Sheena from Travelmarvel sat down with the Managing Director of Bridestowe Lavender Estate, Robert Ravens, for Bridestowe’s 100th Birthday.
Bridestowe Lavender Estate is located in the north-east of Tasmania, in the most fertile area at the head of the Tamar Valley. The neighbours are all wineries, food and milk producers, as the rich soils and rainfall are all perfect for agriculture, and the air is pristine.
The farm itself is one of the largest lavender farms in the world. Can you tell us about the size?
This estate is one of the few lavender farms that is 10 times bigger than typical farms in Japan, North America and France. Bridestowe takes pride in the fact that it is the oldest, continuously operating lavender farm in the world and privately owned.
France is famous for lavender, and it produces a very fine fragrance, however what most of the customers see in France is now a hybrid called lavandin which is a heady-smelling lavender, very pretty and it fills the fields, but it doesn’t grow fragrance quality lavender like the type at Bridestowe.
There are many different varieties of lavender, what types do you farm at Bridestowe?
There are 40 different types of lavender, and every type is capable of interbreeding with each other. Only one of them has excellent fine fragrant properties. The rest are beautiful to put in the garden, but the only lavender that produces a high-quality fragrance originates from about 800 metres high in the French Alps. It overwhelms the senses when it is in full flower.
We have the most genetically pure lavender in the world because it is so isolated and has been so protected for 100 years. We have a unique laboratory of lavender that goes back a century.
Can you tell us about some of the benefits that lavender offers?
It is almost a cure. It has always been in a western doctor’s medical kit and a part of folk medicine. It has antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Increasingly people use it for relaxation, or include it as an ingredient in body products as it has some good properties for the skin and therapeutic benefits. It has a wonderful fragrance and is free of nasties.
Lavender is now promoted widely in the food industry. At Bridestowe, there are samples of lavender shortbread, lavender ice-cream, we make a lavender latte and lavender-infused gin. We tuck it into everything we cook, even pulled pork roll and a ploughman’s lunch. We make about 280 different products.
If you would like to experience Bridestowe Lavender Estate, one of Travelmarvel’s most popular itineraries is our 10 Day Grand Tasman itinerary capturing all the highlights that Tasmania has to offer. From the east coast to the west coast, you will get to see the charming cities of Hobart and Launceston, and beautiful places such as Freycinet National Park, Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and the quaint seaside village of Smithton.
Images courtesy of Vicki Smith