Maude’s Journey through Western Australia
Our journey started with a plane to Yarrie Station in the Pilbara where we met up with Annabelle Coppin, a fifth-generation cattle farmer. The life of the station hand is real and rugged – sleeping in swags and often working in the brutal and harsh conditions of Mother Nature and the Australian Outback. The reward is the phenomenal, sustainable beef coming out of this part of the country produced with a mindfulness of safeguarding the environment.
The following day was spent at Kooljaman at Cape Leveque. The Aborigine are the traditional owners of this land and have prehistoric ways of sourcing ingredients. The Bardi Jawi communities own and operate this encampment, where the culinary team were schooled by Brian and Bundy, Aboriginal elders, on the ancient art of spear making and fish poisoning and later foraged for mud crabs in the surrounding small pools. The day’s bounty was grilled on mangrove wood in the sand, as our new mates stressed the importance of “skin names” and the kinship system of the Aboriginal lineage social organization.
The elders explained “Dreamtime” as the stories passed down for describing Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and existence. The oral traditions lend future generations an understanding and appreciation for nature and their inheritance. From this majestic morning, the afternoon was spent pearl diving on Cygnet Bay. Casting off from the red soil of the shore, fishermen suspend racks into the waters and pull up oysters and pearl meat.Traveling south to Pinjarra, Curtis visited a second ranch where he and Stuart McCormack of Shorthorn Farms herded Poll Shorthorn, Charolais and Angus cattle on dune buggies. Next, Cambray Cheese invited the team to their farm for a cheesemaking session of a Manchego-style, St Johns Brook.
TThe following morning required an early start as Curtis and pastry chef, Yesenia Cruz, joined Aussie chefs Tony Howell and Paul “Yoda” Iskov for a quick surf at Gas Bay followed by a forage for Kwondong or “native peach”, water spinach, coastal herbs, and seeds. Our afternoon was spent with the culinary team joining Maude’s sommeliers at Margaret River in the company of Vanya Cullen, whose family has been producing elegant wines since the early days of region’s notoriety. Our final day spent at the home of Chef Tony Howell, whose eight-year-old played hookie to help the team catch marron, a local crayfish, and reconvene with Yoda for a beach barbecue and the epic party, Gourmet Escape.