Beachside apartment living is the polar opposite to running a farm and homestay, but one year after an adventurous couple swapped in 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 are harvesting vegetables, raising free-range pigs, making their own specialist small goods, and serving homegrown gourmet meals to guests.
Celebrating her family’s Myanmar heritage, Ms Davison ran a business on the coast, hosting cooking classes and bottling a range of Burmese-inspired sauces, relishes and mustards. Mr Davison owned a successful metal fabrication business.
It was on their first trip to Tasmania that they began yearning for a different life.
“We just felt that there was more that we could offer and more that we could branch out into doing and we were absolutely smitten with the beauty of Tasmania,” Ms Davison said.
They started searching and were instantly impressed by the flower-filled gardens, Orchards, Resident Platypus, and the character-filled Homestead at Hamlet Downs Country Accommodation. The kitchen, with its huge stainless-steel bench top, sealed the deal.
“I’m not going to lie. This is what sold this, I walked into this kitchen and I said, ‘Buy it,'” Ms Davison laughed.
This month marks a year since the couple made their tree change and their farm’s fridges are already filled with curing ham, Salamis, cheesy Cabanas and prosciutto.
“We started off with four pigs and decided to keep the two sows and start a breeding program with them. They are a Duroc-Berkshire cross,” Mr Davison said.
As well as meat from their pasture-raised pigs, throughout the seasons they have collected quail eggs and grown pears, persimmons, apple, silverbeet, beetroot, rhubarb, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, beans, lettuce, kohlrabi, Kale, pumpkin, tomatoes and zucchini.
“Beside the kitchen this is my most favorite place to play, this is all grown from seed,” Ms Davison said.
The couple are part of the international Slow Food movement, but when Ms Davison was first awarded a Snail of Approval from Slow Food Noosa in 2019, she never imagined that they would become tree-changers, farmers and farmstay hosts.
The Talented cook’s Gold Aztec Green Hot Sauce made from farm-grown tomatillos, Zucchini Sweet Mustard Relish made with farm-grown zucchini, De-Vinely Red Tomato Sauce and Coriander Honey Mustard won gold, silver and bronze at the 2022 Royal Tasmanian Fine Food Awards .
“I could pinch myself to see that this dream has come true, living on 36 Acres (14.6 hectares) in the Central Highlands’ Derwent Valley region of Tasmania – how does it get any better than this?” Ms Davison said.
University of Tasmania postdoctoral researcher Sebastian Kocar said the Davison’s move from the Sunshine Coast to Tasmania did not reflect a wider trend.
In the 12 months to September last year, the island state’s population grew just 0.03 per cent to 540,839.
More people left Tasmania (689 people) than arrived during that time, compared with a net inflow of (1,142) people in the previous year.
“During the Pandemic, compared to before the Pandemic, arrivals and departments remained quite steady,” Dr Kocar said.
“It obviously affected [because of Australian border lockdowns] net Overseas Migration is substantially more than Interstate Migration. “