Putting the Fizz back in the Hauraki Plains
The Hauraki Rail Trail has arrived about twenty years too late for Ron and Margaret Tyrrell of Tirohia. The couple were happily enjoying semiretirement on their two acre property eight kilometres from Paeroa, until the Prime Minister’s cycleway popped up alongside their boundary fence.
The Tyrrell’s bold new venture has been aptly named the “The Depot Garden” after the property’s previous life as a storage facility. They live on the site which was once the Tirohia Europa Petrol Depot. Fuel was stored on the property from 1941 until 1976. Initially it was sent from Auckland by barge, later it was delivered to Tirohia by rail, until finally it was trucked to the Depot.
These days “The Depot Garden” is a popular stop for passing cyclists and visiting tourists alike. Serving Devonshire Teas, the sprightly pair have found themselves running a thriving business open seven days during the peak summer period.
“Ron makes the scones and I mow the lawns” laughs Margaret. “We are a good partnership.” It took Ron sometime to perfect the art of the scone making and he candidly admits his initial gluten-free efforts left much to be desired. Happy to concede defeat on that count, The Depot now outsources its gluten-free savouries.
Their spreads however are all home-made. I chowed down on a cheese scone with all the trappings; butter, cream with a healthy dollop of the Tyrrell’s own Apricot & Passionfruit jam. Other spreadable options on the menu included Strawberry and Crab Apple Jelly.
“Clotted cream” Ron divulges is the essential ingredient which signifies an authentic Devonshire Tea. “We decided not to use clotted cream however because it’s a time-consuming process to produce and also expensive to buy. So we use normal whipped cream and nobody complains although some of the British customers do have us on about it” he smiles.
“It didn’t take too much of a refit and suddenly we had a commercial kitchen” says a beaming Margaret while showing off shelves full of colourful crockery. “All of our teas are served in china cups. Trade Me certainly is a great thing!”