Inspired by The Blue Ducks

This cookery book in the header photo is what inspired our visit to Byron Bay. My beloved had bought me this in Farrells Bookshop in Mornington Peninsula back in 2016 because he’d liked the look of the recipes, many of which I’ve since made. With the company’s 10th anniversary fast approaching, I thought I’d write about one of my favourite restaurant concepts.

Since the first Three Blue Ducks venue opened in Bronte in 2010, they’ve expanded to four, café-turned-restaurants across New South Wales and Brisbane, plus one to come in Melbourne, each boasting a strong focus on ethical produce served in a no-frills setting.

The concept of Three Blue Ducks was sparked from an idea between Mark LaBrooy, Chris Sorrell and Sam Reid-Boquist, who shared a love of surf, snow and good food. In 2010, after years of discussion, the three mates found the perfect location in Bronte right next door to where Jeff Bennett had recently opened a pizza shop.

It wasn’t long before Bennett became friends with the boys next door and soon the wall between his pizza shop and Three Blue Ducks was knocked down and the four were in business together. As the venue got busier, they recruited Darren Robertson, former head chef at Tetsuya’s, to help expand the menu and open for dinner.

The group went on to open Three Blue Ducks at The Farm Byron Bay in 2015 (pictured above) and then Rosebery in 2016, with MasterChef Australia 2012 winner Andy Allen coming on board as a co-owner. This year they also opened a restaurant at the W hotel in Brisbane (desserts from our meal pictured below) and another one in Melbourne will soon open.

The common thread woven throughout the venues is a commitment to ethical food and supporting small farmers and producers,  something which I really try to embrace by buying local produce and ingredients from farmers markets and shopping seasonally. The Three Blue Ducks at The Farm, an 80-acre food and farming hub at the entrance to Byron Bay, is their biggest and busiest venue, and the true embodiment of their sustainability philosophy, where most of the restaurant is outside, surrounded by farmland, eating food grown metres away.

Celebrating the community and environment are core beliefs of the Ducks family. Even the name has a local element to it, though perhaps not in the way you might assume. It’s not a nursery rhyme. Instead, it’s a shout out to Bondi Boardriders team ‘Blue Ducks’, and, surprisingly, a 50-year-old pick up line Sam and Chris used as early teens in Bronte. The boys would try to get a girl alone at the beach and steal a kiss from her by asking if she’d seen the blue ducks that lived in the gully. So it’s a bit of a cheeky name!

What’s next for the Duck family? While there’s nothing yet in the works, there’s definitely potential to continue growing the brand – perhaps even internationally. As for a specific location, the boys have just one criterion: there must be surf or snow nearby. That’s not a bad requirement, is it?

Postcard from Brisbane I

We spent two weeks in Brisbane giving us plenty of opportunity to experience everything the town and surrounding areas have to offer. I have to thank those of you who live in or have recently visited the area for your kind suggestions, they were much appreciated.

We arrived at our hotel in historic Spring Hill on Wednesday afternoon and quickly settled into our spacious studio room, complete with kitchenette. I like having the ability to eat-in for a few meals, particularly breakfast. That said, we ate lunch in the excellent on-site restaurant before checking out the hotel’s pool and gym.

As I plan our holidays, I tend to let my beloved choose how we spend our days. As I’d swerved a visit to the Gold Coast, he decided to head back to the coast on Thursday and Friday (Sandgate and Redlands) just to check out my decision. We found some fabulous beaches and picturesque bayside villages where we easily lowered the average age in each of the towns we visited. These are clearly very popular with the retirement community. I can understand why.

Having spent Thursday and Friday touring  beaches, I suggested we spend the weekend in Brisbane as the fabulous weather would encourage people to visit the coast, leaving the city quieter. The queues of traffic leaving Brisbane on Friday evening appeared to back up my hypothesis.

Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast at Eagle Street Pier overlooking Brisbane’s sub-tropical Brisbane river before taking a round river trip. I love seeing cities from their riverbanks, it gives them such a different perspective. It also helped identify further areas for us to visit.

We ate lunch at a plentiful seafood buffet in a riverside hotel where we feasted on oysters and a local speciality, Moreton Bay Bugs, which was a first for us. Thereafter, we enjoyed a stroll around the city’s beautiful Botantical Gardens, just one of many parks around the city.

Sunday we strolled into town after an early breakfast to find a coolish wind had subdued the sun’s heat. We popped into the magnificent City Hall to check out the interior and its exhibit, Brisbane Art Design Festival which was very interactive. Having marvelled at the Hall’s architectural details we topped up our caffeine levels in Shingle Inn, a faithful restoration of Brisbane’s oldest cafe, on City Hall’s ground floor.

Sunday lunch was eaten in one of the city’s newer restaurants, Three Blue Ducks. I wanted to see whether the concept we’d so enjoyed outdoors in Byron Bay had translated to an urban environment. It does though the restaurant was tricky to find as it’s in the W Hotel, in North Quay. My beloved plumped for the Sunday roast while I had a nutritious salad. This left us with a little room for dessert. I don’t usually indulge but the vegan dessert sounded delicious while my better half had the popular apple dessert. What is it about men and apples?


Replete we continued our stroll around town before heading back to our hotel and its gym. After a good night’s sleep, on Monday we decided to walk over to Paddington, a nearby suburb of Brisbane built atop one of its many steep ridges with plenty of interesting shops and beautifully restored historic houses. I just love those wrap around porches and gingerbread trims.

There are bars and restaurants housed in former workers’ cottages and plenty of antique shops and art galleries to wander around. We also found a fabulous place for breakast to which we’d return a couple more times during our stay.

The views of Brisbane are stunning from Paddington and yes, those streets are really that steep! On the way back to our hotel we passed the Suncorp Stadium, home of the rugby league side The Brisbane Broncos. Caxton Street and Petrie Terrace looked as if they’d be particularly lively once the sun went down.

We followed this with a walk around nearby Roma Park where my beloved almost trod on this little fellow (approx. 1m/3 ft) sunning himself on the pavement.

 

During our strolls, we’d noticed many advertisements for #EKKA and despite never before having visited an agricultural exhibition, decided this was how we’d spend our Tuesday. After all, you can’t go to Brisbane and not visit the EKKA!