Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents 192 scoop WINTER 2010
About 12 years ago, Bruce and
Jane Wilde went out on a limb
to pursue a dream. Leaving their
former lives as a police officer
and nurse respectively, the South-
West couple bought a 65ha property in Nannup
and started planning what would become WA s
first fully-fledged sheep cheese operation.
Bruce had worked on wheat and sheep farms be-
fore entering the force and wanted to get back to his
roots. Jane, herself from rural stock (her mum used
to make butter for the whole town while Jane was
growing up), was also looking for a new adventure.
"The farm we bought was too small for running
broadacre sheep," says Jane, "and Bruce has never
been a cow person so we didn t want to go there.
Then we looked into it and saw that no one was
really doing sheep s cheese in WA. So we decided to
act on a niche in the market and give it a go."
The only problem was they had no idea how
to go about it, and because no one else was doing
it at the time, the banks were reluctant to give
them a loan. So, with little money available and no
knowledge of the cheese-making game, the couple
approached their new venture slowly. While Jane
researched the processes of cheese production, even
learning to make the product herself with milk
from a Jersey cow, Bruce and some of his
sons started work on the factory.
They also brought over their first East Friesland
sheep from New South Wales, bred for milk
production: two ewes and a ram, which they
would eventually breed to a flock of 300.
"As the ewes came through, I started using their
milk to learn the cheese operations," says Jane. "By
this stage, six or so years down the track, we had ac-
quired a bit of machinery to get things happening.
"Then we had a good friend who was a master
Dutch cheesemaker stay with us, and he taught
our son Tom to make hard cheese the traditional
Dutch way. They re more pristine-looking, the
Dutch cheeses -- really lovely and smooth -- where-
as the French and Italian are a bit more rustic.
"We opened the factory in 2005 and entered
the first batch of hard cheese Tom made into the
2006 Perth Royal Show. In our first year, that
Dutch variety was named Grand Champion
Cheese and Grand Champion Dairy Product."
From there, the boutique company flourished,
with Bruce, Jane, Tom and his partner Emma all
tied up in different aspects of the operation. While
Bruce is predominantly involved with the farming,
Jane and Emma spend most of their time in the
factory, and Tom tends to help out between the two.
Naming their label Cambray Sheep Cheese
after the farm s location in the Shire of Nannup,
the Wilde family now produces more than 10 dif-
ferent varieties of soft and hard cheese, from brie,
Camembray, Friesette and Blewe (note the changes
in some spellings so the French can t get huffy) to
Farmhouse Gold, Manchego and fetta.
"The sheep s milk is quite sweet," says Emma,
"similar to cows milk but without that strong
aftertaste. It s really good quality -- the fat is more
Cambray Sheep Cheese is winning wide acclaim as WA's only sheep
dairy. Nathan Scolaro visits the operation on a farm in Nannup.
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