If you missed it you can read Part 1 of this epic adventure that was the Genuinely Extraordinary Southern Forest Food & Farm Experience right here. But now it’s time for part two….
After another tasty breakfast we were off! First up today was a visit to a local shearer called Ron. He is actually a very highly regarded shearer, one who has been inducted into the Australian Shearers Hall of Fame. So the opportunity to see him shear some sheep, one with the electric clippers and the next with the traditional blades was really impressive. He was a bit of a character and clearly incredibly talented at what he does. It was like he had the sheep hypnotised, as they seemed so calm around him. It was like a form of art as we watched him expertly shear the wool from the sheep in one piece.
There was also a chance to give shearing a go, so I put my hand up and had a turn. I think if time constraints weren’t an issue I could do it, but I would not be breaking any speed records and I was nervous about cutting too close to the skin, so would likely leave far too much wool behind. I won’t be turning pro just yet. It was interesting to hear from Ron about wool quality and his experiences shearing and this was a great way to kick off day three of our adventure.
Following this we headed to the CharCol Springs Pastured Egg Farm. Charlie and Coleen and their adorable sons had morning tea waiting for us and while the decadent array of cake, muffins and slices all looked delicious as soon as I spied the scones I knew that was what I wanted. How good are scones? And I got a touch carried away with cream, but rest assured it was all eaten.
As we enjoyed the sweet treats, Charlie told us more about what Pastured Eggs are, because I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure. As we learnt pastured eggs mean that the hens are continually moved around the pastures in a rotational style system, which regenerates the pastures as they go. We took a quick bus ride to said pastures and there they all were. The happiest hens in the west!
You could see the clever set up, with ample room for the chickens to roam and then shelter for them to lay, where the eggs are carefully rolled away for later collection. An entirely unique experience to walk amongst all those chooks and have them come up and peck, peck, peck your legs to say hello. It actually didn’t hurt at all, despite the impressive volume of chickens that surround you.
From here we were taken through the packing and sorting process, before Rosie the jersey cow made a surprise experience and we got to have a go at milking her. Again, I gave it a try, but it wasn’t quite my forte. A real farm experience though. The high regard held for the CharCol Springs eggs reflects the hard work and care taken by this family to produce quality product and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear more about their story.
Time to get back to nature next and we paid a visit to the One Tree Bridge, which is a historic Manjimup Karri Tree that was felled in the early twentieth century to form a bridge across the Donnelly River. An original section of the tree is on display, which dates back to 1904. A real slice of history. We then took a brief walk through to the stunning forest to see the natural wonder that is the Four Aces – four towering Karri trees which are naturally occurring in an evenly spaced straight line. It is something to behold! Like Mother Nature decided she wanted just those four to be in their perfect line in the random perfection of the rest of the forest. Spending some of the time on the tour taking in the region’s natural beauty was welcomed. Incredibly serene in amongst the trees.
Our lunch stop followed and it was time to embrace the black gold of the region with a visit to The Truffle & Wine Co, the largest truffle producers in the southern hemisphere. Here we were treated to a mock truffle hunt, where truffle dog Bella showed off her skills, before enjoying a wine tasting and then indulging in an entirely delicious lunch. The shared entrees platter featured the delicious sauces that The Truffle & Wine Co produce including a truffle mustard, aioli and honey, all expertly matched with different meats, cheeses and nuts. It was a veritable feast! And if that didn’t fill you up you were also treated to a small serve of their signature truffle risotto and also the gnocchi, which was complete heaven! Definitely an easy place to leave with a few special treats and I could not wait to give the mushroom and truffle tapenade a go at home.
After lunch we headed to the Fontanini’s Fruit and Nut Farm, where owner Tony toured us around the property on a custom built tractor and trailer.
It’s really the perfect way to take in the wide variety of trees this farm currently has – from apples, persimmons, feijoas, chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia, as well as many, many avocado trees. Having driven past them in the car it was great to get the opportunity to walk in amongst some really established trees to fully appreciate the unreal volume of fruit that each tree produced. Clearly this was prime avocado growing country because the trees were thriving!
Afternoon tea rounded out our visit, with fresh avocado on crackers, along with a few baked treats and the chance to crack some macadamia nuts. Turns out that fresh macadamias are next level amazing and it was tempting to stand there and continue to crack the whole bag, but I tried to exercise some restraint. It was tough though. Amazing diversity on this farm and some seriously lovely people.
We then headed back to the Kingsley to freshen up and enjoy a little downtime to recharge the batteries before heading to Tall Timbers for dinner. Located in the town centre, Tall Timbers is focused on showcasing the quality and diversity of the produce from the Southern Forests and after having visited several farms and producers on this tour I could appreciate this meant they were spoilt for choice! One excellent feature is their Enomatic wine system which adorns their back wall.
Here you can enjoy samples of wines from the region’s producers for a small fee, before choosing a favourite and purchasing a glass. A great way to try some new wines! For our dinner we were joined by Mark from Woodgate Wines, who took us through their range as we enjoyed our meal. Beautiful wines and what proved to be delicious food (big fan of the prawn linguine that I ordered) made for a lovely evening. Very glad that we got to visit Tall Timbers for a meal as part of the tour, it rounded out a wonderful day of exploration.
Details of how to book in for their December tour can be found here:
Please note: I was a guest of the Southern Forest Food Council for this tour. My opinions as always are my own.