The Italian-inspired festival showcases the regional produce which is harvested and enjoyed during the autumn months, while commemorating the tireless work of the Europeans who settled in Hepburn Springs and the surrounding townships in the 1850s, contributing to the flourishing area in their own unique way.
These migrants, many of whom were Italian, came to Australia in search of a better life, and made the countryside their home, where they set up farms such as Lavandula and prospered for years to come.
Along with La Primavera festival, the Autumn Harvest is one of the two major festivals which Lavandula hosts that are characterised by the seasonal change and their authentic Italian roots.
“I’m confident we’ll be able to keep the focus on Italian culture through food, wine, music, dance and the joy of people coming together,” Lavandula marketing and public relations officer Jack Larm said.
The festival, which has been held for almost 25 years, never fails to provide a unique and memorable experience for all visitors with the help of many talented contributors, in particular the continuing creative support of Rosa Voto and her Melbourne School of Tarantella.
“Rosa’s involvement is significant because of what she brings to each festival: her deep passion for the ancient Italian traditions,” Mr Larm said.
“Her performances allude to the mythology of the ancient Italians, especially evoking the spirit of Bacchus, the god of the harvest and festivals.”
The colourful performances of Ms Voto and her dancers will be a must-see at the festival, while Salvatore Rossano of Melbourne-based band Santa Taranta will transport crowds to the fields of southern Italy on his accordion.
While enjoying the melodies of Italy which float across the farm, visitors will be able to explore the fruit of local artisans’ work, including seasonal preserves and handicrafts.
“It’s important to us that visitors can not only see and taste the wonderful products made locally, but also to learn the old crafts and ways,” Mr Larm stressed.
“From the farm we’ve harvested quinces, plums, grapes and apples, and we’ll be demonstrating how these products are conserved and used.”
Famous for its lavender products, the farm will also use its summer lavender crop to show visitors how the aromatic plant is processed for its oils and floral water, while delicate lavender ice cream will be on offer to those looking for a refreshing sweet.
Set on the 19th century farm site, the festival will also showcase the farm’s stunning garden scenery and original stone buildings, including the quaint cottage built by its settlers.
The day will also provide first-timers to Lavandula the opportunity to discover the history of the farm and the story of Swiss-Italian migrant Aquilino Tinetti, who established it after migrating from Ticino in the 1800s, making a home for his wife Maria Capriroli and their 13 children.
All in all, the Autumn Harvest festival is the perfect day out in the picturesque countryside of the Hepburn Springs, complete with enchanting entertainment, local produce, and good food and wine to tickle the taste buds.
It’s la dolce vita in a day!