Carolyn Davidson has combined a talent for cheesemaking with her love of sheep and established the only accredited sheep dairy and cheese room in Queensland.
Story By Annabelle Brayley
Cheesemaker Carolyn Davidson is delighted. Following on the heels of a gold medal for her Frisky Fetta last year, her Towri Pecorino has recently won gold for best hard-cooked cheese at the 2010 Brisbane Cheese Awards.
John Arlidge, from Whiskey Gully Vineyard at Stanthorpe, Qld, is not surprised. “Carolyn is a terrific cheesemaker and her pecorino is the best I’ve ever tasted,” he says. “Sheep’s cheese has a wonderfully rich flavour but without the concentrated taste of goats’ cheese. We use a lot of her cheeses in our restaurant. Her Lambembert is a favourite because it starts folding quickly once it comes out of the fridge, making it easy to serve.”
Sitting in the garden outside her cheese room and serving up her famous Towri Blue Ewe Tart, Carolyn reminisces about the long road she’s travelled since leaving far-western Queensland nearly 30 years ago. “I grew up in the Jundah district out in the Channel Country and, when we married, Lynn and I lived on his family’s property north-west of Longreach,” she says. “When his father, Ray, decided to retire in 1981, we were unable to buy him out so Lynn and Ray went off to the south-east corner of the state and found Jimboomba Turf Farm for us, and we moved down here.” Laughing, she adds, “They dragged me kicking and screaming all the way”.
They brought their horses and polocrosse racquets, but Carolyn still fretted for the outback. It wasn’t until they bought a small farm in Allenview near Beaudesert in 1988 that Carolyn finally felt the first stirrings of belonging. Naming it “Towri”, a word from an Aboriginal language that means ‘family gathering’, Carolyn and Lynn created a homestead surrounded by the usual outback infrastructure: dirt road, high tank, butcher’s shop, big shed. They stocked it with cattle and a few sheep for killers.
Always a passionate gardener and cook, Carolyn spent her days raising their two daughters Renee and Dallas, tending her garden and baking fabulous food in the kitchen. One day in 2003, on a whim, Carolyn tried making fetta. “I thought I’d just make a bit and we’d eat it,” she says. But everyone loved it and encouraged her to get serious about it. Studying externally through Melbourne University, Carolyn got practical experience at Witches Chase Cheese Company in Mt Tamborine, Qld, and followed up with several workshops around the country.
This story excerpt is from Issue #73
Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2010