Strathbogie Shire Council

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Nagambie podcast ‘rockstar’: Hayley Purbrick

Hayley Purbrick has a lifelong affinity with water and the natural environment.

It is a passion that has translated to her family’s winery near Nagambie, Tahbilk, being Australia’s only carboNZero accredited winery and vineyard at a product and organisation level – and one of eight wineries globally to achieve this status.

“I’ve always been curious about nature; I find it really soothing,” Hayley, a fifth-generation family member of Australia’s oldest winery, said.

“I love being in the water, love being in the river. It’s a part of my sense of grounding in the world − it’s my place of solace.”

Hayley spent her childhood playing in the heritage-listed cellar of Tahbilk Winery but lived off-site, alongside Lake Nagambie and the Goulburn River, before moving to the estate in her teens. She relished helping in the family business and unlimited time to explore the estate’s 1200ha of rich river flats, including 11km of Goulburn River frontage and 8km of backwaters and creeks.

Home away from home

Now aged 37, Hayley and her husband are raising three sons on a broadacre farm near Deniliquin. She feels blessed to work remotely and on-site at Tahbilk, while also balancing a variety of rural initiatives in NSW.

But her heart remains closely connected to the wetlands and abundant landscape of the Nagambie Lakes region in north-east Victoria; and she is passionate about the history and future of Tahbilk.

“The story of Tahbilk begins with the land and the river,” Hayley said.

“Everything we do is planted in the earth that we stand on and tabilk-tabilk means ‘place of many water holes’ in the language of the Taungurung people.”

Proud to be carbon neutral

Restoring the environmental balance of the estate once known by the Taungurung people has been a major focus of Tahbilk Winery, nestled in west of Strathbogie Shire.

“We have reduced emissions by 44 per cent across the organisation since 2013, achieving a reduction of 11 per cent in 2020, complemented by 160ha of native revegetation on the [Tahbilk] estate and purchase of off-site carbon credits,” Hayley said.

“The carbon footprint is about your consumption of fossil fuels; the carbon audit tells us how we are tracking towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

“We [Tahbilk] are 97 per cent of the way to our ambition to be able to naturally offset our carbon footprint without buying carbon credits.”

Hayley said new vineyard strategies were in motion to reduce the amount of water pumped on to the vineyard – and reduce energy reliance on diesel and electricity for the pumps.

“We have got more solar going on the property and we have a couple of energy reducing projects, which will be in place in the next six months,” Hayley said.

Welcoming back tourists

With regional Victoria reopening to Melbournians and interstate travellers from November 30, Hayley is excited about the return of visitors to Strathbogie Shire’s renowned wineries and natural attractions.

“There are so many places to go for walks: it’s a water baby’s paradise with so many places to go swimming, boating and canoeing,” she said.

“There are lots of places to just go and be in nature. This region is like a big warm hug − it’s a very grounded, peaceful place to be.”

Wine, eco-trails, history and culture

An easy 90-minute drive from Melbourne (60 minutes from Bendigo and 40 minutes from Shepparton), there are plenty of reasons for families and wine enthusiasts to visit Tahbilk Winery.

Established in 1860 and purchased by the Purbrick family in 1925, Tahbilk has the single largest, oldest planting in the world of Marsanne, a white grape varietal planted in 1927.

“We make our Marsanne in a whole lot of different ways,” Hayley said.

“A young Marsanne is very nice with seafood on a warm summer’s day; it’s beautiful, lively and fresh. An aged Marsanne is still dry on the palette but is quite rich in colour and flavour, probably more suited to things like a cheese platter or a creamy pasta – it’s got a lovely complexity with a couple of years of age.”

In March, 2021 Tahbilk Winery proudly opened the Tabilk-Tabilk Indigenous Flora Trail, developed in collaboration with Taungurung Land and Water Council and Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority.

“Visitors can walk around the track and learn about the Taungurung people – how they used different native flora that are around our wetlands,” Hayley said.

“It’s our way to bring some of the Taungurung culture back to our property and educate the people who come to visit us.”

The 2km Tabilk-Tabilk Indigenous Trail is part of 8km of the Tahbilk Eco trail area through the wetlands and wildlife reserve which have been regenerated since 1995, attracting greater numbers of native birds and animals.

“The wetlands are a beautiful part of the winery, we call it our community hub,” Hayley said.

“You can ride or walk through the wetlands; you can learn; we have different bird hides scattered throughout, you can hide in there and bird watch. There are lots of things you can do in the wetlands.”

The eco trails are among numerous immersive experiences at Tahbilk Winery, including:

  • Tasting award-winning wines in the heritage-listed cellar door − the original winery, built from handmade bricks and mudstone quarried at the estate – and wandering the historic cellar yard and the underground cellars.
  • The Art of Winemaking – Blending Experience, a lesson for adults in making their own signature red to take home. Book ahead.
  • Guided tours of the Tabilk-Tabilk Indigenous Flora Trail walk. Book ahead.
  • Dine in The Wetlands on View Restaurant which prides in family-style meals using seasonal, local produce, modern cooking and sustainable practices. Book ahead.
  • Nagambie Farmers’ Market on the fourth Sunday of every month from 10am to 2pm. Stock up on regional produce and goods or stay for a picnic with a picnic glass of wine from the cellar door. The Christmas Twilight Market is set to return (date to be announced) following last year’s cancellation due to COVID restrictions.

For more information, visit www.tahbilk.com.au or phone (03) 5794 2555.

Seasonal tours

Hayley said Tahbilk was also planning more ways for visitors to enjoy the estate’s natural environment and vineyard.

“We are developing a calendar for seasonal tours – we have a native lily that flowers one week of the year, it’s very unique.

“We want to showcase our wine from the perspective of where it comes from and how it gets grown, rather than only focusing on the experience once it is in a bottle.”

Hayley Purbrick is among the “local rockstars” in the Rock Your Senses in Strathbogie Shire podcast series who give insight into what makes their town rock as a tourist destination.

Visit www.strathbogiestory.com or download the Storytowns app to hear from our Shire’s podcast rockstars.

HayleyPurbrick



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