Open Garden Mawallok

Along the sprawling Golden Plains of Victoria rises the historic Western District property Mawallok. Resplendent with a 2.5-hectare garden designed by renowned landscape architect William Guilfoyle in 1909, the garden features serpentine paths, sweeping lawns and impressive vistas across the lake designed by Sir John Monash.


When my ol’ school buddy of 41 years Zarby Mitchell below posted she was opening the family home at Stockyard Hill as part of the wonderful Open Gardens Victoria I offered to come down and do a few cooking demos for her visitors.

If charity truly begins at home, then there’s no better place to offer support, especially when the donated dollar can be traced immediately as proceeds go directly to the Skipton and Beaufort hospitals, and the local CFA. The amount raised is noteworthy – around $12,000!

Just as importantly, the weekend at Mawallok was a chance to spend time with my mate, catch up with other old friends from school, many I had not seen for more than a decade. Happily, these were the first ever cooking demonstrations for the Open Gardens initiative – all because primary school friendships are to be cherished and celebrated!


Flying into Melbourne on a magnificent Saturday, I detoured via Geelong to drop in on another old friend, after spontaneously visiting my old boarding school – for the first time in over 30 years! Fortunately, the belly flips of the past that accompanied the dread of ‘back to school’ had finally dissipated and what took their place was awe at just how beautiful the grounds are now – and how much has changed. The Dining Hall still holds its place, and as I joked on social media, what lay within those walls is what made me a good cook! Boarding school food was bloody awful! I promise to write about it – one day.


The Dining Hall at GGS


Beet carpaccio       

1 medium beetroot, peeled, very finely sliced
½ cup fresh mint leaves, lightly torn
½ cup fresh strawberries
Pink peppercorns, crushed

  • Carefully slice beetroot using a mandolin.
  • Carefully place onto a platter.
  • Add pink peppercorns, mint leaves and strawberries


1 lime, juice only
150 ml Brookfarm macadamia oil
100 ml balsamic vinegar

  • Whisk together and drizzle over carpaccio.

Broad beans and lettuce with dijonaisse

400 grams broad beans, podded (about 1kg unpodded)
1 lettuce, coarsely torn, washed, dried
1 cup fresh mint, coarsely torn

  • Blanch broad beans until tender (1-2 minutes), drain and refresh.
  • Peel beans and combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients.
  • Gently toss to combine, add dressing and season to taste.

Dijonaisse dressing

¼ cup good-quality red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
½ teaspoon Olsson’s smoked salt
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
½ cupBrookfarm macadamia oil
Freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, pulse vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey or maple syrup, salt and grated garlic.
With motor running, slowly add macadamia oil.
Season to taste with extra salt and freshly ground black pepper.




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