Day 92 – Thursday, 3 June 2021

I did two loads of washing first thing this morning and hung them out on the line to dry. It was 16 degrees today at Bridport, and although the clothes were in direct sunlight, they were still fairly damp when we got back to the van. I then washed the towels and after tea I took everything and placed them in the dryer. Russ drove me over there as it was too dark, and much too far to walk with a heavy load. I took my book with me, my money, my torch and the code to get into the laundry. 

There is a light inside on a timer switch. It was just as well I took the ereader which is backlit as the damn light kept turning off, and there was only one of them near the door. I was seated around the corner near the dryers, and it was frustrating. When the dryer was finished, and I was folding the clothes I had to hold my torch in my teeth so I could see what I was doing. Russ had a bit of a chuckle about that when I rang him to say I was finished, and he came back to pick me up. 

Today we went for a drive of 157 kilometres with a stop at Bridestowe Lavender Estate. We purchased some oil, a heat bag, some lotion, and we had lavender scones with jam and cream for lunch. It was a very interesting stop. 

Bridestowe Lavender Estate is Australia’s oldest and largest lavender farm. It has a Mediterranean climate of cool wet winters and warm dry summers. The lavender plants rely on natural rainfall of up to 900 millimetres per year.  

In early winter the plants enter their dormant phase, and at this time selected paddocks are replanted using healthy root stock. An average of four hectares is replanted annually. 

The curved rows follow the natural contours of the land, which facilitates drainage and reduces soil erosion. 

Hand weeding takes place in spring when the lavender is budding. There are over 650,000 plants on the Bridestowe Lavender Estate. 

During the flowering period in December bees are brought onto the farm to pollinate the flowers, which sets the seed. Greater seed set produces better oil yields. 

French Lavender seeds were brought from England by CK Denny, a London perfumer. He selected Lilydale in Northeast Tasmania to launch a test site due to the climatic similarities of traditional native lavender growing areas. He named the property Bridestowe after the birthplace of his wife in Southwest England. 

After much trial and error he tasted success in 1924 when his first large scale distillation was sent to London for analysis, and tests showed it to be equal in quality to French lavender oil. During the following seven years he developed new harvesting and steam distillation technology which increased efficiency and purity of the oil product. 

CK’s son, Tim was a decorated war hero. In 1947 he launched pioneering research and identified the best five lavender clones from the original farm. By planting cuttings at the new farm in Nabowla, taken from the original farm at Lilydale, Bridestowe Estate is able to quickly populate rootstock, and this method of propagation is still used today. 

In 1950 the Lilydale site is phased out and production increased at Nabowla. Bridestowe Lavender Estate became the main supplier of lavender to major perfumeries worldwide, in particular Yardley’s of London. 

By 1981 Bridestowe Estate produced 15% of the world’s supply of fine lavender oil. After 67 years of Denny family ownership Tim Denny retired and the farm was sold in 1989. After 18 years of being passed between corporate owners and under invested, the Estate was in a poor state of repair. In 2007 the farm finally returns to the Denny family where it receives the focus and attention it deserves. 

It is now a thriving concern and is considered one of Tasmania’s top tourist attractions, It welcomes thousands of overseas travellers each year. 

When we left Bridestowe, very replete we might add, we continued on our journey on the B81 road (sealed) until we came to the C824 road (also sealed) after passing through Lilydale. 

This road brought us back to the A3 Tasman Highway, which was an alternate route that Google Maps suggested when coming from St Helen’s. And we thank all our guardian angels that we didn’t take this one either. It climbed through narrow and winding roads up to 622 metres. The scenery was superb, but we would not have been able to enjoy it while towing the van. At some points along the road the vehicle was over the middle line while navigating the bends. With a caravan attached it would be a nightmare.