River Cottage Australia is a 2012 TV series on DVD about cooking presented
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and former Tasmanian chef, Paul West.
Can an idea grow anywhere? Celebrated chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is
about to find out.
Fifteen years ago, Englishman Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, embarked on an
experiment in sustainability and self-sufficiency. He moved to a cottage on a
small land-holding in Dorset and set about learning how to grow his own produce,
raise livestock and become part of a community where sharing not only knowledge,
but the fruits of farm labour, were an important part of life.
The resulting TV series, Escape to River Cottage – and more than a dozen
series since – has served as an inspiration to the aspirations of viewers who
want to embrace a simpler, healthier life. Far more than cooking shows, the
programs have encouraged interest and debate about the importance of local and
seasonal produce, and the broader issues of sustainable agriculture and fishing
on a global scale.
Now, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is ready to take that experiment in
downshifting and the message of sustainability down under, with River Cottage
In this eight-part series, Hugh hands the River Cottage baton to an
Australian counterpart – former Tasmanian chef, Paul West – who faces new
challenges and uniquely Australian characters as he attempts to set up his own
farm near the historic and picturesque village of Central Tilba on the NSW Far
The series begins with Hugh travelling to meet Paul at River Cottage
Australia; a former dairy farm nestled between the pristine Sapphire Coast and
the imposing Mount Gulaga – a sacred place of enormous significance for the
indigenous Yuin people. Together Paul and Hugh will hear first-hand their
powerful message of sustainability, as well as discover how the mountain is
central to their Dreamtime stories.
On the farm itself, Hugh and Paul map out a sustainable plan for the future,
discover fantastic bounty as they forage locally for food and share the products
of their culinary skills with the locals – who in return, will try to help
them overcome the challenges of living off the land.
But as the series unfolds, it’s up to Paul to make a go of it without Hugh
there to guide him. He learns how to dish up whatever he’s grown, reared or
caught. He stocks the farm with chickens, pigs and cows, establishes vegetable
gardens, hunts for wild food, and learns the secrets of bush tucker.
Can he build on the practices and passions developed at River Cottage in the
What new challenges will the Australian environment bring?
And what will Hugh discover when he returns at the end of the series to check on
his protégé’s progress?
One thing is certain; the River Cottage ethos of respect and knowledge of the
land and its produce won’t just put good food on the table – it’ll make
great viewing as well.
1. Fifteen years after Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall moved into the first
River Cottage in the UK, he’s
headed to Australia to spread the message of sustainability and to anoint an
Aussie worthy of carrying on the River Cottage tradition. That job goes to
former Tasmanian chef, Paul West, who’ll set up River Cottage Australia on the
picturesque NSW Far South Coast – with a little help from Hugh.
2. With Hugh back in the UK, Paul finds himself alone at River Cottage and
sets about getting his winter vegetable crop fed and that involves an organic
fertiliser recipe that makes use of some of the farm’s most unwanted
3. With his cows, chooks and veggies thriving, Paul decides it’s time to
explore the nearby coastline and he discovers an abundant source of seafood
delicacies. He meets a local lobster expert, and together they catch a crayfish
brunch and Paul introduces him to a deliciously different way of
4. With hardly any rain for weeks, and a malfunctioning water tank, Paul is
suddenly faced with a farmer’s worst fear – a critical shortage of water.
His cows, pigs and veggies all depend on a steady supply, so Paul enlists the
help of a local farmer to see if they can tap on old spring on the property.
5. Paul’s aim is to eventually make River Cottage totally
self-sufficient – and he’s well on the way. With his own herbs, vegetables
and eggs and cream from Bessie the cow, he whips up his first ever “all from
the farm” meal.
6. River Cottage land-holder, Paul West, is keen to restore the gully which
acts as a natural watercourse on his farm – but it’s almost totally
overgrown with blackberries. Paul learns he can hire a herd of hefty eaters to
deal with the problem – but will they have the appetite for such a
7. The local Country Women’s Association ladies have a big job for Paul
and there might be a
sweet reward for him in return. If he can help them paint their headquarters,
they’ve offered to share some of their well-guarded cake–making secrets with
him. How will his Hazelnut Loaf Cake stand up against some of the finest in the
8. It’s been nearly four months since Hugh returned to River Cottage in
the UK and left Paul to go it alone. But now he’s back, and he’s amazed at
what he finds. The seeds of River Cottage Australia have well and truly been
planted, and the future looks bright indeed.