Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published March 5th 2017
An Ancient European Industry in an Aussie Setting
Texts home that we were visiting a sheep dairy on a Kangaroo Island holiday were met with disbelief. Milking sheep may be a novelty in Australia but has been practised in Europe for centuries. The Island Pure Sheep Dairy which provides public tours and tastings produces high quality cheeses and yoghurts.
Encouraging that last bit of milk. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Dairy is an easy ten minutes' drive from Kingscote, Kangaroo Island's largest town. This 260 hectare property is set on the banks of the Cygnet River and Gum Creek. The farm runs a mixed flock of around 1,200 ewes of which three to four hundred a day are milked.
The friendly staff at the Dairy Door ushered us out back for a tasting. We sampled yoghurt, a selection of cheeses and other Kangaroo Island delicacies. Island Pure promotes a wide range of local produce along with its own.
Sample some of the dairy's cheeses. (Photo from Island Pure Facebook Page)
The first of three sheep's milk cheeses we tasted was the Kefalotiri, a creamy fruity Greek style cheese. The Manchego was a mellow Spanish Style and my favourite, the Feta, was a sharp tangy Greek Style. The yoghurt was pleasant, on the creamy side and absolutely divine when mixed with Sticky Fig Syrup another a Kangaroo Island speciality. My husband liked the Thisby, labelled as buttery, smooth and richly flavoured which reminded us of a blue cheese. The real treat came last with the slow heated Haloumi.
Kangaroo Island local produce completes the dairy's products- Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sticky Fig Syrup and Fig Vinegar. (Photo from Island Pure Facebook Page)
After the tasting we watched a video about the property, the milking of the sheep and the production of the cheeses and yoghurts. A high set viewing window revealed the first batch of sheep coming into the shed for milking. The milking runs from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm each afternoon making this the most interesting time to visit.
Watch the sheep milking through the visitors viewing window. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Around two dozen sheep at a time enter the shed on a raised milking platform and stand in small cubicles with feed trays. The feeding prevents the sheep's urge to toilet, making sheep milking a much cleaner task than cow milking. The technology applied to this ancient industry was impressive. Animals are coded and yields for each can be readily recorded.
The sheep are fed during milking to prevent the urge to toilet. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The cheese and yoghurts are made at Island Pure. Viewing windows give visitors an insight to the process. Unfortunately there was no production the day we visited. The products are sold at the Dairy Door or can be ordered online. Island Pure makes both a Natural Yoghurt and a Ligurian Bee Honey Yoghurt and a range of cheeses.
Unable to resist we left with some of everything we had tasted. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
The Diary Door has a licensed café with picture windows that take in the vista of this rural property. For those who prefer the open air there are tables and chairs outside. The cafe is lined with shelves and fridges stocked with Island Pure and other Kangaroo Island Produce. The shop also caters to souvenir hunters.
Unable to resist we left with some of everything we had tasted. The Sticky Fig Syrup has proved to be a superb topping for ice cream.
The Sticky Fig Syrup has proved to be a superb topping for ice cream. (Photo copyright Gayle Beveridge)
Tours are run daily except Christmas Day, between 11.00am and 3.00pm but if you want to see the milking turn up between 2.00pm and 3.00pm. The Tasting and Viewing Tour is $4 per person (Feb 2017). Entry to the Dairy Door shop and café is free. The Island Pure Sheep Diary is at 127 Gum Tree Road, Cygnet River on Kangaroo Island. They can be contacted via their website or can be contacted by telephone on (08) 8553 9110. Kangaroo Island is accessed via the Sealink Ferry from Cape Jervis. The ferry terminal is around 115kms and an hour and a half's drive from the Adelaide CBD.
Where:127 Gum Tree Road, Cygnet River. Kangaroo Island is accessed via Sealink Ferry https://www.sealink.com.au/ from Cape Jervis which is around 115kms and an hour and a half’s drive from the Adelaide CBD.
Cost:(Feb 2017) The Tasting and Viewing Tour is $4 per person. Entry to the Dairy Door store and café is free.