River Cottage inside story: Ep. 1

THE characters and landscape of this Far South Coast land over the next few weeks are coming to life and showcased to a national audience in the new television series River Cottage Australia.

The Narooma News each week plans to document where host Paul West has wandered and whom he meets along the way.


There hopes for many more series with the show being picked up internationally and on local free-to-air television but in the meantime for those without Foxtel at home, O’Briens Hotel is airing the show each Thursday.

Given the potential for exposing the beauty of the district, it was perhaps no surprise that several members of the Narooma Chamber of Commerce and Tourism where at the pub to see the first episode.

Joining chamber president Orit Karny Winters were Wendy Fisher and John Tracy of Barrabarroo Meats who are featured in episode 2.

In the first episode British founder of the original River Cottage series and philosophy Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall arrives in Sydney and drives down the South Coast to Central Tilba stopping to get a pair of chooks and some produce along the way.

After checking out the property that was sold to the series by local real estate agent Belinda Mathews Bennett of Ben Bate Real Estate, they go hunting for mushrooms among the spotted gums.

Where was that secret spot mushroom spot then – well we happened to stumble upon the show filming at the mushroom spot just off the road to Cemetery Beach, Tilba.

The new garden requires some seedlings and compost, which just turns out to be made by camels.

Camels – where in the area are there camels?

Well it turns out the camels belong to Tabitha Zarins from Candelo.

Paul and Hugh climb Gulaga Mountain with locals Warren and Kerry Foster from Wallaga Lake.

Warren is quite the accomplished didgeridoo players and leads the Gulaga Dancers, who this year have appeared at the Narooma Oyster Festival and the Tilba Easter Festival, both of which are featured in later episodes.

They undergo a smoking ceremony and visit the sacred sites on the mountain before eating oyster patties cooked by elder Vivien Mason of Narooma.

Warren then takes them hunting for octopus on Wallaga Lake.

A local fisherman named Brian takes Hugh on his tinny using modern methods, while Paul fishing the traditional way grabbing the octopus by hand. For the record Paul and Warren get two and Hugh gets one.

The lads decided to cook up their catch for all the characters they have met and helped them – Paul gently cooks them in their own juices while Hugh barbecues his and turns it into a salad.

But despite their efforts Vivien Mason still does not like octopus!

This week in episode 2, Hugh is back in the UK, so Paul finds himself alone at River Cottage, but not for long, as he welcomes a new best friend to the farm - Digger, the border collie pup.

With his new mate nipping at his heels, Paul sets about getting his winter vegetable crop fed that involves an organic fertiliser recipe that makes use of the farms most unwanted products.

It’s festival time in the local village of Central Tilba and Paul’s keen to make an impression with his cooking skills. But will his home made relish – using locally gathered produce – cut it with the locals?

Further afield with the help of local hunters, Paul discovers how notorious pests can be turned into a delicious meal and he welcomes his first dairy cow to river cottage. But will he ever learn how to milk it?

The second episode airs on The LifeStyle Channel on Foxtel on Thursday, July 4 at 8.30pm.

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