Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published May 22nd 2019
Cooloola Farmers Showcase Organic Lifestyle on Farm Trail
Cooloola in Queensland is a locality in the Gympie Region and is located north-west of Tin Can Bay. The name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing cypress pine or callitris columellaris, which is often found behind the foredunes of the National Park's coast on Fraser Island and around the Noosa River.
Every year in the first weekend of May and September, the Cooloola Coast Farmers open their doors to the public for the Cooloola Farm Trail. The Cooloola Farm Trail is held over two days giving visitors plenty of opportunity to visit farms in the area.
Photo courtesy of Cooloola Farm Trail
Having picked up a brochure of the Cooloola Farm Trail, I was excited about my trip to the region to increase my knowledge of the area while also learning more about the farmers and their produce. Although the day I chose was reported for inclement weather, the much-needed rain did not damper my enthusiasm, the event holders, nor the numerous other visitors I met on my travels as I drove from place to place.
The brochure depicted the areas and named roads enroute to the farms. This was an advantage as there was limited internet access on some of the smaller country one-lane roads, so using my intuition was sometimes required. However, there were also plenty of other cars going the same way I was, so follow the leader was an easy way to get there. It must be remembered that you are visiting farms, so when you leave the road and drive onto the property, you may get a dusty or muddy car and could find yourself, especially on wet days, in muddy footwear, so it is best to choose attire suitable for the terrain. I did not require a 4WD to get to any of the farms.
I drove to Gympie and came in on the Rainbow Beach/Tin Can Bay Road, which brought me to my first stop at Cooloola Berries. Cooloola Berries is the one working farm on the trail that can be visited seven days a week from 9.00am to 5.00pm each day. During the months of June to November, you have the opportunity of picking your own Strawberries and Blueberries can be picked in December and January.
Plenty of Berry Related Products to Purchase (Author's Photo)
Cooloola Berries is a family owned award winning agri-tourism farm with store, café and function centre. Owners Jason and Kim purchased a 10-acre rose farm at Wolvi in 2007 with the view of continuing in the family tradition of being the third-generation strawberry farmer and with a goal to grow the best produce every time. The Café is open for breakfast and lunch with gluten-free options available - or you may like to join in the festivities for Paella Sunday with live music from 1.00 to 4.00pm.
There is plenty of seating both inside and outside with a piano in one corner for those sing-along events. I arrived around morning tea, so I opted for a cake and coffee, but also bought a bottle of strawberry jam from the store. The function room is quite large and would be perfect for a birthday gathering or intimate weddings up to 80 guests. Cooloola Berries is located at 856 Tagigan Road, Wolvi.
As with many of the farms open on the weekend trail, other store holders were present at the farms displaying their produce, which gives you a good indication of what is on offer in the area.
Speaking to the owner of Wolvi Grove, which is the farm right next door to Cooloola Berries, I was interested in learning about different types of Avocado. Although I already knew they were picked green, I got some handy tips on selecting them when grocery shopping. Wolvi Grove harvests Hass, Sharwill, Shepard, Wurtz and Fuerte Avocadoes, some of which, I had never heard the name before.
Other stallholders present at the Cooloola Berries property were Dave from Pines Heights Nursery who had an abundant supply of Bromeliads, which were selling like hot cakes, Agnew Farm Stall selling plenty of Redclaw for your evening meal, Belladoo Eggs and Holistic Hives.
Moving further along Tagigan Road, my next stop was Purity Essential Oils where Zelda and Geoff are growing and distilling their own native essential oils and super-foods on their Myrtle Farm. I am now totally in love with the aroma of Lemon Myrtle and a few leaves in a cup of hot water makes a tea you just cannot stop drinking.
Purity Essential Oils & Skin Care Products (Author's Photo)
Their essential oils are included in their certified organic skin care products and homemade soaps. To produce certified organic products, the farm must adhere to strict legislation in the manufacture. As the rain started to come down heavily, a farm tour was out of the question, however, Zelda gave an informative explanation of what they do on the farm and questions could be asked.
Trees grown on the property are Lemon Myrtle, Aniseed Myrtle, Lemon Scented Tea Tree, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Citrodora, Eucalyptus Radiata, Naouli, Rosalina and Lavender. The Lemon Myrtle tree comes from indigenous rainforest trees, which are native to South-East Queensland. The tree is known for its medicinal and therapeutic qualities aiding in antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, rejuvenating, calming and sedative properties.
Purity Essential Oils & Skin Care Products (Author's Photo)
Other stallholders included Glenda Middlemiss from Soulecez Wholistic Coaching, who held my interest with a conversation in the use of herbs in cooking as well as the preparation of non-chemical household products and Springhills Country Kitchen, who showcased their products of jams, sauces, relishes, chutneys and dressings.
Unfortunately, the rain prevented a walk-through Rozelle Nature Park at Goomboorian, but the area will still be there another day. Rozelle Nature Park includes a 1.2-kilometre nature walk and is a known habitat for koalas and farm animals. Entry is a gold coin.
In the area of Goomboorian, Lindols Macadamias can be found at 1565 Tin Can Bay Road. This farm was established in 1998 and now has over 11,000 macadamia trees on the property. Walking tours on the day commenced at 10.00am and 2.00pm. As I was born within a Macadamia area (or Bauple Nut as it is known in Wide Bay), the nut is a firm favourite for my palate. Free tasting was available and there was no shortage of people wanting to crack a nut. Other stall holders were Coffee Plus and Goomboorian Juice.
Modern invention, although a hammer and a crack in the cement is just as good (Author's Photo)
Biofields Organic was my next farm stop and I was beginning to see a convoy of cars following each other to the next destination. Another certified organic farm, Biofields Organic grows predominately traditional green beans plus a variety of other vegetables. Again, the rain halted a farm tour, however, owners Dave and Sandi hoarded us all in the working shed where seats were lined up for our educational introduction into organic farming.
Being from a scientific background, Dave and family turned to farming for personal reasons and have never looked back, supplying half a ton a day of green organic beans to the east coast of Australia. He does not supply Woolworths or Coles. Dave explained the use of organic techniques ranging from permaculture to modern biodynamics and what we could use as home gardeners. As a gardener, I found the talk very enlightening. If the day had been fine, the opportunity was there to pick your own fresh produce.
Rossmount Nursery - The Weather was become Bleak! (Author's Photo)
Rossmount Nursery and Rural Retreat can be found in Burns Road, Goomboorian and is owned by David and Jeanette Wilson who have been supplying fruit trees to South East Queensland since 1977. As the rain was becoming heavier, visitors were not staying long, however, I talked to the owners to gain information on the trees they had on display and came home with a Jaboticaba or Myrciaria cauliflora tree, which produces a grape like purple-black fruit. The fruit grows in masses on the trunk and the sample provided tasted delicious, although you needed to spit out the seed. Other pop-up stalls were Cooloola Nature and Wayne's Wonderful Wood.
I made one last stop at Broadmeadows Farm at Kin Kin, which is home to beautiful Alpacas and other farm animals. Their dedication is to grow high quality alpaca fleece through breeding from top quality stud lines. The fleece is used for spinning yards and making garments and accessories in the old-fashion ways. At this farm, the rain became unbearable, so my decision was not to stop for the farm tours or craft workshops. I had a quick look and chat to owners of two of the pop-up stalls –Derek's Wedding Flowers and Love of Knots Macramé by Annette before heading back to the car to dry out. Other stalls there on the day were Cooroy Grass Fed Meats and Sacha's Animal Portraits.
The best thing about the Cooloola Farm Trail is that it occurs twice a year, so what I missed on my first trip, I can go back in September, refresh my knowledge and take the tours I wanted to do this time.
I thoroughly encourage everyone to take the drive to the Cooloola area and enjoy the next Farm Trail, which is set down for 7th & 8th September 2019. Looks like there are new farm businesses to visit as well! You will not be disappointed in an exceptional weekend escape.