How to smoke a hookah in Australia: Interview with Wal Eade.
Hello Wal! Could you please tell us some words about you? How do you come to hookah sphere?
- Greetings from Down Under. Growing up as a young man, of Egyptian heritage, hookah was prevalent among my community, but I never partook in it. It wasn’t until aged 29 that I had my first puff whilst honeymooning in Lebanon back in 2004. Upon returning from Honeymoon, I started importing American brands to Australia and started changing the palate of Australian hookah enthusiasts away from traditional double apple and grape mint. Now, aged 44, I have a shisha café, shisha catering and other hookah entrepreneurial platforms.
When we announced the first Hookah battle in Sydney, we received a large number of questions from subscribers. It was like «Wow! Are there hookah lovers in Australia?» How the hookahs come to Australia?And how popular is hookah in Australia today?
- Australia is a very multicultural society and just as Hookah migrated from Persia to India to the Middle East and beyond, so too do we have migrants here in Australia from all corners of the globe. Hookah has gained much popularity in Australia, particularly in the last decade or so as it becomes more accessible through commercial avenues. Shisha wholesale and retail stores as well as Shisha Cafes have become quite common, particularly in areas of Australia with high concentration of people from Africa, Middle East, India, Persians and Afghans. The Hookah enthusiasts in Australia have responded to and evolved with technology. Communication, particularly via an online presence has made Australia accessible to the rest of the world and we are able to jump on trends, keep up with bloggers and podcasts and generally stay in touch with world wide enthusiasts in real time.
What is the most popular hookah product in Australia? What is purchased from other countries and what is produced directly in the country?
- Unfortunately, living “down under” has its disadvantages. Headlining these disadvantages is international postage. All too common we are faced with international charges being higher than the items value. This makes premium stems, bases and other accessories from Russia, USA and other countries harder to justify. The tobacco import duty imposed by the Australian Government is another disadvantage. This leaves Australia with the lowest common denominator Khalil Mamoon shishas and Al Fakher tobacco. Australia has had a taste of Fumari, Starbuzz, Trifecta, Darkside, Azure, Adalya, Alwaha and countless other shisha brands unfortunately regular supply has been difficult. Similarly, many Aussies own Starbuzz, Regal, MiG, B2, VZ and other premium hookahs but this is the case primarily for enthusiasts.
2019/2020 is shaping up to be a big year with Australian companies producing tobacco, coals and other accessories. Who knows, Hookah Battle subscribers may own Australian products in the near future.
What is more common in Australia – to smoke at home or to visit special places?
- Australians are very easy going in nature. Many will smoke at home, amongst their family and friends, gathered around BBQs or sporting fixtures on TV and this provides quality bonding. The Hookah will be prepared by a family member or friend. The other option is to ring one of many delivery companies and have the hookah, flavour and coals delivered to your door and collected the next day.
Visiting a shisha café is exciting in Australia. The décor of many cafes are tastefully appointed, the flavour options are unique and more importantly, you are in the company of other hookah enthusiasts.
There are many nightclubs and other event spaces all over Australia that ask for shisha catering. Not limited to but including Car shows, music festivals, food trucks, wedding venues, product launches and countless private parties. The growth of hookah in Australia is evidenced by these requests for service and value adding to an event space.
You are organizing the Ozzy Hookah Mega Meet on November 17th. Could you tell us about this project. Are there any innovations planned this year?
- Just over 6 months ago, a few shisha enthusiasts and I had a vision to unite the shisha community of Australia and Ozzy Hookah was born. The group has now grown to over 1,500 active and engaging members.
On Sunday the 17th November I am very excited to be involved with the Ozzy Hookah Mega Meet & Hookah Battle happening in an indoor warehouse at the old disused Parramatta Gaol.
We have enthusiasts travelling to witness the Hookah Battle from all over Australia. We are very excited to be involved in such an esteemed international competition where creation, innovation and some frustration are all rolled in to one
Participants in the Mega Meet and Hookah Battle will be well fed with several food vendors catering as well as being entertained by DJ and one of Australias leading bands MPIIRE.
Many Australian vendors will be in attendance with big discounts on offer and the first taste test of Australian produced tobacco will also be on offer.
Dark leaf or blond leaf?
Dark leaf Darkside cannot beat their range of unique flavours
Top 3 tobacco brands
Honourable mention Alwaha
Kaloud lotus or foil?
Foil or AOT provost
The Amount of smoke or The Taste?
I’m a CLOUD CHASER
What mix do you recommend smoking today?
Darkside Bergamonstr 50%
Darkside Lemon Blast 25%
Darkside Supernova 25%