Autumn Harvest

Image source: Contributed

Matt Golinski revels in the changing season and the fresh, new produce and possibilities it brings.  

As long as Autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colours enough to paint the beautiful things I see    Vincent Van Gogh

Up until this time last year, I would have passed this off as just another quote from a one-eared, absinthe addled creative genius trying to make a new season sound romantic. 

But then I moved to a property with a huge Liquid Amber tree that hangs over my front verandah, and now I understand, what he tried to say to me. (Sorry, if that’s too cheesy).

Every day for about two months, I watched that glorious tree change as it prepared itself for winter – the bright green chlorophyll slowly draining from its leaves to reveal ochre-like pigments that morphed from yellow to orange to red, and then finally the American name for the season, ‘Fall’ suddenly made perfect sense. 

Poets often describe Autumn as the ‘melancholy’ season – a time of dormancy, sadness and decay. But Vinnie and I see it differently.

In Europe up until around the 16th century, the period between Summer and Winter was known as ‘Harvest’ – a good way to describe the same months here on the Sunshine Coast.  

This beautifully prosperous, diverse growing region comes alive, firstly the deciduous fruit trees like persimmons, pecans and figs hit their peak, then join the Liquid Amber in its skeletal snooze.

Then the avocados, dragon fruit, passionfruit, strawberries and citrus all come into full swing.

It’s cool enough to grow small crops like tomatoes and beans, and all the leafy stuff stands a chance of surviving without the long days of blistering heat.

Farmers’ market stalls will start to fill with different varieties of pumpkins, and brassicas of all shapes and colours. 

Cauliflowers, broccoli, cabbages, kohlrabi, kale and cavolo nero thrive in the cooler weather and always look so vibrant and alive at this time of year. 

Many of our strawberry farms open the gate to visitors between May and October, so that everyone from toddlers to grandparents can experience the joy of picking fully ripe, sun-kissed berries straight from the bush and eating them on the spot. It’s educational and delicious all at once.

The public’s increasing appetite to learn more about food and how it is grown has seen some big investment around the coast over the past 12 months, with spaces like The Doonan (in Doonan) and Barns Lane Farm in Coolum, both creating multifaceted and interactive venues with a major focus on agriculture and preparing to open in the very near future.

This is the ultimate picnic weather, and it doesn’t take much searching or effort to fill a basket with local goodies and go and enjoy a feast at the beach, in a national park or beside a waterfall. 

There are so many options for country drives, with the Blackall Range, Kenilworth, Rainbow Beach and the Mary Valley all within easy reach of the coast, and all offering something different.

As the weather becomes a little more predictable, event season gets underway, with Meet the Makers, The Curated Plate and Noosa Alive! bringing thousands of visitors to the coast, filling our accommodation houses, restaurants, cafés and bars during what is traditionally a quieter time for tourism. 

And while it’s more the beaches and bush trails drawing the crowds than the museums and patisseries, the ingredients produced here and the gastronomic offerings are every bit as good as anything you’ll find in the south of France.

I like to think that if Vincent was a Queenslander, he’d see the same Autumnal beauty in the shedding eucalypts and blooming wattle of the hinterland as he saw in the sunflowers and olive trees of Arles.

About the Author /

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Matt Golinski is a highly regarded chef with a passion for simple, produce-driven cuisine based on seasonal, fresh local ingredients. He is an active member of the Slow Food movement, a champion of artisan producers and a generous mentor to keen young chefs. He is the Food and Culinary Tourism Ambassador for the Gympie region; Ambassador and Advisory Executive Chef for Peppers Noosa; and a festival favourite.

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