Victor and Santie Morgado – Providence Farm Stall
International influence and fine local produce merge in the hills of North West Tasmania at Providence Farm Stall
A touch of South Africa, some light Portuguese tunes, plates brimming with fresh produce and views spilling out to Bass Strait. Victor and Santie Morgado have created a Tasmanian experience unlike anything on the island.
Victor Morgado was born in South Africa to Portuguese parents, then grew up in Portugal. He later returned to South Africa where he met wife Santie and together they ventured to Australia. Gaining visa sponsorship through Victor’s metal fabrication skills, the couple settled in Sydney. After 14 years of career success however, the couple yearned for a quieter, rural life.
“We were looking at options outside of Sydney but it was just too expensive,” explains Santie. “Tasmania and particularly the north west of the state became our focus because it met our budget. When we first drove past the land around Wynyard we knew straight away this was it. We stopped on the bend looking out to the ocean and rolling hills, and at that stage we hadn’t even seen the For Sale sign. It was meant to be.”
The affable couple didn’t know anyone when they arrived on their 10-acre patch of rolling hills in 2012. They settled into their 1970’s built farm house and considered using the old stables as an outlet for produce. In South Africa, the concept of ‘farm stall’ sales are such a popular practice that many morph into shops, then cafes, then restaurants. Applying this same model and utilising coastal produce from what could be described as Australia’s food bowl, the vision was deemed viable and gained support from the Tasmanian Government.
“Without the Department of State Growth’s AgriGrowth Loan Scheme we would not have been able to realise our dream,” says Victor. “I was working on contract and Santie had an admin job so we were unable to acquire a bank loan. When the government came on board with support then we could proceed.”
Victor personally designed and built the seven and a half metre-high corten steel-wrapped venue himself. Spanning 20 metres in length, it was no easy feat, with Santie a diligent assistant as he meticulously cut and folded each individual panel. The project has taken the couple two and a half years to reach this stage, with them often working through until midnight.
“It wasn’t all smooth sailing,” reflects Victor. “We had to dig the foundations by hand after they collapsed during a bad winter, but we are so happy now to be operational even though there are still elements to complete. We threw every cent into this build and even borrowed from friends and family to make it happen. Today, I am very proud of what we have created.”
Providence Farm Stall is currently open from 11:00am on Thursday to Saturday for long, lazy lunches in the countryside. The Morgado’s have enjoyed introducing new flavours to the region and the seasonal menu has some exclusive offerings that may be new to locals, reflecting their Portuguese influence. The Morgado’s aim is to deliver dishes at a price point that is comfortable for their neighbours’ wallets while also attracting international guests. Through summer they are also open on Friday and Saturday evenings and are working towards catering for higher-end destination weddings and functions, once landscaping is complete.
The couple provide employment for 10 Tasmanians. They have also planted over 300 olive trees and are growing more from cuttings. They plan to provide a ‘pour your own bottle’ offering from the grove. With capacity for 50 guests inside, they are also developing a mezzanine level where visitors can catch sweeping views out to Table Cape.
The excellent customer feedback they receive on Trip Advisor is further demonstration of the effort they have put into the business and the appreciation of their customers and the community for the quality of service they deliver.
“What we love is the connection with our community and the opportunity to nurture our young local staff,” smiles Santie. “Our vision is to become a foodie destination where we celebrate the north west of Tasmania, support local producers and businesses, and give back to our community through generating employment and supporting local artists and musicians as well.”
“This is our home and we greet every person when they arrive. It is about hospitality and that’s what we love most about what we do. The community here is something that really stands out for us. You don’t get community spirit like this in the big cities. When we first moved here, others asked how we would ever make friends in regional Tasmania. We’ve never known so many people!”
Having been open for a year, the Providence Farm Stall story is still evolving. The couple have watched shy, young staff grow in confidence and locals proudly bring interstate family and friends through the doors.
“We sometimes just take the time to stop and reflect. When times are challenging, like during the quieter winter months I remind myself that we are living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We have amazing produce on our doorstep, green grass, ocean views, and without doubt the food just tastes better here!”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Providence Farm Stall.