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FeatureLiving Well

The Fox Effect.

With a keen eye for hunting down our region’s finest experiences, found and foxed creator, Jo Clark, doesn’t want you to be lost again.

Dec 30, 2016

Words: Gippslandia

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With a keen eye for hunting down our region’s finest experiences, Found and Foxed creator, Jo Clark, doesn’t want you to be lost again.

We understand that you’ve recently relocated to Gippsland. What was the catalyst for the move?

I met my husband in Melbourne. Actually at a vodka bar in St Kilda – where all good stories start! He’d recently retired from the Navy, and similarly I’d retired from the National Water Polo Team. After close to 10 years of shifting around (Melbourne, the Surf Coast and the Gold Coast), and the arrival of three children, we decided to move closer to family. My husband’s brother lived in Bunyip and we thought, ‘why not?’ We craved a smaller community for our kids to grow up in.

How have you settled into country life?

Amazingly well – we couldn’t be happier with where we live. If we crave some Melbourne time, we can easily get our fix and then can’t wait to get back. Now, for us, Gippsland, is our forever place. We’ve fallen in love.

Can you please describe the concept of found and foxed, and the tale behind how it came to life?

Travelling along the East Coast of Australia for six weeks in a caravan with the family, I found it really frustrating driving through all the country towns thinking, ‘I’m sure there’s something amazing here!’ Then when we did stop, we frequently only found places that reminded us of mainstream city life. I knew these towns had something more, something special, if only it was easier to find them.

Similarly, when I moved to Gippsland, I had to look really hard to find the information I wanted. Not knowing the towns, and the councils, I found it difficult to know where to search. Often I’d discover that I’d manage to miss a local farmers’ market just down the road.

When I started making discoveries, I was blown away with what was on my doorstep. Admittedly, it’s a large doorstep, one that steps into a region of beauty and undiscovered gems.

That’s how found and foxed was born. It helps connect all the great things within our region and assists them to be found. From our makers, to the markets, events, produce, farm gates stalls, wineries, food, coffee (let’s not forget the coffee!), retreats, accommodation, wellness guides and more. It’s all wrapped up in an interactive website with maps to assist you.

I wanted to showcase this beautiful region and its locality to Melbourne. The gateway to Gippsland starts less than an hour from Melbourne. When speaking with friends about our new home, the conversation typically went like this,

“Where is Bunyip?” “On the way to Warragul. Go through Pakenham, which is just on the outskirt of Melbourne.” “Oh cool. So where’s Warragul?” And so it would continue.

What’s your goal for found and foxed?

We have some big plans, starting with our Gippsland Summer Guide; a free downloadable PDF that people can save to their smart devices or print. In chronological order, the guide presents markets and events, places to stay, a spotlight on local makers, a cool overview on how to find local produce, it highlight a few Gippsland gems (especially summer must-visits), a wellness guide and Gippsland businesses who are offering a variety of services to both locals and visitors.

Each season we’ll bring out a similarly comprehensive and themed guide; working with local businesses to support their trading hours and offerings. We also have events, collaborations, media opportunities and more in store for 2017.

Our underlying ethos for found and foxed is to be an authentic place and a valuable source of information for locals and visitors to Gippsland. Life’s for living and creating memories, found and foxed is here to help.

We understand that it may be like asking a parent to pick their favourite child, but could you please name three Gippsland discoveries that have gotten you really fired up?

This is really hard! This summer my top three places to visit are Loch Village, Kilcunda, Paradise Valley (my friends are going to hate me letting this treasure out) and Orbost (four, I know!). My main tip to discovering Gippsland is to get off the highways and explore. You can use the found and foxed map to help you discover hidden gems. Please share with us what you find!

What benefits can a digital hub, such as found and foxed, bring a bricks and mortar business?

Briefly, found and foxed can help traditional businesses by collaborating and diversifying their audience – telling their story from an angle they might have not considered before. In an era of content, content, content (!), it’s important to standout in the blur of words and images. found and foxed showcases a diverse mix of businesses within the Gippsland region and delivers their information in a unique way that people more readily relate to.

After already visiting so many Gippsland businesses, can you identify trends in businesses that are operating and promoting themselves well? Can you outline ways other businesses can step it up?

The best form of promotion is to do what you do and do it well. If people have a great experience they’ll want to share it – this is the best form of advertising. With customers eager to share their wonderful experience, you need to assist them by ensuring you’re properly setting up your business online’. Have your business Facebook and Instagram account and your location tags are set-up, make your brand personable online, talk with your customers, thank them and always reply to a complaint as it gives the next customer an insight into you and how you handle issues, it allows you to tell your side of the story.

What do you feel sets Gippsland apart from other regional hubs, such as the Yarra Valley or Mornington Peninsula?

The diversity of the offerings in Gippsland. It’s a vast region, full of hidden surprises and places to wander. It caters for a blend of tastes, cultures and experiences – from coastal ‘glamping’ on Phillip Island to incredible retreats in the rolling green hills of Jindivick.

Where are you most excited to check out next?

I’m really excited to visit Sailors Grave Brewing in Orbost this summer. We’re packing up the camper trailer and the kids for a road trip. Readers, please contact us if we should visit you!

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