These smooth, sweet walnuts grow in the High Country in an old hops garden.

Some of the sweetest, creamiest walnuts in the country are cultivated in an old hops garden nestled in the hills at Myrrhee, located between Benalla and Whitfield in the state’s northeast. When farmers Carol Kunert and Michael Burston acquired the dilapidated hops farm, it was ensnared in old wire and overrun with blackberries. In 1995, they embarked on the venture of planting walnuts, starting with 3,500 trees on a 25-hectare site and adding another 3,500 trees in the following years. 

“It takes around 20 years for a walnut tree to mature and produce fruit,” explains Kunert. “Where we are, situated between 360 metres and 720 metres [above sea level], provides an ideal climate for walnuts. The cold winters aid in flower setting, while the hot, dry summer days and cooler nights are just perfect conditions for walnuts.” 

Running through their picturesque High Country property is 15 Mile Creek, from which the couple draws water for irrigation.  

Walnuts are attractive, sprawling deciduous trees that bloom in spring. The nuts grow throughout the summer and mature in autumn, when the walnut shell hardens, bursts from its husk, and falls to the ground. The nuts are then raked and collected by a machine before being dried in a historic hops kiln and sent for grading. 

A portion of the walnuts are cracked, the shells removed, and the nut meat, or kernel, packed into bags and vacuum-sealed. Some walnuts are crushed to make nut butter, while others are transformed into a delectable cinnamon-flavoured candy. 

The pair cultivate three varieties of walnuts, namely Howard and Chandler, both Californian varieties, and Franquette, an old French variety. Sales are conducted online, at the farm gate from April to September, at farmers’ markets, and through wholesalers.  

King Valley walnuts are renowned for their fine skins, smooth, sweet flesh, nutty aroma, and fresh-tasting finish.

Smooth, sweet walnuts grown in the High Country in an old hops garden 

Products: Vacuum-packed walnut kernels (250g, 500g, 1kg, 4kg, 12kg); walnut butter (230g jar); pickled walnuts (305g jar); Yum Walnuts with cinnamon (150g pack).