We sat down with Ian and Dot Roy, owners of Coolana Olives at Minden in Somerset, Queensland to chat about life, love and olives.
Nestled in the peaceful hills of Minden range in Queensland, you’ll find Coolana Olives. Since 1985, Ian and Dot have toiled to pave a way for their unique Australian made gourmet olive products. Over the years they’ve worked their land, raised a family, perfected their olive blends and won a swag of awards. The secret to their success? Love.
DESCRIBE COOLANA OLIVES
Coolana Olives are a range of Australian made olive products including varying flavours of olives and infused olive oils made in Minden, right here in beautiful Somerset.
WHAT MAKES COOLANA OLIVES UNIQUE?
Not only are Coolana Olives 100% Australian made, they are grown and produced with love at our home in Minden in the beautiful Somerset region.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING AT COOLANA OLIVES?
I’m lucky because I get to escape the norms of working behind a desk and really appreciate being able to get back to Mother Nature. Coolana Olives is located in Minden, Queensland and is surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve ever seen. Being able to live and work in the country is a real privilege, not just for the landscape but for the people too. There’s nothing like country people, they’re friendly and down to earth. For me, Coolana Olives has it all, warm and friendly people and some of the best country views in Queensland.
WHY DO YOU LOVE SOMERSET?
To put it simply, when it comes to Somerset and I, it was love at first sight. I was in the Royal Australian Air Force for 20 years and had moved around the country and lived in a number of different places during this time. In the early 1980’s, I was posted to Amberley Air Base so my wife Dot and I moved up to Queensland and were on the hunt for a place to live and call home. When I first arrived in South East Queensland, I was travelling on a bus up to Toowoomba via the Minden Range and the view took my breath away. I was so captivated by the view that I asked the bus driver to pull over so I could have a better look. The green valleys, the rolling hills of Minden were some of the very best views I could recall and being so close to the Amberley Air Base, I just thought “this is country living at its finest”.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN COOLANA OLIVES?
My wife Dot and I purchased our little piece of heaven in Minden, Queensland and we wanted to do something meaningful with it. We really wanted to make the most out of our property and build something that we could be proud of. We investigated a number of options and industries but after lots of research decided that olives were the way to go. At the time, olives were gaining popularity and traction in the market place and we decided we would try to make a go of it. The rest is history.
WHO’S THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND COOLANA OLIVES?
There’s a saying “behind every good man stands a better woman” and that’s absolutely true. I can tell you that Coolana Olives wouldn’t be the same without my wife Dot. We’ll be celebrating our 50 year wedding anniversary this year and she’s been behind me every step of the way. We say that our olives are made with love, and that’s 100% true and that’s largely due to Dot, she’s definitely the heart of the operation.
IF YOU HAD THE WHOLE WORLD’S ATTENTION FOR JUST ONE MINUTE WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL THEM ABOUT COOLANA OLIVES?
Olive oil is not only tasty, it is a health product. It’s hands down the best oil, health-wise and it’s exceptionally good for you. I even heard that it helps people with Alzheimer’s disease, but I can’t remember how… (Ian gives a cheeky wink).
WHAT’S THE MOST MEMORABLE THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED AT COOLANA OLIVES?
Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden had a TV show called Home Grown which was produced by the Lifestyle Channel. The show revolved around local Australian food producers and Coolana Olives starred in an episode which was a great achievement for us. Not only was it great exposure, it was a fun opportunity for us. Matthew Hayden interviewed me and there was some great footage taken of our property and produce. My wife Dot also took on a starring role and did some baking with Matthew Hayden. It was a special experience that we will never forget.
WHAT’S THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
One customer travelled all the way from Rockhampton just to pick up a supply of our infused olive oils. He made a special trip after he had tasted our products up at the Rockhampton Show. Although he could have quite easily ordered our products online and had them delivered he still just wanted to come and see the place for himself and have the full experience. It was a great compliment and he’s still a great customer to this day.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT COOLANA OLIVES?
If you haven’t been to see us, please drop in, even if you’re not into olives. We also sell a range of gourmet balsamic vinegars, Australian wines and a selection of cheeses from Queensland. Come by for a taste of our beautiful olives and infused olive oils, enjoy a glass of Golden Grove wine or a bite of Maleny cheese and sit back and take in the beautiful scenery of Somerset.