2020 Aus Gold Leaf Olives
Gold Leaf Olives and Seagulls on Sentry Duty
On the delightful rural drive from Albany, through Denmark, to the Valley of the Giants we passed pretty countryside of lush hills and valleys, lots of woodland and, on the human side, retreats, a monastery, secluded holiday homes and niche farming products like ice creams, sweets, gourmet pies and cakes, local beers and wines, Devonshire Cream Teas and of course, fish & chips; to say nothing of the arts and crafts. From farmyard stays to isolated retreats, campsites to motels and for many the welcome to their holiday homes. No wonder people love this area for living and holidays.
Winding our way back along the Valley of the Giants Road I remembered seeing a sign to an olive and wine farm; so we turned smart left onto a dirt track that led up and around a hill past small paddocks and random, natural looking woodland and a very languid kangaroo watching our progress. Groves of sage green olive trees looked beautiful in the sunshine. Just over the top of the hill we came into a grassy yard and a pretty little homestead of two linked hexagonal sandstone brick buildings. Bella the golden Labrador, colour co-ordinated with her home, came bounding out to greet us followed by her smiling lady owner, whose name I am ashamed to admit I did not ask for.
Like so many European youngsters she came on a walkabout from Switzerland to Aussie many years ago, met her man and together they bought this farm. They now produce organic olives and wines but their early attempts to distract sweet toothed birds from eating the grapes by putting bowls of sugar water around the vines failed when the feathered friends polished off the sugar water and moved swiftly on to the grapes for dessert. Today the vines are netted and they accept that they share the olive crop with the local birds.
We tasted plain olives, pressed by her husband in a nearby town, and then the ones she infused with rosemary, her favourites. Our favourites too. I couldn’t believe how the sunlight caught the edges of the air bubbles in the jar making it look like gold leaf floating around the plump little olives. I wonder where we will be on our voyage home when we enjoy them.
They produce Sauvignon Blanc and Rose wines and as we are used to the first we decided on a bottle of Rose, before we set off to the beach, near Walpole and down Coalmine Road. There are numerous big lakes set just inland from the coast in this region; some linked to the ocean by small channels. The effect is numerous calm shallow area of water, perfect for water-sports and walking.
Over the years folk have carved names and messages into the soft black outcrops of rock along the beach. It certainly looked like compressed plant matter; coal in the making. The water we looked out over was Nornalup Inlet, an ancient name that sits well in the present day, and a little further along was the small yacht club and a group of yellow buoys moored offshore for some safe, fun racing in the warmer months. Back in the car we drove the loop around the headland that rose high above the water and was buried in dense bush before following yet another dirt track uphill to see some more Tingle trees.
The views over the Indian Ocean from a clearing beside the track reminded us that we are on countdown to leaving and this final glimpse of the once great forest of SW Australia would remain in our memories for a long time. The white clematis was so exquisite I doubted if man could make an artificial version and the fact that these trees have adapted to thrive despite fire and infestation certainly gave me hope for the future. Adapt or Perish – a mantra for survival.
We stopped in Denmark on the way home and I had a lovely pre-arranged chat with Emily to catch up and share the day. Back on board a chocolate cake with cream and strawberries, washed down with cool Prosecco wasn’t a bad way to round off the day – don’t you think!