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Humble Beginnings - Shirani Perera

We have all heard about Peter Kuruvita and his amazing journey, surely you must have heard about Andrew de Silva and his courages story, but how many untold, success stories do you think are out there that we never get to hear about? This section is all about inspirimg, motivating and encouraging someone in their journey.

Today Shirani Perera talks about how she started Claypot Curry House in 2009 in Woolamai, a small town at the south eastern tip of Phillip Island. Let's listen to her story.

Shirani Perera

It's been a long journey since we first arrived in Australia in 1974 to get to where I am right now. Where do I begin the story of my life?

As the old cliche goes "for a better life we came here" in every way Australia has helped me to be who I am and what I am today.

To cut a very long story short, I arrived here with my husband and baby son to start our new life. I was already a qualified teacher and before long I was able to get a post, teaching English as a Second Language in a Catholic School for Girls in the Southern Metropolitan Region. During this time I enrolled at Monash University and studied part time to do post graduate studies. I then joined the Public Education System and switched to yet another exclusive private school for a while and then back to the Public System. All this I did for over 35 years.

As much as I loved teaching and enjoyed the challenges that the profession offered me, I was always attracted to the outdoors and gardening in particular. I was also very interested in Ayurvedic Medicine and Naturopathy. I followed a correspondence course while I was teaching and managed to gain a qualification in Naturopathy.

Claypot Curry House

As a young child in Sri Lanka, I was very much influenced by my mother and grandfather in growing vegetables and flowers. We were lucky enough to live in places like Bandarawela and Hatton where the climate was cool, the soil rich and vegetables grew without any fertilisers.

I spent hours tending to my little vegetable patch and Anthuriums. The reds were my favourites. This passion was always within me. I tried to re-create those childhood moments in my backyard in the homes where I've lived and live in Melbourne.

As I always liked a challenge in my life and being a risk taker. I took a chance and purchased a small property in Woolamai. On this property, I achieved my most innate desire and passion - that is to grow tropical fruit and vegetables. We started from scratch clearing black berry shrubs on the weekends and school holidays and dug the hard earth with a "mammoty".

The first crop was garlic and red onions, and we harvested 75 kilos we were absolutely delighted. This gave me an idea to start a cooking school where the public could actually pick the vegetables of their choice and learn to cook the Sri Lankan way using Sri Lankan vegetables and herbs.

The cooking school became a topic of conversation in the small country township and all of Bass Coast very quickly. We then extended our cooking school to a restaurant as well using products from the garden. Our cooking school uses basic traditional methods of cooking and is set up in the garden.

Claypot Curry House

Woolamai was only known for picnic races before we established ourselves there. Today Woolamai is associated with Claypot Curry House which is our restaurant and cooking school.

My husband and I worked at our normal jobs from Monday to Friday and then worked in the garden and the restaurant on the weekends. I recently retired from teaching and am full time in the garden and the restaurant. We love the life style and the fantastic people who come to our restaurant and cooking school and have supported us all the way through.

My philosophy is to keep life simple, eat healthy and nutritious food and to educate future generations. This is where my teaching background has benefitted me.

In essence I'm living the dream that I had as a child.

Claypot Curry House

Shirani Perera
Claypot Curry House
0425 748 907