This past June, Board Director, Kim Morgan and Australian Organic staff member Janine Heinemann were fortunate to visit some of our amazing clients (and members) on the West Coast of Australia. It was a whirlwind trip, but Kim and Janine managed to visit several clients on their journey, sometimes driving around WA’s remote parts without navigation nor reception and even having to chase emus from the road!
Diary of Kim and Janine’s WA adventures:
After our arrival at Perth Airport (Sunday, 19th June), our first stop after a long journey was Margaret River and a brief visit to Stella Bella’s cellar door. It was wonderful to chat and hear all about Margaret River from Grace who was a wealth of knowledge on the area. We were able to sample some of their wines and find out a bit more about Stella Bella Wines during this quick stop.
Day two (Monday, 20th June) was full of adventure as we travelled all around the Margaret River. It was lovely to meet and chat with Lena (Savi Organics), Lucinda and Laryssa (Olio Bello), Vanya (Cullen Wines), Ben and Naomi (Blind Corner) and Lara and Jamie (Burnside Organic Farm) in person. On this day (and night) trip we heard all about the wonderful farms, new products, issues, expectations and insights and how their operations work. Lena from Savi Organics showed us her facility and we chatted about how she employs members of the local community to finish some of her products. We sampled beautiful coffee, drove around the property and viewed the olive oil making facilities at Olio Bello. We enjoyed an amazing lunch with Vanya, explored the spiral biodynamic garden with Matt and were even lucky enough to get to see Cullen Wines‘ preparations for the Winter Solstice. Ben showed us his barrel storage areas at Blind Corner and we are excited to see his first organic vintages in the not too distant future. While visiting Ben and Naomi, we even managed to squeeze in a visit with a new client who we look forward to welcoming to the ACO Group! Our final visit for the day was with Lara and Jamie at Burnside Organic Farm where we discussed issues they are facing and the OGA farming program which is currently under review. We had discussions on just about every topic! Thank you to everyone who gave us directions to the beach, but our days were just too full to fit in a beach visit – hopefully next time!
The longest leg of the journey, Day 3 (Tuesday, 21st June), was from Margaret River to Boyup Brook, then onto Frankland River and returning to Perth. Holy cow, what an adventure! We headed off early for our first stop of the day visiting Warren and Lori at Blackwood Valley Beef. Unfortunately emus on the road slowed us down, or freaked us out!, so we arrived a little later than planned. At the end of a waterlogged, clay road was a beautiful large and lush organic farm! After a great chat and plenty of feedback, as well as being supplied by Lori with some goodies, we continued our journey to Frankland River. It was a little daunting as there was no reception for our phones and our navigation refused to work; it really confused matters when we noticed this road sign! We were literally sitting there looking ahead and to the right, ready to toss a coin. Luckily, I think, we chose the shortest route (Frankland River 91), which took close to an hour.
When we finally arrived at Frankland Estate, we were greeted by Hunter, Steph and Elizabeth (thanks Steph for your concern about our safety due to our late arrival!). We enjoyed a lovely late lunch and it was wonderful to hear they all sit down together, European style, every day and eat lunch as a team. After our enjoyable afternoon talking exports, newsletters and all things organic ended, we quickly jumped back in the car and headed back towards the highway before it got too dark as kangaroos are a problem at night on the WA freeways.
After a few more hours on the road, it was great to finally get my first ever glimpse of the night view of the beautiful city of Perth!
Day Three (Wednesday, 22nd June), was my last day in beautiful WA. We left our hotel for the first stop of the day, Dimattina Coffee. We were happy to meet Simon and Toni in their beautiful coffee shop, with roasting facilities in the rear. We enjoyed a lovely brew and talked about their new organic coffee, membership and marketing.
We eventually said goodbye to Dimattina, and headed towards the airport and our next visit with Healthy Valley Organics. It was lovely to meet up with Jill and John who showed us around their great wholesale business. We talked about the shortage of supply of fresh fruit and vegetables over in WA and the need for networking was discussed by just about all our clients. We left Healthy Valley Organics with a bag of their new nut products and me heading back to the Perth airport. The nuts were enjoyed by all staff back at ACO in Brisbane the next day.
As I headed off to the airport, Kim continued on with her visits, meeting up with one our our newer clients, Alex, from La Kult. They enjoyed a great meeting and were able to discuss international business.
Day Four (Thursday, 23rd June), Kim attended meetings with the WA Government and was able to speak about issues that had been raised by the WA clients over the last couple of days.
Thank you to all of our wonderful clients for your hospitality, honesty and time during our quick trip. It was an absolute pleasure. We look forward to meeting other WA clients on future trips to the West Coast! Please take the time to view some of our WA photos below.by