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Lavandula: Swiss Italian Farm in Oz

Submitted by on December 30, 2009 – 5:31 pmOne Comment

australia_lavandula2When it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s summer Down Under — that’s why winter’s a perfect time to head to Australia. Lavandula, 350 Hepburn-Newstead Road, Shepherd’s Flat, is a good reason to travel in Victoria province, especially if you’re interested in lavender, olives and grapes! The farm with Italian-speaking Swiss antecedents is open to visitors from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day from September through May. In June and July (that’s winter Down Under), they’re open weekends but they’re closed all of August plus December 24 and 25.

It’s summertime now, and you’ll see rows and rows of lavender flowers (ranging from white to pink to a pale mauve to deep purple). Autumn follows, with quinces and chestnuts ready to harvest. Winter presents the bare bones of the gardens, but by spring, all the fruit trees will be in bloom. La Trattoria is the on-site restaurant, with seasonal menus for lunch and breaks featuring regional foods typical of Tucino (Switzerland’s southern-most canton) and local — Australian — cold-climate wines. Lavender scones are a popular tea time treat.

australia_lavandulaThe Hepburn Springs area was the scene of a gold rush in the 1850s, and it’s estimated that some 2500 Ticinesi gold-seekers, 1500 French-Swiss winegrowers and 500 German-Swiss miners were living in the region by 1867. Local wines won awards as early as 1880 at the International Exhibition in Melbourne. Lavandula includes the site’s original stone farmhouse.

If you can time your visit to coincide with a festival, all the better. Here are some special events in 2010:
Lavender Harvest Festival: January 10, 2010
Autumn Harvest Festival: May 2, 2010
Swiss Italian Heritage Day: October 17, 2010

There is a terrific gift shop in the barn with everything lavender: dried herb bunches, distilled lavender water and culinary lavender (yes, Road Trips Foodies: lavender is used extensively in cooking, and you’ll find out how here!). The farm’s food crops are served in La Trattoria. Check out the virtual tour, and check out the video about Lavandula.

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