Living in a beachfront apartment is the opposite of running a farm and homestay. Still, a year after an adventurous couple left the Sunshine Coast for Tasmania’s lush Derwent Valley, life has never been better.
Inspired by Tasmania’s Fat Pig Farm, Trish and Steve Davison harvest vegetables, raise free-range pigs, make their special small goods, and serve home-grown gourmet meals to guests.
Hamlet Downs Country Accommodation came with a beautiful garden. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
“It’s a stark contrast from waking up to hearing waves on the ocean side to waking up to hearing bird calls, wallaby sounds, and possums in the evening, but it’s sensational,” Ms. Davison said.
To celebrate her family’s Myanmar heritage, Mrs. Davison ran a coastal business, teaching cooking classes and bottling Burmese-inspired sauces, relishes, and mustards. Mr. Davison had a successful metalworking business.
Steve and Trish Davison moved to Hamlet Downs in Fentonbury over a year ago. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
They began to long for a different life during their first trip to Tasmania.
“We just felt there was more we could offer and more we could do, and we were absolutely in awe of the beauty of Tasmania,” said M.s Davison.
The dam comes with a native population of platypus. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
They started looking and were immediately impressed by the flower-filled gardens, orchards, the local platypus, and the characterful home of Hamlet Downs Country Accommodation. The kitchen, with its huge stainless steel worktop, sealed the deal.
“I’m not going to lie. This is what sold this; I walked into this kitchen and said, ‘Buy it,'” laughed Mrs. Davison.
Trish and Steve Davison make small goods. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
This month marks a year since the couple changed their tree, and their farm fridges are already stocked with ham, salami, cheesy cabanas, and prosciutto.
“We started with four pigs and decided to keep the two sows and start a breeding program with them. They are a Duroc-Berkshire cross,” said Mr. Davison.
These sows reared in the pasture will be kept as breeding stock. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
In addition to meat from their pasture-raised pigs, they have collected quail eggs through the seasons and farmed pears, persimmons, apples, silver beet, beetroot, rhubarb, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beans, lettuce, kohlrabi, kale, pumpkin, tomatoes, and zucchini.
“Besides the kitchen, this is my favorite place to play; this is all grown from seed,” said Ms. Davison.
The polytunnel becomes crucial in the winter. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
The couple is part of the international Slow Food movement. Still, when Ms. Davison first received a Snail of Approval from Slow Food Noosa in 2019, she never imagined they would become tree changers, farmers, and homestays.
The Talented Chef’s Gold Aztec Green Hot Sauce made with farm tomatillos, Zucchini Sweet Mustard Relish made with farm zucchini, De-Vinely Red Tomato Sauce, and Coriander Honey Mustard won Gold, Silver, and Bronze at the 2022 Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards.
Trish Davison’s spices have won gold, silver, and bronze at the Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards. (Provided: Trish Davison)
“I could pinch myself to see this dream come true, living on 36 acres (14.6 hectares) in the Derwent Valley region of Tasmania in the Central Highlands – how can it get any better?” said Mrs. Davison.
The University of Tasmania postdoctoral researcher Sebastian Kocar said Davison’s move from the Sunshine Coast to Tasmania does not reflect a broader trend.
Sunny the blue staffy with owner Steve Davison. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
In the 12 months to September last year, the island nation’s population grew just 0.03 percent to 540,839.
More people left Tasmania (689 people) than came in at the time, compared to a net inflow of (1,142) people in the previous year.
The farm came with sheep and alpacas. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)
“During the pandemic, compared to before the pandemic, arrivals and departures remained quite stable,” said Dr. Kocar.
“It has affected [because of Australian border lockdowns] net overseas migration significantly more than interstate migration.”