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Tasmania: A Taste Of Honey

June 21, 2011
tasmanian honey varieties

There we were, last Sunday, two groups of us, huddled in the shelter of the shop awning watching the sleet driving down in front of us, rugged up in thermals and thick coats … eating ice-cream. We looked at each other, and someone said, “only Tasmanians would do something like this”.

But how could we have come to the Chudleigh Honey Farm and not had an ice-cream?

It seems natural to start a series of posts on Tasmanian produce with honey because, not only did we visit the Honey Farm just a few days ago, but Tasmania produces some very fine honeys, and one, leatherwood honey, is unique to Tasmania.

We visit the Honey Farm at Chudleigh at least a couple of times every year, not least because it’s relatively nearby. It’s also naturally in our way if we’re making a trip up into the Central Plateau area for some bushwalking. If you’re visiting Tasmania and you’re most likely heading to Cradle Mountain from Launceston or Hobart, take the back way and make a stop at Chudleigh. If you’re heading there from the Spirit of Tasmania terminal at Devonport, it’s not an unreasonable detour, and it’s well worth it.

The Honey Farm stocks dozens of varieties of honey, and all are there for you to sample. There are monofloral honeys – honey that is produced primarily from the pollen of one particular flower. Some of these include Blue Gum, Stringybark, Prickly Box and Manuka. One that caught our attention on our most recent visit was the Macadamia honey, with its subtly nutty flavour.

Then there are the honeys infused with other flavours, such as apple, raspberry, cinnamon or vanilla (the cinnamon is currently gracing lots of crumpets in our house).

Spiced honeys like Cajun, Red Chilli, Lemon Myrtle and Pepperberry (both Australian bush foods) might sound a bit odd, but they’re excellent as a dipping sauce or drizzled over a soft cheese.

For a true indulgence, try the honey chocolate pastes on toast, or stirred into a mug of hot Milo.

For a uniquely Tasmanian taste, though, you must try Leatherwood honey.

The leatherwood tree Eucryphia lucida is a species endemic to Tasmania, growing in the wet forests at the foot of the Central Plateau and in the west of the state. Sometimes when you’re walking in the forest, you’ll catch the unmistakable scent of leatherwood blossom like a waft of honey sneaking through the dripping leaves. It’s a magic moment.

the flower of the leatherwood tree

A flower of a leatherwood tree near the Gordon River

Leatherwood honey has a distinctive character, quite unlike any other honey you’ve probably tried. Think of the difference between a good single malt whiskey and a generic blended product. Leatherwood is a little hard to describe: it’s definitely got a strong floral characteristic. It can be quite startling, and is an acquired taste for some people. I love it, but the rest of my family do not like it at all.

The Chudleigh Honey Farm also sells a wide range of honey and bee related stuff, such as candles, beeswax polish, royal jelly, propolis and souvenirs.

And of course, there’s the ice-cream. You can’t go to the Honey Farm and not have one of their honey-based ice-creams.

The Honey Farm website is at thehoneyfarm.com.au, and has online shopping available.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 21, 2011 3:15 pm

    This sounds amazing. I love the idea of eating ice cream in the cold. Actually right now I just love the idea of cold.

  2. June 21, 2011 3:29 pm

    And here we are, pining for summer. Probably because we had a lousy summer, this year, thanks to the La Nina. We just had a day of *really* wild weather: absolutely bucketing down, and blowing a gale. We had to let the dog sleep in our room, because she was too frightened to sleep in her usual place near the laundry.

  3. June 22, 2011 7:55 am

    What a great read – I never thought of linking Tasmania and honey.
    🙂 Mandy

    • June 23, 2011 12:59 pm

      If you can get hold of some leatherwood honey (a significant amount is exported) give it a try. It’s certainly different than anything else you’ve probably tried.

  4. Remmo Beerepoot permalink
    July 10, 2011 7:18 am

    Hi Colin,

    Thanks for your great write up about our honey farm! We’ve just been closed for the last two weeks… no holidays this time – we needed to get some renovations done. So next time you come through you’ll see a brand new floor and a new viewing window from which you’ll be able to see the beehives outside.
    There is snow on the mountain at the moment… but I think I’ll just tuck into a blue gum honey ice cream tonight:)

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