In 1985 16 acres were purchased by Ian and Dot Roy at Coolana just off the Warrego Highway about 1 hour west of Brisbane. Just over the hill from Coolana at Woodlands of Marburg there are a number of olive trees around 120 years of age. Ian figured that if they can grow and withstand drought and fire over 120 years then they would grow at our place. After much research 1000 trees were planted in 1997. The varieties were mainly Manzanillo, Frantoio and Nevadillo Blanco; a limited number of other varieties were planted for experimentation.
The olive grove uses organic farming principles and at the property a commercial worm farm is in place. The worm juice and worm castings form an integral part of spraying and adding nutrition to the olive trees. As there is limited water available the grove is dry farmed. Much mulching over the years has managed to keep the trees in good condition and Ian and Dots belief is that the soils flora is more important than just adding chemical fertilizer.
The grove survived many drought years and started to fruit. In 2007 a purpose built factory was built to process olives for oil and to pickle table olives. November 2008 a nightmare happened with a one in a hundred year flash flood (170ml in 2 hours). The factory had extensive damage and the olive press was written off. After picking themselves up and dusting off the show was back on the road. New packaging and re designed labels for oils and olives were developed. A new food kitchen and showroom/shop was built. Late 2009 Mathew Hayden and his TV crew did a film shoot on olives for a food show with the lifestyle channel. This will be screened mid 2010.
Over the years many training courses were undertaken and a passion for olives and olive oil developed. Ian did a number of oil tasting courses and became an olive oil judge and has judged Australia wide for 8 years in olive oil shows in Adelaide, Royal Sydney Fine Food Show, Australian Olive Association Oil Competition Sydney, Royal Brisbane Fine Food Show, Tamworth and The Hunter. Dot trained in judging table olives and is the first female table olive judged in Queensland and has judged at the Royal Sydney Fine Food Show, Hunter Valley Olive Competition and the Australian Table Olive Association.
Judging oils and table olives limits the ability to exhibit their own olive products as judges dot judge their own product. However, there have been times when not judging awards in both table olive and infused olive oil have come there way. In 2008 Coolana Olives won Best of Show in the Australian Table Olive Association competition. In 2009 they doubled up with a Best of Show in the same competition plus won Best of Show in the WA Table Olive Competition. The olives were baked and had a Garlic Lime and Chilli flavor. Other flavors such as BBQ, Sicilian and Sweet Thai Lime have also won Silver and Gold medals at various shows. Part of the prize in the Australian Table Olive Association Competition was an olive tour to Sicily.
Coolana Olives have showcased their products at the Brisbane EKKA, Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Stanthorpes Apple and Grape Festival, ABC Gardening Show just to name a few and over the years many people have experienced a taste sensation with the award winning baked olives. The common word at these events when an olive is tasted for the first time is WOW.