AFTA UP­DATE

Travel Daily - - News - From Jayson West­bury

LAST week I headed to Shoal­haven with AAT Kings on the #Emp­tyEsky day tour - to check it out, CLICK HERE. The day tour to Shoal­haven pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the area, shop for lo­cal pro­duce and prod­ucts, have lunch with lo­cals, and spend a bit of money in the com­mu­nity.

It is a di­rect way of help­ing with the bush­fire re­cov­ery, with an ex­pe­ri­ence thrown in.

While this is the first of these types of trips for AAT Kings, I sus­pect we will see many more, in­clud­ing stay-over trips, as well as itin­er­ar­ies in other states, in­clud­ing Vic­to­ria and South Aus­tralia.

The #Emp­tyEsky tour is an awe­some con­cept, and I ex­tend a very big con­grat­u­la­tions to the AAT Kings team for get­ting onto this quickly.

Dur­ing my day trip, we vis­ited Kan­ga­roo Val­ley and the lo­cal vil­lage, where an al­mond milk flat white with a lo­cal pie was the or­der of the day for morn­ing tea. I also dropped into the old post of­fice, pur­chased a cou­ple of post­cards and mailed them back home to my kids. A sim­ple but great way to spend some money in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

We then ven­tured to the Nowra farm­ers mar­ket to fill up our Esky with fresh lo­cal pro­duce, where we found food even for fussy ones like me, in­clud­ing goat cheese and gluten-free breads, as well as dairy-free, no MSG and non­genet­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts – and not at city prices.

From there we ven­tured to Ban­galay Din­ing, which is part of Ban­galay Vil­las, for a mag­nif­i­cent lunch with lo­cal pro­duce and wines and won­der­ful ser­vice.

While at lunch I met Kris­ten, the founder of Kan­ga­roo Val­ley Eggs, who two years into her farm busi­ness was faced with the dev­as­tat­ing threat of her farm go­ing up in smoke with the fires that rav­aged the lo­cal area.

Her story is emo­tional, raw and in­cred­i­ble. In a quintessen­tially Aus­tralian act of brav­ery, she and her hus­band waited un­til the very last minute when the fire was some 500 me­tres from their farm, sav­ing 2,000 chick­ens.

For­tu­nately, their farm sur­vived and so did the chick­ens, and they are slow­ing get­ting back into full egg pro­duc­tion as life in Kan­ga­roo Val­ley starts to see some re­turn to nor­malcy, but with­out many vis­i­tors.

As she told us her story, even the hard­ened lo­cal RFS folk shed a tear.

For me, what was so awe­some was forg­ing a con­nec­tion with the lo­cals, see­ing how happy & ex­cited they were to wel­come the group, as well as the feel­ing it gave all those on the trip that they had done their lit­tle bit to help in the lo­cal bush­fire re­cov­ery.

For agency own­ers, travel busi­nesses and cor­po­rates look­ing to do some­thing with their teams that is in­ter­est­ing, fun and makes a dif­fer­ence to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, this #Emp­tyEsky tour is well worth the look.

Thank you AAT Kings.

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