By Alison Huth
Do your kids know where milk comes from? There has been research which shows that too many kids think that milk just comes from the supermarket shelves and has nothing to do with cows. But you cannot have cows milk without the cow, and Maleny Dairy is just the place to show how it all happens.
The dairy farm has been in the Hopper family since 1948, but the defining year was 2002 when the industry was deregulated. What this meant to the family was that the price that the farmers were paid for their milk varied according to who wanted to buy it. And, if you needed more than the purchaser wanted to pay, you did not sell your milk.
This led to a lot of dairy farms becoming non-viable, and leaving the industry. But not the Hopper family; they made a major change to their business and went out on their own, not selling to major retailers, but under their own name – Maleny Dairy. One of the main advantages they have is that all the cows are Guernsey, and they produce the richest creamiest milk.
Keith is in charge of the dairy herd, Ross is in charge of the factory and production, Kay is in charge of the farm tours and sales, and their Dad keeps his hand in with a herd of goats.
You can do a tour of the dairy, and it is really worth it. There are some basic rules which include keep away from the electric fence – it is a working farm, and watch out for cow pats!
The first thing is to get you to interact with the animals. There are three show cows who takes turns for the tours, and we had Fairy Belle. Now, cows are big, but Fairy Belle puts many to shame, she weighs in somewhere between 450 and 500KG. She is really placid, and used to being the star of her part of the tour. You can brush her, pat her and our tour leader, Tuppence, is a dab hand at milking her. Plus shecan direct some milk into willing hands for anyone who wants to try milk straight from the cow at 37.5 degrees.
Then the bit that the children really love, feeding a couple of calves and kids, and can they guzzle the milk down! You get to go through the milking sheds, and can have a walk in the pit if you want, all nice and clean between milkings. A walk through the processing factory, looking through the viewing windows, lets you see how Fairy Belles milk ends up on your table as one of the glorious products made right there on the farm. The tour finishes off with a lovely film made on the farm showing a bit of the history. It is all really well done. But, Tuppence does have one ask, and that is to please send any of their milk crates back! It seems that upwards of 3000 are missing, and are probably doing duty somewhere else. I think I know where two are – sorry Tuppence.
After you have had a look at everything, it is off to have a taste of some of the products. Maleny Dairy makes glorious rich cream, four types of milk (full cream pasteurised only is the creamiest you will ever taste!) You can get flavoured milks, custard and yoghurt. The small herd of goats produce enough milk to be sold too.
There are one or two really individual things at Maleny Dairy, all of the cars and trucks are named in line with the dairy idea, during the school holidays there are two dancing cows that appear – Mooriah and Moodonna – and there is a cow cam which you can see on their web page.
It is a fascinating tour, easy to follow, well put together and the products that they make are so good that if you do not have a cold pack with ice blocks in it, you can get one from there to take your Maleny Dairy products home with you.
Address: 70 McCarthy's Road, Maleny Qld 4552
Phone: 07 5494 2392