Kirsty McKenzie's letter from the Sep/Oct 2016 issue of AC.

As this issue goes to press I’m delighted to report that many farms in my home country in central-western Queensland have had significant rain.



In my brother and sister-in-law’s case, they’ve measured almost 200mm for the months of June and July, in what amounts to a totally unseasonal, but completely welcome, break from a three-year drought. So the bare dust-bowl paddocks will have green grass again.

By the time you read this and the weather has warmed up, the wildflowers, hopefully including my favourite, Ptilotus, will be out in force, lending their optimism to the landscape. Good rains, even drought-breaking falls, are not the end of the farmers’ trials, of course, because the land takes time and more rain to recover, stock numbers have to be rebuilt and it takes a few good seasons to finance the countless projects that were shelved during lean times. It’s not just the farms that suffer during these down times, as the shops and businesses in the country towns also take a battering. So if you’re casting around for what to do in the next school holidays, can I suggest you think about heading bush for a break? The weather should be close to perfect, the countryside will be looking great and the welcome is guaranteed to be enthusiastic. If you can’t squeeze it in right now, then start planning for next Easter, my other favourite time of year for heading west.

Meanwhile, this issue takes us on another tour of some remarkable parts of this country and introduces some pretty amazing farmers, producers and other folk who live and work in rural regions. We’ve tastes of history in Harrow station on the Darling Downs, Withycombe in the Blue Mountains and a revamped butter factory in the Adelaide Hills. We’ve a beautiful spring garden in the Southern Highlands and our travel story is an overview of the emerging wine and food region of Heathcote in central Victoria. We’ve also had privileged access to the key gardens of the Cadogan Estate in London’s Chelsea, where Aussie-born Ric Glenn is the head gardener, plus there’s plenty of decorating and cooking inspiration.

I hope you enjoy this issue and I look forward to seeing you for the next, which goes on sale October 13.