Marvellous May-hem at Gourmay Mary Valley

Image source: Contributed

Matt Golinski discovers a tasty food festival where one month is just not enough to taste and tour all the delights on offer!

Most regions in Australia these days hold an annual festival of some sort to highlight their agricultural identity – Chinchilla has watermelons, Kingaroy has pork, Mundubbera has blueberries, Stanthorpe has apples and grapes. The festivities generally run over one or two days, some of the big ones go for a whole week.

Very few regions can boast that they have so much to share that they need to party for over four weeks to get it all done.

But there’s a fertile and flourishing little pocket of countryside that sits between Cooroy and Gympie that’s so abundant that 31 days barely scratches the surface of all there is to savour.

Driving past lush grassy paddocks around Amamoor and Kandanga it’s hard to believe that if a decision about the proposed Traveston Dam had gone a different way back in 2009, much of this area would be underwater now.

GourMay Mary Valley’ is a month-long celebration of the fact that all these small communities have their heads very much above water and are working hard to ensure that this prime farming land continues to produce food thoughtfully and sustainably for generations to come.

Beginning on the first of May with an opening ceremony at the Honeybee Wellness Centre in Kandanga, ABC Rural’s Jen Nichols will MC a variety night of music, comedy, performances and of course, delicious local food.

This kicks off a month-long celebration with a number of tasty satellite events, including a Vintners Lunch at Dingo Creek Winery in Tandur, a Bushfood Long Lunch with legendary local chef and character Peter Wolfe at the Kandanga Farm Store, and a sunset stroll along the Mary Valley Rail Trail to experience the unforgettable symphony of the Bellbirds in Imbil.

If you have a competitive spirit, you could consider entering the inaugural Mary Valley Camp Oven Competition, or release your inner artist and come up with a piece to display in the Kenilworth ArtsFest. The winning work will feature a food product or process specific to the Mary Valley and will take home the special $2,000 prize.

Take a stroll through Amamoor State Forest and experience Macadamia Trees in their original habitat with expert guided commentary and a morning tea filled with macadamias and other native bush plants on 5 or 8 May; or book a seat on the historic Valley Rattler on 9 May to experience a different perspective of the region, and stop at farms along the way to learn, taste and relax.

There will be two ‘foodie’ films at the Kandanga Hall – Ratatouille for the kids on 12 May presented by Mary Valley Film Society and The 100-Foot Journey presented by Slow Food Noosa for the adults on 16 May.

If you really want to immerse yourself in the Mary Valley’s rich and diverse farming culture, there are plenty of chances to visit properties over the month and get a deep insight into the processes involved in food production, and listen to the passionate people who put their heart and soul into making sure we can have access to healthy and nutritious ingredients.

On 18 May you can start the day with a Sunrise Breakfast at The Avocado Tree Farm in Amamoor and sip on bubbles as you greet the day with a breakfast of local cuisine in an open air, paddock-to-plate celebration of organic farming and local farmers; later Tim and Amber Scott will host a Farm Tour & Tapas of their certified organic K2 Beef property in Kandanga, or head to Kybong on May 26 to learn all about regenerative farming and see it in action at Forage Farms.

These are just a fraction of the events that lead up to the big festival day on Saturday May 25 when Imbil Town Square and Rail Park will come alive with food stalls, cooking demonstrations and competitions, interesting speakers and entertainment all day long.

GourMay winds up with a Gala Dinner Party on the first of June (I told you 31 days wasn’t enough) held at the Mary Valley State College in Imbil.

And just when you thought the Gympie Region couldn’t possibly have more on, there’s also The Big Rosella Festival in Woolooga from 4-5 May, The Gympie Show from 16-18 May, and the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is back in full swing 26 May.

GourMay may be a great showcase of all the individuals that make the food scene of the Mary Valley so special, but more than that it highlights the public’s appetite to get to know the region better. Join in the May-hem, you won’t regret it!


JOIN THE FEAST!

1 May – 1 June 2024

Satellite Events: 1 May -1 June

Festival Day: 25 May; 8.30am – 3pm

Gala Dinner Party: 1 June, 6.30pm – late

For tickets and tasty tidbits, visit www.gourmaymaryvalley.com.au

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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