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Meet the Producer: Oakhill Truffles

Wednesday 7th July 2021

Winter means truffle season, and you’ll find the best local black truffles at Damian Pike’s Mushrooms stand in the heart of Harvest Hall, our fresh food Market.

Oakhill Truffles, based in the historic goldfield town of Gordon (approximately one hour northwest of Melbourne) is one of the top quality producers that supply Damian. We caught up with Oakhill owners, Ian and Marilyn, to find out more about the orchard and their incredible product.

Starting the truffle orchard

Oakhill Truffles was a way to keep Ian and Marilyn active in retirement. They had previously been farming in Western Victoria, but when the next generation decided not to take on the farm, the couple sought out an alternative, and truffles presented an interesting challenge.

In 2007 Ian and Marilyn planted over 1000 trees – 500 were the French evergreen oak Quercus Ilex (sometimes known as Holly Oak or Holm Oak) and 500 were Quercus Robur (English Oak), both purchased from Tasmania. A patient wait saw their first small truffle harvest in June 2012.

What type of truffles are grown at Oakhill Truffles?

“The trees have to be inoculated right from the seedling stage and the most common truffle grown here is ‘Melanosporum’, or the Black Périgord Truffle which is popular in France and Spain,” says Ian.

“We believe Oakhill Truffles are equal to any produced in the world today.”

What makes Oakhill Truffles so great?

The Oakhill Truffle orchard is 600 metres above sea level and consists of deep volcanic soil.

“In this pure, cold mountain air our Truffles develop a deep and unique aroma, and our understanding of soil management should maintain that for many years.

“While we are not registered as organic, we follow organic principles to keep this wonderful product as nature intended it,” continues Ian.

The truffle hunters – truffle dogs

“Truffles are detected by pigs or dogs around the world, but in Australia especially truffle farms usually use dogs. Pigs are notoriously difficult to get into the boot of a car!” laughs Ian.

So, who are the truffle hunters at Oakhill Truffles?

“Our two dogs are Sally and Peggy. Sally is the oldest and near retirement. She was a rescue dog who is highly intelligent and was quick to learn. She has developed an expert nose and finds the ripe truffle with ease. Peggy is in her first year of work and is proving remarkable, we are looking forward to working with her for many years.”

Truffles at Prahran Market

“Damian Pike is among the most knowledgeable fungi and truffle experts in the country and he has been selling our truffles at his shop in Prahran Market for some years now.

 “We love Prahran market. It is such a diverse and exciting venue with quality and style everywhere, and we are proud and pleased that our truffles are being sold in such a special place,” said Ian.

To get your own truffles or to find out more about this delicious, seasonal ingredient, visit Damian Pike’s store in Harvest Hall today. Plus, don’t miss out on our Truffle Celebration on Saturday 7th August, 2021. More information here.

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