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Alla Wolf-Tasker AM is the Culinary Director and co-proprietor, of Australia’s much loved and iconic Lake House in Daylesford. Now in its fourth decade, Lake House continues to collect accolades and awards and remains on the significant national “Best Of” listings.

Alla is herself the recipient of a myriad of ‘Contributions to Industry’ awards, has several ‘Living Legend’ awards under her belt and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her work in the hospitality and tourism areas.

The Local - Why the geese?

Opinion: Alla Wolf-Tasker
August 12, 2019 Issue 156

OF ALL things. Why the geese?

If there was ever going to be a good case for Hepburn Shire Council having a sound strategy of stakeholder management, this was going to be it.

Council papers identified this as a likely to be a contentious issue. Just as the “several” complainants who (we are told) were intimidated by the geese, or who had their lawns damaged, were clearly heard and had their issues acted on, other members of the local community would also liked to have had their opinion at least equally considered.

That some of us, myself included, who have lived and worked on the lake for decades, have been members of Friends of Lake Daylesford when it was a group of active volunteers and have seen new “lake initiatives” come and go and consultants’ reports acted on, with varied degrees of success over decades, might even have had something useful to contribute, could have been a consideration.

But certainly, once the swell of opinion began to build, council’s responsibility should’ve been to engage with the community, to respond to mediation initiatives and not just persist against all odds. After all, there was no timeline for removal of the geese in the wording of the council vote.

I love that ours is a community that often agrees to disagree. Living with the opinions of others is part of healthy co-existence, as long as issues of critical concern are dealt with evenhandedness, compassion and above all, transparency. In this case, this decision was also relevant to the extended community of visitors who do us the favour of choosing this region for their travel and holidays and on whom many local businesses and jobs depend.

Many of these folk are regular returnees over decades and have a proprietorial love for this region. A huge number of them made their feelings clear about the removal of the geese.

But never did I realise the extent of the iconic status these birds had developed both within our community and visitors. The outpouring of dismay locally and from all over Australia via various commentary and the over 6000 signatures collected online (all available on record, but not accepted for tabling by HSC), all attest to the fact that this was a much-cherished and enjoyed flock.

Perhaps it was hoped that if the decision was pushed through, the deed expedited, officers instructed to not answer questions from community on timing, the destination of the geese and certainly not on the possibility of any delay or compromise, perhaps it would all just run its course and everyone would just move on. I would like to hope that ours is not a community for whom that is in any sense resolution.

I’ve done a fair bit of grieving over the past two weeks — primarily for the geese of Lake Daylesford who were friends to me and my family for three generations, as well as to much of the local community…

But probably my grief is fuelled even more by the associated loss of trust over a decision so hastily pushed through, with no transparency, no opportunity for input, a lack of respect for the local community and a clear lack of natural justice.

Meanwhile, feral foxes and cats roam, glyphosates continue to be used in the region and our creeks are overwhelmingly lined and in some cases are completely overgrown by noxious gorse and blackberry.

But these hapless geese, friends to many, not needing to be “rescued”, not listed as pests, nor as feral on any government lists, not mentioned in the HSC “biodiversity” plan, have gone…

Alla

Spring 2019 – We’re so very pleased to announce …….

After months of development and anticipation, I’m over the moon to announce the birth of Dairy Flat Farm, our own 38 acre regenerative growing facility 8 minutes down the road from Lake House. Much, including the Lodge, a baking facility and farm workshops are still in development. But 5 acres of dedicated newly developed vegetable gardens, barn, 3 hoop houses, a glass house; a planted orchard of 300 trees; an existing repaired olive grove of 200 trees and a similarly attended to two-and-a-half-acre vineyard are now all up and flourishing. Most importantly we now have our own pristine and freshly picked produce coming in on a daily basis which we are delighted to share with you.

We are not forgetting our local community of growers and farmers with whom we’ve forged relationships with over decades. You’ll find them listed over the page. Our Dairy Flat Farm will now serve to supplement what they are able to provide, as well as allow us to experiment with growing rare and interesting things. Some of these you’ll already find on our menus. New season produce is on its way also. But, after many years, my learnings are that there are no rules. Seasonal expectations can never be governed by the calendar. Mother Nature walks entirely to the beat of her own drum and delivers (or not) when she is good and ready. We’ve now joined the ranks of those who have to deal with this most capricious of mistresses on a daily basis.

Alla.


Some of Alla's Awards

  • Member of the Order of Australia

    ‘Legend’ – Good Food Guide

    Outstanding Contribution to Australian Food – The delicious. Produce Awards

    Outstanding Contributions to Hospitality – Gourmet Traveller

    Outstanding Contributions to Hospitality – RCA

    Living Legend – Melbourne Food & Wine

    Legend of the Industry – The Foodservice Awards


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