River Cottage Australia Series 2 Ep 4: Inside story

WELCOME to the next Inside story behind Series 2 of River Cottage Australia!

The Narooma News just like during the first series will again be bringing you running coverage of each episode.

We will highlight the local characters and scenery of the Far South Coast of NSW featured in the hit show that airs on The Lifestyle Channel on Foxtel.

Episode 4 of Series 2 starts with local Tilba area blacksmith Iain Hamilton from Mother Mountain Forge arriving with his son Xavier to deliver four Boer goats to expand host Paul West’s ever-growing menagerie.

We are used to seeing Iain behind glowing coals at his portable forge that he takes to various events such as the Tilba Easter Festival.

The hefty goats soon fit in with Paul’s existing milking goats taking advantage of their excellent enclosure complete with climbing structures.

Paul in this episode also tends to his newly acquired chook tractors moving the fast-growing meat chooks to a second pen.

Next it’s off down to nearby tranquil and picturesque Wallaga Lake where he meets up with Aboriginal youth worker Terry Hill and young fellas Darama and Jordan.

They are on a mission to hunt for the bimbala or blood cockle by feeling around the weed beds for what feels like a golf ball.

These clams were staple of the indigenous tribes for thousands of years and large ancient middens of dumped shells are still dotted around the lake.

They cook up the bimbalas on a fire on the lakeside and Paul adds his own touch with a spicy Asian-style sauce and a salsa verde that the boys enjoy even more than the natural version.

Then it’s onto another mission – this time to collect something special from the bush block belonging to Tilba local Harry Bate, a member of the pioneering family.

It’s not food he’s after but rather mineral in the form of termite mound clay, the secret ingredient in his soon-to-be constructed pizza oven.

He makes sure no termites are home using a stethoscope.

It’s a loaded up into the trusty Subaru Brumby utility that Paul has nicknamed “Stanley” after a tool company sticker on the classic workhorse.

Next it’s back to River Cottage where he meets up with local bricklayer Jock Quirk and his wife Kath as well as helpers Martin Gribble and his friend Kyle.

Together they all make the oven, which looks great thanks to the termite mud pie mix.

Martin, who happens to be a farmer at Soul Patch Farm up the highway at Turlinjah, then offers some Paul advice about his big tomato crop in the back garden whose fruit is suffering a bit of blossom end rot.

 Martin sells his own organic veggies every Saturday at the Tilba Markets as well as at the Tuesday farmers’ market at Moruya organised by the SAGE organisation.

The solution is a mix of goats’ milk, water and Epsom salts sprayed on the “Tommy” plants – let’s hope that Paul ends up getting the cash crop he is after.

Giving thanks for the help, Paul whips up a refreshing granita using watermelons grown in his front garden.

Then a few days later its pizza time as the guys are invited back for the first firing of the pizza oven, which works a treat.

The reality of farming livestock and poultry comes next when Paul decides to sacrifice his two Australorp hens that are no longer laying eggs.

Using the methods learned from local small abattoir slaughter man Chris Franks he quickly and humanely dispatches the hens.

Paul has special guests to share his homegrown poultry with as the Cobargo Country Women’s Association ladies are coming over for dinner.

Arriving are matriarch and patron Normal Allen, branch president Mary Williams, scone maker extraordinaire Nelleke Gorton and newcomer Jen Redmond.

The chicken meets their approval and then they ask Paul to help them cater for the organisers of the upcoming Cobargo Folk Festival.

The challenge is issued as there are up to 180 folk to feed and no oven at the festival.

But Paul doesn’t mind at all as he says the CWA ladies work tirelessly to help country women and their families, and make great cakes.

After deciding to make pies and doing some taste testing, it’s a revisit to the Quaama School of Arts that we visited for the harvest festival in Series 1.

But not before Paul heads down to the highway to Brogo to meet nearby sustainability champion John Champagne to get some homegrown veggies for the pies.

John is among Australia's foremost permaculture trainers running courses around the district and does not disappoint supplying Paul with among other items some interesting peppers.

Arriving at the Quaama hall with the veggie and beef stout fillings, Paul sees Nelleke bash the puff pastry with her big rolling pin and all the ladies flirt with Paul as they make up their pies.

The pies sell like hot cakes at the Cobargo Folk Festival with Norma trying to push into the line.

It’s all a big success, raising $1700 dollars for a refurbishment of the CWA kitchen and luckily there is a pie or two for Paul and ladies to sample.

“Being able to help the ladies is what it’s all about.”

Next week Paul is off to the Bermagui Seaside Fair where he will feature some of his poultry in the form of tasty chicken treat, and we’ll bring you that inside story next week!

I can't believe we are now already half way through Series 2.

The Lifestyle channel has let us know that the show being shot by Keo Films, the production company responsible for the original British River Cottage, is doing very well.

The Season 2 premiere episode of River Cottage Australia had a combined overnight audience of 148,000 viewers, an increase of 17 per cent on the Season 1 premiere episode.

A third series has already been locked in, so there is lots of RCA to come!


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