Bilpin, known as the “Land of the Mountain Apple”, is a tiny town home to 665 people on the edge of the wilderness, and is the last frontier to the next town in the majestic Blue Mountains. Ben, born and raised in Bilpin, has a deep passion for its clean air, natural bush, distinct four seasons and great local produce. He took over his Dad’s Bilpin Bush Honey business five years ago and set up The Hive café, a thriving hub for the community and tourists alike. When the fires hit near Bilpin this summer, it was with deep anguish that Ben had to make the decision whether to save his business, or his home.
The community spent a month under continuous threat. The smoke that came down from the northern fires was so thick, Ben and his family could not operate their businesses. He moved his 200 hives 30km away to help his bees continue to produce honey. The fires shifted, and they spent two weeks under direct threat.
It was pure chaos. Both his home and café were under ember attack, so he made the difficult decision to save his home and hope that the café would still be standing when he was able to return. Luckily it was, the toilet block caught on fire, but the café was relatively unscathed. And it was the right choice; Ben was able to extinguish spot fires around his property and save his home.
With fortune on his side, his harrowing experience was sadly one experienced by many from this community. Demonstrative of the resilience within our impacted communities, Ben is looking forward to growing his business. His passion for what he does comes from a deep understanding that bees form the fabric for the whole food web and without them, we cannot survive. His extraction process for a high-quality raw honey is leaving it to settle in a tank, turn on a tap at the bottom of the tank to fill a jar, and that’s it. Nothing but purity.
In addition to the honey, Ben bakes around 300 loaves of sourdough each week to provide the best in freshness to his community. He is looking forward to being able to welcome more tourists to the area when COVID-19 restrictions lift, but until then, the local producers from Bilpin and Mount Tomah swap the excess of what they make for each other’s produce, keeping the community spirit strong in this beautiful and wild part of the Mountains.