News from the Church House, Fish Creek

Mary, Peter and Sidney in the grounds

In the kitchen garden

Our part of South Gippsland has quite distinct seasons and the gradual lengthening nights of autumn leading to the chill of winter brings to the Church House the harvesting of the end of summer crops, the planting of our winter vegetables and the laying down of preserves to last until the next season.

Winter has come early and somewhat frigidly to south eastern Victoria, and this is evident in the kitchen gardens and orchard.  The last of the figs are being poached and dried. The fig jam and fig honey we are making will be a delicious accompaniment to our house made croissants, and of course the fig honey ice-cream which has proven to be such a hit.

Talking of figs, I could not resist using this image of figs by Paulette Tavormina, (, a New York photographer who composes  the most beautiful still lives you’ve ever seen; intricate studies of figs and roses and fruit that look more like 17th-century Old Masters’ paintings than something put together on a 21st-century photography studio. Look her up; her images are exquisite!

Garlic, winter brassicas such as Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbages, onions and lettuce have been planted. The last of the tomatoes are in the kitchen as are the pumpkins. Artichokes plants are both incredibly visually beautiful and delicious to eat! We have lifted, divided and replanted 150 plants into the beds outside of the breakfast terrace.

Garlic, winter brassicas such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbages, onions and lettuce  have been planted. To nurture them over winter they are surrounded by sawdust, snail pellets  (better to be sure than sorry) for  a bountiful supply for our table. The last of the tomatoes are in the kitchen as are the pumpkins. Artichokes plants are both incredibly visually beautiful and delicious to eat! We have lifted, divided and replanted 150 plants into the beds outside of the breakfast terrace. Not to mention their beautiful flowers when left unpicked.

Photo credit; Tom Audley

In the orchard and olive grove

The olives have been harvested by hand and delivered locally to the oil press in Fish Creek to be pressed for the oil we use in the kitchen. (It’s a shame I don’t have a photo). You will need to visualise the olives being raked by hand and being caught on an upside umbrella hung from a lower branch! Why you ask? Because of the contraption around each tree to stop the sheep from destroying the trees.

Olives nearly ready for harvest against a moody South Gippsland sky

In the vineyard and cellar

The fruit trees and grape vines are being pruned as they enter their winter dormancy, the Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc grapes in our house vineyard being carefully trimmed to develop the best wood for fruit production next year.  The aim is to grow sufficient quantity to make 365 bottles per year and to enjoy one per day. We had hoped that this year’s crop would do that but the weather this summer has diminished the crop, so perhaps next season. The wine he has made is quietly maturing in the cellar. Peter has been buoyed by your compliments when having a taste on his own home made Pinots and so a little disappointed at not having a bigger crop.

There is of course no shortage of local wine such as neighbouring Waratah Hills and Berrys Creek’s Bellvale which we often serve to complement our food.  Did you know that Waratah Hills have produced a pinot infused Gin – it’s quite special? On a similar note Peter has at last been fully catalogued his cellar (about 1500 bottles) so for those that like a heavier red or an old red – you will be able to choose from a comprehensive selection.

The cellar is also a great space for maturing our house made salami and salumi as well, as well as storing our year’s supply of garlic.

Cellar ageing for salumi and our wine catalogue

In the Church House

One of the features of the Church House is the eclectic collection of unique decorator items.  The bronze figure between the kitchen and the staircase is worth noting. It is a maquette by renown sculptor and friend, Peter Schipperheyn of the work ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, a magnificent bronze standing  4.2 metres tall. Now installed on an island in the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin, ‘Big Z’ was commissioned by the Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Sculpture Fund and is part of the permanent collection. Whilst there are some obvious similarities between the two works, our man is less hirsute and a little softer somehow, perfect for a home gallery. As Peter explains: “My figure could only be nude; the body is the ‘spirit’ clothed by flesh, creation conscious of itself, the moment between being and becoming.”

The maquette, Big ‘Z’ and the sculptor, Peter

Sidney awaits

Chaos and Calm at The Church House

It has indeed been a while since we have last blogged but with good reason! The transition from spring to summer seemed to happen overnight, with a sudden burst of sunshine offering respite from some very consistent rain showers. The lively weather resurrected the garden and caused an explosion of growth. There have been some very busy bees here at the Church House, and we don’t mean the honey bees! Amongst the chaos, I have found some calm in the pure beauty of the peony poppies that have surprisingly sprung up.

CroissantsThe happenings in the garden have led to lots of kitchen action with some improvisation taking place. Our garden yield of goodies has been transformed through cooking, preserving and even pickling. The abundance of strawberries has been put to good use. They have taken shape in delicious homemade ice cream, margaritas and of course a beautiful daiquiri. While baking is not my forte, I have made the best of the beautiful bright berries by incorporating them into bread and pound cakes. They are stunning enough to forgive what might have been an otherwise baking atrocity.

Vineyard Victories


The vineyard is where Peter is most at home.I was more than happy to leave him there to tackle the weeds that had spiralled out of control! He must have dedicated a whole week to brush cutting to get the vineyard looking its freshest. The results were fantastic; although Peter was left looking just a little frazzled! We all have our fingers and toes crossed that grapes will come to visit soon.

Vineyard Weeds

While we have been toiling away in both kitchen and garden, our guests have been having a whale of a time- quite literally in fact. Our walking tour group were thrilled when they happened upon a pod of whales playing off the coast of Wilsons Promenade. Sydney, our poodle, is quite enamoured with all of the activity at the Church HouseSo much so that he is getting just a little too accustomed to the constant snuggles from the guests. He has become an unofficial mascot of sorts and has assumed a role as our little fluffy concierge.

The weather has definitely been playing tricks on us with an extraordinary rainfall of 87 ml over the last weekend. We always look on the bright side though; the resulting panache of Agness Falls was worth the downpour.

Weekend Wins

In the midst of the madness here at the Church House, which we have relished, there was a rather pleasant surprise. Our bespoke B&B, born out of love for great food, wine and people secured a spot on the Annual Great Escapes 52 Weekends Away feature. Seeing our property come to life on paper for the 30TH October weekend was smashing, and you can see it here for yourself.

This blog has been a snippet of our journey over the last couple of months and what a wild ride it has been. We love every minute with our wonderful guests, and we are looking forward to opening our home up to more guests very soon.

Merry Christmas from the team at The Church House.

Green Fingers at The Church House

We were rejoicing in the dawn of Spring last week in our very first blog, and Fish Creek it seems, continues to give us reasons to celebrate. Wildlife Coast Cruises have launched Brianna Lee, the newest member of their fleet. Departing from Port Welshpool, it is another exciting cruise to enjoy around Wilsons Promontory. If sailing the high seas doesn’t tickle your pickle, Promhelis have restarted their scenic flights which thrill the senses and offer the most incredible panoramic views.

While we are big fans of action and adventure here at the Church House, we also like to indulge in retail therapy. October 20th marks the opening of a new craft shop called The HandMakers Store, which promises to deliver some beautiful local pieces – perhaps you will find some Christmas gift inspiration between the walls? Located in The Hub on Falls Road, Fish Creek, we are confident it is going to be a hit.

Vegetables in Basket

Gardening Galore!

Closer to home, the Church House crew have been getting busy in the garden. We have harvested spinach, beetroot, red cabbage, onions, Romanesque and asparagus, all to be prepared simply and enjoyed by our guests. We like to reap what we sow here, so naturally, planting also took place, to compensate for our harvest haul! This week we homed zucchini, capsicum, sweet blue cherry tomatoes, onions and leeks to be picked later in the year. We are salivating already over the endless possibilities of dishes that these beauts will contribute to soon. I, of course, planted another sneaky batch of my favourite basil; indoors this time to ensure I can tap into it by Christmas

Sustainability and resourcefulness are fundamental to us, so we will be putting the prematurely planted onions that we harvested this week to good use in a delicious onion and currant chutney. Yum! Keeping it outdoors, we incorporated a garden walk into our guest experience this week, with Peter leading the group after lunch. He revelled in his newfound tour guide status (self -titled of course) and rightly so given he is an absolute whiz in the garden, and incredibly knowledgeable to boot.

Lots of fun in the Church House this week, and we have been super busy. Funnily enough, though, the result of a full house has not been exhausting but rather invigorating. We are meeting beautiful people, and are thoroughly enjoying the interactions with every one of our guests. Of course, we couldn’t do it without our team, so we want to take this opportunity to say thanks. Until next week.

Spring Into The New Season At The Church House

There is something incredibly refreshing about Spring. It heralds a time of fresh beginnings and new opportunities to start over. It also provides us with a time of quiet and reflection; to recharge our batteries before the busy season begins, and notice the changes taking place around us. So much has happened in the Church House recently, and it seemed like the right time to start our blog and share our news.


Some Firsts For The Church House

Agnes Waterfalls are looking spectacular now. We like to take a glass half full approach; therefore, we thank the torrential rains of late for the energy of the cascades. We recently hosted a  walking group  (Life’s an adventure tours – to become a monthly feature) to the Church House, and they were thrilled with the photo opportunities that the showers provided them ;nature in full bloom, and even novice photographers are taking some great snaps.

In another first for the Church House team, we prepared an entirely vegan and gluten-free meal for some special guests. Bellies were full, and feedback was great, and us vegan virgins got a real taste for a plant-based diet. Although not enough to be able to drag us away from munching on our home-made Salumi; the first attempt at making it and happy to say that it was a rip-roaring success.Salumi

We have big plans for the kitchen garden; we cook all of our own home-grown produce, which satisfies our guest’s tummies and our green fingers. The objective is to plant  regularly to sustain our day to day vegetable requirements. Soon we will also begin the harvest of the summer fruits to be poached to serve at breakfast, and create some beautiful conserves to complement our freshly baked bread and croissants.

Ewe and Lamb Feeding

The last ewe has just lambed giving us a total of 8 Spring lambs which are just divine. There is nothing like hearing a spontaneous “baaaaa” to break up the tranquillity of the Church House setting.

In more local news, our little town of Fish Creek is living up to its name of “arty capital” of Prom Country. Gecko Gallery has added a coffee shop to its offering; its little take on Melbourne coffee culture. Gibson’s a new restaurant has also opened, while The Paddock has taken the place of the previously popular 9-Acres.

There has been so much to be thankful for over the last few months, but with all the changes of late, the Church House team can feel the excitement in the air as our new chapter begins.