Published on 20 February 2024

Award-winning Onkaparinga: meet our latest winners

Onkaparinga is the proud home of national and state winners in manufacturing exports, food, organic agriculture and pubs. It’s also home to valued community members recognised in the Australia Day Honours.

Excellent exports

Family-owned REDARC Electronics has taken out back-to-back Exporter of the Year awards at the Australian Export Awards in the Manufacturing and Advanced Materials category.

In 2022-23, the company secured a $23 million export contract, in partnership with UK-based MARL International, to provide 12,600 LED lights for three Hunter-class warships.

The company employs more than 380 people In Australia and overseas, including Canada, Italy, New Zealand and the United States.

REDARC recently invested in a second manufacturing facility built on sustainability principles in Lonsdale West, catering to the defence, heavy vehicle, mining and industrial industries.

The company has also been named the Exporter of the Year at the 2023 South Australian Premier’s Export Awards.

Fab foods

Eight Onkaparinga restaurants have been rated in Australia’s top 1 per cent of restaurants in the 2024 Australian Good Food Guide Chef Hat Awards.

Top of the list is Maxwell Wines in McLaren Vale, which was awarded Three Chef Hats and a score of 16 in the awards. Achieving 16 means the restaurant is considered worthy of interstate travel solely for the dining experience.

Maxwell’s head chef Fabian Lehmann brings a stellar career in Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe to the stone and wood restaurant set among Maxwell’s vineyards. His menu champions fresh, seasonal produce from local suppliers.

The Good Food Guide accolade follows two other recent awards: Best Regional Restaurant in South Australia by delicious.100 and Top 10 South Australian Restaurants in the 2023 Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide.

D’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant in McLaren Vale, Muni in Willunga and The Kitchen at Bec Hardy in McLaren Vale received scores of 14. This means they’re worth a road trip from outside the area solely for the dining experience.

The Currant Shed in McLaren Flat, Serafino Restaurant in McLaren Vale, The Little Rickshaw in Aldinga and the Star of Greece in Port Willunga scored 12 or 13 points. Restaurants with these scores guarantee satisfaction and exhibit standards that consistently exceed expectations.

The annual awards are run by the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide.

Australia Day awards

Reynella legend Malcom Thiele received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Australia Day 2024 Honours List for his service to veterans and the community.

Malcolm served for 22 years in the RAAF. During that time, he saw active service in South Vietnam.

Malcolm is a member of SA’s Veterans’ Advisory Council and is the vice-president of the Vietnam Veterans’ Federation of Australia and president of the SA branch of the federation.

Locally, Malcolm is a life member of the Port Noarlunga Surf Life Saving Club, recognised for his roles as president, committee member, fundraising chairperson and swimming coach. In his spare time, Malcolm is a volunteer Justice of the Peace at Onkaparinga’s Noarlunga library.

Nicholas Swingler of Aldinga Beach also received an OAM. Nicholas was recognised for his service to Australian rules football. He worked with the Sturt Football Club and previously received the SANFL Merit Award.

The late Paul Simon Murray of Happy Valley received an OAM for his contribution to gymnastics in South Australia, including at the Hub Gymnastics Club.

A number of other local heroes were honoured as part of the City of Onkaparinga’s Australia Day Awards.

Valued vineyard

Inkwell Wines in Tatachilla has become Australia’s first Regenerative Organic Certified vineyard – and among the first 20 vineyards to be recognised globally.

Inkwell was assessed at the silver level in December 2023 – the highest possible level for first-year certification – by the Regenerative Organic Alliance and Australian Certified Organic.

Owners Dudley and Irina Santiago-Brown began working with regenerative farming principles in 2016, restoring soil health, sequestering soil carbon and respecting animal welfare.

Inkwell’s head winemaker and viticulturist Dr Irina Santiago-Brown says she hopes the regenerative approach will be adopted by wine grape growers and farmers everywhere.

“This is the most significant new accreditation in agriculture in the last thirty years,” she says.

“It’s an indication of how far the Australian winemaking industry has to go in addressing climate change by removing CO2 from the air and sequestering it permanently in soil.”

Pub proud

The McLaren Vale Hotel was named South Australia’s 2023 best country pub in the recent Hotel Industry Awards for Excellence.

It was also named SA’s best redeveloped country hotel and received the WT Spurr Award for Tourism and Regional Promotion in the awards.

The awards, run by the Australian Hotels Association, recognised the hotel for its food, beverage list and sensitive redevelopment.

The hotel’s executive chef Glenn Worrall oversees a menu rich with local produce, teemed – of course – with local wines and craft beers.

The hotel's redevelopment peeled back layers of renovations to reveal original ironstone walls and brickwork and married these with contemporary elements such as the marble bar.

Not to be outshone, Daniel Hall of the Alma Hotel in Willunga won the 2023 Employee Excellence in Service award.

The Aldinga Hotel was commended in the awards for it bistro casual dining.


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