Meander Valley Gazette

Your Independent Community Newspaper


Daisy the mighty milker; calf carer supreme

Rural, CommunityJoanne Eisemann

By Lorraine Clarke

TWELVE YEARS ago, Daisy was just one of many thousands of dairy calves born in the Meander Valley, so un-esteemed that she was sold for $25.00 to Phil and Lyn who raised her on their hobby farm near Deloraine. Daisy bloomed with their devoted attention and two years later, produced her first calf.

Since then, many bobby calves have been reared with her generous supply of milk. Daisy has nothing to do all day except eat the choicest pasture, gaze at the view and chew her cud, interrupted twice daily by a short stroll through the gate to her blue feed bin, where she stands patiently while Phil handmilks her. “She loves her food. She will eat anything, especially bread,” said Phil.

In 2016, Daisy had trouble calving. She had a Caesarean section, but her calf was dead. She was producing up to 33 litres a day, enough to feed 6 calves. As soon as one batch had been started o’ff with a couple of months of rich Jersey milk, another group of day-old sookies was bought in. This continued until she was dried off’ in July this year, and during that 20 months, Daisy’s milk had reared the astonishing number of 52 calves.

In September Daisy produced her latest calf, Teddy, who has his mum to himself all day, but despite his best e’fforts, he cannot drink all her milk. Phil still milks 16 litres a day which feeds 3 other calves as well.

Granddaughter McKinley is excited about coming to the farm for the Christmas holidays, and the first thing she plans to do is take a tumbler out to the paddock and drink Daisy’s fresh warm milk.

Pampered Daisy has almost certainly outlived the other calves born in 2006, and is assured of a home for life with Lyn and Phil. The rolling green paddocks are full of young cattle that thrived on the good start Daisy gave them, and chickens scratch around in the abundant grass, but none of them is destined for the table there. “We don’t eat anything that has feathers or hooves that we’ve raised,” said Lyn.

 Daisy the cow is assured of a home for life after rearing 52 calves from her reliable milk supply. Photo by Mike Moores

Daisy the cow is assured of a home for life after rearing 52 calves from her reliable milk supply. Photo by Mike Moores

Littleproud grants offering

Business, RuralJoanne Eisemann

ROUND 2 of Smart Farms Small Grants program is open for landholders and community groups.

Grants of between $5,000 and $200,000 are available to assist farmers and groups to adapt to change, innovate and become more sustainable.

“These grants support new projects to improve Aussie soil, biodiversity and vegetation. They will also help support water security and promote climate-smart farming,” Federal Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said.

“I know there’s exceptional ideas out there, and these grants can make them a reality.”

Almost $5 million in funding was awarded to 77 projects under Round 1 and more than $9 million is available for Round 2.

This round closes on 11th January. To apply, go to

Kerry’s king of the crop

Events, Rural, FeatureJoanne Eisemann
 Kerry the rooster ruƒffled a few feathers when he was awarded Best Bird In Show for the second year running at the Deloraine Show. Being firmly at the top of the pecking order, Kerry the Rhode Island Red, certainly has something to crow about. While the prize money may seem like chickenfeed, the award is the top perch when it comes to prestige. Kerry is pictured here with his proud owner, Tony Sherri‹. Photo by Mike Moores

Kerry the rooster ruƒffled a few feathers when he was awarded Best Bird In Show for the second year running at the Deloraine Show. Being firmly at the top of the pecking order, Kerry the Rhode Island Red, certainly has something to crow about. While the prize money may seem like chickenfeed, the award is the top perch when it comes to prestige. Kerry is pictured here with his proud owner, Tony Sherri‹. Photo by Mike Moores

Vision for venison

Rural, FeatureJoanne Eisemann
 Michal Frydrych (L) cooks venison with world famous chef Alex Atala. Photo by: Chris Crerar

Michal Frydrych (L) cooks venison with world famous chef Alex Atala. Photo by: Chris Crerar

November 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

THE HUMBLE district of Mole Creek was recently visited by a world-class foodie. Alex Atala is a Brazilian with 70,000 Facebook followers, an ex-punk rocker and DJ turned world-class chef and restaurateur. He owns the São Paolo restaurants, D.O.M., Dalva e Dito and Açougue Central, where he fuses fine dining with wild and wonderful native ingredients from the Amazon basin.

He didn’t set out to be one of the world’s top 10 Chefs, but his restaurant has 2 Michelin stars, and was voted 4th in the world in 2012. Atala has his own TV show and writes cookbooks. He came to Tasmania with his sous-chef Brendan this month in a tour organised by Tourism Northern Tasmania, seeking to taste local produce in its natural environment.

“Hats off to whoever organised the tour and brought Alex Atala here,” said Springfield Deer Farm owner Michal Frydrych, who believes our future lies in getting international exposure for Meander Valley’s superb foods. Michal cooked for and with Atala in the rustic setting of Springfield Deer Farm. He barbecued his own free-range organic venison, cooked a local kangaroo mini-roast and spiced up King Island wallaby with native pepper berries.

Michal also used Stephens’ Honey, and preserves made by Deloraine’s Amble Inn, because his vision is not only about Springfield, but embraces regional foods. Michal, who has won two prestigious delicious Produce Awards, was somewhat daunted at cooking in the presence of such an illustrious epicure. He confessed that he had never roasted kangaroo this way before, but Alex put him at ease by saying,

“Michal, let me help!” Alex is keenly interested in all local products, and willing to use anything. “Personally, I’m an olive oil, garlic and lemon man,” said Michal. “I want people to taste the venison.” Alex immediately requested some Springfield venison to take to the $250 per head Chromy’s Dinner where he was guest chef that night. Michal also took venison to TAFE where Alex was doing a cooking demonstration.

“Local chefs are scared of venison,” said Michal. “They don’t know what to do with it. We need to change people’s mental approach. It’s about educating the chefs. Showing them where free range venison is produced, how it is prepared.”

Michal is delighted to arrange a one-on-one farm visit for professional chefs wishing to learn how to prepare venison. “People are preaching paddock-to-plate, but very few understand it.” They come to Springfield Deer Farm and see the fallow deer herd free-ranging on the side of a mountain overlooking Mole Creek, where they have the best life before being harvested in their prime, under stress-free conditions, on-site at Michal’s licensed abattoir.

Springfield Venison is sold at the monthly Deloraine and Mole Creek Markets, and farm gate sales by arrangement. Froggie’s Bakery makes venison pies, Westbury’s Gourmet Butcher and Casalinga in Launceston produce venison smallgoods. Deloraine Deli and the Empire Hotel feature venison on their menus.

Michal recently returned from his sell-out stall at Flavours of Tasmania held in the Great Hall of Parliament House in Canberra, where he was among many other Tasmanian food producers showcasing our superb gourmet fare ranging from bottled water through beers, wines and spirits, seafood, chocolates, smallgoods, dairy, condiments and, of course, venison.

Senator Eric Abetz has organised this annual event for over 15 years and developed it into the go-to social event in Canberra, an unmatched promotional opportunity for Tasmanian producers. This year it was attended by over 500 international ambassadors, business and community leaders and parliamentarians.

“Hardly anyone in Canberra knew where Meander Valley is,” said Michal, who has a fervour for putting Mole Creek on the tourist and foodie map. He is impressed that our parliamentarians are doing so much to promote our area as a source of the finest quality organic produce.

Photo | Chris Crerar

Home grown honey is best

RuralJoanne Eisemann

November 2018 | Chere Kenyon

FAKE HONEY? “Bound to happen,” says local honey producer, Shirley Stephens of R Stephens Apiarists Pty Ltd. Capilano, a respected honey company, has come under fire when testing revealed some of its products are contaminated with ‘fake’ honey.

Capilano imported honey because the Australian beekeepers couldn’t supply honey at the prices they were willing to pay. “Capilano lost faith with a lot of the wonderful beekeepers of Australia by paying them a pittance for their honey.

Less than $5.00 in a kilo in most cases. You cannot keep bees at that price,” says Shirley, going on to say “the Australian Government is lax in its looking and testing,” This is despite the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council pleading with the Government to do more testing.

Even local businesses have had some fallout because of this issue. Shirley said that they may have to add the word ‘pure’ to their honey labels. “What goes out of here is pure honey. Why would you ruin nature’s number one product by fiddling with it,” she said. “Our market depends on the customer being able to pick up the jar of honey knowing that behind the label they can trust the product.”

School kids pitch in

RuralJoanne Eisemann
 Deloraine Primary students dressed as farmers for the Student Representative Counci’ls “Fiver for a Farmer Day’. In a brilliant effort, $890.80 was raised

Deloraine Primary students dressed as farmers for the Student Representative Counci’ls “Fiver for a Farmer Day’. In a brilliant effort, $890.80 was raised


STUDENTS FROM Deloraine Primary School dressed as farmers for a day to show support and raise funds for Australian farmers who are struggling in drought conditions.

The idea was initially raised during a weekly Student Representative Council meeting and quickly voted on as a worthy cause to support. The response from the students was inspiring, with many commenting how proud they were that our school could support these farmers. They also recognised that many of our families rely on agriculture and we too could be affected by drought at some time in the future.

Keah, a Student Council Class Representative, and her family were affected by the local floods in 2016. She was in favour of the day as she explained what the community support during the floods meant to her family. She saw this day as a way of showing this same support to others.

Pictured above are Deloraine Primary students Neve Coull (Grade 3) and Bradley Johnston (Grade 6) who dressed as farmers for the Student Representative Council’s “Fiver for a Farmer Day”. In a brilliant eff…ort, $890.80 was raised.

Photo | Mike Moores

Cash & hay on its way

RuralJoanne Eisemann
 Hay is loaded on to Paul’s truck at Tony Wadley’s farm, Deloraine

Hay is loaded on to Paul’s truck at Tony Wadley’s farm, Deloraine


RECENTLY, A local Chudleigh resident, Paul, who is on the Chudleigh Show Committee, o„ffered to donate all his bales of hay to the Drought Relief project in NSW.

The hay was loaded onto Paul’s truck on Sunday 26th August. To fill the truck Tony Wadley of the Rotary Club of Deloraine also donated round bales.

Rotary Australia World Community Service (RAWCS) had established a Drought Relief Fund, which is distributing hay, grain and cash to farmers in northern NSW.

Contact was made with the Project Manager of the Northern NSW fund, Reg Pierce who is also the President of the Wauchope Rotary Club and has organized for the hay to go to a farmer whose property is located 80km south of Lightning Ridge.

The Chudleigh Community has contributed $1000, the Mole Creek Hotel Patrons $1000 and the Rotary Club of Deloraine $2500 to this Drought Relief Fund.

This money will be added to the $400,000 that the fund has raised so far and will be distributed to needy farmers either in cash or supplies

Photo | Mike Moores

'Fresh food people' make hay

RuralJoanne Eisemann

SEPTEMBER 2018 | David Claridge

WOOLWORTHS STORES in Deloraine and Prospect on the 11th August donated all profits from fresh food sales to help the drought-stricken farmers, raising a healthy sum for Rural Aid’s ‘Buy a Bale’ appeal.

This was part of a nationwide effort involving stores and online shopping to deliver hay, essential items and counselling support services to farmers in need.

Woolworths Deloraine Store Manager, Steve Coppleman said “It’s been amazing to see our customers and team rally behind Aussie Farmers impacted by this drought.”
“This generosity is making a real difference in rural communities, and has inspired us to build on our support of Rural Aid’s vital work. 

In a Woolworths Media Release, Rural Aid CEO, Charles Alder said that “The Australian
farming community is a resilient one, but there is an urgent need for ongoing support for
farmers who continue to do it tough during this drought. 

“Since Woolworths came on board with their donations we’ve been able to provide more certainty to hundreds of farmers who have reached out to us in urgent need of feed for their livestock. Additionally, we’ve been able to increase vital counselling services for farming families in regional communities. 

People in Meander Valley can still donate to the Buy a Bale appeal at any Woolworths
store. Woolworths has also contributed a further $1.5 million to the appeal.

Three generations of dairy Dornaufs

RuralJoanne EisemannComment


AUGUST 2018 | Hayley Manning

DORNAUF DAIRIES at Moltema has shown they are not afraid to ‘grab the bull by the horns’ when it comes to adopting cutting edge farm technology.

The third generation farmers installed Australia’s first DeLaval Rotary E100 and Teat Spray Robot (TSR) after extensive research in Germany and New Zealand with their Agri-Tech Consultant, Laurie Hooper. Laurie was involved in the design and set up of the $1.6 million system and will provide on-going support.

The TSR is an external piece of engineering mastery that has the main function of spraying teats using an advanced camera on a robotic arm that locates and sprays each teat - not the legs, tail or udder - with a measured application of disinfectant.

The ‘unobtrusive’ cleaning method reduces waste, minimises infection, improves udder health and features a safety system to prevent harm to the cow and staff.

Nick Dornauf said they decided on a 54 unit rotary dairy for its comfortable size and ease of management for one person from the ‘cockpit’ point of control for the vast majority of the year.

“The ergonomic design of the low profile bale and the functional platform appealed to us,” Nick said.

“The cows have plenty of time to consume grain as they stand on thick rubber matting for comfort and improved hoof care, while water saving jets spray the milking platform before and during milking to ensure a cleaner environment.”

Based on research they placed the tank and chemical room outside, giving the ‘light and airy’ milk shed approximately 4 meters of clear space around the perimeter.

“We built a dairy with good facilities, not just for ourselves and our staff but to attract young, long term workers into the industry.”

Nick thanked Sweden based DeLaval, the Agri-Tech team and local contractors Delquip Industrial Sales, Underlin Electrical, Chris Hughes Plumbing and builder Stephen Holmes.

Photo | Hayley Manning

Tasmanian Truffles nominated for award

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

August 2018

TASMANIAN TRUFFLES from Deloraine have been nominated for the Fonterra Australia Agriculture Award in the 2018 Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards.

The Awards are all about recognising our silent achievers, the salt of the earth.

Nominations are still open in the following categories until Thursday 23rd August: Prime Super Business Achievement Award; Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award; Heather & Christopher Chong Outstanding Achiever Award; MAIB Disability Achievement Award; Get Moving Tasmania Physical Activity Award; Fonterra Australia Agriculture Award; Ricoh Business Centre Hobart Community Group of the Year Award; Betta Milk ‘Make It Betta’ Health Achievement Award; Rural Health Tasmania Innovation in Mental, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award; EPA Sustainability Award; University of Tasmania Teaching Excellence Award.

To submit a nomination, simply go online awardsaustralia. com/tascaa and select ‘Nominate Now’. Or make the process even easier by calling 6234 9677 and and the administration team will follow up.

Great prizes are up for grabs with winners receiving either $1,000 from Bentleys Accountants, Auditors, Advisors and a trophy or a Southern Cross Television Airtime package and a trophy.

A WWOOFing good time

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

August 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

WWOOF AUSTRALIA has just turned 37 years old.

From hippyfied beginnings in 1972 England, Willing Workers On Organic Farms has developed into a major worldwide movement, especially in Australia which boasts the largest organic agricultural area in the world, at 27 million hectares.

Tim Doyle is a staunch advocate of WWOOFing. He moved to his 46 acre property at Western Creek 26 years ago, and began to develop his organic berry and vegetable farm. “I did it all with no money,” he said. “I lived very frugally, and eventually it all came to fruition.”

He soon realised the mutual benefits of sharing the load and the joy with adventurers who trade enthusiasm and labour for accommodation and training in a multitude of organic farming skills.

Tim’s first guest was a 64-year-old Swiss lady, and the youngest a helpful 12 year old girl who came with her mother, a Canadian National Park Ranger.

“There is such a range of people, from very wealthy families in Paris, or poor areas of rural Asia. They come with no skills or fully trained.”

There are some challenges with people who have never had their hands dirty. Tim loves evenings with 8 or 10 people around the dinner table, who have all contributed something to the meal, from milking the cow, tending vegetables, pruning, picking berries or cooking up an international feast with the produce minutes after it is harvested.

“Everyone comments on the excellence of the food because it is all so fresh. By late summer, this place explodes with food. It is great to be able to share growing and eating it with people who gain confidence and discover, ‘I can do that!’”

Since 1995, Tim has lost count of how many hundreds of WWOOFers from 27 different countries have passed through his gate, and he pays it forward by WWOOFing in Japan.

Mark and Tara Ulbrich hosted WWOOFers while their children were growing up. They offered experience of building, weed removal from native forest, milking goats, work in the family’s large organic garden and handmade textiles to Asians, Europeans and South Americans who had fallen in love with Tasmania, seeking low-pressure time out.

The home-schooled kids had an instant rapport with the international guests. They learned songs in other languages and geography was a living lesson.

“What our family eats has been strongly influenced by them,” said Tara. “The expectation was that they would cook one meal per week from their culture, and we kept all their recipes in our WWOOFer guest book. We included them in family barbecues, as well as normal household duties.””

After finding a situation which might suit them, WWOOFers negotiate their expectations and discuss special skills they may have.

“You have to supervise them and put in a lot of time. Often you have to teach them from the ground up how to use tools. We took accidental damage as part of life. The system relies on goodwill on both sides,” Tara explained.

Many who arrived for a few days ended up staying weeks or months. Often returnees would bring parents with them to share their experiences.

“I don't think our daughter would have had the confidence to go to Canada this year as an Exchange Student if not for the international exposure.”

Tim’s advice for would-be WWOOFers is “Go for it!”

For birthday membership special off“ers, visit

Tassie's good oil

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

JULY 2018 | Cody Handley

TASMANIA WOULD hardly be the ideal place to grow olives, right?

Well, not necessarily. Rob Goddard seems to be doing pretty well.

Rob owns and operates a little farm just outside Hadspen called Coronea Olive Grove.

“We had land and were looking for something a bit diff…erent, other than sheep or cattle. It started off… as a hobby and ended up as a successful small business,” Rob said.

The olive grove is 18 years old, having been planted in 2000, and consists of 750 trees. Among those, Rob grows two major varieties – Frantoio and Leccino – as well as several minor varieties.

Coronea use these varieties to make both premium and blended olive oils with a Tasmanian twist.

Tasmania’s cooler climate does have an impact on olive crops, but not in the way you would think. Tasmanian grown olives are renowned for their stronger flavour and richer colour. However, olives grown in warmer climates produce more oil, albeit of a lighter colour and more subtle flavour.

For Rob, it was a trade-o… of quality over quantity.

Rob harvests his olives in May – early compared to mainland harvests – to avoid heavy frost damage.

“Temperatures of -1 to -2 degrees don’t worry them too much, but anything below that will,” he said.

Olive trees are evergreen and hibernate during winter. They begin to flower early to mid-December, and five to six months after that they are ready to pick.

Coronea’s harvest takes place over two weeks and is done with electric rakes to pull the olives from the branches, which fall into round shade cloth catchments at the base of the trees. Leaf blowers are then used to remove any loose foliage.

Rob picks a tonne at a time and drives it down to Ulverstone where it is processed into oil. The oil is kept in containers for a week to let sediment settle and then decanted for storage.

“In 2017 we produced 750 litres of oil. This year we’re hoping to make 1000,” Rob said. “We’re currently averaging 14-15 litres per 100kg of olives.”

“Compared to other olive groves which average 1000 trees, we’re just a drop in the ocean. We don’t compete with supermarkets, but try and find a niche in the market for Tasmanian products.”

Coronea Olive Grove have had several placings in the National Olive Oil Competition, including the 2017 silver medal for both the Leccino blend and Frantoio premium oils, and the 2016 gold medal for the Frantoio.

Coronea Olive Grove predominantly sells their oil through the Farmers Harvest Market.

Photo | Mike Moores

We are not llamas

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

JULY 2018

ALPACAS HAVE been in Australia there are still many questions that people ask when they see them.

Australian Alpaca Association Tasmanian President, Mark Jessop, said that the questions have changed over the past 20 years, and a lot less people call his alpacas llamas, but he still spends a lot of time at events saying things like “Yes they do spit,” but only when they are telling each other off; “No the big ones are llama”; “We call it fleece, not wool”; “Sheep fencing is fine, they need as much land as a sheep.”

Each year, the Association runs a full day ‘Introduction to Alpacas’ workshop which includes hands-on demonstrations as well as information on topics including: selecting an alpaca, property requirements for alpacas, managing your alpaca, fleece management and production, mating and birthing, and a year in your alpaca’s life, what you need to know and do.

On 15th July, Glen and Kellie Boyd will be hosting the workshop at their Classic Alpaca Stud in Westbury. The Boyds were one of the first alpaca farms in Tasmania and they have used their experience in the wool industry to breed a high quality line of alpacas. Glen shears alpacas in his spare time and Kellie is a wool classer.

The workshops are run by local members, so it also encourages people to build up a network of people who can support them after they purchase their alpacas. The workshop runs from 9.40am to 4.30pm. It is free but please bring your lunch.

Mr Jessop can be contacted on 0412 430 982 or for further information. Bookings are essential.

Photo | Mike Moores

Tasmanian truffles rule the kitchen

Rural, NewsJoanne EisemannComment

JUNE 2018 | David Claridge

TASMANIANS ARE proud of two Deloraine siblings, Henry and Anna Terry, who made it big on television, showing what they were capable of on My Kitchen Rules.

Reaching the final six they were unfortunately eliminated after a cook-off just before the semi-finals.

Henry and Anna are now back to what they were doing beforehand, but are much happier for the experience.

Henry has returned to running their truffle farm ‘Tasmanian Truffles’ after a ‘massive year’.

“It is nice to be back to normal life, but we had such a great time. We’re relieved to be heading onto the next chapter but happy for the experience we have had."

Anna has returned to studying nursing and helping Henry with the farm.

“We met some amazing people. We went through highs and lows together and got in a bubble. It was a friendship you don’t find in normal life,” she said.

“Being on the show we have grown as people, it was a learning curve that had a big impact on our lives that we will never forget.

The duo was able to showcase some of Tasmania’s finest produce in one of the episodes, preparing kangaroo fillet, chicken, lamb and some mouth-watering desserts for the teams and judges at their house. Unfortunately, it was out of truffle season, so they couldn’t use their favourite ingredient.

A story published in New Idea on 6th May claimed that many fans voiced how they wished Henry and Anna had made it to the final – which goes to show how popular they became in their time on the show.

Photo | Wayne Enright

Permaculture paradise

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

JUNE 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

‘PERMACULTURE’ IS the term coined by the late great Tasmanian Bill Mollison for his world-renowned systems of working with nature to develop permanent agriculture. ‘Paradise’ is a Persian word for a well-watered garden with a panoply of trees producing abundant perfect fruits. Graham Swinsburg has created just such a paradise, and shares it with others who come to learn about permaculture, or relax in his Farmstay accommodation.

When he purchased his 15 hectare property at Weegena, it was mostly bush with a few hectares of cleared land. “I set up a tent and moved in,” he said. He set to work creating stone and timber buildings from the property’s own resources, which look as though they have grown out of the landscape.

He dug a rock-lined wildlife pond filled by water diverted from a roof. Lines of nitrogen-fixing lucerne trees were planted to serve many functions including shelter, feeding the cow, early forage for pollinating bees, and soil improvement. Graham dug swales, shallow ditches on contours, that delay the flow of rainfall off the sloping land, allowing it to be absorbed by the soil for use by trees. A dam collects runoff water that is reticulated around the property.

Orchard trees were planted from 1990 to provide sustenance for the family. Many years later, each mature tree is laden with hundreds of kilograms of superb fruit, and his delicious organic produce finds a ready market at the Deloraine Vegie Shop, Wholesome House and a juice outlet in Launceston.

Bush wildlife and birds must be vigilantly excluded to protect the fruit crop. Graham initially made wire cages around each tree, then built a floppy fence. He has resorted to cracking a stockwhip and shooting hazelnuts from a slingshot. He now finds that hot-wires stop 95% of hungry marauders, and Lucky the Jack Russell terrier bails up the other 5%. Late in the season, the trees are netted to thwart currawongs.

Graham studied Horticulture at TAFE to support his passion for home-grown organic food. “I just love growing things and seeing the fruits of my labours. I’ve got all the infrastructure here now, so all I have to do is a bit of brushcutting and harvesting.”

Graham has always used permaculture principles and biodynamic techniques to grow superb crops. All systems are interdependent and mutually beneficial. Permaculture design is foundational to success, with zones being allocated for each function. Vegetables and herbs needed daily grow closest to the house.

Hens are restrained in a composting pen while fruit and vegetables are growing, with all kitchen scraps and weeds being tossed into their pen for them to scratch about in. The hens free-range in winter, clearing up insect pests and weeds while fertilising trees.

Some of the hardest workers on the farm are housed beneath layers of old carpet, fed on waste fruit and Elgar Farm’s organic cow manure. The worm castings, “black gold” to Graham, are barrowed around to the fruit trees each year.

Graham offers Eco-Farmstay accommodation with a difference. Some come for the peaceful bush setting and proximity to many of Tasmania’s tourist destinations, but there is the option of taking a 2-hour Permaculture Farm Tour, free for those who stay 3 nights or more.

The high-rise cubby house built for his own kids is the Hilton of all cubbies which enchants visiting children. Clients rate the Elvenhome Farmstay so highly that Graham was recently awarded Airbnb Superhost for the 9th consecutive time.

“I want to be able to share what’s possible on not-so-great soil. To be able to show city kids where food comes from is very rewarding. Some have never seen a cherry on a tree.”

To book a Permaculture Farm Tour, or a Farmstay, go to

Photo | Mike Moores

Agfest - leading fundraiser

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

JUNE 2018 | Hayley Manning

THE CHEERFUL band of volunteers from Bracknell Primary School tout that they serve the ‘Best Food at Agfest’ and provide a large undercover area where you can eat it too!

Parents and Friends committee members Patricia Farmer and Maryanne Gilbert said the Agfest event had been their leading fundraiser for 25 years.

“The funds were instrumental in our fight to keep the school when it was listed for possible closure in 2011,” Ms Farmer said.

“All past and present Parents and Friends and other connected community members are committed to keeping the school going, so our students can gain confidence and leadership skills before they go to high school,” Ms Gilbert said.

Bracknell, and other primary schools threatened with closure, staged mass protests, started petitions and used social media platforms to muster support during the Save our Schools campaign.

Generations of families have attended the school which has been at the heart of the small livestock, dairy and poppy production district in Northern Tasmanian for over 150 years.

Photo | Mike Moores

Adam wins world’s best Cabernet 2018

Feature, Rural, BusinessJoanne EisemannComment

June 2018 | Antonia Howarth-Wass

ADAM EGGINS, who attended Deloraine High School, and for the past 20 years been a winemaker for Taylor’s Wines in South Australia’s Clare Valley, has won the highest award for his ‘The Visionary’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.

Awarded in Lyon, France by the Concours Internationale des Cabernet, it is selected by France’s top sommeliers from a sample of 250 wines.

This is by no means Adam’s first award but it represents something of a crowning success for Taylor’s who have accumulated international fame in recent years with Adam at the helm.

“Australian wines are recognised for their immediate freshness, generous flavours and diverse styles. It is a testament to the consistent quality of Australian wine,” says Managing Director, Mitchell Taylor of this renowned family owned winery.

“Cabernet is the heart and soul of our business and it is the very first variety we planted on the family estate back in 1969,”says Mitchell.

France is the birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon but with a South Australian winning the title of World’s Best Cabernet 2018, it would be fair to say that Taylor’s have made it their own.

The award comes on the back of a string of accolades gained since Adam Eggins became Chief Winemaker, which includes World’s Most Awarded Winery 2017 and World’s Most Awarded Wine by the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists for a 2013 Chardonnay.

Adam was unavailable for comment, but he is known to have returned to Tasmania for a short period and assisted Jansz Vineyards in the Tamar Valley to develop their now growing reputation for sparkling wines.

A life well lived

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

MAY 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

ONE OF Meander Valley’s most loved and respected characters is veterinarian Dr Pat Hodgetts. She was raised in Kimberley, where she ran free on her parents’ dairy farm during the 1950s.

She and her two sisters were presented with a Shetland pony Bubbles, intended to be their conveyance to Kimberley Primary School, which did not quite work out. Pat always loved riding, and if there was no horse available, used to ride a favourite cow bareback to the local shop.

While other 8-year-old girls were tucked up in cosy beds dreaming of fairies, young Patricia Lucas was already making a determined start on her intended career.

“I used to climb out the window at night with my kerosene lantern and a piece of baling twine in my pocket. I would go around the field, harassing cows in labour. I was going to ‘assist’ them whether they needed assisting or not. Many years later, my dad told me I was a trouncer of a kid. He never got any sleep at calving time, because he was always out there watching over me.”

The 3 girls moved on to Devonport High School, boarding in town with a family of 10 kids. Pat excelled both scholastically and at sport. She gained a scholarship to Sydney University to study Veterinary Science.

“I was getting $17 per week which had to cover my board, train fares, books and living expenses. I had to save up for many weeks to buy a twin set. Every dollar counted those days,” she said.

Pat applied herself to sport and athletics in her spare time. She was awarded a University Blue for Badminton, and made a Life Member of the Sydney Women’s Sporting Association, the first Tasmanian to achieve this honour. She sang in the Sydney Uni Choir, performing Beethoven’s Song of Joy” at the opening of the Opera House.

After 5 years of concentrated study, she graduated in 1974, and came home to work for Dr Stephen King for 15 months before setting up her own veterinary practice in Deloraine. “It was hard as a woman working on my own in a large animal practice, in days when many farmers thought all vets ought to be men, but the good times made up for it,” she said. “I always had an affinity with cows, and an underlying love of horses.”

At that time there was regular racing in Deloraine, so Pat was in her element, dealing daily with dairy cows and horses.

Her brother took over the Kimberley farm, and with her parents, Pat bought the farm at Elizabeth Town where they established the Paluka Shetland Pony Stud. They had almost 90 ponies on the property at one time, selected for child-friendly traits and champion show qualities. Many an equestrian career has been launched on the back of a Thelwell-esque Paluka pony!

In 1985, Pat married local police sergeant Wayne Hodgetts. They shared a love of horses, with Wayne’s Clydesdales towering over Pat’s Shetlands. They were active in the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association, Tasmanian Driving Society, and many other groups. Sons Hugh and Lucas learned to ride on Amber and Coconut, now aged 30 and 27 years, two of the seven much-loved ponies that are still with Pat today.

Pat first became involved with Endurance riding events when this sport took off in Tasmania in the 1970s. After she sold her practice to Dr Roger Blackwell in 1985, this branch of veterinary work proved to be the perfect career move, fitting in with her growing family. They travelled to Endurance events all over the country.

In 1998, Pat was accredited with the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) as a veterinary official for International Eventing, Carriage Driving and Endurance disciplines. This provided Pat with the opportunity to work in Namibia, California, Peru, Argentina, New Zealand, and at the 2006 World Equestrian Games at Aachen as a 4 Team Vet.

But it has not all been plain sailing. In 2002, Wayne was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and passed away in 2004. Tragically, Hugh died in a car accident a few years later. Pat has undergone two spinal fusion surgeries, yet still managed to run her sheep farm at home as well as maintaining her international schedule. “While I can still walk, I’ll run,” she said. She has shown great strength in dealing with challenges and adversity.

Although she has now sold off most of her land, she remains active in her profession, and October 2018 will be Pat’s 26th consecutive year as a Team Vet at Australia’s gruelling Tom Quilty Endurance Ride, in which horses and riders cover 100 miles in one day.

Pat Hodgetts has been showered with awards and accolades by every state, national and international body with which she has been involved, but always remains the down-to-earth, warm-hearted neighbour ever ready to help others. She shares some words of wisdom to encourage young people starting out on their life career.

“Whatever I’ve been involved with, I’ve ended up becoming a Life Member. I’ve stuck to things whole-heartedly. Follow your dreams. Be committed and dedicated. The day you give up learning, is the day you jump in your grave.”

Photo | Mike Moores

A million deer by 2050

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

MAY 2018 | David Claridge

AN EVER-GROWING presence of wild Fallow Deer around the Meander Valley is encouraging people to speak up and voice their concerns.

Wild deer have been responsible for damage to property and have caused car accidents, the increasing presence is making people question whether the population is becoming too large.

Meander Valley Councillor, Tanya King, has been approached by ratepayers who have alerted her to the safety issues caused by wild deer on the roads.

“There have been collisions causing injury and damage to vehicles on our local roads. Similarly, they are causing damage to rural properties, vegetation and fencing. However, the issue for me is primarily one of safety,” she said.

“I don’t see the need for a feral introduced species to have partial protection, or a "season" at all. The only predator they have here are humans with firearms, and the odd vehicle who hits them when they are where they aren’t supposed to be. It is widely accepted now that the population is spiralling, and it is my view that recreational shooters, and farmers alike should be able to humanely take wild fallow deer without the requirement for a permit.

Media outlets have speculated the state deer population to be between 20,000 – 40,000 and that if there isn’t further control it could reach one million by 2050 if not managed based on UTAS estimates.

Meander Valley deer farmer, Michal Frydrych, agrees and if it can be proven that the numbers are getting out of control, then something must be done.

“If there is an issue with the population, it should be as simple as identifying the problem areas and go through either the hunters or farmers associations and give them the ability to deal with it. This goes for all animals as the wallabies are totally out of control.

A State Government management strategy into the potential of hunting deer for commercial gain has received a submission pushing for wild deer felled in Tasmania to be sold to the public, whereas only farmed deer could be sold before.

“Tasmania has rightfully created a reputation as a pristine area and products, and now we would allow people to shoot a deer, someone then slaughters it in uncontrolled conditions and then they sell it as a pristine product. All you need is for one person to get sick and that is the end of venison market for farmers that have invested large amount of time and money to develop it in the first place,” Mr Frydrych said.

“Tasmanian deer farmers have to go through strict rules with hygiene and how the meat is collected. I get inspected by the biosecurity people, by the council. We have a reputation built on years of following the rules. Only this week we have once again won the best product competition by Delicious food.”

Professor Chris Johnson from the University of Tasmania is conducting some research into the states actual deer population.

Cr King is collecting local data on sightings, and encounters with wild fallow deer in the municipality.

“The data is sporadic, and anecdotal - but it’s a starting point.”

If you have any deer-related issues you can contact Tanya King on 0409 452 642.

Rural women rally round

RuralJoanne EisemannComment

APRIL 2018 | Lorraine Clarke

FOR THOUSANDS of years, women the world over have played a major role in agriculture. Even during eras when it was considered unseemly for ladies to work, women have pulled their weight on farms, often going far beyond a supportive role beside their husbands.

20 years ago, Tasmanian Women in Agriculture was formed, an organisation whose aims include providing support, fellowship, education and social interaction among dedicated, committed women involved in Tasmanian rural communities and industries.

One of TWIA’s goals is to update members’ practical skills through programs relevant to their needs. Recently they covered the NLIS system’s regulations on tagging and moving livestock between properties, and ran fitness classes.

Bendigo Bank annually sponsors the First Aid Course and refresher credits, providing women with a life-sustaining skill on farms where it is all-too often needed.

Field trips to enterprises such as Tas Alkaloids, Max Baker’s potato plant, and Brandsema’s tomato farm, are valuable opportunities to gain and share knowledge. Several members have been beneficiaries of the Marcus Oldham scholarship.

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of the month, addressed by guest speakers on topics of interest.

When Deloraine hosted the biennial State Gathering, a chef was featured, whose talents are the crowning glory of so many agricultural end products.

“Meander Valley Women in Agriculture is one of the State’s strongest groups, because of the caring attitude we have for each other,” said Anne Cresswell. “If someone has a problem, we rally around and offer support.”

TWIA is open to ladies currently or formerly involved in agriculture, however diverse their interests. Some work on farm as well as helping with crops or livestock. Glenda Wootton is growing pasture in a shed on her small farm at Kimberley. Judy Kilby addressed a meeting where she shared her experience of the horsemanship of Outer Mongolia.

Success of the organisation has been celebrated with publication of a 90-page book containing 28 Meander Valley women’s stories of their farming experiences, illustrated by many photographs. Jane Bennett, one of the founding members of TWIA, penned the foreword. Older members recall the simple pleasures of a rural childhood despite the primitive conditions and challenges of a bygone era, transitioning through to today’s world-class practices.

Photo | Mike Moores