Top 10 cheesemaking regions in Australia

By Shannon Verhagen October 11, 2017
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Each Australian annually consumes an average of more than 14kg of cheese. So, it’s fortunate that each year we produce about 344,000 tonnes of it – from traditional hard cheddars to soft, creamy bries and everything in between.

1. Gippsland, VIC

There are more cows than people in this dairying region, which annually produces a huge 1.9 billion litres of milk from more than 1400 farms. But it is sheep’s milk from which southern Gippsland producer Prom Country Cheese – nestled in the picturesque Moyarra Valley – creates its award-winning, five-month-aged Venus Blue.

Prom Country cheese

Bronwyn and Burke Brandon from Prom Country Cheese (Image Credit: Sandra Sunkel-Lozell)

2. South-Western Victoria

It’s testament to this region’s cheese production that its cheeses won four categories in the 2017 Australian Grand Dairy Awards. The area’s lush pastures are also home to Australia’s pioneering water buffalo cheese farm, Shaw River, which has a 400-strong herd and produces cheese, yoghurt and curd.

3. Murray Region, VIC & NSW

Fertile soils, a Mediterranean climate and an extensive irrigation system that makes use of the Murray River all help make this a land of agricultural plenty. Small to medium-sized farms that annually produce 2.3 billion litres of milk supply cheese-processing facilities throughout the region, including a range of artisan cheesemakers creating gourmet cheeses in towns such as Coolamon.

4. Melbourne, VIC

Known for its food culture and surrounded, past city limits, by lush pastures, the Victorian capital is dotted with delicatessens and artisan producers offering fine cheeses. Montefiore, which celebrates traditional Italian recipes, delivered an award-winning trecce in this year’s dairy awards. Italian-style artisanal cheese producer That’s Amore, which weekly produces 250,000 bocconcini, took out the top Flavoured Cheese prize with a hand-crafted and smoked diavoletti.

Montefiore cheese

Montefiore cheese

(Image Credits: That’s Amore Cheese)

5. Tasmania

The rich, fertile pastures and clean air of the island state lend themselves to quality produce. And with one dairy cow for every three and a half people, there is no shortage of milk for cheese. In the 1820s, Australia’s first commercial cheese factory opened here and a number of local producers continue to deliver top-notch cheeses. At the 2017
Australian Grand Dairy Awards, Tasmanian cheeses took out the number-one spots in both Cheddar Style Cheese and Semi-hard and Eye Cheese categories, with northern Tassie’s Heidi Farm taking out the top award in the country – Grand Champion – for its hand-crafted raclette.

6. King Island, TAS

Located 80km north-west of the Tasmanian mainland in Bass Strait, rugged King Island has a dairying history that dates back more than a century and has garnered attention for specialty cheeses. The Roaring Forties winds sweep salt and minerals from the ocean to the land, giving rise to rich, sweet milk that creates unique cheese flavours. Fourteen local farms supply the dairy, which annually produces 2000 tonnes of cheese, including this year’s award-winning Black Label Double Brie and Roaring Forties Blue Cheese.

Roaring forties blue cheese

Roaring Forties blue cheese. 

7. Atherton Tableland, QLD

This subtropical region has a warmer, more humid climate than most other Australian cheese-producing areas. Regularly enduring flooding, cyclones and drought, farmers and producers face unique challenges in maintaining milk and cheese production. Despite this, the region annually produces 547 million litres of cow’s milk and is home to many artisan cheesemakers such as Mungalli Creek Dairy’s boutique cheesery at Millaa Millaa.

8. Bega Valley Shire, NSW

Bega, which is at the centre of this rural region, was originally established in the 1830s to service sheep farmers. Surrounded by lush pastures, the historic town is well known for its cheesemaking heritage, with Bega Cheese the Shire’s biggest employer. The heritage centre gives visitors a glimpse into the region’s first dairy farms and the
journey towards modern cheesemaking.

bega cheese

Bega Vallery. (Image Credit: Getty)

9. Adelaide, SA

For the past 10 years, thousands of cheese lovers have gathered annually in the South Australian capital for the annual Cheesefest, which was this year renamed Ferment the Festival, to celebrate all things cheese and support Aussie producers. A drive east will take you through the rolling Adelaide Hills, where artisan cheesemakers have set up shop in the region’s historic towns, offering boutique products and the opportunity to
be a cheesemaker for the day. The area’s rich dairying history is also showcased in a museum exhibition in an old 1940s dairy.

10. South-western WA

More than 150 dairy farms are spread throughout Western Australia’s south-western corner, with Harvey, Margaret River and Denmark being major dairying areas. With 65,000 dairy cows producing 3.5 per cent of Australia’s milk, there are more cows in the region than the populations of these three towns combined. The Mediterranean climate sees winter rainfall turn pastures lush and green for grazing, and nestled among these picturesque pastures are local creameries and boutique cheesemakers using a variety of milks, including a number of organic operations.