London perfumer CK Denny migrated to Tasmania with his family in 1921, holding a packet of lavender seeds sourced from the southern French Alps – the home of true French lavender, Lavandula angustifolia.
CK chose Tasmania to realise his dream of producing the world’s finest lavender, recognising its similarity in climate and conditions to the infamous lavender regions of Provence. The determined family began Bridestowe Estate with their first planting of pure lavender at North Lilydale, just a short distance from Bridestowe’s current farm.
Selecting the finest strains of true French lavender
The Dennys nurtured their new crop and by 1924 they had enough flowers to distil oil and send a test sample to London for analysis. The verdict? Lavender oil at least equal in quality to French oil and completely camphor free – a sign that CK was well on his way to realising his dream.
The next step involved the painstaking process of identifying the individual plants that had the finest features of lavender. They expanded their plantings with these clones to continually improve quality and yield.
Innovative farming techniques spread from Bridestowe around the world
Just over twenty-five years since their first planting, the Dennys relocated their headquarters to Nabowla, where Bridestowe Lavender Estate still stands today. This gave CK’s sons, Jock and Tim, the opportunity to increase their plantings and production.
The iconic curved rows of lavender at Bridestowe were designed to better capture and manage rainfall – a revolutionary approach at that time. The Dennys also transformed their production by moving away from hand harvesting flowers to automated harvesting. Automation meant that they could quickly respond when flowers across the farm reached their peak, improving oil quality and yield.
A new, streamlined distillation process multiplied these benefits – fine oil quality and yield reached new heights. The world took notice, and many of these practices became the international standard for fine lavender production.
PRIVATE OWNERS bring Bridestowe back to life
Bridestowe passed from the Denny family into corporate ownership when Tim Denny retired in 1989. Over many years, the farm began to change without the specialist care and attention of family ownership.
In 2006 the current owners learnt that the historic farm with its unique product was for sale. They took on the challenge of restoring the farm to agricultural excellence as well as reinvigorating visitors’ experiences.
Now eight short years later, Bridestowe sets the global benchmark for excellence in agrotourism. Each year more than 50,000 visitors from all around the world stroll through the stunning fields, set in one of the most photographed landscapes in Tasmania.
The impeccable farm, manicured gardens and excellent visitor facilities are now a fitting tribute to the cultural and historical significance of this unique site. Guests wander through the purple fields, chat over local delicacies in the onsite café and indulge in a gift or two made with the finest lavender oil in the world.