Olives kissed by the ocean mist

Bronwyn Lisson
By Bronwyn Lisson
Tasmanian Country
11 Jul 2024
Marco and Vicki Linardi at their property surrounded by open ocean.

Nestled in the picturesque landscape surrounding Hope Beach, Marco and Vicki Linardi have been cultivating olives in South Arm for the last three decades. 

They planted their first olive tree in 1994 and today their extra-virgin olive oils are winning awards for quality and taste. 

Originally hailing from Perth, WA, and Hobart respectively, the couple found themselves drawn to the property in South Arm, falling in love with its potential.

“Tasmania is beautiful, and I could see back then that it would be a lovely place to raise children,” Mr Lauriston said.

Reflecting on the early days, Mr Lauriston recalled what they land had been like before he and Vicki had arrived.

"Back then, it was a pretty arid landscape with degraded pasturelands, the guy we bought it off used to run cattle and before that I believe it was an orchard.”

Mr Lauriston’s Italian heritage and childhood memories of playing around olive trees fuelled his choice to begin cultivating olives. 

“My father had olive trees in the backyard, and I guess there was always an affinity there. When we acquired this land, I thought, 'What can we grow here?' Olives seemed like a fitting choice—low-maintenance and drought resistant.”

Uncertainty around growing olives Tasmania’s cool climate didn't deter the Linardi’s. 

“Some people thought it was too cold and I was essentially told it was a waste of time,” Mr Linardi said.

However, the Linardi’s persevered and planted a hundred trees that went so well they ended up planting 1200.

Lauriston Grove benefits from a microclimate on the South Arm Peninsula, shielded by surrounding ocean expanses that mitigate frost risks and ensure optimal growing conditions.

The property is surrounded by open ocean.
The property is surrounded by open ocean.

“There are many microclimates in Tassie, and this is a pretty special microclimate right here on the South Arm Peninsula.”

Surrounded by open ocean with half a kilometre of ocean frontage facing Storm Bay and Mortimer Bay, Lauriston Grove enjoys minimal frost and an average rainfall of about 450ml per year.

“What the colder weather does is it actually produces a very high-quality oil,” Mr Lauriston said.

“If you look at some of the mediterranean regions like Tuscany, which is renowned for its oil, they’ll actually get quite cold in the winter, I’ve seen photos of olive trees with snow all around.”

Lauriston Grove’s olive trees are situated on a 10-acre plot on the 50-acre property. 

“It’s a small-scale boutique growth which was always intended as a hobby, but it’s really thrived,” Mr Linardi said.

With their four olive cultivars—Frantoio, Correggiola, Manzanillo, and Hardy's Mammoth—a mixture of Italian and Spanish varieties, Lauriston Grove produces quality extra-virgin olive oils and table olives.

The Frantoio olive makes up around 70 per cent of what the Linardi’s grow. It is an Italian cultivar that is “fresh with a hint of spice.” 

frantoio olives
Frantoio Olives at Lauriston Grove


Remarkably, the Linardi’s first grew the cultivar Hardy’s Mammoth to use as a table olive before a surplus harvest unexpectedly led to an award-winning oil. 

“A colleague who presses our other oils suggested we press the surplus, so we did,” Mr Linardi said.

That year, the Hardy’s Mammoth oil won champion Tasmanian oil. With a hint of a tropical flavour, Mr Linardi says the Hardy’s Mammoth is an interesting oil but a very unpredictable olive. 

“Some years it’s there and some years it’s not.”


Marco and Vicki Linardi
Marco and Vicki Linardi


This year their harvest is three weeks early, which they believe is likely due to the warmth.

“I believe the heat and the dryness produces high quality oil because with less water, the olive flavour intensifies.” Mr Linardi said.

The Linardi’s consider themselves as purists- they don’t blend their oils preferring to keep them natural.

They also ensure the olives are pressed within 48 hours of picking and kept at ten degrees in stainless steel vats. 

Olive harvest for Lauriston Grove has just begun and will go for about 4-6 weeks. 

Lauriston Grove’s dedication to quality has garnered recognition, with consistently low Free Fatty Acid (FFA) levels aligning with Tasmania’s reputation for producing premium extra virgin olive oils. 

“In the late 1990’s the CSIRO did an experiment and asked all the growers in Australia to submit 100 olives, which we did, and it turned out that the further south you go the higher the quality of the oil.”

The experiment determined that Tasmania and Victoria produced higher quality extra virgin olive oils, as indicated by their consistently low FFA levels.

“Our oils consistently have FFA levels between 0.1 and 0.2 percent, so anything under 0.8 per cent is considered extra virgin and the lower that figure you get the higher the quality.”

“Our oils all have different flavours; they have a nice peppery aftertaste. It’s the polyphenols in the oils that determine that quality. 

“When you’ve got a high polyphenol, it’s meant to be a healthier oil.” Mr Linardi said.

Lauriston Grove's olive oils have gained both national and international acclaim. Their Manzanillo oil recently secured a gold medal at the 2023 Australian International Awards, judged by a panel of international experts. They also won the Best Exhibit in Show at the 2018 Tasmanian Fine Food Awards.

Their products are available in select boutique supermarkets, restaurants, and farmers markets. 

Lauriston Olive Oils
Lauriston Grove's Award Winning Oils

The Linardi family attributes their success partly to their location, where sea mist enriches their property with minerals, contributing to the quality of their produce.

“I believe the elements that come from the sea are a big factor as to the quality of our produce,” Mr Linardi said.

“When I first tested the soil here it had a near perfect PH and that’s because of all the shell grit and calcium that’s in the soil.”

“Sandy soil has a lot of drainage and if there’s one thing that olives don’t like is wet feet.”

“You just look at the Mediterranean where olive trees are growing on rocky outcrops, olives are very hardy.”

Mr. Linardi highlights the longevity of olive trees, mentioning trees in Europe that have thrived for thousands of years. 

“Olive trees are pretty much permanent, there are olive trees in Europe that are thousands of years old and still producing fruit,” Mr Linardi said.

“There really are an amazing plant.”

The Linardi’s say there’s a lot to enjoy about olive oil including the health benefits that it is renowned for. 

The couple both have a small shot of olive oil daily to maximise on its health benefits.

“I think in recent years there is more of an awareness about olive oils and their incredible health benefits.”

“I heard recently that oxford university conducted a study over a few decades with thousands of people and it came back with astounding results about the health benefits of olive oil.”

Beyond olive cultivation, Lauriston Grove run a market garden, with a variety of vegetables and their famous Pink Eye potatoes which are renowned to grow very well in that region. 

Looking ahead, the Linardi’s imagine slowing down in the next few years but see olive oil gaining popularity as consumers awareness of its health benefits grow.


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