Think Tasmania has been publishing a mini-series about our day out with Sally from Herbaceous Tours. As you may already know, our drive to the Huon Valley and D’Entrecasteaux Channel region started with viewing Hobart and surrounds from the lookout at Mount Nelson near the Signal Station Brasserie. From there we continued to Kelty Farm; drove on to Hartzview Vineyard and lunched at Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet. Now we continue the debrief at our next stop: Diemen Pepper.
Diemen Pepper: Woodbridge Tasmania
Diemen Pepper is located at Birchs Bay and is part of the horticultural property dubbed Five Bob Farm owned by Chris Read. The business is 4kms south of the Woodbridge shop on the Channel Highway; but unless you’re on a gourmet food tour with Sally, you won’t have access to the entire farm. Besides native pepper, Chris grows Dutch Iris bulbs for the cut-flower market; is keen on sustainable gardening and distills essential oils.
When we arrived in the Herbaceous Tours vehicle, we were met by the most gorgeous creature. His eyes would melt anyone’s heart, and I could have bundled him up and taken him home; but Sally put a stop to that. The farm’s resident black Labrador seemed quite keen to see us too!
Farmer Chris Read Welcomes The Interest
Chris Read has an absolute wealth of knowledge and is very passionate about Diemen Pepper and the native food industry in general. He’s quite happy to talk with guests of Herbaceous Tours about all things horticulture, and the time we spent at his farm was a highlight of our day. Viewing the equipment used during processing, combined with the sight and smell of the native pepper, should inspire even a novice cook to try the products in their kitchen at home.
If the first-hand experience doesn’t do the trick, these words from the Diemen Pepper website might…
“Evolved from the flora of ancient Gondwanaland, and now found in the cool rainforests of Tasmania, native pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata) yields the spicy and aromatic leaves and berries used in Diemen Pepper products. For preparing savouries and soups, vinaigrettes, pasta and game, the art of using Diemen Pepper is still evolving. With a range of preparations – dried and fresh; whole, flaked and milled; leaves and berries; even a new flavoured olive oil, the possibilities are endless”.
Five Bob Farm: Fleurtys Cafe and Farm Walks
The general public can visit Five Bob Farm and enjoy Fleurtys Cafe. The Diemen Pepper range, and many other local and native food specialities, are sold in the providore and casual lunches are prepared onsite using a range of local ingredients. The cafe is on the right hand side of the road (as you head south from Hobart) and the entrance is sign-posted.
Also at Five Bob Farm is a building called ‘The Distillery‘ which houses a resident sculptor. Chris Read told us the artist welcomes visitors to her studio; but with such a hectic touring schedule with Sally, we didn’t have time to dally. No drama, we now have a good excuse to return another day.
From an earlier experience at Fleurtys Cafe, I already know we’ll be booking a table for lunch as well. So there will be even more stories to share… but we definitely need a refresher first. Our original visit was way back in 2008 when we were house-sitting in Geeveston before actually moving to Tasmania permanently. A lot can change in that time. Anyway, like I said, any excuse to go back again!
To round out the diverse mixture of enterprises on Five Bob Farm, there is also a 1.5km walking track through an outdoor gallery featuring benches as sculpture. Visitors can set their own pace; after all, what better way to rest than on benches provided for the purpose? The views are pretty special too. Entry is free although everyone is encouraged to make a small donation towards track maintenance.
Benchmarking Birchs Bay: Outdoor Sculpture Gallery
The outdoor sculptures have been acquired as part of the Benchmarking Birchs Bay which began in 2006. Each year, about 20 sculptures made by Tasmanian artists are exhibited on the trail along the farm’s pathways through grassland and forest tracks. The public can vote between Good Friday and June 30th for their favourite sculpture, and a Popular Choice prize is awarded annually.
It is possible for guests with Herbaceous Tours to also explore some of the 100 hectares of native bushland when visiting Diemen Pepper. One of the last remaining working farms in the area, the property owned by Chris Read includes a protected private forest reserve and boasts rare plants and a large assortment of bird-life.
So if I can give you just one piece of advice for the journey with Herbaceous Tours… wear appropriate shoes! Those choosing high fashion over practical footwear will miss the opportunity to tromp out in the paddock, which would be a real shame.
Find Diemen Pepper, Fleurtys Cafe and Farm Walks at 3866 Channel Highway, Woodbridge. Email Herbaceous Tours or phone Sally on 0416 970 699 to book a Five Bob Farm tour. You can also follow Herbaceous Tours on Facebook.
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