The road to Dromedary – a Bamboo tale!

Well I guess the best place to start this blog, is at the beginning of our journey into the amazing world of Bamboo.

It began with the passing of my uncle, a returned man who fought in New Guinea in WW2 and married my father’s sister around the time of my birth. He was a big man carrying the burden of war (hatred) and an emptiness since losing my aunty some years before. So mainly his extended family were present at his funeral, most of whom were strangers to me. A blood nephew and his wife were kind enough to ask me to their place after the ‘celebrations’ had ceased and I was very impressed with their wonderful landscaped yard which was Bali themed with a swim up bar, Bali hut and these magnificent Bamboo poles that must have been 150mm in diameter. Among other comments, I asked where he had sourced the poles and to my surprise, the only source he could find was approximately 800 klms South of their Yamba home. Yamba sits in the heart of sugar cane territory, where the mighty Clarence River meets the ocean, on the far north coast of NSW.

To my mind, if those poles were to be grown anywhere, it would be in that sub-tropical location, if not further North. Though not evident to me at the time, that little lesson in Bamboo growth habits would prove integral in what, some three years later, would become a life changing experience.

My name is Geoff Pyne and together with my long suffering wife Ally, we have created a small Bamboo Nursery & Plantation on a small holding on the banks of the Derwent River, in Dromedary, Tasmania. Though a few plant nurseries & garden centres dabble in Bamboo here in Tassie, no one appears to have really taken the bull by the horns and dedicated their time and energy in full scale production of the plant that many believe can save the planet!

Of course there are many reasons why this could be the case but I suspect I have discovered a few like: Very restrictive Biosecurity rules, with which (I hasten to add), I completely concur; the challenges of poor soil and lack of water in the Hobart region (our chosen location); the complete disdain many locals have for this perceived terror of the garden and the prohibitive cost to transport parent stock from the mainland.

Before explaining how & why we have chosen to conquer those challenges, it’s best the ‘discovery’ story continues……………

Bamboo left my mind almost as quickly as it had entered that day but ever the entrepreneur, the scarcity factor was not lost on me and deep in my subconscious, the vault opened and that knowledge was locked away. Ally & I were house sitting in Young a couple of years later and I struck up a conversation with the homeowner who was about to replace his floorboards. He was extolling the virtues of Bamboo flooring of which  I had no knowledge. That we were considering refurbing our hardwood floors provided incentive enough for me to listen intently and upon arrival back home – our research into Bamboo products began. What  we discovered transcended flooring by a long way as amazing fact upon amazing fact began to paint a picture that we simply couldn’t erase and we had to know more.

Our lives were pretty good at the time, we had downsized into a nice cottage in a Resort on beautiful Lake Macquarie where we enjoyed all the facilities, as well as the fact that someone else mowed the lawns, cleaned the pool and took the bins out on garbage night. We were travelling a bit and decided to do a house swap with a lovely lady whose home was perched below Mt Nelson, at Sandy Bay. This was our first trip to Tasmania, in February 2016 – two years and a couple of weeks ago, as I write this article. We instantly fell in love with Tassie and vowed to return for a stay longer than the two weeks of that trip – TICK!

Our research led us to the Gold Coast where we met the Warwick family who own and run Bamboo Downunder one of Australia’s premiere producers of Bamboo plants. I’m not sure we had a plan in mind at that stage but the experience of walking among the giant grass that is Bamboo certainly sowed the seed that would sprout into Bamboo Van Diemen.

We had no idea how, but the why was unquestionable so plans were discussed on how best for us to become involved in an industry that was going places. Our limited funds prevented us from buying prime land around our home in the Hunter so we conjured the prospect of Tasmania – a place we’d spent a total of 14 days but knew, would be our future home. Extensive research suggested that whilst there were nurseries selling Bamboo, the scale was very small and no dedicated Bamboo Nurseries existed. We booked flights and decided to spend a long weekend annoying real estate agents, in search of the perfect Bamboo farm.

The sensible place to search would most likely have been the North West where it seems to rain and the soil is fertile, unlike the South East, where water is more scarce and decent soil, harder to find. Our love of the Hobart region dismissed that sensible search criteria but having frustrated half a dozen agents and rejecting 16 properties for various reasons, we made an offer on a one hectare property perched on a rise overlooking the Derwent at the base of Mt Dromedary. Spectacular views should have been the last on our list of priorities but they were very hard to ignore and whilst the property was not ideal for growing Bamboo, we could see that soil improvement and dam building, would solve the major shortcomings. Our offer was refused but our revised offer accepted and suddenly, we were on our way to becoming Bamboo farmers – a phenomenon that was a million miles from our thoughts, 12 months prior.

So, this blog marks the beginning of Bamboo Van Diemen and we are so pleased you have found us and trust your interest in Bamboo develops just like ours. At this stage, we are operating from our Dromedary property and plant inspection is by appointment only. It is my intention to post here weekly in order to keep you abreast of what we’re up to and perhaps enhance your education on all things Bamboo. We have some interesting plans and announcements to make in the near future regarding a retail shop and display garden – stay tuned.

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