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Our cherry varieties include both dark red and pink types. The best pink variety is Rainier named after Mt Rainier, which is an extinct volcano in Washington State, USA where this variety was developed. It is large and very sweet and if left on the trees for up to a month after the normal picking time it, like our other pink variety called Vega, develops an exceptional taste and sweetness. Our orchard has nine varieties of cherries as set out in the following table:
The property when purchased in 1988 (Nov) consisted of a house and a large grassed paddock. The land was ploughed and fertilised, underground irrigation was installed and the first crop of strawberries was planted by friends (surprisingly they did remain friends) in May 1989. Four rows of fruit trees and hundreds of native windbreak trees were also planted.
In November 1989 the farm opened for strawberry picking on a three-day per week basis. The sales centre of the time was basic.
The public response was very strong and in 1992 a major, three-year expansion commenced. By the end of 1994 we had 30,000 strawberry plants, 2,000 metres of trellised raspberries and other berries, 1,200 cherry trees, 350 apricots trees and a further 600 apple, pear, nashi, peach and nectarine trees. However, it was a further eight years (2002) before we reached peak production of many of these.
In 1993 we had outgrown the first sales shed and we commenced expansion, which is still in progress. The new sales centre opened in October 1993 and it has been expanded every second year since to cope with the rapidly expanding number of visitors which in 2005-06 numbered about 55,000. Our surveys show about 50% of the visitors come from interstate and overseas and 50% from Tasmania.
Singapore is one of our most important market places. The first Singaporean visitors group came for a guided tour of the orchard, including fruit picking, followed by liqueur tasting and an evening barbecue in 1997. Tigerline coaches include us in tour schedules every month of the year. In 1993 we commenced production of our own jams, sauces and vinegars. To these we added fruit wines in 1999 and liqueurs in 2001.
Our liqueurs have been highly rated in the Australian Fruit Wine Show and we achieved the award for the "Most successful commercial fruit wine maker" in 2006. They can be purchased at many tourist attractions, on the Spirit of Tasmania ferries and a number of other gourmet outlets within the state.
In 2001 we were the winner of the Significant Regional Attraction Section of Tasmanian Tourism Awards.
In 2004 we greatly expanded our café service to include gourmet lunches, as well as tasty snacks and excellent coffee. As a result in this year we saw our sales of pick-your-own fruits, which have grown steadily every year, represent less than 50% of total sales. We had become a total Tasmanian fruit experience.