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Tasmania’s Stories

Taste of the Tarkine

Edition 196_HillFarm

Artisan food crafted on the edge of the Tarkine wilderness is in big demand the world over, and further evidence that the north-west really is ‘Tasmania’s Pantry’.

The Tarkine is the greatest expanse of temperate rainforest in Australia, full of ancient trees and boasting the world’s purest air and water. But it is also inspiring boutique producers – like the award-winning Hill Farm Preserves and Blue Hills Honey.

Karin Luttmer has an amazing office.

Everyday she creates her beautiful condiments, oils, and preserves on a farm overlooking the Tarkine.  

Her company, Hill Farm Preserves, at Sisters Creek, produces premium artisan products: pure and free from preserves; bottled and labelled by hand; created in small batches.

Where possible they are made with the finest Tasmanian ingredients – oils infused with Wild Mountain Pepperberry, wasabi mustards, whisky jams, crab apple jelly and apricot relish.

These are products that have been sold in Japan for the last 15 years, and more recently in South Korea.

“Just this morning we had a tasting with a group from South Korea who are interested in selling and using our products in high-end resorts,” Ms Luttmer said.

“As well as our beautiful creations, the thing they really loved is the story-telling around our place – the beautiful location with rolling green hills sitting right next door to the Tarkine.

“Everything we produce is the essence of where we are.”

One of their most celebrated products is a GM-free canola oil that recently won a Tasmanian Delicious produce award for the second year in a row, and is used by chefs in acclaimed restaurants such as Franklin in Hobart and the Agrarian Kitchen in the Derwent Valley.

The north-west with its thick, rich, red volcanic soil also plays a starring role.

“Everything the home chef, or professional chef, could ever need – from A to Z – is grown right here.”

“The north-west really is Tasmania’s pantry,” Ms Luttmer explains.

Meantime, ten minutes down the road – and tucked away at Mawbanna – you will find Blue Hills Honey.

It was set-up by the Charles family as a hobby farm in 1955 and has grown into one of Tasmania’s leading honey producers and exporters. Apiarist, Robbie Charles and his wife Nicola now run the business.

“The Charles family has been tending bees and making honey for three generations,” Nicola Charles said.

“Everyone loves our story; the thought of a product coming from such a beautiful part of the world and crafted by a family of artisans for more than 60 years really grabs attention.”

“There is a lot of tradition that goes into our honey which is all 100 per cent natural.”

That tradition includes sourcing Blue Hills premium honey from the Tarkine.

Hives are placed deep in the wilderness for extended periods, allowing bees to collect nectar from a range of rainforest plants – including the rare leatherwood tree (Eucryphia lucida) which is found only in Tasmania.

Although a variety of honeys are produced at Blue Hills, it is their leatherwood – ‘The King of Honeys’ – that has brought greatest acclaim, and a very prestigious international award.

In 2016 Blue Hills Leatherwood was named as one of the world’s top five food products at the Monde fine food awards in Budapest Hungary, eliciting rave reviews.

“This is the taste of the wilderness, it’s as close as you can get to nature with a honey. It’s a very bold honey, with that familiar aroma and some exotic spices,” Ms Charles explains.

These days the honey business is booming.

Blue Hills has 2000 hives that produce 100 tonnes of honey every day, with 70 per cent of that exported overseas. Hong Kong is their biggest market.

They are also moving into tourism, with a one-million-dollar expansion that includes a visitor centre and cafe. 

Showcasing not only Blue Hills artisan honey but also this unique part of the world on the edge of the Tarkine.

“The north-west really is a special place. It is nature at its best. It is produce at its best,” Ms Charles enthuses.

Image courtesy of Hill Farm Preserves

11 July 2018, Edition 196

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012–13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island’s land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named ‘Best Temperate Island in the World’ by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of kunanyi / Mount Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King’s holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia’s largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania’s predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world’s biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the State’s gross product in 2010–11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

Brand Tasmania

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