Meander Valley Gazette

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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