Choose your own foodie adventure
ASK a child what sound a cow makes and they'll tell you "moo”. Ask them what noise a camel makes and you'll probably get a shrug.
Until Sunday not even I could tell you the call of the camel until we found ourselves penned into some yards at Summer Land Camel Farm in Queensland's Scenic Rim next to a male bull in rut.
It gurgles, spits and lets out a bloo, bloo, bloo in a demonstration that looks like he is poking his tongue out, but it is rather his dulaa - the huge soft palate that he hangs out of his mouth to attract females.
We're in his territory.
Then suddenly, he backs up to the fence, showing us his best angle. Our guide declares it's time to retreat.
The next part of this equation involves him urinating while swishing his tail in his own version of the sprinkler.
While our introduction is not what I had imagined, thankfully the females are much more approachable, considering they, too, were once wild. The camels are brought in from Central Australia, where they may otherwise have been culled. They're surprising gentle, posing for photos, some even will come in for a kiss (they're really only trying to smell you). With three eyelids and a double set of eyelashes, they'll give any gal lash envy.
The 345ha property, once owned by famous Australian film director Charles Chauvel, is now home to Australia's largest wild camel training centre and dairy operation. The camel milk is bottled for sale and turned into other products such as gelato and feta. The milk's powerful immune health and anti-ageing properties has seen the owners develop a skincare range too.
We're on a foodie trail to discover the farm gate to plate gems in our southeast Queensland backyard using the newly launched SEQ Food Trails platform.
Our adventure starts at daybreak atop Tamborine. The hang gliders gear up to leap off the mountain's edge.
And despite temperatures nudging zero, the weekly Sunday market is abuzz with activity. The Green Shed sells certified and non-certified organic fruit and vegetables, as well as honey, coffee, jams, preserves, chilled kefir, herbs and plants. Most of the produce is picked the day before or that morning, so it doesn't get any fresher. The roller doors go up at 7am, so get in early for your pick of the bunch.
Our next stop is Allamburra Organics for a picnic in the paddock event among the avocado trees and hen houses. The teenagers roam freely as The Vintage Pickle serves up bite-sized frittatas, souffles and french toast showcasing the farm's organic eggs. Allamburra opens its gates for special events, as well as monthly open-air yoga classes in the orchard.
We leave with red dirt-stained knees, a tuckered out toddler, tired from heckling the hens, and a dozen gourmet googies from the egg shed on the way out - you can order these and other organic produce from their website.
And now we're back at Summer Land, a cruisy hour's drive from Tamborine, with an appetite to rival a camel craving cactuses (camels are used for weed control too).
The cafe in the charming homestead serves up camel steak burgers, camel hot dogs, even camelcinos. Perhaps even more inventive is their solution to value-add the whey from their camel cheese production into a milk and honey vodka that is triple distilled by nearby Flinders Peak Winery. It uses honey from their own apiary too.
A deluxe tour takes guests through the dairy and production facilities. It's easy to see why camel fever has struck in these parts, with the carpark full on Sundays with people eager to meet the new herd on the block.
CREATE YOUR OWN FOOD TRAIL
SEQ Food Trails is a free online platform that allows users to create and share their own foodie trail from hundreds of experiences throughout the region.
Simply choose your starting point, the region/s you want to visit (Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim, Brisbane, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, City of Logan, Redlands or Toowoomba) and your interests: farm gates, produce markets, restaurants and cafes, breweries and distilleries, events and street food.
The website, launched recently by the Council of Mayors (SEQ), will generate your trail instantly.
1. Naughty Little Kids
1531 Ipswich Boonah Rd, Peak Crossing
Pat and feed a baby goat, milk a doe by hand, then watch the resident cheesemakers turn their liquid gold into ricotta.
Child-friendly dairy tours operate every Sunday between 1-5pm. Finish with a sample of delicious homemade goat gelato. Just remember the Esky, you won't want to leave empty-handed. Adult: $15, child: $5, family: $35. More: naughtylittlekids. com.au
2. Kooroomba Lavender Farm and Vineyard
168 F.M. Bells Rd, Mt Alford
It's described as a little bit of southern France on Brisbane's doorstep. Wander through the deciduous tree-lined entry right to the cellar door and you'll see why. Enjoy lunch overlooking the spectacular views of the Great Dividing Range, sample their award-winning wines then frolic in the lavender fields. Especially beautiful at sunset. More: kooroomba.com.au
3. Scenic Rim 4Real Milk and Robotic Dairy
9023 Mount Lindesay Hwy, Tamrookum
Want to know where real milk comes from? Take a peek inside the Dennis family's robotic dairy, where they produce pasteurised only (unhomogenised) full cream milk. Their one-litre glass bottles come with lashings of cream on top.
Tours by appointment only. More: roboticdairy.com.au
4. Scenic Rim Brewery
898 Reckumpilla St, Mt Alford
Set in an original 140-year-old former general store on Boonah's fringe is a boutique brewery that exudes charm and the friendliness small country towns are known for. Enjoy a sample paddle of their beers, including the popular Digga's or Fat Man ales. More: scenicrimbrewery.com.au
5. Tommerup's Dairy Farm
2142 Kerry Rd, Kerry
In a picturesque part of the Lost World region, you'll find Tommerup's Dairy Farm, where you're invited to share in the daily life of an Australia farming family in a true farm to fork experience. The farmstay offers rustic country cottage accommodation and guests can help milk cows, collect eggs, feed the pigs, calves, goats and chickens. More: tommerupsfarmstay. com.au
6. Towri Sheep Cheeses
206 Saville Rd, Allenview
Cheese lovers could build their own cheese trail with a variety of producers in the region (Witches Chase Cheese, Summer Land Camel Farm, Naughty Little Kids). Towri Sheep Cheesery is Queensland's only accredited Artisan Boutique Sheep Dairy and Cheese Room.
Tours, tastings and cheesemaking workshops are by appointment. More:
Build your own trail at seqfoodtrails.com.au