Canberra & Capital Country Truffles buried treasure and black magic in the nation's capital!


It's just another day at the office for Tom. He signs on with a wag of his tail and, with a most matter-of-fact air, leads his owner, Denzil Sturgiss, down a row of oak and hazelnut trees at Tarago Truffles.



Ten years ago, Denzil and his wife Anne (above) planted their first trees, hoping to one day harvest truffles from the ground beneath them. They had bought the stock already inoculated with the spores of Tuber melanosporum, the beginnings of the famed and fabled black winter truffles, the Périgord truffle so beloved for centuries in Europe.

A relatively new food to be produced in Australia, truffles are one of the hottest crops, popping up in unexpected places as well as the more carefully tended groves of oak, hazelnut and (as on the Sturgiss property) evergreen hollyoak.


It's a lottery, though. And that's where Tom and his kennel-mates come in. With noses trained to sniff out the elusive aromas, they are worth their weight in, er, truffles! It's impossible just by looking to even begin to guess what lies just a few centimetres below the surface. Every truffle farmer longs to pick out a beauty the size of a large potato (and they do come that size occasionally) but mostly they range from marble-sized to tennis ball-sized.


Tom's job is a version of "scatch and sniff". When Denzil firmly says "find truffle" Tom knows to sniff – and then scratch. Just a few scrapes with his front paw in the earth where his keen nose has detected the unmissable (to Tom, anyway) scent of truffle. No theatrics, no excitement – this is work and, after he's located a truffle, he quickly turns away, assured that a treat from Denzil's bag is his reward. If you didn't know, though, it almost looks like he's saying, "Ooops, sorry, my mistake."

So what is he smelling? We sniff some soil, inhale a freshly dug truffle and try to imprint it. Damp earth, a trace of mushroom, vegetable smells. That's all we get. Broccoli, perhaps? Damp cabbage? It's impossibe to accurately describe a new food.


But 'oops' is not in Tom's vocab. He gets it right every time as we follow him for a couple of hours on the truffle hunt at Tarago Truffles north-east of Canberra, just one of the many events planned for the month-long Canberra & Capital Region Truffle Festival.


After Tom has scratched, Denzil kneels, then sniffs too, then delicately excavates what looks like a solid lump of mud (long ago Greek historian, Plutarch, called truffles 'mud cooked by lightning') then carefully bags it, noting the number and position of the tree.


Ribbons on each tree denote what was found there and when. The Canberra and ACT area is proving ideal for truffle growing. 'The truffles need the cold to ripen.' Denzil says, 'They need overnight temperatures of between -3C to -4C.' So committed is the family now to this new project they have 4500 trees planted on a nine-hectares.


And here it is, the buried treasure unearthed on the day of our hunt. The previous Saturday, Denzil tells us, they unearthed nine kilograms of this black gold. At a market price of around $3000 a kilogram, that's not a bad day's work!


In the pavilion we find that Anne has gently brushed off the earth which had coated the day's finds, and washed them ready for sale to the tour participants at a discount. As the purchases are made, each one is carefully checked, a small nick taken out to prove it is a good specimen and then it is weighed.

We are instructed on how to store the truffle (wrapped in paper towel in a glass container in the fridge) and how to use them. One of the best ways is to place the truffle with whole eggs in a large glass jar and leave for a day, we are advised, so that the pungent aromas of the truffle infuse the egg. Scrambled, boiled or coddled, the magnificent truffle flavour permeating the egg makes this one of life's great treats.

SEE how it happens....


Canberra & Capital Region Truffle Festival is held every winter in the region.

Events include degustation dinners at ten Canberra restaurants. There are truffle hunts at six local trufferies and you will find truffles for sale at the Canberra Region Farmers' Market at EPIC and Fyshwick Markets and other selected outlets. There are truffle cooking classes and truffles on the menu at special dinners at restaurants throughout the region.

It's a month with something for everyone. A taste of mid-winter magic! More details....



Add comment

Security code




Www.Foodandtravel.Com.Au - Australia

Best Food Travel Website 2021 has been awarded

Best Antipodean Culinary Travel Expert, 2019

by the prestigious UK-based magazine...



It's worth taking a driving trip through country South Australia...

...winelands, long views, great seafood and more.

Find it HERE>>>



Where has WA's Great Southern and all the (wild)flowers gone?

You'll find them now permanently HERE...



If you are wondering where the GREAT IDEAS for Virtual Travel have gone to....

...they are HERE>>>



Missed seeing Esperance Western Australia ~ and Skylab?

HERE it is....



Georgia offers another world outside the capital...

Find out about it HERE>>>



World city options - take note....

...for when you travel again!




...from all around the world

Tune in and hear her talks on     

Radio 2GB 873AM....




Jigsaws and fishy things...

...Nova Scotia has this and so much more.



History and beauty with a dash of fun...

...and that's just the beginning of Armenia!



Zany Zadar & Croatia's north

Crazy and beautiful, a place everyone should visit.




Lovely Lisbon ~ and beyond. Sardines and secrets!

Find out much more here.... 



Where did cool Colombo go?

It's here!



Two virtual visits to Ontario





Where is Tbilisi? 

Once you discover its beauty and history, you will be making plans to visit as soon as you can.

Read more....



Madrid the marvelous - so much to see in Spain's capital.

See it all here....



If you missed reading about Thailand's organic produce....

Here is the new link....



Colour comes to Green Summer

See what is happening in Australia's northernmost city this summer....



Here's something fun to check out!

The world's most popular surnames .... country



~ Northern Spain ~

mountains and miracles - and much more!

After this journey, many people will never see the world the same way again.


Find out why....



Visit the beautiful heart of


Gondolas, cathedrals, cakes and a palace thrown in for good measure.

See for yourself!



And how about these vineyards in Georgia?

See other gardens in strange locations here....



Now this IS unusual! The Golden Bridge near Da Nang in Vietnam

(Photo: psyajh1004)

See  more on this video....



Australia, the land of long straight roads.

Cross the country with us and see some more of them...



Make your own food and travel videos? YES YOU CAN!

Gordon Hammond gives some insider tips.....



Travelling to Sydney? The northern beaches are spectacular.

See what we mean...



For an exotic travel experience, go glamping in the desert.

Where do you think this is?



Hungary has something for every traveller.

Especially those who love good food...