Positioned in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland town of Kenilworth, only an hour and a half north of Brisbane, you'll find Kenilworth Country Foods, one of Queensland's last privately owned cheese factories. The decision by a young Danish man, Peter (Poppa) Hansen, nearly one hundred years ago to leave his homeland and seek his fortune in Australia still means a lot to Kenilworth residents.
Cheese, Cheese and More Cheese - Image: Elaine de Wet
If this young man had not travelled to London and taken up an offer of free travel to Australia for a year's farm labouring in Queensland, the chance of the town attracting and retaining a profitable cheese factory would have been very slim indeed. Peter Hansen arrived in Brisbane on Christmas Eve 1900 and worked for a year in Toowoomba. At the end of his contract period he was permitted to select three hundred and twenty acres for himself in an area known as Box Gully near Malling.
'Must Have' Cheese Accompaniments - Image: Elaine de Wet
Over the years Peter Hansen had huge success with a thriving dairy farm but found he needed to find a use for the excess milk that was being produced. His first attempts at manufacturing traditional cheeses like those produced in his European homeland were unsuccessful, due to the differing climates, but his persistence paid off and the hugely successful Malling Red and Malling Roma cheeses were created.
One of Peter's original cheese makers passed on the skills he learned from Peter to various cheesemakers in Kenilworth. It was a small team of cheesemakers, who had the training and ability to manufacture cheese by hand, who rescued the Kraft Cheese factory from closing in 1989.
In September 1990, Kenilworth Country Foods Pty Ltd opened its doors with Peter Hansen's Roma and Red Malling cheese as the foundation for a wide range of handcrafted cheddar cheeses. Over the past decade Kenilworth Cheese has won many awards for its products at national and state shows. Click here for a list of their stockists to purchase some of their famous varieties: Garlic & Cracked Pepper, Sweet Chilli & Coriander and Australian Fetta.
Pretty Park on site to enjoy an ice-cream or tub of yoghurt - Image: Elaine de Wet
Tasting and purchasing these delectable gourmet cheeses is also available at the company store on site in Kenilworth, a lovely spot to stop - with gardens where one can sit and enjoy an ice-cream or perhaps a tub of yoghurt. On the weekend we visited, the Kenilworth Show and Rodeo was on, which meant that Poppa's Cheese Shop was being kept extremely busy with throngs of people, which gave Kenilworth an overall festive feel.