Although Australia’s first farmed black truffle was harvested in 1999 in Tasmania, Australia’s first truffle festival took place in an outer suburb of Perth – Mundaring. The truffles came from Manjimup, 300km or so to the south. The festival ran successfully for six years and in 2012 was named among the top five truffle festivals of the world. In 2013, though, insurance issues brought the organisers into conflict with their State Government sponsors and the festival was cancelled.
But by then the action had moved to Manjimup itself. In 2011 the first Truffle Kerfuffle was held. This takes place annually over a weekend in late June, with masterclasses, cooking demonstrations, produce stalls and grand dinners – all the stuff a good truffle festival is made of. It’s designed to showcase, not just the truffle, but the food and wine of the Great Southern region of Western Australia.
Inspired by the Western Australians, a truffle grower in the Canberra region decided that a Canberra truffle festival would help to create a market for the local growers. The aim was to educate both the local chefs and the public about the truffle – how to cook it and how to eat it. The first Capital Country Truffle Festival took place in 2009. It is not a weekend event, but extends from the mid-winter solstice through July into early August – as long as the season lasts.
During this time, local restaurants are encouraged to participate by including truffles on their menus, or by planning special degustation dinners. Truffle growers conduct hunts, a local brewery produces truffled ale, there are cooking classes and truffles are on sale at the local markets. In 2014, Antonio Carluccio – one of TV’s Two Fat Italians – was the patron and star attraction of the Canberra festival.
Truffle Melbourne, staged at the Caulfield Racecourse in 2014, got off to a promising start as a weekend truffle festival, but has since changed its format to encompass a range of events at various locations including on the Mornington Peninsula. The Melbourne organisers have extended their reach interstate with Truffle Adelaide – a mini festival largely based around the Adelaide markets.