Avid trail runner, freelance writer and a mother of four with a healthy obsession for the great outdoors. Join me in my discoveries along the Mornington Peninsula and further afield by subscribing to my articles.
Caldermeade Farm is a great place that we visit a few times a year mostly because the children love watching the cows get milked and patting the animals in the animal nursery. As with all good things there are bad and unfortunately it comes in the form of the inattentive staff at the cafe, but overall if you have young children you will find a lot to like about Caldermeade.
There are always baby animals at Caldermeade. These kid goats are very cute and friendly but when the calves are being born there is nothing the kids love more than patting and cuddling the baby cows. Other animals are donkeys, goats, chickens and rabbits. All are housed within an 'animal nursery shed' that allows people to roam around the animal enclosures as you please. Entry to the enclosures are FREE.
As for the cows they are milked twice daily at 4:30am and 3:30pm and you can watch it all in relative comfort from the upstairs viewing platform, though in the middle of summer it can get hot in there especially if there are a lot of people with little breeze coming through the windows.
The farm is home to 400 cows and milking takes from anywhere between 1hr 20min - 1hr 40min. The rotating platform that the cows are milked on takes 10 minutes per rotation and fits 50 cows. Australians drink a whopping 9.2 billion litres of milk every year to which Caldermeade supplies 3 million litres annually.
Back to the Caldermeade cafe, you will find an inviting country cottage with a rustic interior, an open fireplace, and two main dining areas either side of the front counter. The outside of the cottage has plenty of seating underneath the veranda and is my preferred option as we usually only buy milkshakes and ice creams (due to timing of the cow milking) and the children can still play on the playground and run around on the lawn.
Although the cottage is charming and has hearty food to match, the thing that lets it down is often the wait staff. To be fair this place is always busy with day trippers heading down to Phillip Island and these customers can be demanding but staff always seem too preoccupied in what they are doing to serve customers despite several staff behind the counter. For example customers must wait at the front counter to be seated, on every occasion I have visited be it quiet or busy we are waiting to catch someone's attention to get seated then once again to order at the counter. It really lets the place down for what is essentially a great place to visit but unfortunately it seems I am not alone in my review of the cafe, one look at Urbanspoon will see many similar remarks.
However you shouldn't let this issue turn you off visiting the farm or cafe because I'm sure they are aware of the issue and are working at solving it. The farm is fantastic for children and with no charge to visit the baby animals, watch the cow milking and use of the playground, I think it's hard to overlook as a place to stop off on the way to or back from Phillip Island.