Food & Wine Extravaganza
Thanks to ‘foodies’ travelling from afar to the unsuspecting food mecca of Griffith, the Riverina region of NSW has seen significant growth in tourism and revenue over recent years. Many young chefs have even headed or returned home to take Griffith’s food and wine culture to the next level.
Griffith has always been proudly abundant with Italian heritage and culture, showcasing good food and wine. WHY GRIFFITH?
The focus on the outstanding quality of local produce and high-end restaurants dedicated to getting back to the roots of Italian cuisine are behind this boom, with several hundred visitors flocking to Griffith every day.
Located in Griffith’s old Rural Bank is Zecca Handmade Italian, dedicated to nourishing the community with the highest quality locally sourced produce. Working closely with local farmers and producers, the food must be seasonal and authentic to regional Italy, showcasing the best of what Griffith and the surrounding area has to offer.
We asked Daniel of Zecca what his thoughts are on the increase in ‘Foodie Tourism’ to the region – “People’s thoughts are changing on what’s a tourist attraction, and we’re finding that people are interested in getting back to more authentic experiences. They also now see eating and drinking as a leisure activity.
People have busier lives in general now, so relaxing over good food and wine while on holiday is very appealing. Consumers also now have more interest than before in what they’re eating. There’s more awareness of where the food comes from and the story behind how it’s grown and prepared. People are no longer willing to accept just anything – they want a fresh product and love finding out more about it.”
“Griffith’s multiculturalism and agricultural diversity have offered people from all over the world, especially Italians post-WWII, an opportunity to thrive. At the time that many immigrants arrived, the area was prosperous. Even if they arrived in Griffith with nothing, if they had a good work ethic, they could build something. And Griffith is still a great place for new migrants. We are always welcoming new people to our town and they’re able to get ahead. You can see the cultural diversity right throughout the town,” said Daniel D’Aquina of Zecca.
The main street of Griffith is lined with thriving Italian cafes, restaurants and delis, bakeries, bars and shopping galore. There really is something to do for everyone, every palate is sure to be satisfied! There are many outstanding wineries and cellar doors not to be missed in Griffith, many of them family-run including De Bortoli Wines, Calabria Family Wines and many more. Experience the sheer delight of lunch at Piccolo Farm where four generations of the Piccolo family will welcome you, and it is run by local Chef Luke Piccolo. Luke returned to Griffith after training at restaurants in Sydney and Michelin starred restaurants in Italy. Much of his quality produce is picked daily from his local family farm.
Since 2012, this month-long series of events runs annually throughout October – beautiful Springtime! Taste Riverina is a collaboration of the region’s finest food producers, showcasing much of the local agricultural produce and food, wine, beer and most importantly, local experiences throughout the Riverina.
Ultimately, the event is designed to inspire visitors to eat healthy fresher food, effectively becoming ambassadors to experience, understand and celebrate locally produced food.
Some of the produce the Riverina is known for includes rice, citrus, lamb, beef, wheat, canola oil, olive oil, grapes, prunes, potatoes and pistachios.
Events throughout the region will include agricultural tours, cooking classes, food treks, dinners, cafe specials, recipe competitions, local festivals, degustation menus, picnics, and live music.
For more information on how you can immerse yourself in 2021 Taste Riverina’s food and wine extravaganza CLICK HERE or call one of Cruise Express’ Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537.
All of our Taste Riverina Adventures sell out early – we suggest you book early to ensure you don’t miss out!
The Ins and Outs!
Since November 2016, Cruise Express has successfully run heritage rail journeys throughout the eastern seaboard of Australia. The demand for these trips has increased as passengers experience not only the destination but the joy of travel itself!
Why do our clients love heritage trains journeys?
There is a nostalgic romanticism about heritage trains, a step back in time to a bygone era like no other. Many of our passengers remember trains like the ones Cruise Express charter and in many cases have actually travelled on them in the past. Another thing we hear time and time again is that there is a wonderful camaraderie onboard and people make lasting friendships on these journeys.
A journey on a heritage train is a step back to a time of glamour, buffets and restaurant cars, first-class lounges, railway restaurants as well as ‘fastests’ and ‘firsts’ that helped these national treasures be sealed in our psyche.
Who runs the show?
The organisations that manage the preservation, restoration and conservation of these heritage trains are mostly self-funded and run by a small but dedicated group of volunteers. The organisations heavily rely on revenue from their own tours, private donations and funding from charters. Cruise Express collaborates with these groups, organises all the touring, accommodation, and dining to create a seamless rail holiday experience.
Many of the volunteers are current or ex-railway workers and possess special skills such as boilermakers, drivers, engineers, carpenters/train outfitters and those with knowledge of rail safety operations. The volunteers are usually entirely unpaid for their time.
Some carriages date back to the middle of last century if not even older, and are often in much the same condition as when they left service decades ago, showing an amount of wear and tear as part of their long history. Many spare parts are no longer manufactured, so when something goes wrong, this is where the dedicated volunteer’s creative abilities come into play.
While 21st-century technology is evolving at a rapid pace, raising awareness and educating the public on the importance of preserving our history is paramount. Additionally, passing these skill sets on to younger generations is critical for the survival of the heritage train industry, and it can only be done with continued interest and funding.
Heritage rail journeys are often thought to be part of current Government Railway operations or public transport. In fact, they are privately owned and operated vintage trains, meaning discounts and benefits often offered on public transport simply don’t apply.
Another misconception is that heritage trains are able to run and stop almost wherever – which is far from the case. Each train will have carefully allocated stops working around all other trains on the network including both passengers, freight and trackwork.
One charming aspect many don’t expect is that most rail motors and some carriages are from an era before air-conditioning became commonplace. This means the windows can open, providing a unique connection between the traveller and their surroundings.
For those that have mobility issues, it is important to keep in mind that heritage trains were designed and built long before mobility concerns were factored. Doorways and corridors are not wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or walking frames. Onboard lavatories and bathrooms are also small.
On a final note, please be super nice to all of the men and women working aboard your heritage rail journey. The volunteers do more work behind the scenes than you can possibly imagine, giving up their own time, and often their own money.
The trains truly are rare survivors of a long lost era, and we are lucky to have them.
To find out more about several of our magnificent heritage rail journeys, please visit our rail page or call our Travel Specialists on 1300 766 537.
We look forward to welcoming you onboard!
The California Zephyr – Heritage Rail Journey of a Bygone Era
a soft gentle breeze
Zephyrus, the Greek god of the west wind
On 19 March, 1949, outside the Embarcadero in San Francisco, as Soprano Evelyn Corvello sang the Star Spangled Banner, San Francisco Mayor Leland Cutler gave a welcome address and actress Eleanor Parker, stepped up to Western Pacific locomotive 803, smashing a bottle of champagne to launch of the “California Zephyr”. Few attending realised they were witnessing a legend in passenger train history being born.
Departing on its inaugural run the following day, every woman on the train was given silver and orange orchids especially flown in from Hilo, Hawaii for the occasion. Soon dubbed “the most talked about train in America” with its glass-domed carriages, the California Zephyr (also known as the Silver Lady) operated along some of the most spectacular scenic routes in the USA.
Run by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) from Chicago to Denver, Colorado, the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad (D&RGW) between Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah, and the Western Pacific Railroad from Salt Lake City to Oakland, California.
The trains were carefully scheduled to enjoy the breathtaking grandeur of the Feather River and Rocky mountains during the day, while the Nevada deserts and plains states were crossed at night.
The trains were carefully scheduled so passengers could enjoy the breathtaking grandeur of scenery including the Feather River and Rocky mountains during the day, while the Nevada deserts and plains states were crossed at night.
As air travel had air-hostesses, so to did the Zephyr. Affectionately known as “Zephyrettes”, they debuted on the Denver Zephyr in 1936. They were trained to perform a wide variety of roles, including welcoming passengers, making announcements, sending telegrams, making dinner reservations, babysitting, and generally serving as a liaison between the train’s passengers and its crew.
Like many railways, by the mid to late 1960s The California Zephyr was experiencing rapidly falling numbers. Airlines and bus routes had begun to make serious cuts to rail travel by offering faster or cheaper transportation.
|The last westbound California Zephyr to the west coast left Chicago on March 22, 1970, and arrived in Oakland two days later. The California Zephyr had operated for 21 years and 2 days.|
Although the original train ceased operation in 1970, it continued to operate as a passenger service, as the Rio Grande Zephyr, between Salt Lake City and Denver using the original equipment until 1983. Since 1983 the California Zephyr is used by Amtrak service, which operates daily and is a hybrid of the original route.
For more information on how you can embark on this historic rail experience, please call one of our Travel Specialists today on 1300 766 537 or click here!