Treechange move to NW to grow truffles

New Life: Timothy and Ina moved from Brisbane to Lower Barrington to grow truffles. Picture: Scott Gelston.
New Life: Timothy and Ina moved from Brisbane to Lower Barrington to grow truffles. Picture: Scott Gelston.

It's been a steep learning curve for treechangers Ina Ansmann and Timothy Noonan since buying a truffiere and agritourism business at Lower Barrington.

The ex-Brisbane couple knew nothing about growing the rare and prized Perigord truffles known as black gold for the price they command.

Truffles produced in Tassie are good quality and have a rich aroma because of the climate here.

These truffle newbies threw themselves into the deep end.

Treechange: Timothy Noonan and Ina Ansmann, new owners of the Truffledore. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Treechange: Timothy Noonan and Ina Ansmann, new owners of the Truffledore. Picture: Scott Gelston.

Their first truffle season, which closes in a couple of weeks, produced an impressive crop which the Truffledore's tour groups get to experience on-site via a truffle hunt and four-course truffle meal afterward.

"We took over the Truffledore and Cradle Country Farm in February, so we've been here for about six months," German-born Ina said.

The couple in their late thirties were looking for a complete life change from their stressful corporate jobs and found it on the fertile North-West Coast.

"We weren't enjoying the jobs we had. We were talking of buying a property with animals, the space to grow some produce and maybe with a bed and breakfast," Ina said.

Trainee: Timothy and Ina with Cody their three-month-old Border Collie cross Smithfield pup, at the Truffledore.

Trainee: Timothy and Ina with Cody their three-month-old Border Collie cross Smithfield pup, at the Truffledore.

"One day we jumped onto realestate.com.au, and this property was the second one we saw which happened to come with a truffle farm and cottages."

The previous owner converted the old barn into the truffledore with a cooking school, farm gate, function centre and the place to come to explore all things truffle. The property features about 700 truffle-producing trees planted 13 years ago.

Ina said there was a lot still to master, but growing truffles had quickly become a labour of love.

"It's still a new industry with some secrecy around it, but we're lucky we've had a few people that have been helpful to us."

The Truffledore runs hunter and harvest tours every Saturday in truffle season. "Last Saturday we had 13 people, and it makes for a lovely day over four hours with lovely people," Ina said.

"For our first season we didn't know what to expect, but we have been pulling out a few kilos of truffles every week, which is good. There's a lot of work and TLC that goes into truffles it's labour intensive, and a lot gets done by hand." Ina said truffle prices vary depending on the season and can range from $1 to $3 per gram.

She said the popularity of truffles had grown.

"They are starting to become more popular and what we are trying to do here is to show people truffles are not this fine dining thing to be afraid of truffles can be used in home cooking.

"You can get smaller knobbly pieces which are the same quality truffle but cheaper to use. My favourite way to use truffles is with eggs or truffle butter with a nice piece of steak."