TRAVELLING in Greece as a young woman piqued Annetta Paterson’s first interest in growing olive trees.
The young woman from the Alpine high country of East Gippsland, whose family has grazed cattle on the Nunniong high plains, was spreading her wings and seeking new experiences.
“When I first travelled overseas, I went to Greece and immediately noticed how similar the country was to Mt Stawell – hot, dry, hungry country,” Mrs Paterson said.
She noted the extensive olive groves and her love affair with the oil began.
In 1998, when her father was looking to retire, Mrs Paterson jumped at the opportunity to buy part of the property on Mt Stawell, in the old Tongio settlement.
“My family asked why I wanted to buy the farm. I said I wanted to grow olives,” Mrs Paterson said.
She remembers their disbelief “because a lot of the block is unusable because it’s sheer” and earmarked the remaining 35 per cent for her pioneer venture.
The olive oil industry was still in its infancy and Mrs Paterson “did lots of reading and research, joined the Australian Olive Association where we all helped each other and learnt by doing.”
With a Spring pumping licence from the nearby Tambo River to provide off-river water storage nine months of the year and the similarity in soil type and climate “except the winters aren’t as cold as Tuscany,” she began planning and planting her olive grove.