Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm
2118 Maroondah Hwy, Buxton, VIC
03 5774 7370
February 7, 2009, was probably one of the worst days for the MacRae family. That day, also known as Black Saturday, will live on in infamy as one of the worst bush fires to sweep through Victoria. The wildfire destroyed more than 2,000 homes and had a devastating impact on the MacRae’s world famous business, the Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm.
Although their house and most of the farm was spared, the fire ended up destroying their fish stock and causing about $500,000 in damages. Despite the problems, the MacRaes admit that they were lucky. Nobody was seriously injured and today the business is stronger than ever.
Mitch and Deb MacRae agree that the decision to rebuild their business was never in doubt. With the help of community and numerous volunteers, they were able to quickly reopen their doors to their loyal customers. One of the reasons the MacRaes decided to continue the business was because they could not turn their back on more than 50 years of history. The Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm is Australia’s first commercial Trout farm. The business was started in 1958; Mitch’s family bought the farm in 1979 and then he and Deb ended up taking it over in 1988 and have been running it ever since.
“The Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm has always been a family-owned and operated business and we are proud to carry on that tradition,” said Deb.
The farm is about 10 acres and is located about 100 km from Melbourne in the beautiful Yarra Valley. What makes the trout and salmon so special is that they are all natural. The MacRaes are proud of the fact that they don’t use any chemicals or grow hormones to raise their fish. The ponds at the farm have the snowfields of Lake Mountain as their source, with the water making its way down Steavenson’s Falls and through a variety of streams, providing the perfect place to grow a clean natural food.
Not only can people come and relax by the pond and catch fish, fisherman of any skill level are pretty much guaranteed to catch something. They can also sample some of the McCrae’s food prepared on site. Their signature dish is their Mama Trout’s Smoked Trout Pate, which is made from their famous smoked Trout, which, like the farm, is steeped in family tradition.
Mitch explained that back when his family first took over the farm there was a Dutchman who lived just down the road. He was a third-generation eel smoker and he taught the MacRae family how to build a wood-fired smoker and how to properly smoke the fish.
“We still use the same type of smoker and it still works very well,” he said. “We can do 200kg or 600 fish in around 5 hours.”
Mitch also explained that the secret to the great tasting fish – aside from the fish – is the type of wood that is used in the smoker.
“We use Mountain Ash as this wood burns very quickly and doesn’t leave any coals so it is great for smoking fish,” he said. “We have woodcutters who specifically supply us the Mountain Ash; however, we only use a couple of ‘metres’ per year. Our smoked trout is considered by many chefs to be the best in Australia.”
Another gourmet product created at Buxton Trout and Salmon Farm is their trout caviar. When the trout are ready, they are hand milked to extract the eggs, which are then cleaned, separated and lightly salted, which gives the caviar its unique taste. Mitch explained that because they wait until the eggs are fully developed they “…will pop on the roof of your mouth with an explosion of flavour.”
The friendly staff are always onsite to help their customers with the messier side of fishing, including cleaning and preparing the fish to be cooked. For families looking for an all-day excursion, the farm also has barbecue pits so they can cook their catch and have a late lunch or early dinner.
“We welcome everybody to come and drop in a line at our farm!” exclaimed Deb.