Queenscliffe Literary Festival | Basils Farms
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History

Basils Farm sits on the shores of Swan Bay – a shallow, 30 square-kilometre marine embayment at the eastern end of the Bellarine Peninsula in Port Phillip Bay. Matthew Flinders named the bay “Swan Ponds” after its black swans, up to 2,700 of which can be seen in summer and early autumn. The current property ‘Basils Farm’ takes its name from one of the previous owners – Basil Halsall, who farmed various crops on the site. In 1953 Basil won the ‘Sun Tour’, one of Victoria’s most prestigious cycling events and one of the oldest stage races in the world. To this day, the Sun Tour is a major cycling event in Australia and the Bellarine Peninsula remains a popular cycling destination and home to another cycling great – Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans. Whilst Basil has moved on, the property still carries his name and is also home to some of his tools, bike parts and farm machinery including an historic harvester and wheat chaff.

FARM Produce Gardens

Ben Shaw, our permaculture gardener, is passionate about our kitchen garden, established three years ago. He is currently working with Igor to establish a new market garden and orchard, which will supply even more fresh organic produce to Basils Café. The kitchen garden produces heirloom vegetables and herbs, an orchard of stone fruits, apples, pears, quinces, figs, persimmons, almonds, a myriad of citrus as well as a variety of berries. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used on the edible garden. Our chef Jeremy harvests produce from the garden daily with the menu taking inspiration from the seasons. We have just welcomed additional chickens onto our farm, which will not only provide us with additional fresh eggs, but also assist in maintaining healthy soils in the vineyards and orchards. Many species of indigenous plants, which attract beneficial insects and bees have been introduced,to help maintain a healthy ecosystem, benefiting all aspects of the farm. Permaculture and biodynamic practices play an integral role in a holistic approach to a healthy farm environment. Nothing grown on the farm is wasted, it is either used in Basils Café, preserved or sold fresh at the cellar door. Leading a new way for wineries on the Bellarine Peninsula, focusing on fresh and seasonal food, we look forward to you experiencing it for yourself at Basils Farm!