A small artisan factory in Gippsland makes some of the world’s best blue cheese.

Story + Photos Ricky French  

It’s not a secret, nor would you call it a confession, when master cheesemaker Barry Charlton reveals that he didn’t actually make the cheese recently judged Australia’s best, even though he was happy to accept the award. Accolades are not new to the owner of Berrys Creek Gourmet Cheese. There are nearly as many trophies in the cabinet at his small cheese factory near Fish Creek in South Gippsland, Vic, as there are wheels of his prized blue cheeses in the maturing room.

But as Barry explains, cheesemaking is a team effort. He’s proud to have trained his small team of artisan cheesemakers to such a standard that he can now leave them to it. “We have a magnificent team,” Barry says. “They’re so passionate about what they do, and can now run the show.”

“The show” is a blue cheese blockbuster, set on a hill overlooking lush dairying pastures, with the mountains of Wilsons Promontory rising in the distance. The four types of blue cheese produced here are destined for the best restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, and even the pointy end of Qantas planes. The Oak Blue claimed the Grand Champion Cheese title at this year’s annual Australian Grand Dairy Awards. The business also took out the Supreme Artisan Specialist Cheesemaker award at the 2023 International Cheese and Dairy Awards, held in Staffordshire in the United Kingdom, with all 4 cheeses awarded gold medals. “We have to pinch ourselves sometimes,” says Barry’s partner Cheryl Hulls. “We started out just wanting to make a living. It’s unbelievable to think how far we’ve come.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024