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.