13 June 2018

River Cottage Australia host finds new work with ABC TV

| Ian Campbell
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River Cottage Australia, just outside of Central Tilba. From RCA Facebook page.

River Cottage Australia, just outside of Central Tilba. Photo: Keo Films.

River Cottage Australia continues to build a fan base via SBS TV and showcase South East NSW to a national audience, but with just a hand full of episodes still to go to air, fans are asking what next?

Tilba, on the Far South Coast of NSW was heartbroken when Keo Films and Foxtel announced in December 2016 that the show wouldn’t be commissioned for another season.

The River Cottage Australia property in the lush foothills of Gulaga was then sold by Keo Films to a 36-year-old builder from Sydney. The asking price was $895,000.

Speaking to About Regional at the time, new owner Tristan Diethelm said, “It will be a place where family, friends and I can escape to, but I will be listing it for holiday rentals.”

Some consolation for fans came in May 2017 with news that SBS had picked up the first four seasons, and would repeat them nightly at 6 pm.

The River Cottage Australia property in the foothills of Gulaga at Tilba. Photo: Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui.

The River Cottage Australia property in the foothills of Gulaga at Tilba. Photo: Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui.

The SBS exposure has opened the show to a new and broader audience beyond its pay-TV roots and kept the landscape and skill of the Eurobodalla and beyond before an admiring audience.

Central to the success of the show has been host Paul West, who invites you into his journey towards sustainability, sharing the wins and cock-ups along the way. Some might argue though that Paul’s border-collie Digger is the real star.

During filming, Paul and his partner Alicia became part of the local community, they were married in Tilba and started to raise a family in this slice of heaven – Otto now 3-years-old and Bowie who is quickly becoming a toddler.

Paul West with his boys Otto and Bowie. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Paul West with his boys, Otto and Bowie. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Plans to stay and start a market garden foodie business didn’t work out, as Paul said at the time, “I’ve got a family to feed, so I need to generate income, I can’t just do it for the love.”

Relocating to the northern suburbs of Melbourne has paid off for the Westies, with Paul now building a solid post River Cottage Australia life for his family of four.

Costa Georgiadis and Paul West. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Selfies! Costa Georgiadis and Paul West. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

A growing relationship with the ABC will keep Paul on our screens cooking and growing food beyond the SBS repeats.

Catching up with Paul this week, his two young boys played happily in the background as he excitedly detailed – what next?

“There was a prolonged talk about making a season five of River Cottage between Foxtel and the ABC as a co-production, but it just didn’t eventuate,” Paul says.

On the back of those ABC TV discussions, Paul has moved on to be a guest presenter on Gardening Australia and Back Roads and is currently working on a two-episode special for the science program Catalyst.

“To be on the ABC and on programs with the prestige of those three is a privilege,” he says.

Paul’s screentime alongside the likes of Costa Georgiadis on Gardening Australia is already underway, while his first appearance on the rural and regional travel series Back Roads comes later this month and takes the 34-year-old Hunter Valley boy beyond his earlier foodie career.

“The work with Back Roads has been really refreshing, visiting different communities to see what makes them tick,” he says.

“And it has allowed me to step out of the spotlight and make it more about the people I meet.

“The two communities I’ve done stories with are Natimuk in Western Victoria and the Furneaux Island Group off the northeastern tip of Tasmania – unbelievable, best job ever!”

Paul West exploring the link between science and food production for ABC TV's Catalyst. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Nice look Paul! Exploring the link between science and food production for ABC TV’s Catalyst. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Paul’s documentaries with Catalyst will go to air on consecutive Tuesday’s in August. “It’s a mini-doco about science’s role in meeting the food demands of a world population of five billion people, looking at the role science plays in food production.”

A book is also developing around the idea of urban farming, with Paul using his rented back and front yards in downtown Thornbury as inspiration – a long way from the 20 hectares he farmed at Tilba for River Cottage Australia.

“What motivated me was the want to try my hand at growing in a suburban environment, you are so much more limited in terms of space, it fires the creativity a little bit more,” Paul says.

“It’s a real heartland for suburban food production, initially because of the Italian and Greek migrants that settled in this area in the fifties and now with the young demographic that’s moving into the suburb.”

The book is penciled in for a launch ahead of Father’s Day in September 2019.

Paul's new project, his backyard in Thornbury, north of Melbourne. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Paul’s new project, his backyard in Thornbury, north of Melbourne. Photo: Paul West Instagram.

Despite successfully settling in Victoria, Paul says the lure of the Far South Coast of NSW is still strong.

“We are thoroughly enjoying our time in Melbourne but the South Coast is paradise,” he says.

“We had to leave to follow the opportunities but it has made us realise that the South Coast is really where we’d like to settle down.”

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

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Christine Kable11:35 pm 29 Sep 21

I miss river cottage , my partner and I made a four and a half hour trip to Narooma just to visit Tilba . What a beautiful little place , now I just can’t get enough of the show but it’s gone off sbs food again. It usually replays after a while but I haven’t seen it at all this year .

Margaret Roy11:37 am 21 Jul 20

Loved River Cottage; and didn’t realise the series was made several years ago. Love Paul as a presenter and last night (WA) happy to see him present a segment of Back Roads; visiting the north west of WA. I am enjoying the new format of this new series; always worth watching, but now just that more in depth exploration of the characters encountered. New producer perhaps?

Don Zampogna11:21 pm 20 Jul 20

Paul is a great presenter with an easy and friendly demeanour. Loved his work on River Cottage and Back Roads!

My wife & I had missed a lot of Paul’s episodes but the screening by SBS which finished tonight was great to watch and it filled in a lot of gaps that my wife & I were wondering about.
Could you tell me what this book is about and who is selling?
This site is a great way to catch up on things, I’d say there’s quite a lot of effort put in and it’s much appreciated now that I’ve found your site.

Priscille Rouillon11:52 pm 12 Jun 20

Love Paul with his great skills and if not will give anything a go! I sooo look forward to you more on television. Hurry though cause it needs to be 5 days a week! I want your recipe for your jam cookies to make my grandchildren!!
Sincerely and kind regards,

Rusni Cruickshank10:48 pm 19 Feb 20

I enjoyed watching host Paul West in River Cottage Australia and would love see more of him. I am very disappointed the property has been sold as the property in Tilba and Paul with the community makes the show

I keep watching reruns and if I miss it if an evening as it was a bit late finishing I’ll watch it the next morning as I’m home recuperating from foot surgery and I’m hooked. Wish it would continue!!!!

Christine Kable11:37 pm 29 Sep 21

Keep an eye out I watched repeats time and time again season after season, I fell in love with it so much I decided to visit the town Tilba Tilba 🙂

This was such a great family programme and a refreshing change from all of the sickening reality shows on offer which many viewers detest. Paul was such a great host and it was far more entertaining than the English version. Glad at least that he is back on our screens in Gardening Australia and Back Roads.

River Cottage Australia was the best show on TV & Paul West was the perfect enchanting host. I couldn’t watch it on foxtel but enjoyed it religiously when it broadcast on SBS. I still watch the repeats. A tear was shed when it was put on hold & I hope that another series will be made for many years to come. Loved Hugh being involved & as executive director made the show a huge success. If Tilba wasn’t a six hour drive away I would be down there in a flash.

I loved watching Paul and Digger. Yes! They go together 😔
I feel very Sad😥 that they have Sold the RIVER COTTAGE. And that Paul and Digger are NOT THERE ANYMORE???? I feel very emotional,just thinking that the show has come to an End!!!??😥😥😥
Such a Joy to watch. The growth from Nothing to where Paul brought this Beautiful Home and Garden and Friendships with the Locals. Need to say. Paul You did a Fantastic job 👏👏👏♥️
Paul and Digger 😥😥 MISS YOU SO MUCH.

Barbara Pritchard9:24 am 31 Aug 19

Trust Foxtel to take a dam good program off the air and put all the rubbish programs like the housewives of Sydney, Melbourne, and the Cadashine rubbish on instead not all of us want to watch such rubbish and to think we PAY for that put back the great programs the idiots of the world can still watch their rubbish programs on Arena let us have our good programs back on Lifestyle.

Love your work, we learnt so much watching. Look forward to seeing you on ABC Good luck for future

Trevor Millar10:09 pm 13 Aug 19

River Cottage Australia was a great show I always looked forward to the next episode. It is with great disappointment to know that no network wants to produce it

I agree with Frank’s opinion. I was hoodwinked too! I am pleased to know the animals have been taken care of and hopefully gone to good homes. Good luck to Tilba, the people who helped out Paul and the show as it was clear Paul was not a farmer. Good luck to the young man who bought the farm as it seems he will maintain it into the future as a holiday venture.

Just like many other viewers I loved the river cottage series,althou it wasn’t Paul’s really life set up & it was all owned by the production company Paul done a great job & watching the show you can’t not love his eagerness & relationship skills with the locals,the shows a bit of the old country practice meets some gardening show.Nothing goes forever but I wish we got any few years out of it.Wishing Paul all the best no doubt he will do great in any series he’s part of…

River Cottage was a fabulous show and we will miss Paul, his animals and in particular digger.

Look forward to more seasons if the powers to be understand how great these shows actually showcase our beautiful country regions to the world 👌

Frank Krawczuk5:10 pm 30 Jun 19

I was dissapointed when river cottage finished, only to find out that the farm Paul had in river cottage wasnt his. He didnt own any animals, the house wasnt his, the land wasnt his, the trees wasnt his and i dont think any of the vehicles was his. I thought he was making a go of it by spending his pennys in buying a great block of land, cattle and pigs, building a new house and selling his farm goods at the local market but that was all fake. It was really an expensive studio “set”). Why didnt he mention this that he was only a caretaker? Now he works for the Abc. This time whatever he does its the real deal.

Really? Even though he had to audition? Even though it was a spin-off from the original UK show? Even though he had occasional celebrity guests? Even though it was almost identical in format to the UK show?

Penny Mitchell2:41 pm 12 Jul 19

Yes I loved the River Cottage series too, but was really disappointed to hear that Paul didn’t own anything on the farm at Tilba. So much for building a home, being sustainable and part of the community in the long term!! Unlike the rest of us who pay for land, houses, animals etc etc.

What a shame it only lasted a short time and was just a fancy studio set – he was almost a FIFO – fly in, fly out! A nice illusion but a pity he didn’t mention at the time he was only a caretaker.

Oh well, ten points to him for building a media career, but I won’t be such a sucker next time. Just to destroy the country illusion – Paul is now living in the burbs in Melbourne and “very sustainably” employed at the ABC with appearances on Back Roads, Gardening Australia and Catalyst. From tree-sea change to concrete change. Genius.

Strange you didn’t know this, it was never said he owned anything. He was chosen to take on this project.

Helen 😇👼🌸 Faulkner6:58 pm 02 Jun 19

Rewatching River Cottage Now. Paul let us know what your doing as you have many many fans. Loved The English version but loved our own even more.

Keep well and give your beautiful boys and of course Digger a hug from me


Sheree Ellis9:03 pm 26 Mar 19

Love River Cottage Australia, currently watching the re-run now. Glad to see Paul on Gardening Australia. A change is as good as a holiday but could happily watch RCA evolve even more. Best of luck with your new endeavours.


River cottage was a fantastic series and I shall miss it dreadfully but I wish Paul all the best.
I just hope that one day a similar programme will be produced.
It was almost better than river cottage here in England I really enjoyed it

Barry Eykenboom.8:14 pm 27 Jan 19

My wife and I have been watching Hugh in the English show for a long time and have watched Paul do the Aussie version very well so I don’t now how they can say its not good enough to get viewers that is rubbish I just hope it will come back soon as we miss it so Paul congrats on your young Famillie and hope you are back soon.
This is the first time I have made a comment we where watching repeats of the show when I said to my wife I wonder what Paul is doing now so I can tell you I have not been on this sight before thank you Barry.

Barry Eykenboom.8:11 pm 27 Jan 19

My wife and I have been watching Hugh in the English show for a long time and have watched Paul do the Aussie version very well so I don’t now how they can say its not good enough to get viewers that is rubbish I just hope it will come back soon as we miss it so Paul congrats on your young Famillie and hope you are back soon.

Martyn Bishopp8:39 am 29 Oct 18

Otto and Bowie, what great names! We still watch the 2013 repeats in the UK and really enjoy River Cottage Australia. What makes the programme is the locals with all their skills and willingness to share. We look forward to watching Gardening Australia and Catalyst when they get over here. Paul, good luck mate!

Linda meakins9:24 pm 12 Aug 18

My husband and I Wish Paul and his family all the best for the future. We really enjoyed , and actually are still watching, river cottage Australia.

Guy Ettridge10:19 pm 20 Jul 18

As long as he and his family and little digger are happy,it really doesn’t matter where you are! Good luck mate and many thanks for RCA.🙆

Please don’t let this go my favourite show
Want more

Such a terrific young man! We loved him on River Cottage and we’re now enjoying his appearances on Gardening Australia. We’re great fans of Back Roads too so we’re looking forward to seeing his episodes. Go well Paul – and come back to the Far South Coast sometime!

Robyn Broughton9:25 pm 13 Jun 18

Very good Ian on such a good well documented about ongoing of how Paul West and his now growing family have moved on but not forgotten Paradise down here South Coast. I love watching his programs or him setting up his farm and his cooking too. I will be on lookout in 2019 for his book especially around Father’s Day. Good works you are doing Ian for our community and glad you are doing well too. Hope RiotACT is going well and that you all are learning heaps and enjoying the experiences. Cheers for now Robyn

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