It’s a cheese lover’s fantasy come true to be invited to visit a cheesemaker’s cheese room. I can’t get my protective headgear and shoe covers on quickly enough. Once I’m all suited up, I tiptoe between the wooden shelves in wonderment, breathing in the cool aroma of a room full of ageing hard cheeses.
I’m in Nannup, around 3 hours south of Perth, with a group of journalists on a whirlwind tour of this year’s ‘guest town’ Margaret River, visiting some of the producers from the region who will be exhibiting at this year’s Perth Royal Show. Family owned and operated Cambray Sheep Cheese has entered four cheeses in the competition at the Show.
As soon as I clamber out of the bus, camera in hand, I know I’m going to like it here. The air is crisp and smells like “farm”.
Bruce Wilde grew up in Pingelly but left the family sheep farm to join the police service where he served for over 25 years. Bruce’s wife Jane learned cheesemaking during her recovery after a period of serious illness.
After Bruce left the police service, his background in sheep farming and Jane’s passion for cheesemaking made it a natural decision to run a sheep farm and produce sheep’s cheese on their Nannup property. Furthermore, Bruce refused to milk cows, being a staunch sheep farming man.
Today, Jane is at Cambray’s new cheese shop, which opened in Balingup just last month. Youngest son Tom and Cambray employee Sophie are here at Nannup along with Bruce to tell us all about Cambray cheese.
As well as their farm shop, Bruce and Jane run a small orchard growing chemical-free avocados, citrus and stone fruit. The 160-acre property is surrounded by beautiful state forest and also includes two cottages offering farmstay accommodation for a getaway in picturesque and tranquil surroundings.
Visitors to this cosy farm shop can buy cheeses to take home and also enjoy freshly baked scones, Jane’s homemade fruitcake topped with Cambray Farmhouse Gold cheese, or a cheese platter with homemade jam and seasonal fruit. And to drink: coffee, tea, freshly squeezed farm-grown orange juice or a glass of fresh ewe’s milk (seasonal).
Did you know?
Ewes are milked twice daily 8 months of the year. Because of this, some of Cambray’s sheep cheeses are only available at certain times of year.
Tom’s the only one of the six Wilde children who’s following in his cheesemaking mum’s footsteps. He’s more softly-spoken than his dad but just as chuffed to talk to us about cheese. He makes the matured cheeses while his mum and master cheesemaker Jane specialises in French-style soft cheeses including Brie and Camembert. The cheeses are handmade using traditional recipes and techniques, all free of additives and preservatives. As Bruce declares with pride: “Our cheese is milk, culture, rennet and salt – that’s it.” Some of the hard cheeses are aged for many months in this temperature and humidity controlled cheese room, turned daily by hand.
Did you know?
Sheep’s milk is more easily digestible than cow’s milk, and many people who are intolerant to cow’s milk are surprised to find that they can consume sheep’s milk products.
It’s time to eat some cheese! There’s a wonderful cheese platter waiting for us on the verandah.
We sample a selection of Cambray’s cheeses, including boursan, a light and soft spreadable fresh cheese flavoured with garlic and chives; feta made to a traditional Greek recipe, barrel ripened for over 6 months and preserved in grapeseed oil with a fragrant marinade of herbs and garlic; Brie – buttery, creamy, gooey and ever popular; Farmhouse Gold, Cambray’s Grand Champion Cheese at the Perth Royal Show 2006 and my favourite, the Cambray Blewe, a crumbly, rich and melt-in-the-mouth blue cheese. What’s your favourite cheese?
Cambray have won a swag of awards for their cheeses in Dairy Industry and Royal Show competitions since their debut in 2005 – all cheeses entered have won either gold or first place. After trying them all, it’s easy to see why… and extremely difficult to stop eating.
Thanks to Bruce, Tom and Sophie for your warm hospitality.
Cambray Sheep Cheese is a worthy candidate for any food lover’s tour of WA’s south west – wear your eating pants and make sure you bring an esky!
Cambray Sheep Cheese
Nannup WA 6275
Telephone: (08) 9756 2037
The farm shop is open 9am to 5pm 7 days.
Closed Christmas and ANZAC day.
Cambray Sheep Cheese is available online (within Australia only) and at farmers markets in Perth and the South West Region. While Cambray’s primary products are sheep cheese, they also produce a range of cow’s milk soft cheeses.
One-day cheesemaking courses (make and take home your own Brie, Ricotta, Feta and cream cheese) are held at certain times of year – contact Cambray to check availability.
Farmstays are also available at Bruce and Jane’s Cambray Cottages.
Perth Royal Show 2012
29 September to 6 October at Claremont Showgrounds
This year’s ‘guest town’ is Margaret River.
For more info, visit the website or Facebook page.
I’ll be going to the show this year after giving it a miss the past few years – will eat and tweet my way through – can’t wait!
TFP travelled to Nannup and the Margaret River region as a guest of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia.