Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Great Australian Squeeze

For more than sixty years the Williamson family of Barham have been growing oranges amongst the sandhills along the Murray River in southern New South Wales. Since the1960s they have been picking and trucking their oranges to the Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide markets.

Earlier last month they had their first bottling run under their own label, “The Great Australian Squeeze”; a pure fresh orange juice that is naturally sweet with no added sugar – grown, squeezed and bottled here in Barham. It is a culmination of a number of year’s work to add value and market their own product as well as promoting the local citrus industry around Barham/Koondrook as a whole to the rest of Australia.

A little over a year ago they built a juice processing and bottling plant and began supplying pure orange juice to a Melbourne firm under the label of Milla’s. When Milla’s first approached Kurrnung to supply them with juice, Kurrnung had over one thousand tonnes of Valencia oranges sitting on their trees unsold.

Looking for a way to increase the value of their citrus crops and increase industry and employment opportunities within the local Barham district, Kurrnung agreed to supply Milla’s. They promptly installed a juice processing and bottling plant capable of juicing four tonnes of oranges or producing approximately two thousand litres of juice per hour.

For years Australian orchardists have fought a losing battle against cheap imported oranges and orange juice concentrate from both North and South America. The big multinational juice processing plants such as Lion (Berri and Daily Juice) and Heinz (Original Juice) do buy some Australian grown citrus for their juice products but a substantial amount of their juice is reconstituted from imported concentrate that is significantly cheaper than the premium fresh juice produced in Australia. Small quantities of orange juice concentrate are produced in Australia but in the vast majority of cases, if you are buying orange juice made from concentrate, you are buying imported juice.

Fresh orange juice is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants, essential minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that can provide long-term benefits for your health. It is a naturally good source of potassium, essential for the functioning of our nerves and helping reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

Drinking orange juice with meals boosts the absorption of important minerals like iron. Simply having a glass with your breakfast cereal will boost the amount of iron your body absorbs during that meal. Drinking at least two glasses of orange juice per day increases the vitamin C concentration within the body by 40 to 60 percent. Vitamin C has many benefits for your body; it improves the health of skin, joints and the entire cardiovascular system. It is also a powerful antioxidant and stimulates your immune system.

Kurrnung is hoping to supply towns along the Murray River with The Great Australian Squeeze and extend their market through to Sydney as the demand grows.

With the big national supermarket chains, Woolworths and Coles keen to publicise their support for Australian farmers and fulfill the wishes of a growing groundswell of Australian consumers pushing to buy homegrown produce, it is anticipated The Great Australian Squeeze will be on supermarket shelves nationally before too long.

Already locals and visitors alike have been able to purchase the juice at Club Barham; our local supermarkets, IGA and Foodworks; the BP Service Station on Moulamein Road, the Riverside Café in Murray Street and the Long Paddock Food Store in Koondrook, all avid supporters of locally grown produce.

The Great Australian Squeeze is the end result of local orchardists who are passionate about their industry and committed to producing the very best fresh orange juice for the Australian public.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Training for the 2013 Great Victorian Bike Ride

With a little over a week to go until this year’s Great Victorian Bike Ride (GVBR), I thought I’d share a little update on how team Barr is travelling…

Back in January I mentioned that one of my goals for 2013 was to complete the GVBR  (you can read all about it here). As is the case in many of my goals, it expanded to being (what I thought would be) a great idea to involve the whole family…

My happy little vision included my three sons (Max, Sam and Henry) and I all heading out after school or work and on weekends together for training rides. We’d be chatting, smiling and laughing together as we road along in the sunshine, with a nice tailwind, building up our fitness for the nine day, 610km event in November.

When I’m excited and passionate about an idea, I can be extremely convincing so I set about extolling the virtues of the ride to the boys:
  • It would be a memorable life experience we all shared

  • We would get fitter and feel healthier

  • It would build our resilience and self-confidence levels

  • We would meet thousands of other friendly bike riders

  • We would be riding our bikes along one of Australia’s most famous and picturesque roads
  • Someone else would be transporting all our luggage and preparing our meals

  • Every day would be a new adventure and every night we would camp at a new location

  • At the end of the ride we would all bask in the warm glow that is the sense of achievement

  • They’d have over a week off school!

Before long the boys had agreed to enter the GVBR with me (on the proviso that it was a once off and they would never have to go in it again…)

What can I say? I now understand the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

The reality of training has so far, been somewhat different to my vision at the beginning of the year. While I have been loving getting on my bike at every opportunity… my three sons have not. In fact, if given a choice they would just pump the tyres up on their bikes the night before the start of the GVBR and pedal off the next morning.

Our training rides have gone along the lines of me enthusiastically announcing it’s time for a training ride and my sons flatly refusing. Me calmly stating that we will be going for a training ride and my sons flatly refusing. Me getting a little upset and my sons becoming more adamant that they will not be going out today… maybe tomorrow… or next week. Me promising ice creams all round if we bike the Murrabit Loop (60kms) the boys suggesting we bike to the local café for ice cream instead (2km). Me getting cranky and then resorting to parental blackmail and other forms of psychological damage (read: I will throw your Xbox in the bin.). It usually ends in tears (namely mine) before we all get on our bikes and ride out (into a cyclonic headwind). Clearly I am not cut out to be a teacher, coach or an inspiration leader and I question my ability to even be a parent… where have my rose-tinted cycling sunnies gone?

It wasn’t meant to be like this!

Despite my somewhat less than ideal reality of preparing for the upcoming bike ride with the boys, I am still tingling with excitement and anticipation for what I am sure will be an excellent adventure – bring on the 23rd November 2013!

The picture below is a fine example of my goal to do the GVBR. The vision versus the reality… It is also a fine example of life. The vision versus the reality. And often it helps to remember this.