Maleny Dairies are known for their top quality milk products in this part of the world. So on my recent visit to Maleny their farm tour was top of my list.
The scenic drive to the farm takes you through the beautiful rolling green hills of the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
I visited on a Monday morning during the school holidays. I arrived a little early to see the cows being fed – the big brown beasties with beautiful eyes all jostled for pole position at the feeding trough. The children were in awe, holding out little hands – tentatively offering grain, their reactions at the big slimy pink tongues were priceless.
We watched a short video about the farm and the family who run the Maleny Dairies business (which was set up in defiance against the big corporate milk companies who were not paying them enough to make the farm viable).
Our guide Finlay shows us the big milk vats and the bottling plant. A big glass window lets us see the action as automated machines fill and cap hundreds of plastic milk bottles on a conveyor belt. On average their Guernsey cows provide 20-25 litres of milk a day (the record holder is a cow called Belladonna – 70 litres in one day!).
There’s a small heard of 195 cows on the farm (by comparison the big dairies have 1000-3000 cows) and they grow their own grain for fed. The cows are milked at 5am and 3pm every day of the year, and milk is collected from 7 other farms in the area to be pasteurised (heated to 72.5 degrees) and then homogenised (except for their Gold Top milk).
Next we head to the milking sheds, stopping on the way to meet some cute little piglets and chickens. At the sheds we learn that it takes about 2 hours to milk the whole herd. The clever cows know when it’s milking time and make their way to the sheds like clockwork.
As well as bottling a range of milks (including strawberry, chocolate and coffee flavours) and cream, Maleny Dairies make yoghurts and a delicious gluten free custard. I rather enjoyed all the taste testing at the end of the tour, and decided the coffee milk was my favourite.
Afterwards I found myself wondering whether other ‘adults without kids’ would enjoy a morning on the farm as much as I had (endless squeals of delight assured me it was a hit with the little people). I concluded, that yes, big people (thinking of my girlfriends in particular) would enjoy it too! I can’t remember the last time I was on a farm and had a wonderful morning with the animals and learning about the milking process. Something a bit different and lots of fun too.
My top tips for visiting Maleny Dairies:
- Bring a chilly bin (Esky for you Aussies) so that you can keep your purchases cold on the trip home. Ice bricks will ensure your precious cargo of milk, custard and yoghurt will make it safely to your fridge. (Products are sold at factory prices so are cheaper than you find in the shops).
- If you’re visiting as an ‘adult without kids’ expect to be accompanied by lots of kidlets, it is a true joy to see their faces as they meet piglets, feed cows and chase chickens. (OK, I’ll admit it, I did tisk tisk to myself a few times at the behaviour of some of the little darlings, but comforted myself that at least I didn’t have to go home with them lol).
- If you DO have kidlets, then this is a wonderful interactive encounter with lots of farm animals, and the chance to see where milk really comes from!!
- Probably not the best place to visit if you’re dairy/lactose intolerant.
- Bring water, a hat and sunblock as you will be outside for a couple of hours.
- The cows are milked at 3pm so take the 2:30pm tour if you want to see the action.
Tour times: Monday to Saturday 10.30 am and 2.30pm
(closed Sunday and Public Holidays)
70 McCarthy Road, Maleny, Qld, phone 07 5494 2392