Luring the locals

Ever since I moved to the southern side of Canberra, there have been a number of roadside stalls, some permanent and some seasonal selling produce to anyone passing by. The latest crop of stalls seem to focus around Sulwood Drive, on either side of the roundabout, where it crosses Athlon Drive. No doubt this is in part to the wide verges which allow cars to pull off the road fairly easily and safely.

The current crop include the Fish Truck – a family group from Bateman’s Bay – who travel from the coast Thursdays through to Saturday bringing fresh caught fish and South Coast oysters and a few other not so local items such as prawns (too nice not to buy anyway). They are sited on the Waniassa side of the road where their presence has been sanctioned by the ACT Government who have provided the truck with access to their own power pole. Our most recent purchase were two Snapper which TB hot roasted and then turned into a version of Hugh F-W’s Hot Smoked Trout P??t?? (River Cottage Every Day, Bloomsbury Press 2009). Very tasty!

On the Kambah side things are a bit more variable. Thursdays and Fridays sees the Deli Van, selling a range of Maltese products, including pastries and gelati – they also go to both Northside and Southside Farmer’s markets on the weekend. Their coil of pork sausage, made in Sydney, happily fed 4 hungry adults with quite a bit left over. They may be joined, on the same day by a produce seller, focusing on fruit and sometimes on the weekends by people who sell slabs of timber for woodworkers.

The other good local source of food are the various temples and monasteries that are located in nearby suburbs. Last weekend we went for the first time to the Hindu Temple in Torrens where they provide vegetarian food from 11.00 am to 2.00pm on the first three Saturdays of every month. On the fourth Saturday they provide a similar opportunity for Northside residents at the Gungahlin Community Centre. The food which is really tasty can be eaten under a ‘shelter shed’ in the temple grounds or taken away. There were about six combination meals on offer or you could just select whichever curry or dosa you wanted. Boy was the food good! The surprise highlight was what we could only describe as a curry Chiko roll – similar in construction to that old standby of the beach-side shop – with a very thin coating of crumbs around a tasty curry filling. Of course it tasted so much better than the ‘original’ version.

If you are interested in things ‘local’ you may want to check out the recent program on living locally produced by the ABC and available for listening or download at For a much broader approach you may want to track down a copy of ‘The Lure of the Local’ (The New Press, New York, 1997) by the art theorist and writer Lucy Lippard who writes about finding our sense of place in the contemporary world, community, land use, how we see nature, how we create landscape and how our landscape creates us This is not a quick read but does do the old ‘making you think’ trick.