The Road Ahead : August September 2008
shade-houses before being planted in the paddocks. “There are 198 plants per tray and 150 trays on one rack alone, so it’s pretty labour intensive,” Alf said. “Every week, we’re seeding in here, every week we plant and, in theory, every week we should harvest.” There’s even the chance to taste the fruits of the Turrisi’s labours. Out in the fi eld, Alf harvests a caulifl ower from the earth and shares around the spoils. Snow white, sweet and crunchy, it’s as fresh as you can get. What’s remarkable is that so few people know that this little pocket of the Granite Belt produces the lion’s share of vegetables for the south-east corner. “Certainly in the summer months, from Christmas on, there’s a heck of a lot of produce coming out of this little area and going to the Brisbane Markets, so undoubtedly someone’s eating Eagles Produce at some stage in Brisbane.” Another feature of the area that deserves greater recognition is Stanthorpe’s remarkable Historical Museum. The name suggests a single structure, but in fact it’s a village of 10 heritage buildings, clustered on the town’s northern outskirts. There are more than 20,000 treasures on display throughout the complex – memorabilia donated to the Stanthorpe Historical Society over 40 years. Entry costs $5 and that includes a second visit within a week. The chance to return is welcome. There’s a lot to see. Sit down to a slate and inkwell in the 1893 schoolhouse; explore an eclectic collection of household wares at Ardmore, a holiday home from the 1920s; visit the 1912 Stanthorpe Council Chambers; or step inside a one-room jail, built in 1876 and heralded at the time to be Australia’s most secure country prison. Evoking the hardship of pioneering days is a 166-year-old shepherd’s hut from Ballandean station. The rough-hewn home is fi lled with colonial furnishings and rustic implements from a ‘make-do’ era, including an old charcoal cooler which sits on the veranda. “The breeze blowing through the wet charcoal kept the food inside cold,” explained museum curator, Loreen Long. “It’s been operating since 1920, still works and has never cost a cent to run.” More recent history comes alive in the museum’s military displays. An intriguing array of wooden railway signs bears the names of World War I battlefi elds – Amiens, Bapaume, Passchendaele and Pozieres. After the Great War, a government-run resettlement scheme saw hundreds of veterans start new lives 38 AUG/SEP 08 in the area as farmers. “The diggers who returned named places in the district to honour soldiers who didn’t come back,” Loreen said. “One of the reasons was that the 25th battalion from this area acquitted itself very well in battle.” Communities in the countryside north of Stanthorpe still bear the battlefi eld names, as you’ll discover by taking a drive along the Armistice Way tourist route. The road winds through a landscape of peaceful fruit farms and vineyards – a fi tting place for memories of the fallen. At the village of Amiens, you can stop to read the full story of the Soldier Settlement Scheme on display near the state school. Jars of soil brought back from the Western Front are reportedly kept in a nearby country church. At Pozieres, there’s a small memorial surrounded by rosemary plants for remembrance and its dedicated to the men of the Australian First Division who fell in France and Belgium. Near Pozieres you’ll also see a turn-off to Donnelly’s Castle. The ‘castle’ is part of a mighty granite rock formation that can be explored on foot. From the car park and picnic grounds, several trails lead up into a labyrinth of boulders and towering stone outcrops. There’s an eerie, Picnic at Hanging Rock feel to the spot – heightened by stories that Donnelly’s Castle was a favoured hideout of Captain Thunderbolt, the infamous bushranger who terrorised the New England tableland during the mid 1800s. You can see why he chose the place to lie low. From the lookout there are commanding views of the surrounding countryside – perfect for spotting approaching constabulary. PREVIOUS PAGE: Produce abounds in Stanthorpe. INSETS: Chris Handy with Eagle Produce’s Alf Turrisi. Cauliflower corner. ABOVE, FROM LEFT: Walk Stanthorpe’s streets. Wine barrels. Signs at the Historical Museum. SEE IT ON SEVEN Discover Stanthorpe’s lesser-known attractions with Chris ‘Buddha’ Handy on Channel 7’s Queensland Weekender, Saturday, September 6, at 5.30pm. GET THERE WITH RACQ Plan your driving holiday of the Granite Belt online with the RACQ trip planner, at racq.com. See RACQ’s tips on Queensland Weekender and The Great South East.
October November 2008
June July 2008