The reputation of Moffatdale as a wine destination is on the rise.
- The South Burnett is experiencing record tourism numbers
- Operators are capitalising on the interest and building more accommodation
- Local farmers are jumping on board and opening a brick and mortar store to showcase their products
The small South Burnett town is experiencing record numbers of visitors, and local entrepreneurs are excited to capitalise.
Visit South Burnett president and owner of local winery Moffatdale Ridge, Jason Kinsella, says it’s been a bumper year.
“With the inability for international travel and the hesitance to hop on a plane and travel interstate with the potential for lockdowns, it’s been a fantastic year for us,” he said.
“We’re in that two-and-a-half-hour radius of Brisbane and two hours from the Sunshine Coast.
Joe Prendergast, who runs Dusty Hill Vineyard at Moffatdale, Joe’s Grand Hotel and the Goomeri Bakery, said there was no slowdown during the pandemic.
“Our visitation is through the roof across the different businesses,” he said.
“We’re up about 38 per cent across all three. Just everywhere, it’s really busy. It’s got a really good vibe.
“We just broke our record on Sunday at 221 main meals for lunch, and we’re a pub in the middle of nowhere.”
However, there is not a lot of accommodation in town.
“One of the biggest things in this region is we’re lacking accommodation,” Mr Prendergast said.
“There are a lot of caravan parks and that sort of level, but not that next tier.”
Mr Prendergast is undertaking a $6.5 million build which will include a brewery, distillery, restaurant, motel and cabins, all within walking distance of his winery.
Once open, it will offer another 200-person restaurant and accommodation for more than 60 people.
“Airbnbs are starting to move ahead too,” Mr Prendergast said.
“There’s a lot of one acre [0.40 hectares] blocks close to here right in the middle of this wine region.”
Keep up momentum
Tourism operators are now working to keep visitors coming back.
“That’s the challenge for us is to build that relationship now. To have our neighbours on the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane to see this as a destination where it’s really desirable to visit,” Mr Kinsella said.
Mr Prendergast is confident that even when borders open, the region will remain popular.
“I’m hoping we keep that long weekend crowd, those three- or four-day sort of trips, going into the future,” he said.
“I think even when international travel restarts, there’s going to be a lot of people still nervous or scared to travel.”
Paddock to plate
In the wider South Burnett community, local farmers are working together to showcase their products by opening a ‘Farm to Fork’ store at Wooroolin next month, which will showcase products sourced within a 160-kilometre radius of the region.
Clovely Estate general manager Aaron Stephan said it was based on the locavore system, which promoted the idea that buying local food was better for the environment as well as for the pockets of nearby producers.
“It’ll be a great little hub to come and chat to a farmer or a grower. There are plans to do producer events as it goes on,” he said.
“You can expect to see everything that is grown and produced in the South Burnett.
Mr Stephan said they wanted to take advantage of the shift towards local produce.
“It’s about embracing the movements driven by consumers, which is great, to understand and connect with where their food is coming from,” he said.
“It’s essential for a grower or a producer to be able to connect with their customer and their consumer.