Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bickley Harvest Festival - metal art, a garden lunch, baby kangaroos, and carob

Last Christmas, Mr Bite and I gave several "experience" presents to family as a way of complementing "thing" presents. One was a  movie voucher and babysitting offer for his sister and brother-in-law, who have three exuberant children aged between 4 and 9. Another was an outing to the Perth Hills for his mother, specifics left somewhat open to allow for adjustments to weather and seasonal events.

Last week, we reached May and neither of these experience presents had been put in to place. On the babysitting front, we had tried once but needed to reschedule when one child was sick. On the Perth Hills outing? There we were just disorganised.

Prompted in to action, we identified the Bickley Harvest Festival as a possible outing to aim for. The festival is held annually on a weekend in early May, and aims to showcase the Bickley Valley region of the Perth hills, about 40 minutes east of Perth. The region is home to forests and walk trails, wineries and restaurants, various small businesses, and local produce stalls. It seems that the festival event has run for the past sixteen years, so it was a little perplexing to discover it for the first time this year!


Melville Nurseries and Rose Heritage Cafe, Bickley Valley

On Sunday, we headed out for day two of the festival. You can move between 15 different locations, either driving yourself or taking a shuttle bus, but we focused in on the places that appealed to us the most. This resulted in visits to Paul Moro Metal Craft, Melville Nurseries and Rose Heritage Cafe, the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and a Grower Direct Fruit and Vegetables stop that also sold other local products.

Paul Moro metal craft

We weren't sure quite what to expect from metal crafts, but were pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of art work on display. The artist usually sells his work through local markets, meaning that his workshop is not open routinely. It is set against forest, and the juxtaposition of metal animals against trees was a nice image to arrive to.

We bought one of the meerkats pictured below, and also left with an intricately crafted metal fly for my mother-in-law.



From metal, we moved on to flowers. The Melville Nursery predominantly sells and displays roses, but incorporates vast stretches of other gardens too. The hedges below were part of the French provincial gardens, and I would quite like some of my own, even if there's no way I'd fit them in our courtyard.


There is also a cafe on the site, with broad verandas that overlook the gardens as well as indoor seating. It is a casual stop, but when compared to the sorts of cafes you usually find in parks or gardens, it is well above average in the setting and in the food on offer. 

There were three vegetarian dishes on the lunch menu, as well as a vegetable soup of the day (tomato) and a Greek salad. We managed to try all of the main dishes, with Mr Bite having the grilled vegetable foccacia, his mother ordering savoury scones (which came with sides of cheese, pickled onions and relish), and my dish being the roast vegetable stack, minus feta. It included pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant and zucchini, with tomato salsa and pine nuts on top and an artistic drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


I have to concede that the dish looked nicer than it tasted, largely because it wasn't quite hot enough, but they were so busy I didn't want to send it back for reheating. Given I didn't do so, I take partial responsibility for the dish being a bit sub-par, and would still like to return for an afternoon tea of rose scones one day. They also have a rose milkshake and rose lemonade, for those with flowery tastes! Mr Bite and his mother enjoyed their lunches, and the popularity of the cafe suggested it usually delivers meals at appropriate temperatures.



Our next stop was the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, which we were excited to see. Unfortunately, it was extraordinarily busy, so they had stopped traffic driving up to the centre itself. The walk from where we parked wasn't particularly long, perhaps 2km, but given we weren't expecting it the distance took us by surprise. On arriving, we were also surprised to see huge crowds of people and long queues for anything animal related. The centre isn't usually open to the public, so it is understandable that plenty of others wanted to see it too.

We skipped the lengthy queue for the animal hospital, but did see an echidna, a bilby, and several baby kangaroos (joeys). They were worth the visit, and the walk.

Baby kangaroos in man made pouches.

These cloth pouches serve the function usually achieved by the mother's pouch, keeping the babies warm as well as safely contained.


After bracing ourselves for the walk back (with a big up hill section!), we ended up being offered a lift part of the way by a State Emergency Services vehicle that was shuttling back and forth. Riding in the back of an SES 4-wheel drive was a fun end (or near end) to our outing.

Dairy free carob with mint, and dairy and sugar free carob with goji berries

It wasn't quite the end, though, because before driving home we stopped at a stall selling local fruit, vegetables and other products. I didn't buy any fruits or vegetables, simply because I already had a good supply at home, but I did make a beeline for the carob blocks above. It is so rare that I find carob in interesting flavours, and even rarer that it is dairy free, that I think I did well to purchase only two blocks. I did round those out with two dark chocolate blocks too, but I'm sure you'll agree that it's important to support local businesses. Right? Right.

Dairy free dark chocolate with apricot (not sure how that will turn out...)
and dairy free dark chocolate with lime and coconut.

It wasn't meant to be an outing for us, but I think it's safe to say that we all enjoyed ourselves, and it was definitely an occasion where giving to others felt like a reward for oneself!

Destination details:


Have you had any good outings lately? 
And what do you think about presents that are activities or experiences instead of tangible products? I love them, but they do sometimes carry a risk of not being used!

23 comments:

  1. I haven't had a good outing for a while but the Noosa Food and Wine Festival is next week and I'm primed! :) Seeing the babies in the pouch must have been cute.

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    1. They really were :) I'll look forward to hearing about the Noosa festival!

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  2. I love giving experience presents and your outing sounds like so much fun! I love that it was kind of a present for you guys as well!

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  3. Sounds like a great outing. I am sure it was nice for your mother in law to have your company as part of the 'experience present'. Hearing you say that you walked 2 km to get to the wild life sanctuary made me shudder as we are trying to get around with sylvia without a stroller and there are so slow walks. But I loved the look of your stack and the sound of the scones (so rare to get nice savoury scone dishes other than standard cheese scones). And I too would have a hedge like that in my back yard if only we had the room (and the gardener to attend to them)

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    1. I did feel for the families having to walk the distance. There were shuttle buses, so walking wasn't compulsory, but they weren't very frequent and there were long queues for them. I wish I'd taken a photo of the scones as the plate was quite impressive.

      A gardener to go with the hedges would indeed be required

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  4. Those baby kangaroos are so freaking cute!!!! I want one. :-)

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  5. Oooh, experience presents ftw! I never do that, but always want to...maybe next Christmas! And too bad that stack wasn't as awesome as it looks, because it really does look great. Also....baby kangaroos. Seriously. Love!

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    1. I think I've done experience presents more and more with age. They really are the best :)

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  6. What a lovely day. I would be keen to see the metal craft and the nursery.

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  7. Awe, Kari..what a fun day! Those baby Joey's are adorable! That festival looks like something I would have enjoyed. I love going to look at things like that :)

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    1. Me too - and yet I do so quite rarely! I need to work on that.

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  8. The scenery is beautiful. I love the babies in those pouches. Shame about your lunch because yes, the plated dish looks really good. That's very good of you to offer to babysit three exuberant children - good luck! xx

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    1. Mm, thanks! I think we may need it when the time comes ;)

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  9. Replies
    1. They are pretty gorgeous creatures!

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  10. Aaaah! Mum brought me some of that chocolate from Perth years ago! I think I reviewed it?! Also... those are meerkats?! I thought they were terrifying old hunched gnome-men. BUT AWESOMELY SO. Meerkats is less exciting, so I'm going to keep pretending they're gnomemandemons.

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    1. I love the coincidence of your Mum buying these :) And good on her for doing so, given the company is quite small and not stocked in any mainstream way. Terrifying old hunched gnome-men is a description that is going to haunt our meerkat from now on!!

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  11. The stack looks delicious.
    Love the hedges too - they remind me of a maze and i love mazes!
    Cute joey's!
    LOVE the idea of advenutre type gifts - something a bit different and it doesn't become something that sits on the shelf not being used!

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