyone? 

And of course, the town is rightfully known for peanuts.
In fact, when I was a kid, the newsagent in the main street sold postcards that said things like "Kingaroy: The Peanut Capital Of Australia", and 'Home of Australia's best nuts'. Oh how we laughed.
But I'd like to wish that these days, Kingaroy is known for much more than nuts. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)

We do macadamia nuts as well 

So it was fitting, that this week Triple J's Breakfast With Matt and Alex producers chose Kingaroy as the subject for their Bonus Weather town.
Matt and Alex and the team choose an Aussie town to appear in the weather update. It's called a bonus town, because it's a town that usually doesn't get a lot of coverage in the mainstream media.
I tried for a chat with Matt and Alex - but have been told maybe next week - and I tried for a chat with indie artist Lupa J, but I've so far had no luck.
Lupa J, who is only 17 and studying year 12, did an awesome job by researching Kingaroy, a town she'd never heard of, on the internet, before writing her song.
She based her song on tourism websites, and although she is obviously an awesome talent and did an amazing job, I'm wondering why the tourism websites she found were so out of date.
Because Lupa J, discovered that Kingaroy was the peanut capital of Australia and latched on to that as her theme song.
She sings Kingaroy's 'twin peanut silos grace the sky'. (There are actually three.) Of our Peanut Festival. (Sadly, there has not been a peanut festival since 2009.) She gets the number of people who live here wrong, and of course, sings that we're famous for our peanuts.
Well I guess that's true.
And I'm not dissing Lupa J. She did her research. She based it on the facts available online. She wrote a cool song and treated our town with respect. (And our nuts!)
Triple J accompaned their social media and the soundwave upload with a photo taken at one of the last peanut festivals. I love that photo and I'm pretty sure the KingaRoyals who heard the song or who looked it up online enjoyed it too.
It's had lots of positive feedback on social media and given our town a little extra attention.
You can listen to the song and see the photo here. 
I think Lupa J rocks. And I think locals would be happy to take on KingaRoyals (the name of the song) as their anthem. If only it was a little more accurate. And again - not her fault.
But I think it's an interesting social media experiment into the efficacy of the knowledge of our brand and the user-friendly, up to date (or lack of), information that's available.
The fact that many travellers these days research a destination via the internet means this is disturbing. The lack of businesses with instagram or twitter accounts, or their own websites, or who fail to update and respond to questions on their facebook accounts, is astonishing. Would-be visitors need to know that there is so much to do in this region - from hiking in the Bunya Mountains, to enjoying lunch at an Irish Tavern in a vineyard, to learning how to make vegan cheese.
I guess my questions are: Why aren't we known for more than our nuts? (Ahem) Why are so many tourism and official pages so out of date? Is it time to bring the peanut festival back? (And I know the arguments about cost, public liability and insurance, but if other regional areas do it, why can't we?)

We do have Australia's best nuts - and the nicest peanut paste. This range is from Taste South Burnett 

And the tastiest nuts and widest range of flavours you will ever taste come from The Peanut Van

I interviewed celebrity chef Miguel Maestre when South Burnett producers took over Brisbane's Eat Street Markets recently, and he pointed out that tourists, foodies, and the media, love quirky festivals
We have great wine, history, olive oil, cheese, farmstays and markets. We are on the doorstep of the beautiful Bunya Mountains.
Let's get all that out there, and let's make our town proud.
Our attractions shouldn't be secret. Our websites should not be out of date. There should be current information, readily available online.
Because while some businesses are sadly closing, others are doing their best to hang in there, be innovative and put this town on the map.
And they deserve all the support they can get.
In the meantime? Go the KingaRoyals.

We also should be known for our fudge. Taste South Burnett's own handmade fudge, made with love 

And sausages ... Well the country does love a carnivore. But these days there are plenty of veggie products too

And don't forget the wine ... the South Burnett produces some amazing wine 

Whipbird Chapel, one of the many unique venues for breakfast, lunch, fresh juice, and more

A nearby hotel, The Wondai. Not your typical country pub

We really do have a Peanut Man, and sometimes he does the rounds of the local shopping mall handing out sweets with his peanut helpers. Only in Kingaroy ... 

Have you been to Kingaroy or the South Burnett? Did you hear the KingaRoyals song? Would you visit if there was a peanut festival here? And how do you like your nuts? 


Life Love and Hiccups said...

I always have to remind myself of how tough life can be for those living in the country. At surface level the quiet life sounds so ideal, but I know that the reality can be that quiet is not always a good thing.. especially for business. I have never been to Kingaroy but I would love to come and sample that bisque and wine. As for my nuts - i like them salty ;) xx

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I first learned about Kingaroy and peanuts while playing Trivial Pursuit! I think the question is which town is the biggest producer of peanuts in Australia or something like that. I love peanut butter so I bet it's delicious! :D

Unknown said...

You could get peanut paste made out of peanuts only when I was a kid - years before it became trendy. And when the peanuts are roasting, the air smells like roasted peanuts. I don't remember that smell as a child because I guess I grew up with it. But when we returned here it was one of the first things I notice, and still do. It makes you hungry for roasted nuts LOL.

Unknown said...

Yum, nuts! Maybe you can approach all those out of date websites and businesses with no online presence and offer your services to them?

Unknown said...

I have already thought of that Dorothy, great idea x