At pubs across West Australia’s Wheatbelt, a pint of beer is usually the drink of choice for patrons, but a new project has put gin on the menu for a handful of small outback towns.

Key points:

  • Seven outback towns in WA are leveraging the ‘gin’ in their names to promote their towns
  • Each gin was distilled using native botanicals unique to each region and sourced by locals
  • There are hopes the Outback Gin project will help revive towns grappling population decline

Badgingarra, Gingin, Dangin, Muntadgin, Wagin, Narrogin and Corrigin are located hundreds of kilometres apart, but together they’ve each taken the “gin” in their names and bottled it.

There are hopes the line of namesake gins, which are made with botanicals unique to each region, will boost towns that have grappled with population decline in recent years.

Master distiller Greg Garnish developed the concept for the Outback Gin Series, which can be seen on YouTube.

He said the project was more than just a clever marketing exercise and was aimed at promoting regional WA.

A man with a lone of alcohol bottles in front of him

Greg Garnish says the Outback Gin series is aimed at helping small towns market themselves to the rest of Australia. (

ABC Landline: Robert Koenigluck

)

“For me, it was more of an expression of how to make good gin and the only way to make a truly West Australian gin is to go out into the countryside and forage for botanicals,” Mr Garnish said.

“It’s been a way to show people that WA is a place they should come and visit.”

From bush to bottle

Don Williams is a respected amateur botanist based at Badgingarra, about two hours north of Perth.

Bottles of gin

All seven of the Outback Gin towns are each unique, but together they are taking the commonality in their name.(

ABC Landline: Robert Koenigluck

)

He helped find the botanicals used to make his town’s signature gin, which he sourced from a patch of pristine bushland on his farm.

“This is one of the most floristically diverse areas in the world,” Mr Williams said.

Pride of place

Mr Williams said the initiative would give the town credibility and keep the community strong.

“We want the tourists to keep stopping and every little extra attraction you can have is all a good thing.”

Gin botanicals

Each of the gins in the Outback Gin Series are made using botanicals unique to each of the seven towns. (

ABC Landline: Robert Koenigluck

)

Leigh Ballard is the president of the Narrogin Shire, located 200km south-east of Perth.

He said the Outback Gin Series had been strongly supported by the local community.

“It’s not a regional WA drink it’s a Narrogin drink. It’s very specific to us and there’s a bit of pride in that, and I think that’s the same in every one of the towns.

“Every town that’s got the gin named after them knows the other towns now … everyone is drinking gin.”

Timing is everything

With COVID-19 restrictions limiting international and interstate travel, Mr Ballard said the project had come at the ‘perfect’ time.

A town sign under a bright blue sky.

Narrogin is one of seven towns involved in the project and shire president Leigh Ballard says the timing couldn’t be better. (

Supplied: Kira Flynn

)

 “All of a sudden people can’t travel overseas, they were saying, ‘Right, we can travel in WA, where do we go?'” he said.

“From a promotional perspective, you could very easily turn this into the next step and say, ‘Come out to Narrogin and try the gin, then head to Dangin, Wagin and Corrigin and try them all.'”

These country towns have taken the ‘gin’ in their names and bottled it
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