‘An embarrassment of awards’ is how Carol and Tony O’Neil describe the stash of trophies and ribbons lined up on their shelves for Cradle Coast Olives extra virgin oil, a leading Australian olive oil.
It all started as a long-term retirement plan in a beautiful part of north-west Tasmania but, like many retirement plans, the O’Neils have never worked harder.
However hard labour and attention to detail has rewarded them many times over with a list of awards that reads like a roll of honour.
What’s their secret? Is it their valley’s microclimate with its brisk autumn weather and early frosts, the rich volcanic soil or the five diverse varieties amongst their 400 olive trees?
Maybe it’s because they pick their olives early with quality, rather than yield in mind. Or perhaps it’s the hand harvesting and pressing straight on site using a Olio Mio high-tech cold press.
15 years of hard work later, Carol and Tony say their success is 90 percent due to the soil and perfect micro-climate and 10 percent due to their constant, careful management but I think there’s a lot of love thrown in there as well.
Ask Carol O’Neil and she’ll tell you that storing olives in bins, even overnight, causes a heat build up that affects quality.
At Cradle Coast Olives they carefully manage the process every step of the way and same day processing is their preference.
They are also vigilant when it comes to hygiene and the olive oil press is pulled down and sterilized every day after it is used.
Carol is happy to let visitors taste the difference with a generous drizzle of their viscous green oil on freshly baked crusty bread, with maybe just a touch of salt to release its intense aroma and flavour.
The Cradle Coast Olives cellar door is a small detour off Tasmania’s main Cradle Coast Trail at Abbotsham. It’s open Sunday to Friday but it’s best to phone ahead to make sure (08) 6425 3448. Find out more from Cradle Coast Olives.
Kerry Heaney was a guest of Tourism Tasmania