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Life

King Island Dairy

It is the combination of a pristine cheese-making environment and the dedication of a passionate community that results in the premium quality cheeses of King Island Dairy.

Situated in the middle of Bass Strait, about halfway between Victoria and the North West tip of Tasmania, King Island is as rugged and isolated a place as you can get. Battered by howling winds and surrounded raging seas, the island has a unique environment unlike anywhere else, and for lovers of quality cheese, that’s a wonderful thing.

“It takes an entire island community to produce cheese – from farmers, milk truck drivers, cheese makers to wrappers and packers, and I think that’s what makes King Island Dairy so special.”

- Cameron Bruce, General Manager for Specialty Cheese at King Island Dairy

You see, for dairy farming, King Island is simply idyllic. With mineral rich soils, cool annual temperatures and abundant rainfall, the pastures of island are simply pristine. Then, there’s the added element of salt spray from the constant westerly winds salting the grass that feeds the cows. The result is a “sweet, unusually rich milk that you can taste in all our delicious cheeses,” says Cameron Bruce, General Manager for Specialty Cheese at King Island Dairy.

A like minded community

Just as integral as the environmental factors are the people who help make the King Island Dairy story a success. From the dairy farmers who supply the milk, the truck drivers who deliver it, the cheese makers who lovingly craft the cheese, to the packers who hand wrap many of the products, the King Island Dairy family is a passionate community bound together by a desire to make the best cheese possible.

There are just 10 farms producing 100 per cent of the milk for King Island Dairy cheese. The milk is delivered daily, travelling no more than two hours from farm to dairy, so it is always fresh and there’s a true sense of trust, knowing and friendship between farmer and producer.

The art of cheese making

As soon as the milk is delivered to King Island Dairy, the art of cheese making begins. And an art it is, with experienced cheese makers lovingly crafting, handling and maturing the cheese. And once its ready to go to market, the cheese is wrapped and packed by a dedicated team, equally important to King Island Dairy as  any along the production cycle.

“Our cheese making process is very labour intensive, with many of our products being handcrafted,” says Cameron. “Some of our wrappers can even tell who wrapped a particular cheese, simply by looking at the packaging style.”

The end result is a premium range of quality Soft White, Washed Rind, Blue Vein and Cheddar cheese that not only pleases the palates of cheese-lovers everywhere, but also wows judges at the Australian Grand Dairy Awards.

An icon

From its early days in the 1900s, King Island Dairy has grown to become an icon of the island, integral to the lives of its entire community.

“It takes an entire island community to produce cheese – from farmers, milk truck drivers, cheese makers to wrappers and packers, and I think that’s what makes King Island Dairy so special,” says Cameron. “King Island Dairy’s unique position in the market over so many years is really a result of the passion of the King Island community in which the brand’s foundations were built.”

So when you’re browsing the cheese section at your local outlet, consider the history, passion and community spirit that is part of each and every King Island Dairy cheese.

For more details on King Island Dairy products visit kingislanddairy.com.au

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Life
The Cobram Estate story
Words by Ed Halmagyi on 15 Jan 2018
The Murray River flows slowly through the ancient floodplains south-east of Mildura, drifting almost imperceptibly under a baking blue sky. Egrets and cormorants drift with the current, watched from the banks by sleepy kangaroos, while bright flashes of blue kingfishers dart between the trees. The land here is distinctly Australian, and some of the nation’s most celebrated and productive agricultural country, home to stonefruit, citrus, almonds, grapes and sheep-grazing. But a dynamic and fast-growing industry is transforming the region. Over the last two decades, vast groves of silver-leafed olive trees have been planted, breathing new life into the local economy, and changing the way Australians cook. Most significant of these farms is Boundary Bend, whose Cobram Estate brand is Australia’s leading extra virgin olive oil, and deserving winner of the RAS President’s Medal, the pre-eminent prize for agriculture. The company’s story is by turns inspiring, and a keen insight into the opportunities that exist when inspiration is interwoven with a determination towards excellence.
A friendship forms In the early 1990s, Rob McGavin and Paul Riordan were students at Marcus Oldham Agricultural College in Geelong. It’s a small campus, with barely more than 100 students, and while the boys were a few years apart, through the course of their studies, they formed a friendship that would underpin both their personal journeys and their professional careers. Rob was studying agribusiness, and Paul undertook farm management, courses that addressed the operational concerns of livestock husbandry and horticulture, but are more focussed on economics.  Despite his managerial leanings, after college, Rob decided to get dirt under his nails. He left behind the cattle-grazing he grew up with in Central Queensland, and instead chose an industry less susceptible to the tribulations of drought and the fluctuating value of the Australian dollar. With support from his parents, Rob set out for an adventure in wine production, buying a small farm at Renmark in South Australia’s Riverland with his wife Kate. Although Kate’s family were grape-growers from Coonawarra, it was still a trial by fire as they set out to establish the vineyard, and before long were needing help. As luck (or fate) would have it, Paul was at a loose end. He moved to the farm, and their friendship and work relationship blossomed. In time, Kate introduced Paul to her friend Fiona, and before long the couples had established a close-knit group that continues 25 years later.
A story of growth Viticulture, as many wine producers will attest, proved more complex than it seemed from a distance, and soon the team were considering ways to diversify. Paul had an interest in olive production, and could see the potential for a strong Australian industry. And so, knowing little about the practicalities of olives, they planted some test trees. But farming olives required economies of scale to make the significant costs of planting and processing more profitable. So before long, Rob and Paul were keen to find a larger property and build a more substantial grove. At Boundary Bend they found a broad parcel of well-irrigated land with the right mix of sandy, well-drained soil. Coupled with long, hot summers that enable the olives to ripen and swell with oil, it was the ideal location for the next stage in their journey.  In 1999, Rob and Paul planted their first 500 hectares, a sizeable but not overwhelming grove. Today the farm has more than 6500 hectares of olive trees stretching from one horizon to the other. They also have a second planting at Boort in central Victoria, a property they took over when its former owner, Timbercorp, went bankrupt. That process was challenging and nearly ended in the failure of Cobram Estate, and still carries some scars for everyone involved. For several weeks in 2009, Rob and Paul were unsure if the company, and the dreams they had invested in it, would survive. Rob describes that moment as Dickensian, the best and worst of times. Yet in his endlessly optimistic way he prefers to characterise it as a difficult transformation that only made them and Cobram Estate stronger in the long run. After some financial juggling, they acquired the grove and today it forms a significant part of their operation.
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  Click here to shop Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oils. 
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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