At first, it doesn’t look much like your usual oasis. There are a few swaying palms. Drought declared but not desert dry. Then there’s a friendly camel bellow and then another. This is Summer Land Camel Farm – the world’s third-largest camel dairy where camels rule.
Less than an hour out of Brisbane, the Scenic Rim is one of Australia’s astonishing secrets. Six national parks including two world-heritage-listed treasures call this magical corner of Australia home. Rich volcanic soil makes this food bowl a food security asset that supplies Australia and overseas markets.
The soil is all part of the alchemy that makes milk from Summer Land Camel Farm the worlds most nutritious. Closest in composition to human milk, rich in vitamins and disease-fighting immune proteins and is ideal for the lactose intolerant.
Did you know?
Research has shown cattle have a greater chance of performing well on poorer grasses if
they are co-grazed with camels. Improvement in the digestion comes from a transfer in microorganisms as the animals share water troughs. This helps cattle stay healthy during drought.
One day two mates …
Old school friends Jeff Flood and Paul Martin took a while to become camel farmers. Jeff, a former biochemist and nutritional Immunotherapist found camel milk a godsend for his son’s eczema. Paul, a sustainable agricultural scientist and grazier is an expert in helping drought-stricken properties regenerate.
Together their expertise has made Summer Land Camel Farm a world-leader in camel dairy farming. Their use of only compost and manure for fertilizer and no pesticides make them the poster poster-boys for eco-responsible, chemical-free farming. The 850-acre property is part of a delicate eco-system that supports platypus and koalas.
A little history
Indian camels were first introduced into Australia in the 1840s primarily for inland exploration. By 1916, about 4,000 Indian and then Egyptian camels and over 3,000 Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers formed the Imperial Camel Corps fighting in Gaza and Beersheba in Palestine.
Back home the cameleers were collectively known as Afghans although they came from Egypt, Turkey, Persia, Rajasthan and Punjab. European immigrants and Australians targeted them racially because of their business success. The camels were vilified too as smelly, spitting, grumpy and responsible for erosion and fence damage. And so the myth of the ‘ferocious, foul, feral camel was born.
Successive governments and agencies, farmers and graziers, unfortunately, have kept this myth alive allowing for serial culling and inhumane ‘control’ that often means a long, slow death in the wild.
The camel evangelist – Jeff Flood
Jeff is the camel’s biggest fan. He knows everything you could ever know about these noble cuties. He is a camel evangelist because he knows the health potential of the animal and its milk for humans.
Tried & True
Now, in a world-first Summer Land Camel Farm has produced camel cheddar cheese after exhaustive research and a whole lot of trial and error. Considered impossible to make because of the low-fat and low-lactose milk, the cheddar was released only last week.
Working with Michael Reeves from Pure Artisan Cheese at Mt Tamborine, the process wasn’t easy, “We were making a cheese that has never been made before… ever. So, there was no template to work from, no timeline to follow, we were literally making our own history,” he said.
The cheese is mild with a delicate mouthfeel. Cheddar now is part of the dairy’s delicious cheese portfolio of Halloumi, Fromage Blanc and Persian Feta cheeses. Milk, gelato and chocolate are also part of the range available online, at the farm and at retailers.
350kg of camel cheddar will be ready to taste during Scenic Rim Eat Local Week. Running from June 29 to July 7 there will be more than ninety delectable events across the region including farm-gate and culinary experiences.