Peter Gilmore only took possession of his seven-acre property, in the rolling hills south of Hobart, earlier this year yet the heirloom corn he planted towers well over my head and is nearly as thick as my wrist. While some might attribute this to beginner’s luck, Gilmore’s long history of tending a productive backyard garden in Sydney suggests otherwise. Instead, it could be seen as a nod from the gardening gods in recognition of his conscious decision to move, part-time for now, to Tasmania to live closer to the land in a more meaningful way.

The property’s previous owners allowed him to plant some seeds in the garden beds late last year, well before the house settled. The subsequent rain and sunshine “worked their magic”, and he expects to harvest the crop for polenta very soon.

Gilmore, who continues to run Sydney Harbour restaurants Quay and Bennelong, has big plans for his property in Tasmania, including adding four large timber garden beds and planting up to 60 fruit and nut trees to create a substantial orchard. He also hopes to grow mushrooms, berries, white asparagus, passionfruit and tomatoes. Although these are typically warmer climate crops, he explains that in Tasmania, the tomatoes ripen more slowly, resulting in an unbelievable flavour.

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“One big reason I chose to buy in Tassie is the climate. A lot of the European varieties of fruit and vegetables that I want to grow need the cooler months.”

Gilmore and his wife, Kath Gilmore, have been visiting Tasmania annually since a family trip in 2010 left them with wonderful memories. Kath is no stranger to Hobart, having lived there for a year while studying. “I loved it and always said I’d come back and live here,” she explains. Gilmore adds, “We both said ‘one day’ – and here we are.”

The idea of a proper four seasons in Tasmania excites Gilmore: “I’m going to relish being here in the Off Season.” He looks forward to spending it by the firepit, wrapped in blankets and sipping locally grown pinot. Gilmore plans to make the most of the bounty of the summer months by preserving and bottling produce for winter use and indulging in hearty harvest soups made with dried beans, preserved bacon, and garden vegetables.

Consistently impressed by the locals, Gilmore’s been working with Tasmanian producers and makers for over a decade. “Whether they’re connected to the arts, the food scene, or something entirely different, there’s a can-do attitude. This state attracts people who want to live a bit differently,” he says.

In 2014 during a work trip, Gilmore struck up a conversation with Richard Weston, owner of olive oil and organic veggie producer Weston Farm, who mooted plans for a commercial white asparagus crop. Weston’s obsession with the crop saw him acquire seed from a 200-year-old variety from Europe. Gilmore has eagerly kept in touch with Weston since then, and in 2022, five years after the seeds were planted, Gilmore flew down to hand-collect bunches of white asparagus to use at Quay. “The thing that struck me about Weston’s crop was the intensity of it. You can really taste the earth and the terroir it’s grown in. It’s nutrient-dense, rich and has a beautiful flavour.” Harvested for only about four to six weeks of the year, this crop benefits from the cold soil temperatures that Tasmania provides.

Gilmore is excited about his first Off Season in Tassie as a resident, having experienced winter as a visitor many times – including a holiday with his young family, the memory of which provides him with ongoing inspiration. “I remember going up a snow-covered Mount Wellington, and throwing snowballs. Then rugging up and going to a restaurant set in a beautiful winery with an open fire.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Tourism Tasmania. Explore more wild, weird and wonderful experiences during Tasmania’s Off Season.