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We did not enter any of these awards but were nominated by others. Until we had won them, we didn’t know anything about them. They just sort of happened. There are four awards here: 

Slow Food’s International Award for Biodiversity in Food 

Australia’s Best Backyard

Australia House & Garden’s Top 10 Holiday Choices

The Australian Gourmet Traveller & Jaguar Awards for Excellence – Innovation in Travel. 


Slow Food

International Award for Biodiversity in Food


A photo of the Slow Food snail on glass

Slow Food’s emblem of a snail. This one is etched on glass.


This is the award we are most proud of. Not because of the $4000 or the certificate or the medals or the free trip to Bolonga, Italy, that went with it. But because we believe the Slow Food awards, like the Slow Food movement, actually means something. 

As the Head of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, says, “Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability, and harmony with nature.”

For the first Slow Food Ark of Taste Awards in 2000, Slow Food searched the globe for possible entrants. They somehow whittled those hundreds down to 13 finalists, including us. 

Carlo Petrini said of all the finalists; “In their far-flung reaches of the globe, they work unremittingly and largely without recognition. They have taken a small piece of the world into their own hands and devoted themselves to it body and soul. This award can be seen as the planet’s way of saying thanks.” 

And so, on a stage in Italy, in front of all these other amazing people who grew all kinds of amazing food from around the world, we were beside ourselves as they announced us winners of the International Award for Biodiversity in Food. One of the jurors said of us, “It’s as if the judging criteria had been written with them in mind.”

We (Alan and Susan) are life long jurors for Slow Food and were honoured to be appointed to Australia’s Ark of Taste in 2013. Read about that on Slow Food Australia’s website.

We encourage you to not only learn about the international Slow Food movement, but also do something in your area.  You could join the other 100,000 members who are part of 1,500 convivia (local chapters/groups) in over 150 countries. 


Australia’s Best Backyard

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Jamie Durie (left) presenting Susan and Alan Carle, and their grandson Harrison, with their prize for winning Australia’s Best Backyards 2007.


In 2007, Australia’s Channel Seven launched a nationwide hunt for Australia’s best backyard. They say, “It’s not just about the biggest and boldest – it’s all about heart and soul and only one will be named Australia’s Best Backyard.” Every week, their gardening show would highlight contenders and viewers would vote for their favourite. 

We of course knew that a film crew and the show’s host, Jamie Durie, had visited The Botanical Ark. But we get lots of film crews and we just thought that it would be another clip in another TV programme and we wouldn’t hear anything more about it (we have found that journalists and media generally do not tend to keep in touch once they have their story). 

After many weeks, the contending gardens from around Australia had been reduced to just ten. We didn’t know this at the time because we didn’t watch this particular show. In fact, we couldn’t even get that channel here at the time. One of our daughter’s said we had better go to her place because we were in the finals. 

The finals? Of what? We had no idea. But before the finals were televised, Channel 7 contacted us and told us we had won but we couldn’t tell anyone – not even our daughters! So we went to her place, joined heaps of friends crowded around the TV, and didn’t say a word. When we won, the room went nuts. It was a lot of fun. 

First prize was a trip for four to Samoa, flying Virgin Blue, and staying at Aggie Grey’s Hotel in Apia. That was kind of strange because the Aggie Grey Hotel was where Alan first saw a heliconia and where our flower growing business [our tropical flowers] idea came from. So went with our daughter and grandchild and had a fabulous week in Samoa.

Thank you very much to the viewers who voted for us!  


Top 10 Holiday Choices

Australia House & Garden’s

We don’t really know how this one came about but in 2008 the prestigious magazine, Australia House & Garden, voted us one the top 10 holiday choices for the year!  


Innovation in Travel

The Australian Gourmet Traveller & Jaguar Awards for Excellence


The Jaguar Award The Botanical Ark won for Innovation in Travel

The Jaguar trophy that came with this award.

Another prestigious magazine, Australian Gourmet Traveller, along with luxurious cars, Jaguar, decided we were worthy of their Innovation in Travel Award.

The Australian Gourmet Traveller summed up our philosophy as; “human survival depends on caring for the environment and that [land] ownership should be tied to leaving land in better shape for the next generation”. 

“Alan and Suzi Carle offer a unique travel experience, guiding…visitors through the mini rainforest habitats they have created and opening the eyes to the myriad benefits these endangered plant species hold for humanity,” wrote the magazine about why The Botanical Ark won the Australian Gourmet Traveller & Jaguar Awards for Excellence – Innovation in Travel.

We (Susan and Alan) know it’s not easy for people to see how individuals can make a difference but at The Botanical Ark they can see what two people can achieve. 

The Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine continues to hunt out and write stories about the finest experiences Australia has to offer.

But wait. There’s more

Read some guest reviews on The Botanical Ark Retreat, The Botanical Ark garden tour, and media stories. You can also learn more about the history of The Botanical Ark and lots of details about The Botanical Ark Retreat.

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