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Mango Harvest

Photo by Dan Wood

Interview with – Julie Weguelin of Mango Harvest.

Looking for a more peaceful pace, Julie and Geoff Weguelin made a lifestyle shift from city life in Perth to mango farming in Broome. Rather than retiring under the mango trees, they’ve instead built a successful business producing gourmet mango foods.

“Our aim was to live quietly off the land, but the land had other plans.”

We started with a small mango lifestyle holding 20 km’s from Broome and very quickly realised that relaxing, pottering and dabbling were not on the cards. Instead, we began planting more mango trees, business was thriving and we had so many ideas.

“When we started, the only thing we knew about mangoes was that we liked them.”

A pretty good place to start really. The idea was to generate a liveable income from the farm, small scale, but things just seemed to grow, organically. Our mango trees are 30 years old, but some varieties can last up to 300 years and still be producing. They’re incredibly beautiful trees producing amazingly beautiful fruit.

“We do everything with the fresh mango that we can think of.”

We create and sell everything apart from the whole fruit itself. Our products range across wine, jam, chutney, sauces, vinegar, dressings, smoothies, cocktails and even soap. A local fruit winemaker taught me the basics for fruit wine and over the years, we’ve worked hard to perfect it. Our mango wine has picked up awards over the last few years and we’ve recently won Silver and Bronze at this year’s Australian Fruit Wine awards.

“We’ve exported our mango wine all the way to Alaska and people will travel all the way to us for a mango smoothie.”

In addition to our farm production, we operate an on-site cafe where we showcase our latest offering. We supply gourmet mango products to restaurants and we’ve exported our mango wine, but our main trade is with our mango smoothies, people come from far and wide, they’re pretty good.

“We rely on the seasons and our staff.”

The most challenging part is the climate, we rely on the wet season, then our heaviest workload is during harvest in November. We employ extra people, usually casual labour and by December, it’s all done, then production starts. Actually, we always wanted to do it on our own, even though there were plenty of offers to come and help out. However, as soon as we accepted this help, the business really took off, we haven’t looked back.

“The locals are our biggest supporters.”

We get incredible trade from the local community, from their visitors and international guests. They’ll drive out for a look around and a mango smoothie. Australians supporting Australians, we like to return the favour and keeping production within the community is important to us.

“Our goal is to retire but we’re not quite sure how to do it.”

I guess we do like to keep busy. Perhaps we’ll retire to the country one day, you know, something small and quiet.