The niche dairy producing milk, cheese, soap and cuddles
A NICHE dairy in Gympie has come a long way from its humble beginnings two years ago.
Camelot Dairies is located in Gympie and produces camel milk, cheese and soap.
The farm is home to just over 50 camels who produce the milk for consumption.
Melanie Fitzgibbon owns the Gympie dairy with Wayne Morris.
The pair first acquired camels four years ago and started training them for milking.
"Our camels were all non-handled so we had to train them to get used to being handled, the machine noises and routine," she said.
"They respond very well if you are kind and respectful of them, they don't appreciate yelling."
Ms Fitzgibbon said there are many factors that contribute to the taste of camel milk.
"All the camel milk I've tried, that isn't our own, tastes different," she said.
"It all comes down to where they are, what they are fed and how the milk is processed."
Since they started operating the dairy has started Cuppa and Cuddles which allows customers to get up close and personal with the camels and share a morning tea.
"Camel dairies are very new in Australia," she said.
"The Cuppa and Cuddles happen every second Sunday of each month and lets people get photos with the camels, ask questions and pet them, they're very popular.
"We also do an event for World Camel Day on June 22, where we have a dinner and a bar and it just lets us share our love for the animal."
The camel milk is pasteurised and bottled on the farm and is distributed to supermarkets around the area. One of their most popular products is the camel milk soap.
"The soap is made locally in Gympie and the lady who makes it does a really wonderful job," she said.
"It's used on new born babies all the way up to the elderly." Ms Fitzgibbon said the decision to pursue a camel dairy was all about getting creative.
"Maybe it was a bit of a mid-life crisis or something but we just wanted to try something new and exciting, Wayne had been in the dairy business with cows for many years," she said.
"His experience has really come in handy, and we wanted to create something unique and farm oriented that we could have control of." Ms Fitzgibbon said there are more things in the pipeline for Camelot Dairies.
"We do have some things in the works, but they're secret at the moment, we want them to be a big surprise," she said.