Bernie Mahon may be the fourth generation Mahon to live and farm in the one spot on Pine Mountain but he is in no way set in his ways.
From dairy and small crops to olive grove and lime orchard, Mr Mahon has been able to adapt to the ever-changing world around him.
“We just keep evolving as we go,” he said.
“As things change we evolve.”
Back in the 90s, Mr Mahon and his wife Lorraine, decided to plant olive trees on the family dairy farm.
“At that time olives were just starting to become popular,” he said.
“Ipswich’s climate is great for growing big trees but I was getting small crops.
“It was back to the drawing board to work out how to get them to flower.
“Then in 2005 we added the lime trees.”
Watercress Creek Olives and Limes now has three different varieties of olives with about 1,200 olive trees and 600 lime trees.
“After a slow start at the markets I decided to go direct to the nightclubs and restaurants and that is when things picked up,” he said.
Bernie Mahon picks the olives off his trees by gripping the branch at the stem and dragging his hand along collecting the olives in his picking bag. Image: Laura Bath
Mr Mahon does almost everything from paddock to plate by hand.
He prunes the trees, picks the fruit, bottles the oil and puts the labels on.
“Everything I sell is as local as I can make it,” he said.
“It’s always best to get local even if it costs a bit more money because the quality and flavour is so much better.
“Much like our produce which tastes great and are excellent quality.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic hit this year, Mr Mahon has had to pivot again.
“I had to throw away 12 tonnes of limes this year when the restaurants and nightclubs closed down,” he said.
Mr Mahon started juicing the limes to try and cut down on wastage.
He now stores the lime juice in freezers so he has that available all year round.
He has also expanded his farm-gate shop on the farm for the tourism market.
The shelves are lined with homemade olive oils, vinegars, tapenades and jams.
“It’s great for people to be able to come out and see how things work on a farm,” Mr Mahon said.
“People can come out here and walk among the olive trees and have a sit down and try something from the shop.”
Mr Mahon’s farm sprawls over a section of Pine Mountain with a pine tree at the front gate more than 300 years old.
“Pine Mountain is a great spot, it’s close to Ipswich and Brisbane and it is unique in that all of the original settlers from the 1860s still have descendants on the mountain,” he said.
Reflecting on the changes on his own farm on the mountain, Mr Mahon is optimistic.
“It’s definitely been hard work to get to where we are, but it’s all been worth it,” he said.