Welcome to Lovely Locals. This is a new regular feature on the blog where guests from all over Australia check in with us and share their favourite local places to eat, play and explore. And I’m really chuffed to be kicking off with an area of NSW that many of us probably haven’t ever heard of before; the Dumaresq Valley, by Annabelle Hickson. Yesirree lets do this…
Annabelle Hickson is a writer, photographer and fledgling pecan grower living in far northern NSW. Her blog The Dailys is one of my all time favourites and she has a way with petals, light, her camera and food that is quite unique and very special.
With her three young children and husband, Annabelle recently moved from Moree to Bonshaw (in the Dumaresq Valley on the NSW/QLD border) where the family are establishing a pecan orchard. She has fallen into this new community with thoughtful abandon and after reading the below, it’s obvious that already there’s already lots of love in the Hickson household for this less lauded part of NSW. All images in this post were taken by Annabelle.
Tell us a little about your local area;
I live on a pecan farm in between Tenterfield and a tiny town called Bonshaw up on the NSW-Queensland border, about four hours inland from Byron Bay. We are in a beautiful, quiet valley on the Dumaresq River surrounded by pumpkin farms, vineyards, crops like cotton and lucerne and sheep and cattle. It is a hidden and relatively unknown paradise out here.
What would be the perfect late Autumn morning for you, in your hood…
The perfect Autumn Bonshaw morning would start with a cup of coffee by the fire (you can by Allpress beans in Inverell joy upon joy) and porridge made with fresh milk from the neighbour. Then the whole family with the dog and, surprisingly, the cat would go for a walk up into the pine tree covered hills behind out house and hopefully pick some saffron milk cap mushrooms for lunch. The boys would do for a quick kayak on the river while I pottered around the kitchen and garden before we all had lunch. The nearest town is about an hour away, so perfect mornings are all about enjoying the quiet and absolutely not driving anywhere.
Say I was heading up your way for a nice couple of days with my family, where should we base ourselves to get the best out of the area?
There is a wonderful farm stay almost next door to us at Roseneath Station which is the perfect place to stay if you want to experience the countryside out here. If you would prefer to be in town, there is a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Tenterfield called Winton.
And where should we go for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner?
Breakfast in Inverell at Fe Fi Fo Patisserie Shop (11 Central Plaza, Byron Street) is a must. The best croissants for hundreds of kilometres. In Stanthorpe I highly recommend Brinx for their Campos coffee and also Zest for excellent pastries, bread and the best sausage roll I have ever eaten. They use butter from New Zealand and make everything on site.
If you are travelling with kids, Sutton’s Apple Farm near Stanthorpe is an excellent place to have lunch. You can pick your own apples straight from the tree and then settle in at their cafe for some great food. There is a lovely fenced garden and their apple pie is out of this world. For dinner I would recommend the recently renovated Commercial Boutique Hotel in Tenterfield which has a great modern pub menu and a lovely atmosphere.
What if we fancied a nice picnic, what about picnic supplies? And can you share your favourite picnic spot in the area?
There are so many options for incredible picnic supplies. In Tenterfield, Premier Meats makes the best sausages. I adore their Italian ones, although you really can’t go wrong with any of their sausages. Everything they sell is fantastic and they also have an on site smoke house which means great ham.
Stanthorpe is a total joy for foodies. Apples, plums, cherries … you name it. Sam’s Fruit Shop, north of Stanthorpe is a must. It has an outstanding range of local produce (look out for the dark purple Queen Garnet plums) as well as fresh fruit and veg from the markets. You can also find local olives, bread, honey and apple juice. Nearby Vincenzo’s has an excellent range of cheeses and cured meats as well as local wines. Also in town, Brinx (mentioned above) has an excellent deli.
Inverell has a wonderful organic produce store called Funki Munki which stocks locally grown fruit and veg, delicious Barambah dairy products and many other interesting bits and pieces.
And for booze, the sparkling from Zappa Wines and the prosecco from Reedy Creek – both around the corner from our farm – are great. Dangerously great.
And should I manage to duck off for a bit of a shop, can you recommend some nice shops for pretty things?
The best shop in the area is, without doubt, Me and Mr Jones in Inverell. The owners have an incredible eye for furniture, homewares and a bit of fashion including Jac + Jack. It is such a well curated shop and a delight to visit. This is where you can by Allpress coffee beans too.
Anything else we should definitely try and see/do/try while in your area?
Now that you have stocked up your car with amazing food, you need to go exploring. Bald Rock – the largest granite rock in Australia (think Uluru but granite) – is glorious. And my favourite spot for camping is Lemon Tree Flat near the spectacular Macintyre Falls which has a beautiful swimming hole and lots of great walking tracks and a series of limestone caves that I am too freaked out to explore.
On the arts side of things, there is an excellent potter near Stanthorpe… Albert Verschuuren and his wife Therese have created a charming studio on Armistice Way and it is well worth a visit.
And if you want to see our pecan trees come and visit me, I’d love to show you around.