The Great Southern Region Marketing Association (GSRMA) was formed to promote the synergy of food, wine, agriculture and tourism responding to a consumer trend of buying products out of a particular region. Susan Kirk reports.
The Great Southern is an area located 400 kilometres south of Perth and, as the name suggests, is the most southerly district of the state. It consists of 200 kilometres of coastline including the city and port of Albany. Many of the townships are adjacent to the southern ocean. In the west tall forests mark the boundary and the land expands to the north to Kojonup then east to Ravensthorpe, and out to sea again.
In such a large area with a variety of soils and microclimates the diversity of foods that can be produced is abundant. Viticulture, is producing world-class wines from five sub-regions–Albany, Mt Barker, Porongurup, Denmark and Frankland River.
Seafood is bountiful and includes farmed oysters and mussels from the ocean. Dhufish and Snapper are caught in deep waters. Marron and Yabbies are reared on farms as well as salt and freshwater trout.
Olive growers produce fruit and oils and the temperate climate produces excellent berry and stone fruits, avocados, asparagus and all manner of fruit and vegetables and dairy products, including milk and cheese.
In the hinterlands, in the shadow of the Stirling Ranges, wool is produced as well as beef and lamb. Wheat, oats, barley and canola and many other crops grow in favourable conditions. The area is spectacular, enticing tourists.
The Great Southern Development Commission, the Agriculture Department and various other agencies assist in helping to develop the region through grants, incentives and access to expert advice and consultation.
The GSRMA has produced a food and wine-touring guide, which is widely distributed and promotes food and wine events in the region. The Albany Farmers Market has become an icon with producers showcasing and selling local produce.