The produce and farms of the Scenic Rim are set to be served to an international market hungry for authentic Australian gourmet regional food experiences.
Self-confessed ‘foodie tragic’, Craig Middleton of Local Taste Discoveries, has been awarded a Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Experience Development Grant to assist in the development of exciting new tourism experiences for the region.
Mr Middleton will spend the next nine months developing a unique one-day itinerary to appeal to both international and domestic tourists who want to escape the city limits.
Mr Middleton, who lives on a farm at Kooroomba, just outside Boonah, says he and wife Alice fell in love with the region many years ago and always believe the proximity to Brisbane and the natural scenery would appeal to tourists.
“We’ve lived in the area for a couple of years and before we moved here we did a couple of trial food tours with friends and family to get a feel for what people thought,” said Mr Middleton.
“I’m a bit of a tragic foodie myself. I studied ag science and have always had a passion for the land. I took the kids to the Winter harvest Festival in its second year – it was wonderful, we had a great day and we’ve seen it bloom since then.
“The idea formed, and I saw an opportunity to combine my passion for food with my ability to relate to the producers and farmers.”
Mr Middleton’s idea is to craft small, boutique tours which start and finish in Brisbane and stop at farms and restaurants in the western part of the Scenic Rim, including the fertile Fassifern Valley.
“The beauty of the grant is they want to focus on a longer-term plan that appeals to international and interstate tourists and capitilise on the region’s growing reputation as a food destination,” he said.
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner says the grant program was designed to encourage tourism operators to offer more exceptional experiences to enhance Brisbane’s appeal as a destination of choice.
Scenic Rim regular, Pterodactyl Helicopter Tours, also received a grant to showcase the scenic locations on Brisbane’s doorstep for intimate and exclusive experiences.
“The program is encouraging tourism operators to expand their existing offerings and work in partnership with other operators to create unique experiences for visitors,” said Mr Schrinner.
“Creating more to see and o in the Brisbane region will increase visitor numbers and encourage them to stay longer, supporting our accommodation, tourism, retail and hospitality businesses – large and small. Launching memorable tourism experiences that provide visitors with a strong connection to the places they visit and the people they meet encourages them to share with their family and friends and through social media, helping lure new repeat visitors.”
Mr Middleton said he would use the $10,000 grant to finalise a one-day experience in the Fassifern region featuring six or seven tastes of the Scenic Rim.
“It will be a commissionable product that can be sold to interstate and international markets. Places like Summer Land Camels, Scenic Rim Olives, Top of Town Butcher, Kooroomba Vineyard, Austin House and the viewing area at Mt French to see the patchwork of agriculture below.
“My passion is to encourage south-east Queensland residents to come and see what’s on offered here and have a market-ready product for international guests.
“I want to act as a conduit to get people to come out to a spectacular region that’s not that far from Brisbane.”