With the impending launch of Food Connect in Adelaide, Robert & I booked a last minute campervan ($1 a day!) and headed to the outback enroute to South Australia. More and more these days we grapple with our growing distaste for flying everywhere 'just because it's cheap' and have opted for more sustainable modes of travel, and more sustainable modes of thinking - that is, slowing things down.
There's something about driving in Australia that makes you feel really free. The changing landscape and the big skies that go on forever really make you feel tiny on this planet. We took four days through Goondiwindi, Moree, and Bourke chasing the water that was flowing down into the Darling River. Many roads were closed and I was disappointed not to get to Tilpa for the trip into Wilcannia and Broken Hill, still we saw some wonderful sights, and enjoyed the art galleries at Silverton while I recovered from a mild bout of mastitis (I know! can you believe it!!).
Robert also recalled the few months he spent living in Broken Hill and his work mustering on a sheep station during the middle of the drought - he told me of the heartbreaking decision by the owner to kill hundreds of sheep and bury them in mass graves because they had no food, and their meat wasn't fetching a good price. Going south to Adelaide, the desert stretched out to the horizons, and it seemed hard to believe that somewhere along the dusty side roads were grand homesteads belonging to these huge sheep stations. It made us wonder at the human being's arrogance/stupidity/naivety in thinking they could tame the country & live out here perpetually... I mean it's the DESERT for goodness sake! Desert soon turned into grasslands and the sight of wind farms were awe-inspiring, and the small towns of Burra and Saddleback were gorgeous with all their tributes to the recent Tour Down Under event.
We stayed in a very old pub on King William Street in the heart of Adelaide while we attended the Plains to Plate convergence at the University of SA. It was kicked off by Gay Bilson and her propositions for the future of food. Always insightful, and provokingly emotional, her central theme was that as a society we really need to work out how much we really 'need' and look for ways to reduce waste and over-consumption of water.
The event created a great platform for the crew to launch Food Connect Adelaide, and Robert told his moving story (once again reducing me, and a few others, to tears) and the need for a fairer food system. It was wonderful for me to meet and get to know the fantastic people committed to getting things off the ground. The team has such a warmth and genuine intention to care for each other and their community of farmers and subscribers, reminding me of our wonderful team in Brisbane. They really know what they're doing down there and if their social marketing is anything to go by, the buzz being generated will no doubt ensure its success.