Cheese. Need we say more? There’s a gouda reason cheese can be eaten at any meal, at any time of day, and for any occasion. And that reason is because it’s delicious. Chances are, your fridge’s cheese drawer is looking a little sad right now. When was the last time you really invested in some top-tier, quality cheese—you know, cheese you didn’t buy from the supermarket? If it’s been too long, we’ve rounded up a few of the state’s top cheese makers (within driving distance of Brisbane) to get you your cheese fix—and a breath of fresh country air while you’re at it. So fill up the tank, sit back, and strap in: we see a road trip in your future, with a mountain of cheese in the back seat.
You’ll know you’ve hit dairy country when you begin to climb the rolling hills that encompass Mary Valley. Nestled amongst the lush green pastures is the small rural township of Kenilworth, home to the gourmet, handcrafted cheeses of Kenilworth Dairies. While tastings are currently off the menu (because ‘rona is determined to ruin our lives), you can still pop in for a takeaway taste of the gouda life at their factory shop or onsite cafe. But it doesn’t end there—no visit to Kenilworth Dairies is complete without sampling the other delicacies on offer. We’re talking creamy honeyed yoghurt, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mousse, and 15 udderly delicious flavours of handmade ice cream. Make sure you visit on a cheat day.
If you’re planning a staycay on the Sunshine Coast, be sure to stop in at the award-winning Maleny Cheese Cafe. Their range is renowned across Queensland for its impeccable quality and flavour, and features delicious handmade cheeses made of cow and buffalo milk. Tours and product tastings are temporarily off the table, but you can still get your fix of herb and garlic feta and chilli con cheddar by grabbing your cheese to-go. While you’re there, snag yourself a tub of gourmet Greek-style yoghurt—the apple and cinnamon flavour will have you licking the tub clean.
Witches Chase Cheese
If the bubbling brooks and rustling leaves of Tamborine just aren’t enough to justify the drive, the beautifully handcrafted cheeses of Witches Chase Cheese Co. are sure to get you behind the wheel. The one-stop indulgence shop provides everything you need to set your worries aside and appreciate life’s greatest pleasures—cheese, beer and food. Their misty mountain blue cheese goes great with fresh pear or apple slices, but pairs even better with the full-bodied brews provided by Fortitude Brewing Co. Cheese tastings are currently available during opening hours, but if you’re planning on gathering a big group, you’ll want to book ahead. Head to their site for more details.
Towri Sheep Cheeses
For boutique cheese ewe will love (see what we did there?), look no further than Towri Sheep Cheeses. The artisan dairy sits on 300 acres of scenic farmland, and promises a taste of laid-back country living. If you’ve never tasted sheep cheese, you’re in for a treat—its distinctive flavour is 100% addictive, and it’s packed full of nutritional benefits for guilt-free bingeing (okay, maybe not guilt-free, but close enough). Plus, the lactose in sheep milk is said to be far more tolerable than the lactose in cow milk—so even your dairy-free friends can join in on the fun. Visits and tours are on Saturdays only, so email or call ahead to secure yourself a spot on one of the available dates here.
Summer Land Camels
If you thought sheep cheese was out there, prepare to have your mind blown. Summer Land Camels offers guests the chance to indulge in the rich and creamy taste of camel milk cheeses by visiting their cafe, or by booking a tour and taste farm experience. Whichever you choose, be sure to sample the fromage blanc—it’s the only one of its kind in the entire country—and nab yourself a scoop of camel milk gelato (it’s naturally low in fat, and you can get salted caramel flavour. What more could you ask for?). And on top of all that, camel milk is very low in lactose, so it’s perfect for anyone with intolerances. Okay, yeah, you caught us—we’re total camel milk converts.
The Granite Belt’s original farmhouse cheesemakers, Stanthorpe Cheese promises high quality artisan cheeses to suit even the fussiest cheese connoisseurs. For the past 12 years their cheeses have come from a single herd of purebred Jersey cows from one farm, meaning their flavours are totally unique and are strongly influenced by the characteristics of the season. Heavy rains result in bright yellow cheeses with an earthy aroma, and frosty winters lead to more intense flavours. Taste the difference for yourself with a visit to the Stanthorpe Cheese tasting room. Dine-in is currently off the cards, but their full cheese selection is available for takeaway, and their site offers extensive tasting notes for an authentic tasting experience.
Prefer to hit up somewhere with booze? Take a road trip to these country pubs for a pint.
Image credit: Amy Higg