What goes around, comes around is a favourite expression, and for the Sunshine Coast dairy industry, life has indeed gone full circle.
The Sunshine Coast has been one of the country’s most renowned dairy producers since cattle were first introduced to the region in the 1890s.
With rich pastures, a warm climate, a perfect balance between sun and precipitation, the industry thrived, though deregulation of the industry in 2000 meant that dairy producers had to re-invent their product and become more innovative.
Proof of the pudding, or perhaps the yoghurt, is Maleny Dairies which has kept the flag flying with its high-quality output, which in turn has nurtured the growth of a prolific and award-winning cheese industry, which includes pace-setting cheese-makers such as Maleny Cheese, Cedar Creek Cheese, Kenilworth Cheese Factory and new kid on the block, Woombye Cheese Company.
It’s good to start your cheese circuit with the base product – milk – and a visit to Maleny Dairies will not only prove that milk comes from cows (not cartons) but that it tastes so good. Their milk, yoghurt and ice cream can be tasted and bought at the farm or in supermarkets and food outlets across the Sunshine Coast.
Once you’ve tasted the raw product head down the road to Maleny Cheese, where you will have the opportunity to watch the cheese making process in action and then enjoy tastings in the cafe and shop. You can also purchase some of their outstanding hard and soft cheeses, along with their yoghurt range, which includes an award-winning Greek-Gourmet-style and a delicious tub-set Swiss-style.
Such high-quality produce has spawned popular retail outlets such as Colin James Fine Foods in Maleny, a perfect place for lunch or to indulge in a world of fromagerie. The store is is packed with a wide selection of cheese produced locally and from around Australia and the rest of the world. They stock blue mould cheeses ranging from quite mild and creamy to the popular strong blues such as Stilton, Gorgonzola Piccante and the unpasteurised sheep’s milk Roquefort. Their most popular white moulds including the delightfully rich, creamy and decadent triple creams mainly sourced from Australia and France and there’s always a great range of traditional cheddars from mild to vintage, along with smoked and flavoured cheddars. Finish off your visit with their magnificent and exotically flavoured ice cream and gelato – dairy produce has never been more addictive.
The cheese circuit can then take you out to the delightful village of Kenilworth where you will find Kenilworth Country Foods. From strong cheddar cheeses to rich and smooth chocolate mousse, there is something to please everyone’s palate. Most of their products are homemade, the cheeses are handcrafted and the best part is that you can taste a wide range of cheeses for free, and then go and work off the feast by taking a walk through the lovely rural village.
Once inspired, you might then want to put your cheese-making skills to the test you can do so at Easy Cheesy. Dawn Couchman runs short (half-day), fun and informative workshops on how to make soft cheese and other dairy products using simple kitchen equipment. The workshops are run in a purpose built kitchen on her property, which is located near the village of Cooran in the beautiful Sunshine Coast Hinterland. The workshops cater for a minimum of two and a maximum of six people and include a delicious morning tea and you’ll have your own hand-made cheese and yoghurt to take home as your crowning glory.
And if you think you know everything about dairy and cheese – think again.
The Sunshine Coast now produces camel milk and you can visit a camel farm and taste the fruits of their labour with Live It Tours. Set against the majestic Glass House Mountains, you’ll visit QCamel, where you will be able to discover what makes camel milk one of the contemporary ‘super foods’. More importantly, the milk is perfect for making delectable canapes, and the ‘Camels and Canapes’ tour will provide the opportunity to taste dishes like camel’s milk panna cotta with fresh pomegranate, camel’s milk tzatziki with zaatar bread and you can finish it off with camel’s milk gelato with batheetha, accompanied by a glass or two of champagne.