The Apple Isle

posted on: Wednesday, 9 July 2014

An apple orchard in Tasmania's Huon Valley

Being able to differentiate between a couple of supermarket apple varieties won't get you very far in Tasmania. In the tiny state bursting with apple orchards, you can afford to, nay are expected to, get specific with your heirloom apple varietals.

Apples and pears outside the historic Callington Mill in Oatlands, Tasmania

Have you heard of the tiny, rosy red Geeveston Fanny apple which originated in the little town of Geeveston in Southern Tasmania? Or the huge, round, yellow Alexander apple which is larger than most people's palm-span and has a sweet, floury texture perfect for stewing?

I gobbled a little Fanny G in three bites when given it as a side at the superb Lotus Eaters Café in Cygnet (a must-go café and town 45 minutes south of Hobart). In contrast, I couldn't get through the giant Alexander that Rodney Dunn picked straight off the tree in the grounds of his divine cooking school The Agrarian Kitchen in Lachlan (another must-go and 40 minutes west of Hobart).

The ginormous Alexander apple from The Agrarian Kitchen

A glimpse inside the lovely Agrarian Kitchen

And while it was the first time I'd ever tried these two, there's many, many more like the oddly named Gravenstein and Nickajack varieties and the exceptionally tall Prinzen Apfel and the bright green Tydeman's Early Worcester. With so many intriguing varieties, it's not surprising that Tasmania has its own Apple Museum in the Huon Valley.

Some of the apples on show at the Apple Museum

Apart from marvelling at the numerous apple varieties, bountiful trees and beautiful orchards, I learned some valuable lessons about visiting Tasmania: know your varieties - at the awesome Pigeon Hole Bakery in Hobart you'll need to specify which apple and sultana load you're after (I took the Pink Lady option)  - and don't ever get between a horse and his apples.

 The apples on that tree look delicious, but Mr Ed won't let me near them

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