MAIN RIDGE DAIRY
Damien Noxon, Owner/Cheesemaker/Dairy Farmer
We are a small Farmhouse Goats Cheese enterprise nestled in the hinterland on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. In 2001, I started the Goat Dairy after breeding cattle for many years on the family farm, and then in 2008 we built a Cheese factory and Cafe on the farm. Bess (my wife) runs the shop, tastings and tours, while I make cheese, and occasionally milk. We have built up a lovely herd of mainly Saanen, and Toggenburg goats and milk about 220 girls twice a day.
How did you get started in the industry?
From dairy goat farming initially, and then I did a cheesemaking weekend at Gilbert Chandler in 2001 and fell in love with the craft! That was it – I was hooked!
Tell us a bit about your cheeses - what do you make? What makes them special?
I do a range of currently 12 Goat Cheeses from fresh slow-set lactic, mould ripened, brined, and marinated, through to hard cheeses.
What is your favourite part about being a cheesemaker?
I love the whole process, and I feel privileged to be a part of that process, where I can turn our girls’ milk into something so delicious and nutritious. I love the smell of the milk, the transformation of the curd, and of course the challenges of production.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?
Farmhouse cheesemaking is very labour intensive, so probably my biggest challenge is trying to build in efficiencies to the processes without compromising quality and therefore making time for my family!!
What opportunities do you see for the future of the Australian specialty/artisan cheese industry?
I think the industry has a very bright future. There are so many beautiful cheeses being made, and we have a growing number of consumers who want to feel connected with the food they buy, and want interesting, clean, healthy products.
What does being part of ASCA mean to you?
I think ASCA does a fantastic job of lifting the Specialist cheese Industry profile and providing networking and learning opportunities.