Hunter Valley Olive Oil Grove & Beef Enterprise
Hunter Valley Olive Oil – Quorrobolong Valley – Shalumar.
“We have just bottled our 2021 oil, we harvested quite late, after the three year drought it is great to have our beautiful oil again.
Shalumar is a boutique olive grove and beef enterprise nestled in the Quorrobolong valley bounded by the Watagan and Brokenback Mountain ranges in the Lower Hunter Valley. We are quite close to the coast with Lake Macquarie western shore about 8 kms away.
Hunter Valley Olive Oil grove produces Extra Virgin Olive Oil under the Shalumar label. Friends and family harvest the olives each year, and the friends keep coming back! The olives are cold pressed locally, and after settling the oil is bottled on the farm. During the drought years our oil was quite peppery. With the wetter years our oil has been more mild. It is always full of character, and is never blended.
The grove is drip irrigated as needed, with water being sourced from two farm dams. We also run a 10KWatt solar system , so in terms of electricity and other fuel consumption we are close to carbon neutral. Apart from harvest time and sometimes pruning time, two of us look after the grove for the rest of the year.
Half the grove is planted to the oil variety Frantoio, the other half we have in the last 4 years removed table varieties and replanted with Coratina and Koroneiki oil vartieties, which have now matured to be fully producing trees. With our relatively humid climate, being close to the coast, the fleshy table varieties like Manzanilla, were too susceptible to disease. These two new oil varieties have proved to be good producers post drought.
We have not attempted to be classified organic, but in practice as far as possible we use organic treatments. The principle exception is the use of Roundup to control the grass around the bases of the olive trees. Particularly in autumn when picking, we do not want to be standing on our local black snakes.
Thirty Black Angus cows and the bull occupy the grazing pasture, with calving in spring. They are not backward in telling us when they want to move paddocks.
The creek through the property is fenced off from stock, as is a dedicated wetland area. Over the years we see a large variety of wildlife. There are several wombat Hiltons located along the creek banks, and occasionally the owners are seen in the evening. Swans and other waterbirds are regular visitors. Foxes and rabbits seem to have a balance. Deer have been a nuisance in recent years, ringbarking trees in winter when feed is low. A new deer fence has stopped their incursions, although the wombats made major tunneling efforts on the new fence until we installed two wombat gates for their convenience. For the last three months we have had around 50 straw necked Ibis feeding off our grove pasture, plus the occasional black swan and pelican.