Getting the good oil

Julie Patey in the freshly harvested Gough's Range olive grove at Welshmans Reef. Photo Eve Lamb.

Harvest is now in full swing for the region’s olive growers and processors with demand recording a promising upwards trajectory.
Helped by a small team of workers, Julie Patey and her husband Duncan McGinty have spent recent weeks hard at work harvesting olives from the 1000 trees on their chemical-free dry land grove at Welshmans Reef.
In a big shed overlooking their trees, their medium sized commercial oil processor is humming with industry as it processes the good oil from their own olives and many more brought in from other groves spanning an area from Ballan to Avoca.
“The interest in Australian olive oil and central Victorian olive oil is on the increase hugely,” Julie says.
“And with this coronavirus we might even find sales might go up because public consciousness has shifted to buying locally and buying fresh.”
Goughs Range Olives usually market their own oil and cured table olives at farmers markets but Julie says the virus shutdowns hit their sales from this source hard.
“Many farmers markets stopped – Castlemaine’s being an exception – and we probably dropped our sales from 50 to 75 per cent,” she says, as farmers markets begin to resume again.
“But we swung to deliveries to homes and we sold and delivered to our customers in Bendigo, Castlemaine and Maldon and our customers have been quite wonderful,” Julie told the Mail, grove-side as she took a quick breather from the busy harvest.
“The positives were our customers still got their oil and we home delivered to their gate which was really nice.”
“We harvest probably five tonne from our own grove here and we process probably around 5000 litres of oil all up from the groves we manage and in addition to that we process for other growers who bring their olives to us from groves in Ballan, Gisborne and Avoca.”
“So far the harvest is going really well. Usually there’s breakdowns, and weather…”
They also process olives from groves at nearby Baringhup and from Harcourt where harvesting has been in full swing this week – and is looking particularly strong this year.

Eve Lamb
Journalist and photographer Eve Lamb has a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) degree from Deakin University and a Master of Arts (Professional Writing) from Deakin University. She has worked for many regional newspapers including the Hamilton Spectator and the Warrnambool Standard, and has also worked for metro daily, The Hobart Mercury, and The Sunday Tasmanian. Eve has also contributed to various magazines including Australian Cyclist.