Launceston Up Close

  Stories, tall and small about Launceston, Tasmania

A U S T R A L I A           

Tasmania’s Bridestowe Lavender Estate

Home of the World’s Finest Lavender

When a guy is told about Lavender, he will frequently turn a deaf ear to the source of the Lavender news.  He knows it is purple, has its own aroma and is grown.  That’s all he needs to know. 

So when he was told about Bridestowe, in northern Tasmania, and its magnetic attraction to Lavender lovers, he was typically overcome by a wave of lethargy and disinterest.

This guy has lived in the region, with the city Launceston as its hub for about 12 months so he has seen a lot of what’s on offer around the Tamar River and he left Bridestowe until the very end.  His lovely wife had often spoken about a drive out to the property – he: it’s too far! (It’s only about a slow 40 minute drive) – And so he relented.

Actually, they had gone for a drive on New Year’s Day, 2019, heading out to St. Helens on the east coast of the Tassie isle but when they got to Scottsdale which is a quaint little town on the way, they stopped for a caffeine fix and decided St Helens was too far – only another hour away – so they would head back via Lilydale, another quaint little town.

Now this guy had spent most of his adult life driving around Western Australia, which could hold about 25 Tasmanias within its borders, so a drive of $00 kilometres to visit friends for a coffee was not unusual.  But less than a year after getting to Tassie, he was starting to get into the Tasmanian mindset, where anything that was a hundred Ks down the road was a day trip with the prerequisite preparations to be completed – full fuel tank, spare water and rations, advise the police you were going out of town, advise your destination you were on your way – the typical adventurer preps.

So they jumped back in their ute and headed for Lilydale, and halfway between the two towns, was the turn off into Bridestowe!

So they turned in, and joined a queue of likeminded souls visiting the source of 15% of the world’s supply of Lavender oil.  They saw the sign that said $10 per person to enter, and thought well, we have to visit it, so $20 isn’t too bad  When they got to the front of the queue, the gatekeeper asked if we were ’locals?’  To which was said, ‘we’re from ‘Lonnie’, does that make us locals?’ ‘Yes’ was the reply, and they got in for nothing!  Bonus!  Apparently, unknown to them, folk that live in the region get free entry which is a great marketing ploy to get locals to bring their interstate friends to Bridestowe!

They got some brochures, parked their ute, and headed for the Lavender fields.

The brochures told them a bit about the history of Bridestowe, which is named after the birthplace of the farmer’s wife, which is in the south west of England.  Mr C.K.Denny was a perfumer in London, who migrated to the Tamar region in 1922 and chose an area near Lilydale which closely resembles a prime Lavender growing region in France.  Denny had brought with him Lavender seeds harvested from an abundance of wild Lavender near the Mediterranean.

Despite some early problems, Denny persisted and with a new steam distillation process, was soon producing commercial quantities of Lavender oil.  He continued until the mid 1940s when his son Tim, a decorated war hero, took over.  Tim Denny further developed the production process, and in 1947 moved from their original property, to where our guy stumbled across them today, between Scottsdale and Lilydale.  Tim Denny expanded the area under crop to the rolling hills of lavender that visitors see today, and built a world class producer of the aromatic oil. 

In the 1950s Bridestowe Lavender Estate became the main supplier of Lavender oil to several major perfumeries, including Yardley, and they were favoured by the Royal Family.  But by 1989, Tim Denny retired and Bridestowe was sold to a corporation.  In fact it was bought and sold by a number of shelf companies, and with each sale Bridestowe Estate lost some of its shine.

Then in 2007, Bridestowe was taken over by a family, who planned to return the property back to its shiny outlook.  They poured a fair bit of money into Bridestowe and visitors can see the result, with more investment planned – an 80 bed accommodation lot is on the drawing board.  There is no real quality accommodation anywhere near Bridestowe, so this should enhance its name even more.  Folk will be able to relax, wander through the fields of Lavender, breathe in its heady aroma, and enjoying fine dining. 

Our guy was certainly not aware of the industry that Bridestowe was part of, nor did he even conceive the many side products using Lavender oil in their production that the coffee shop could sell. 

In 2013, the President of China, Xi JinPing visited Tasmania, and at Bridestowe Lavender Estate he was presented with a ‘Bobbie the Lavender Bear’.  In fact our guy spied many Asians enjoying a stroll through the rows of Lavender, taking selfies, and a few souvenir buds.  The Lavender bushes(?), only flower for a relatively short time so he was pretty fortunate to see the estate at its best.

Bridestowe Lavender Estate continues to supply Lavender oil to the world, and is a definite must see if you visit Launceston and the Tamar region.  It’s not that far, and it is pronounced ‘Brid-e-stowe’!