30/09/2003 - 22:00

Fini starts new project

30/09/2003 - 22:00

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FORMER property developer Tony Fini has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a new tourism venture at his family’s olive grove near Gingin, north of Perth.

Fini starts new project

FORMER property developer Tony Fini has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a new tourism venture at his family’s olive grove near Gingin, north of Perth.

Mr Fini, who sold his property development business Fini Group to Mirvac in 2001 for $35 million, plans to invest up to $13 million in the project.

He has already spent $8 million buying land and planting 105,000 olive trees and intends to spend between $4 million and $5 million turning Fini Olives into a tourist destination.

His plans include a restaurant, conference facilities, a museum and shop and an outdoor amphitheatre for concerts.

The 72-year-old Mr Fini is also establishing a small vineyard.

The tourist facilities will be integrated with the olive business, which will be expanded to include processing and bottling facilities.

Mr Fini said he was taking a long-term view of the tourism venture, which would be developed as a staged project over several years.

“When I first came to Perth 50 years ago there was nothing at Mandurah,” he said.

“It was a little place, like at Rockingham.

“Look at the Swan Valley, 20 years ago it wasn’t on the map.”

Mr Fini anticipates further expansion of Perth’s northern suburbs and also noted plans for large residential sub-divisions in coastal towns such as Guilderton and Lancelin.

He is also inspired by the success of Leeuwin Estate, which pioneered wine tourism when it opened a restaurant at its Margaret River winery 25 years ago.

His vision is to build up Fini Olives so that it becomes an attraction in its own right.

He will be assisted by the development of the Moore River region, which extends from Gingin to Jurien, as WA’s major olive growing area.

More than $50 million has been invested in the region’s olive industry over the past five years.

Other big producers include Olea Australis, which markets the Dandaragan Estate olive oil brand, and Larenta Olives.

Growers are hoping to match the success Margaret River has achieved as a widely recognised quality wine region.

The amount of olive oil produced in the area has been very limited to date but will expand rapidly in 2004 and beyond.

Mr Fini said he was still finalising a retail brand for his extra virgin olive oil, which would be produced in 2004.

When the trees are fully mature in 2014, Fini Olives will produce close to 1,000,000 litres of extra virgin olive oil a year.

It will also produce table olives and other produce.

Mr Fini said he planned to host concerts at the Fini Olives amphitheatre, similar to the concerts that have helped to make Leeuwin Estate famous.

He is also investigating bringing an old olive press, of the kind powered by donkeys, from Italy to be a showpiece in the planned museum.

“You need something different to attract people,” Mr Fini said.

Mr Fini established the Fini Group in the 1950s and built it into one of WA’s major property developers.

The property business, now known as Mirvac Fini, is managed by his son, Adrian Fini.

 

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