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24/03/2011

A Pommie's Story - A Documentary on Michael Ward

Tamborine Mountain icon get's star status on ITV with an audience of 12 million

 

Michael Ward generates more positive stories about Tamborine Mountain than almost any other person we know.  He's always in the press, on TV and on radio singing our praises. 

 Michael Ward talks on camera about the world famous spirits produced on
Tamborine Mountain that beat the big boys in international competitions. 
Behind the camera is the series director, Peter Beard.  

 

And the Tamborine Mountain Distillery products created by the Ward family are regularly winning international awards. 

 

A new documentary being filmed for screening by Britain's ITV reveals that Michael was once a young pommie who decided his only hope was to escape to the freedom of the colonies.

 

In the documentary Michael confesses - in a rather broad Australian accent only occasionally tinged with a rolling English lilt - that he escaped from England to get away from the weather and a stultifying class system he found so repugnant. 

 

"I guess I'm a bit of rebel," says Michael with an impish grin.

 

Michael's first move was to Tasmania where he met his wife Alla and after years in the rat race, decided to slow down a bit and become a distiller.  

Alla Ward - the master of the pot still

 

Alla had a hankering to make some high quality Schnapps liquor and Michael said he had a choice of becoming a bootlegger distilling by moonlight or doing it legally.

 

Michael and Alla chose the legal route and spent many months getting all the necessary licenses to become an official, Australian Government certified distillery. 

 

Then Alla and Michael had to teach themselves the art of distilling spirits with a pot still. 

 

About this time, the quiet beauty of Tamborine Mountain called and the couple relocated with their children to the beautiful property on Beacon Road North Tamborine where they established the Tamborine Mountain Distillery.

 

They took a view that they needed to be a small, nimble, specialty producer of high quality spirits that took the essence of the beautiful place they had chosen to live.  

 

Tamborine Mountain has pure water.  We grow high quality organic fruits.  It has clean air and an artistic outlook. 

 

All of the things that now identify the Tamborine Mountain distillery style on the international market.  Qualities that have enabled the Tamborine Mountain Distillery to become to be the most awarded distillery in Australia this millennium, eclipsing all of Australia's major producers.

Michael Ward with Bruce Fletcher who is the documentary 
series producer for Century Films and ITV

 

The documentary on Michael Ward is being filmed for the ITV network by independent British production company Century Films. 

 

The executive producer of this series is Brian Hill, a multi-award winning British documentary film maker. 

 

Brian Hill directed and produced the landmark Sylvania Waters TV series that documented the lives of Noeline Baker and Laurie Donaher in the 1990's. 

 

Noeline and Laurie's home at 48 McIntyre Crescent in the Sydney waterside suburb of Sylvania Waters become one of the most talked about addresses in Australia.

 

For the past four months, the Century Films production team of Peter Beard and Bruce Fletcher have been producing a new 8 part, prime-time, documentary series, to be broadcast by ITV1 in the UK, exploring the lives and experiences of British Ex-Pats in Australia.

 

From ten-pound-poms to new arrivals, the series will discover what life is really like for Brits in Oz.  Around 12 million people are expected to see each episode in the UK and the ABC is said to be considering screening here in Australia.

 

Raconteur Ash Forbes with the cook - Dianne Searle

 

 The series includes a diverse group of Ex-Pats living and working across SE Queensland. From young to old and in a range of professions, the series gives a broad view of life down-under.

 

Bruce Fletcher says, "We are examining what it is to be British and in Australia: the highs and the lows of moving to the other side of the world. 

 

"We hope to find out why so many of our fellow countrymen flock to the Australian shores every year and stay forever," said Bruce.

 

The documentary also features Ash Forbes from The Kitchen Table cafe in Main Street.  Ash travelled with Michael to Sydney to film in some of largest clubs and bars in harbour city. 

 

Michael was introducing his specialty spirits and cocktail mixers into the fashion conscious Sydney market.

 

We caught up with the film crew shooting some of the final scenes with Ash and Michael in The Kitchen Table at one of their regular Friday night Black Tie Cocktail events. 

 

For those who know Michael Ward well, black tie rhymes with hog tie . . . and dressing up in formal attire for Michael is about as natural as a river running uphill. 

 

So Michael has invented his own version of black tie.

Michael Ward with daughter Sonya with the
amazing Black Tie outfit
 

 

Take a pair of brown Blunstone work boots.  Put them on over knee length pommie socks.  Make sure that plenty of hairy knee caps are still showing. 

 

Now apply some baggy shorts and a stridently colourful tropical shirt.  When the colours dazzle your eyes, add just a bit more colour to make sure.

 

Then to qualify as formal attire, add a hugely decorative red bow tie and top it all off with a custom made, lime green dinner jacket. 

 

And there you have it - the Michael Ward black tie outfit.  

 

During the filming Michael and Alla's daughter Sonya helped Michael dress for the film crew - actually she insisted he dress for the film crew, silencing noisy protests from Michael with a hard hand and a firm attitude.

 

Sonya made sure they got to The Kitchen Table in time to welcome the guests and help them taste the highly prized Tamborine Mountain cocktails produced from distillery spirits. 

 

Alex Kennedy and Margaret Shaw took a more
formal approach to dressing.  Alex is a renowned couturier with an exclusive client list and he and Margaret are establishing a high fashion workshop and showroom in Eagle Heights.

Michael has also been appearing in lots of press and radio recently to promote the documentary and Tamborine Mountain.  Last week he was the subject of a Brisbane Courier Mail editorial.  The paper's editor congratulated him and the Ward family for all their achievements.

 

The editorial was accompanied with a full page article about the ITV documentary and celebrates Michael as Tamborine Mountain's most instantly recognizable business face.

 

Look in our "Additional Links" panel for links to this Courier mail article and to the Tamborine Mountain Distillery website. 

 

As we have had the pleasure of publishing several articles that celebrate Michael and Alla's many international achievements, we provided links to these articles as well.

 

Now what the British audiences will make of Michael's trademark beatific smile and optimistic outlook . . . well, we'll have to wait a couple of months to find out about that.  But Michael himself knows the outcome he wants from the documentary. 

 

"Let the Pommies come here in their droves," he says, "Let them look about, breathe the fresh air, savour the Tamborine Mountain splendour and spend lots of money.  Then let them go back to Britain and envy us.

 

And we say "here here" to that . . . except for guys with gumption like Michael.  He can stay just as long as he wants.