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Tasmania’s Stories

Our Tasmanian Grocer

Edition 199_TasGrocer

There’s a little slice of Tassie in the middle of Melbourne where homesick ex-pats can stock up their pantry with local favourites – from leatherwood honey to scallop pies.

The Tasmanian Grocer may be on a side street in Hampton, but there is a well-beaten path to its door.

Customers come in search of Tasmanian staples: cheeses, chutneys, raspberry jam, and cool climate wines. They also hunt down more exotic delicacies like quails, salmon sausages, and abalone.

It’s a showcase of the island state under one roof.

“I like to think of it as a sort of embassy to Tasmania,” the Tasmanian Grocer’s, Samuel Caccavo, explains.

“Everything here is beautifully sourced from Tasmania. All the amazing spirits, all the amazing honey. It’s the taste of Tasmania, absolutely beautiful, and quintessentially Tasmanian.”

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Now in its fifth year, the Tasmanian Grocer is also a family business.

It’s part of the extensive business dealings of an entrepreneurial Tasmanian clan, whose interests include construction, seafood, and artisan spirits.

However, it seems that with the Tasmanian Grocer, the Caccavo family has come full circle – back to where it all began.

Back to when Samuel’s grandfather, Ralph, at the tender age of 21, opened a small deli in Hobart’s Elizabeth street, before expanding his business to a fleet of trucks ferrying dried foods to restaurants across the city.

By the early 80s, Ralph had added supermarkets – his two well-known ‘Ralph's Super 7’ stores – to the business. Then, twenty years ago the family took a leap into the seafood industry, focusing on abalone exports to China.

“Our family has always been in food. It’s in our blood,” Samuel’s father, Rocky, tells us.

“I grew up working by my dad’s side in our supermarkets. And I learnt more there doing the ledgers and selling to the customers in those stores than anywhere else. And now, Sam is learning the ropes at our Tasmanian Grocer store.

“He is the third generation of the family to be involved in the food business.”

While the Tasmanian Grocer is just a small part of the family’s business dealings, it provides a valuable outlet for their own products, which are sold alongside those of other boutique producers.

When we visit, the shelves are stocked with hand-crafted spirits from the family’s Devil’s Distillery which was set up in 2015.

In that short time, Devil’s Distillery has collected a swag of impressive awards; most recently at the prestigious 2018 China Wine and Spirits Awards – where three of its products were awarded double gold.

The single malt Hobart Whisky sits side-by-side with Tasmanian Moonshine spirits, including vodka, liquorice infused coffee liqueur, and popular Tasmanian Mellifera.

“Our Mellifera is a malt liqueur and made from the finest Tasmanian ingredients: Tasmanian water, Tasmanian barley, and honey from Lake Pedder,” Rocky says.

There is also the family’s olive oil on the shelves.

“This olive oil is very special to me,” Samuel says as he points to a bottle.

“When my parents married, they bought a farm at Campania, Tasmania – and 23 years later we now have 18,000 trees and the most beautiful olive oil in Tasmania.

“I am proud to say I grew up on that farm and absolutely loved the olive oil.”

However, out of all the Caccavo produced products, there is one that customers clamour to buy. Scallop pies.

This iconic Tassie treat is the outright favourite, and Rocky tells us they have sold around 15,000 pies since opening this little slice of Tassie in the heart of Melbourne.

“We have regulars who come in every week for their scallop pies. As far as I am concerned it doesn’t get any more Tasmanian than that.”

Image courtesy of Robert Heazlewood

14 October 2018, Edition 199

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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

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