Do you pledge to visit a fire affected town with your empty esky? Here's some ideas, from produce and wine, local farmers' markets and somewhere to stop and eat when you get hungry. Road trip anyone?
The Mossy Cafe
The cafe became a community hub during the fires, on New Year's Day they gave away 300 burgers, bacon and egg rolls, cakes and muffins. Owner Belinda Dorsett said, "I couldn't make their problems go away but I could make sure they didn't go hungry, it's kinda my thing." Business as usual now and you can also purchase vouchers which go towards fire relief.
Tucked away behind the general store at the south end of Grant St, is one of the coast's best kept secrets. It's like hanging out in Kerri Anne Reed's home kitchen, such is the personal service and the homemade menu of toasties, salad bowls and great coffee.
Small Town Food + Wine
Alex Delly and wife Jo Thomas, of St Isidore fame, opened their latest venture late last year and had to close down temporarily during the fires. Things are back to the new normal and the small venue has been a meeting place for all. "It's not very often we can look through the diary and know every single name on the run sheet, but it sends bucketloads of comfort we are going to be alright."
The Cupitt's crew had a heady few days, power outages, fires close by, eventually saved by a southerly. Make a booking for lunch or dinner, buy their wine, head to the cheese tasting room and don't miss the craft beer. There's something at Cupitt's for everyone, even the kids, so head down, grab a drink on the deck and be thankful. And while you're down there check out all the Shoalhaven wineries.
George Bar and Dining
The hotel is one of Australia's oldest continuously licensed hotels, opening in 1838 as the Harp Hotel. Now the George is a modern pub, with indoor and outdoor seating and a family friendly environment. The menu is sourced locally where possible and there's great support for the local wine industry as well.
This family run business in the Adelaide Hills lost 95 per cent of the vineyard and the farmhouse on December 21. Their wines are so popular almost all of the everyday wines are already sold out but there are still a few bottles of the collectable and timeless Odeon range remaining. Get in quick.
Winemaker Adrian Brayne lost his home as well as much of the vineyard. Obsession is a boutique winery based in Tumbarumba at the foothills of the Snowy Mountains producing premium handcrafted cold climate wines grown following organic principals. He's not expecting a harvest for five years. So buy what wine he has left.
Tumnarumba's Courabyra Wines also experienced some damage to vines, however, the cellar door, sheds and main house remain standing. Cathy Gairn supplies fruit to Alex McKay for his own label, Collector Wines and he is now one of the winemakers for Courabyra Wines. Celine Rousseau from Eden Road wines also sourced grapes from Courabyra.
The Mountain View vineyard, planted in 1993 by Rob and Heather Johansen, was nearly entirely burnt. They were awoken by the RFS at 4.30am on New Year's Eve but managed to move the tractors and most of the farm and vineyard machinery to safer ground. They admit there's a long road ahead, so grab some wine, or purchase a vineyard post, or perhaps even a whole row
The Cudlee Creek Bush Fire destroyed the entirety of Barristers Block Adelaide Hills vineyard. Their lawns, villa and cellar door were saved, and they've already started on the road to recovery. James Halliday is a fan of their Adelaide Hills 2017 riesling and the Poetic Justice Charlize 2017 rose. There are even green shoots on some burnt out vines.
Mogo Fudge and Icecream
Our favourite fudge place was blessed to survive the fire that destroyed much of the main street of Mogo. They've been making their own delicious fresh fudge for more than 20 years and there's more than 30 mouth-watering flavours to choose from. The Lolly Shop survived too. A sweet reason to go.
Clyde River Berry Farm
Most of the bush areas on the farm were burnt out by the Currowan fire but structures and orchards are mostly intact and berry picking is happening again until the end of January. The roads are pretty rough at the moment so if you're not up for the trip the delicious blueberries are available at many of the produce markets in the district.
Tilba Real Dairy
Might have to buy the entire stock of the creamy blue cheese to help these guys get back on deck. The award-winning dairy is a regular at the Capital Region Farmers' Markets, and their products are readily available in most IGAs around down, but Tilba is such a beautiful place so go and buy their wares in person.
Ewan McAsh has grown up on oyster leases on the south coast and now he and his team are running one of the world's leading hubs, distributing oysters from not only the coast but all around Australia. They supply top restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne but will also deliver to your kitchen. Claire McAsh says the best place to buy them if you're at the coast is The Oyster Shed in Batemans Bay.
Provisions Deli and Grocery
This quaint little shop was established in 2015 in Braidwood as a way for Colin and Lea Barrett to share their passion for gourmet and artisan food with locals and travellers. You could literally fill your esky here with their range of local and imported premium cheeses, charcuterie and antipasti; sourdough bread; gourmet, small batch, artisan food products; bulk organic foods; pre-prepared gourmet frozen meals; as well as locally made body care products and homewares.
Sage Farmers' Market
These markets at Riverside Park, Moruya, are supported by Sustainable Agriculture and Gardening Eurobodalla, and are held every Tuesday afternoon from 3pm. There's a great range of eggs, breads and pastries, fruit, herbs, wine, honey, meat and seafood. You can even order online beforehand and head in just to pick stuff up.
Bermagui Growers' Market
Held in the lee of the Bermagui Fishermen's Wharf, each Thursday afternoon from 11.30am. Stock up on things for your own kitchen as well as the ready-to-eat goodies. Think oysters, breads and dairy, freshly harvested fruit and vegetables, spices and sauces and sweet treats. When the market closes at 6pm, grab a spot on the foreshore watch the sun go down.
Batemans Bay Makers' and Growers' Market
The Batemans Bay Makers and Growers Market brings together a diverse range of locally grown fresh food, baked goods and quality handmade items. It is held every Thursday in the Batemans Bay Community Centre from 11.30am. The next market is January 30.
Central Tilba Growers' Market
A variety of stalls selling a range of products including fresh fruit and vegetables, free range eggs, local honey, jams and preserves, delicious baked treats, plus much more. In the Central Tilba Big Hall in the main street, from 8am till noon on Saturdays.
Capital Region Farmers' Market
It's easy enough too to fill your esky with regional produce without even leaving Canberra. Many of our favourite stall holders at the EPIC markets have been affected by the fires, including Nelligrow Hydroponics, Harrison and Sons Araluen Stone Fruit and Treetops Orchard in Batlow. Show your support for our primary producers any way you can. Every Saturday morning, the markets are also running a bushfire appeal throughout January.