Victoria’s High Country Harvest is a tasty celebration

The Weekly Times

Words by Riahn Smith

High time: Explore the Alpine National Park on horseback with Lin and Clay Baird as part of this month’s High Country Harvest festival. “IT’S a cornucopia at this time of year,” says Steve Baird about Victoria’s High Country. “The riches available in the area are second to none.” Steve and his wife, Kath, moved to Tawonga, just north of Mt Beauty, 30 years ago “with a couple of young kids, a truck load of horses and a bit of a dream”. Three decades later and they have built a successful family business comprising trail rides, a stock horse stud and on-farm stays with their sons, Lin and Clay. This month, their property — the 40ha Spring Spur — will host four special riding and dining events as part of the region’s High Country Harvest. The festival, which runs from May 13-22, is a 10-day celebration of North East Victoria’s famous food and wine culture. The Baird family’s contribution — for the third year in a row — is “To Lunch on Horseback”, a three-hour horse ride through the lower levels of the Alpine National Park followed by a long lunch at the homestead’s riders lounge on each Saturday and Sunday of the festival. “It goes through a beautiful part of the landscape with great views of the Kiewa Valley,” Steve says. “Then the guests will come back for a long lunch. It’s not fine dining, it’s a robust, rustic style of food and all our recipes are inspired by our experiences out on expedition where we’re mostly cooking over coals.” Steve says the majority of the produce will come from the property, with a small amount to be sourced locally. The Bairds raise their own pigs, chickens and goats (although goat will not be on the Harvest menu), and have an extensive garden of fruits and vegetables. “The eating experience is all about trying to keep it fresh and local and relevant to the area,” Steve says. “There’ll be locally brewed cider and beer, local cheese from Milawa and wine from Billy Button Wines.”