"I was standing on Spiky Beach on the island’s East Coast and I just knew that I was home. That moment on the beach stayed with me, and a few years later I moved here to Tasmania."
"I love the community feel of the place. I wasn’t born here, I have no blood family here and yet the people I’ve met since I moved here have made me feel that this is somewhere that I belong."
Curly Haslam-Coates was working in the wine industry in the U.K. when a bottle of Tasmanian pinot noir arrived. Then came the sparkling.
“It became almost magical,” she says.
When she completed her certification programs, in 2008, she won a wine study trip anywhere in the world. She chose Tasmania.
“I was standing on Spiky Beach on the island’s East Coast and I just knew that I was home,” she says. “That moment on the beach stayed with me and a few years later I moved here to Tasmania.”
When she launched her career in Tasmania, as a wine educator, people told her there was nothing she could teach anyone because she wasn’t a winemaker.
“I didn’t listen,” she says.
Today, Curly is a wine educator and community leader, encouraging others to learn more about Tasmanian wine and to enter meaningful careers in tourism and hospitality.
What makes her Tasmanian?
My potato obsession probably. I’m very motivated by food and drink and living here has completely changed how I eat. I’ve become so seasonal that it’s unlikely that I will eat a cherry between March and November. I have found a new love in truffles and in between the summer and winter truffle season, I will supplement with truffle oil and truffle cheese. There’s a real palpable excitement that comes from the first ’something’ of the season.
What’s something that feels uniquely of this place?
Coming home to produce on the doorstep. Leaving people’s houses with produce from their gardens. Swapping produce for chutney and jams and the like. There’s something very Tasmanian about where I live that we all have fairly abundant gardens, even me and my tiny garden outside the apartment. It also spills into my professional world as well with having so many friends in restaurants and who are farmers. We went for lunch at Timbre Kitchen (in the Tamar Valley near the City of Launceston) one day for a friend’s birthday and I had brought some sage from my garden with me as I had loads.
Fifteen minutes later, there’s sage brown butter on my lunch. Absolute perfection.
I love the community feel of the place. I wasn’t born here, I have no blood family here and yet the people I’ve met since I moved here have made me feel that this is somewhere that I belong. There is also the beauty of the place. I still look out of the window and find it absolutely staggering that this is my home and this is where I get to be every day.
I am also really enjoying getting to know the Aboriginal community here. People have lived in Tasmania for tens of thousands of years, which is incredible in itself, and having moved from the other side of the world, there’s still so much to learn about my new home. I look forward to understanding the language, the plants and the stories of the rolling hills, dramatic landscape and the rivers and seas.
I also love that all my Tasmanian friends have taken on my appreciation for a Yorkshire Tea. It has been a successful cultural exchange – between Yorkshire and Tasmania.
What is her advice for new Tasmanians?
Lean into the weird. Slow down and take a moment. This is the place to just sit and watch the sun try to shine through the mist on a winter’s morning. The place to just marvel at the colours of the countryside or watch a wedge-tailed eagle soaring in the sky. Take time to enjoy bread, butter and a coffee, the crunch of an apple, the intense yellow of a soft-boiled egg yolk, bubbles on the beach in a festival cup.
These are life’s perfect moments.
We are a random bunch of weirdos and I love it. Both locals and newbies have some incredible talent and passion that could be making us all a lot of money somewhere else but that’s not what motivates us. Chatting to a group of people in Tassie you will find people who are world leaders in their fields, incredibly talented in more than one way and have had really interesting experiences.
If the fast-paced city life is something that motivates you, Tassie is not the place for you.
What comes next for Curly?
The people make Tasmania the special place that it is. The next step for me is ensuring that from childhood through to adulthood, there are pathways available for people to learn more and experience the importance of farming and food to our state and that tourism and hospitality is a part of that success. There is no reason why Tasmania can’t be a leading location for not only our delicious produce and natural beauty, also for the skills and professionalism of the people who live here.
Curly Haslam-Coates is one of 18 Tasmanians featured in our short film about the Tasmanian story. Curly's scene was filmed at Marion’s Vineyard, Tamar Valley.