THE New England is “right on the cusp of being a major player” in the food and wine stakes – visitors just need to be able to find producers off the beaten track, Deb O’Brien says.
That’s why she’s bringing the New England Foodie Trail concept to Tamworth in January, after a busy nine months running tours from Armidale, Uralla and Walcha.
The tailor-made food and beverage trails will take people on “a winery tour on steroids”.
“I feel really passionate about the local produce in the New England area and feel the New England is right on the cusp of being a major player,” Ms O’Brien said.
“We started in May and were absolutely blown away with the demand, and hit the ground running.
“There’s nothing like this at all in the region; I think a couple of people a long time ago might have had a play around with wine tours.”
Ms O’Brien, on the other hand, said she wanted to have a balance between beverage and food stops.
“I’ve done quite a lot of wine tours, and your palate just gets destroyed from drinking too much wine and you get a bit sick of it, so we just wanted to showcase everything the area had to offer,” she said.
She was looking for more food producers to add to her Tamworth-based trails, but said they needed to have “a few key ingredients”.
“People have to be able to have a little bit of insight into your produce and what makes you so unique; it definitely has to be a local product with tastings and the opportunity for people to buy your produce if they like it; and we’re also very particular about quality, so we want to have the best-quality products on the trail.”
Ms O’Brien also runs Wayward Jerseys Farmstay at Arding, and says that although the two businesses are not connected, one informed the other.
“We’ve found there’s a lot of demand from city people, saying ‘We’ve come to the country to sample the beautiful produce and now we can’t find it’. So we wanted to be the ones to introduce people to it,” she said.
“Things in the country aren’t on the main stretches, so by putting it all together we feel they get to see the absolute most possible.”
The tours departing from the Armidale, Uralla or Walcha tourist information centres go to places such as Sunhill Dairy Goats, Dobson’s Distillery, New England Brewing Co, Ultimate BBQ, Naturally Healthy Wholefoods, and preserves maker The Lazy Magpie.
Ms O’Brien said she planned to launch the Tamworth-departing tours about the time of the country music festival, for groups of at least six people, Wednesdays to Sundays. She can be contacted on 6778 4889 or firstname.lastname@example.org