'We have much sweet corn for just $1.00 per cob. Freshly picked. All organic,' announced the tweet from Robbie Wallace earlier this month. Peter and I were travelling interstate at the time, but we'd been wanting to pop out and meet Robbie and see his fascinating rock structure for ages. And, besides, we love sweet corn, so I arranged a visit, pronto.
Not far from Canberra city on the corner of the Federal Highway and Macs Reef Road in Sutton there is a remarkable ring of blue limestone rocks that looks distinctly like a smaller version of the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England. Known as The Henge, the formation sits on a property owned by Robbie and Tracey Wallace, and since its opening it has become a popular tourist attraction.
In this 2012 interview with Ginger Gorman on 666 ABC Canberra, Robbie and Tracey explained how The Henge came about. Robbie and Tracey enjoy photographing The Henge in different light at various times of the day: morning, afternoon, evening and night; as well as during fog and snow. As you'll see from the images on their web site, The Henge really is quite spectacular. There are small solar lights that illuminate the rocks in the darkness and there's a large fire cauldron in the centre of The Henge, which makes for a warm gathering spot for winter evenings. We are really looking forward to visiting again in May as part of a night time 'Mystery' tour with Tim the Yowie Man (my birthday gift to Peter!).
I chatted with Robbie before we wandered down into the gully to pick some delicious sweet corn. Here is our conversation:
Robbie, it's great to finally meet you. We've been following each other on Twitter for so long.
It's great to meet you too, Liz and put a face to the name.
Tell me, Robbie, how long have you and your wife, Tracey, been at the property at Sutton?
We have been here for eight years.
What good things do you grow and farm here?
We grow oats and corn and raise black Angus cattle.
What inspired the building of The Henge?
I was doing a job for a sheep farmer cleaning up his paddocks and the rocks came out of the ground in the column shapes. So, I rang Tracey at work and told her about it and we talked about building our own 'henge'. The idea developed from there when I asked her to print out the original plan of Stonehenge.
What kinds of events do you host at The Henge?
We have had model photo shoots, weddings, ghost tours with Tim the Yowie Man, and engagement parties; as well as the solstice events which are held on the summer and winter solstices. At these times, we open up The Henge for free for locals and passers-by, who can attend and bring a picnic and enjoy
What inspired you to grow corn and how much did you plant?
I tried the year before but it failed, so I was more determined this year. We really enjoy our corn, so I ploughed the ground and planted an acre. It's doing really well this time!
What's your favourite way of cooking corn?
We like to steam it with butter, garlic and cracked pepper… that is, until you told me about sweet corn with chilli butter, Liz.
Picking corn with Robbie Wallace at The Henge...
Sweet corn growing at The Henge...
Black Angus cattle at The Henge...
The corn and polenta pancakes...
I've resurrected a recipe from the archives of my Bookshelf page, but it's simply too good not to share. The recipe is from the Farmers' Market Family Cookbook, published by Murdoch Books. Use good quality maple syrup and bacon, and freshly harvested sweet corn!
CORN AND POLENTA PANCAKES WITH BACON AND MAPLE SYRUP
90g or 3/4 cup self-raising flour
110g or 3/4 cup fine polenta
310g or 1 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels (about three small cobs)
375mls or 1 1/2 cups milk
a little spray of light olive oil, for frying
8 slices rindless bacon
1/2 cup maple syrup
Mix together the flour and polenta in a bowl. Add the corn and a little of the milk. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the remaining milk. Note: I found the mixture was a little too runny with the quantities listed above, so I added a little extra polenta. Use your judgement.
Heat a frypan or griddle and spray lightly with light olive oil. Spoon the batter into pancakes shapes and cook over a medium heat for about two minutes on each side until cooked through. Meanwhile, cook the bacon and drain it on paper towels. Serve the pancakes with a bacon rasher on top and drizzle generously with maple syrup. This recipe will serve 4-6.
The verdict: the pancakes were quick and easy to prepare. They were tasty and had great texture, but we found them to be quite filling so next time we will happily eat just eat one each. (The remaining pancakes were refrigerated overnight and reheated perfectly well for breakfast the following morning).
Sunset at The Henge...
The Henge is situated at 992 Macs Reef Road, Bywong, New South Wales (on the corner of Macs Reef Road and Federal Highway). It is open from Monday to Friday between 7am and 4pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 7am to 1pm. Entry is $5 per person or $15 per family. For more information, send Robbie an email.
Tell me dear readers, have you ever been to Stonehenge in the UK, or The Henge in Sutton, Australia? And do you like sweet corn?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.