I am thrilled to be trading Chicago’s winter for Australia’s summer to spend February and March cooking from the garden of this gorgeous and historic B&B property. Boasting the oldest golf course in Australia and some of the best trout fishing anywhere in the world, Ratho is nestled in the central highlands of Tasmania, a small island state “down under” the southeast corner of the big island. It’s along the route between Tasmania’s two major cities, Hobart, its cosmopolitan capital on the southern coast, and Launceston, hub to the famed Tamar Valley wine region in the north.
Ratho’s owner, Greg Ramsay, lists his occupation as “dreamer,” and that’s pretty appropriate given what I know of his personal story. He was the fourth generation in his family to grow up on this farm, which his great grandfather bought in the 1930’s. (It was originally founded by Scots and built with convict labor in 1822.) Almost invariably referred to as a “golf tragic,” in media profiles, Greg set off for Scotland at age 18 to live and work for a couple of years in the golf and hospitality industry. By the age of 25, he was the creative spark behind the development of Barnbougle Dunes, a breathtaking oceanfront course now ranked third in Australia and 35th in the world. Greg is an entrepreneur, a raconteur and more than a little bit quirky, in the best possible way. When guests come to stay at Ratho, he reads to them after dinner by the fireplace from a collection of letters written by the early settlers, and it’s fascinating. A little bit of that is in the video below.