Go Meet Artisan Cheesemaker and Sheep Farmer Burke Brandon

WomanGoingPlaces drove deep into a forest to film cheese being handmade by one of the leading artisan cheesemakers in Australia.

Burke Brandon recently won 2 Gold and 3 Silver medals at the Royal Sydney Cheese & Dairy Show. And he was also recognised as the 2013 Outstanding Farmer of the Year by The Weekly Times Farm Magazine.

Why did he win such distinction? After all, sheep have always been central to Australia’s wealth, history and and folklore. But Burke is not interested in the sheep’s wool or its meat. He is part of a small group of farmers who are pioneering the breeding of sheep for its milk. Cattle and cow milk have traditionally dominated the dairy industry in Australia, but now as many of these cattle farms go into decline, some farmers are experimenting with sheep dairies.

On their beautiful family farm in South Gippsland Victoria, Burke and his wife Bronwyn are involved in the whole process – growing the pastures, breeding the sheep, milking them and handcrafting the cheese.

From paddock to plate.

The farm and their range of Prom Country cheeses mark the evolution of the Brandon family as cheesemakers. It all began in the 1990’s when Brandon’s parents, Jan and Trevor Brandon set up Red Hill Cheese on the Mornington Peninsula. Their handmade cheeses developed such a following, that streams of people continue to make their way down winding dirt tracks through wooded hills, to taste and buy Red Hill cheeses at the cellar door.

And this is where, in a forest of eucalyptus trees, that WomanGoingPlaces was able to film Burke Brandon during the entire cheese making process, something not usually open to the public. What made it such an exciting experience was that we could see each stage of the process. In commercial dairies, you can’t see the milk and you can’t see the cheese, as they are concealed in massive closed vats and the entire process is mechanised from start to finish.

We watched Burke measuring, pouring, adding, stirring, adjusting, raking, scooping, draining, turning – constantly monitoring and shepherding the cheese as he shepherds his sheep.

We watched the miraculous moments when milk turned to curds and whey, and when the curds then turned to cheese.

Amazingly the run-off whey is not discarded. Instead, winegrowers from the region come to collect it and spray it on their vines, to reduce mildew and allow them to grow their grapes organically.

Prom Country Cheese is now celebrating the opening of their new specially designed Cheese Cellar Door on the farm in South Gippsland.  As well as tasting and buying their cheese directly from this farm gate outlet, there are displays of the farming and cheese making process. Classes in cheese making will also be held there. You are welcome to visit the farm.

For more information: http://www.promcountrycheese.com.au      http://www.redhillcheese.com.au

Interviewer, Videographer & Editor- Augustine Zycher

Farm visuals – Burke Brandon

Prom Country Cheese, Moyarra, Victoria



Red Hill Cheese, Red Hill, Victoria




Home Alone – Not Necessarily!


I’ve just read an article that again confirmed why our new WomanGoingPlaces website was created.

In a piece entitled ‘Home Alone’ in the Age’s Sunday Life Magazine, writer Dianne Blacklock, divorced and mother of four grown children, wrote about finding herself on her own after raising her children. After giving priority to her family for all those years, she was now excitedly looking at how she could enjoy her life as a single woman.

“I’m meeting new people, broadening my career in all kinds of interesting ways, and next year I’m planning to travel – to the places I want to go, to see things I want to see, without having to consult anybody else. I think I’m entitled to it, especially after all those years of ‘eating the burnt chop’, of putting everyone’s needs before my own.”

She loved child-rearing but refused to accept that she couldn’t go on independently to enjoy life.

“I’d like to think there are also many happy years ahead of me, with new adventures and different challenges. And I refuse to miss out on opportunities because I’m single – in fact, I suspect that many opportunities are available to me precisely because I’m not tied down.”

Dianne has perfectly described the way many of us feel – that there’s life after child-rearing and other family responsibilities, and to live that life to the full is entirely possible as well as necessary.

The question is how to go about making the most of your independence? That’s where WomanGoingPlaces comes in.

Some of us want to take the plunge into a grand adventure, an overseas trip to exotic or unusual destinations. Others are more inclined to build on smaller adventures nearer to home. All of us want to engage in experiences that pique our interest and absorb us in activities or surroundings that fascinate us and bring us delight.

Whatever the scale of your ambitions, we’re here to offer ideas and suggestions of where to go and what to do. Things that we have found engaging and perfect to do whether on your own or with others, but are particularly suitable if you are going solo. We want you to get a taste of what we experienced through extensive videos and photos, as well as reports of what we found.

Although Augustine and I have traveled a lot and lived in other countries, we are now discovering exciting developments in our own home city, Melbourne. For example, the tour of Melbourne’s laneways sparked in me an interest in street art.  I found so much of it inventive, vibrant and compelling. So much so, that when someone I spoke to recently dismissed it without having seen it, as graffiti, I was a bit offended that the creativity I saw on the walls of Hosier Lane was reduced to sheer vandalism. In fact, street art is now fetching thousands of dollars.

Recently, the City of Melbourne blackened over all the existing street art on Hosier Lane to give a chance to new artists to make their mark as part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Now project. It’s a reminder of how ephemeral this art form is. Our WomanGoingPlaces Melbourne Laneways Street Art video captures the work on display at a particular point in time. See https://womangoingplaces.com.au/go-touring-melbourne-street-art/

Augustine’s yachting adventure was another unexpected find. Amazingly, it’s an opportunity to go sailing that’s open to everyone all around the Australian coastline wherever there are yachting clubs.

And if you want a rewarding encounter with Australia’s unique ocean environment that’s less well known than the Great Barrier Reef, see our Ningaloo Reef Australia for Solo Women Travelers. (womangoingplaces.com.au/ningaloo-reef/)

We’re new, but we’re adding destinations and activities all the time. We welcome your comments, suggestions and stories. If you know of a special place or activity, tell us why you found them particularly suitable to go on your own.

I leave the last words to Dianne Blacklock on going solo:

“The hardest thing about being single is the perception that there’s something wrong with you, that you’re incomplete. But I’m happy to just go my own way and do my own thing. And the best part is, I don’t have to explain myself to anybody.”


Dianne Blacklock’s article can also be read at  www.dailylife.com.au/health-and-fitness/dl-wellbeing/the-joy-of-being-divorced-20131122-2y0sa.html .

Melbourne Now – The National Gallery of Victoria



Like an Empress Dowager, the National Gallery has reigned over art in the state of Victoria for 152 years. This bluestone building, standing like a fortress behind a moat of water, has been a revered institution but also a very conservative one. Contemporary art was rarely exhibited here.

But now, in a dramatic break with the past, the Empress Dowager has flung off her ceremonial robes and put on jeans.

This is the feeling I got at the launch of the National Gallery of Victoria’s first ever massive exhibition of contemporary art, Melbourne Now. It is an explosion of colour and creativity. It features video, sound and light installations, interactive community exhibitions and artworks, and design and architectural components.

Over 400 local artists, designers and architects have individually and collectively brought a new excitement into the galleries. They are boldly and exuberantly celebrating the contemporary cultural identity of Melbourne.

This unprecedented exhibition was initiated by Tony Ellwood, the director of the NGV. He explained that “It takes as its premise the idea that a city is significantly shaped by the artists, designers, architects, choreographers, intellectuals and community groups that live and work in its midst.”  The Melbourne Now exhibition has brought this creative energy into the NGV and the effect, he said, has been “transformative.”

As you walk amongst the more than 250 works, you are able to identify and recognize so much of what it means to live in Melbourne today. There is a Design Wall with 600 everyday items such as tram handles and water coolers; icing-coated edible living and dining rooms; a large dome constructed out of plastic Ikea bins; and many other remarkable exhibits.

That could be the reason Melbourne Now has struck such a chord with both locals and tourists.

A record number of more than 100,000 people saw the exhibition in its first 2 weeks alone.

It is the perfect place to come on your own. You can come again with a friend or a group of friends. In fact, you can probably do all three as there are many opportunities to visit repeatedly and it would be near impossible to see it all in one visit. Entry is free, however often you visit.

We’ve prepared a presentation of photos of some of the exhibits for you to see. Photography by Augustine Zycher and Rosalie Zycher.  Several photos courtesy of NGV. Post by Augustine Zycher


Melbourne Now will be open until 23rd March, 2014. Note that the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square is closed on Mondays and NGV International on St. Kilda Road is closed on Tuesdays.


Melbourne Now is not only the first major exhibition showcasing the city’s contemporary art, it is also the biggest exhibition in the gallery’s history. Spread over its two sites, NGV International on St. Kilda Road (B in map below) and NGV Australia at the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square (A in map below), it also spills out into street art in the city’s laneways.

WomanGoingPlaces has written about the street art in Hosier Lane (http://womangoingplaces.com.au/go-touring-melbourne-street-art/ ). The project ALLYOURWALLS associated with Melbourne Now has painted over these works to allow a new group of the finest of Melbourne’s street artists a chance to exhibit.

Further Information

Not only is there so much to see, but there are a great many public events scheduled over the next few months as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition. You can get information on the website http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/melbournenow.  

View Larger Map





Go Yachting in Australia – A Great Activity For Women


You’ve always wanted to go yachting but you don’t have a boat or a friend with a yacht. Here’s what you can do.

For $20 or less, you can become a temporary member of yachting and sailing cubs all around Australia. This enables you to go out on a boat as part of its crew.

It’s a spectacular way of seeing beautiful beaches along Australia’s magnificent coastline.

In Victoria alone, there are 89 clubs and about 400 clubs overall in Australia. Many offer one or even two days a week that you can go out for a sail. So there are opportunities for sailing in different parts of the country.

I phoned the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in St. Kilda, Melbourne, and asked if I could take part in a sail. I was told to come along that afternoon, pay a fee of $20, and I would be assigned to a boat.

I knew nothing about sailing, but this was not a problem at all. Because it is entirely up to you whether you just want to sit back and enjoy the sail, or whether you want to have a more hands-on experience. Either way, the clubs, boat owners and crews are very welcoming.

And that’s how I came to take part in my first ever yacht race, a Twilight Sprint which began at dusk and ended at sunset on the waters of Port Phillip Bay.

I was on a 57′ S&S Swan yacht called the White Swan. And because we were in what is called a ‘pursuit’ race, White Swan was handicapped to start last because of her speed and size.

There was another guest on the boat. Diana had just completed her first sailing course because she thought it would be  a great idea to be able to sail to different countries when she retires.

Skipper of the day, Lee Maddison steered us out of the St. Kilda Marina into the bay. As we got into position for the start of the race, the skyline of Melbourne’s city centre rose up on our right. The gold cap on the striking Eureka Tower caught the fading sunlight and became a glittering beacon.

We set off and the crew went into frantic motion. Letting down sails, hoisting up sails, letting out ropes and winding them in. On a boat, ropes are called sheets – a whole new vocabulary. The excitement rose even higher as we began tacking or jibing, that is, quickly switching the position and tautness of the sails in order to make the most of the wind and trap its power to propel the sails.

As you do this, all crew members have to swiftly move from one side of the boat to the other to help balance the boat. You have to remember to duck as the boom swings from side to side.

At times, it was like being on a sea-borne roller coaster as the boat rose precipitously out of the water. And then suddenly, we were skimming along at an angle of almost 45 degrees. That was when I decided to stow my camera away and hang on with both hands.

Acting Skipper Lee maneuvered us very capably through it all, rapidly catching up on the other boats and flying past the markers.

White Swan finished in second place, even though we had started the race 25 minutes after the first boat began.

And I had an exhilarating, wonderful sail. Take a look at the video I took of the yacht race.

An additional benefit to signing up as a temporary member is that it entitles you to have dinner in the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club’s Members’ Dining Room. So after the sail, relax and join the crews for drinks and dinner overlooking the marina and the city lights.

Increasing numbers of women are taking up sailing. Yachting Victoria is now taking the initiative to increase the number of women taking part in sailing and to promote as many woman-friendly clubs as possible. They have set up a website www.womenandgirlsinsailing.com.au . Contact them to find out what’s available. You can decide on your level of involvement – a day trip or sailing courses, club membership, joining teams and racing. You can also search the internet for yachting and sailing clubs and call them to find out what they offer.

Woman-friendly: Definitely for women travelers wanting an exciting experience.

Videography and editing by Augustine Zycher


See our Noticeboard for more contacts both Australia-wide and in Victoria that will give you information about how to begin sailing at the various yacht clubs around Australia.



View Larger Map




Go touring Melbourne Laneways Street Art

Melbourne has a reputation as a city with intriguing laneways. Bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants and galleries are situated in these laneways, but many of them don’t have any signage or street address and unless you know how to find them through word-of-mouth or social media, you won’t know that they are there. Finding the place is part of the fun.

Street art has added another dimension to the vibrancy of some of these hidden laneways. Melbourne has now become not only the street art capital of Australia, but also one of the most significant destinations in the world for street art. Internationally-knownstreet artists such as Banksy (England) and Swoon (USA) have come to Melbourne for the express purpose of painting in the laneways. Local artists such as Phibs, Rone, HaHa and others have built respected reputations here for their laneway work.

Collectors and auction houses are showing increasing interest and recognize street art as a contemporary art movement. And works by the artists are fetching high prices and growing in value.

Until a few years ago, these narrow alleys used to be neglected, dark and dirty places. Cobbled in bluestone, some had a decidedly 19th Century feel to them. They were the hidden face of Melbourne. They ran parallel to its beautiful wide, open boulevards and connected them discreetly.

Some laneways, like Flinders Lane which housed the factories of the rag trade for over a century, were part of the lifeblood of the city. But they weren’t the respectable, showy part of it.

No longer. Now richly imaginative and vividly coloured paintings, stencils, designs, messages and motifs have transformed many of them. The laneways are finding a new life and adding excitement to the city, drawing locals and tourists alike to enjoy their flamboyance and energy.

Some of the most colourful street art is in Hosier Lane. Join a tour or go by yourself. End your tour with some great coffee in the many cafes along the laneways.

Take a look at the slideshow of street art in Melbourne’s laneways.

Photography and editing by Augustine Zycher

View Larger Map





Go Mushrooming & Wild Mushroom Bruschetta recipe

Serves 4-6 as an entree or light lunch


  • 1 large loaf of Italian bread, sliced thickly – ciabatta is ideal
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil or more if required
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 500g mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • I small handful fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme, chopped
  • wedge of parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Toast your bread in a toaster or on the grill. Once toasted, spread with a little of the mustard, then set aside on your serving plate.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Once hot, add garlic and fry for two minutes until golden.

Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and another sprinkling of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about   10-12 minutes, stirring often. Add the parsley, oregano and thyme, cook for another 5 minutes.

Add a little more olive oil if needed to moisten the mix.

Serve the mushrooms warm, on top of the bread slices.

Grate fresh Parmesan over the top and dress with some extra salt, pepper olive oil and parsley.


T’Gallant – www.tgallant.com.au

View Larger Map