Kirsten’s Gerringong tea and cheese workshop
The historic Schoolhouse building on the outskirts of Gerringong may date back to the mid-nineteenth century, but don’t expect to find traditional items on offer at the cheese factory run by Kirsten McHugh and her husband, John Timbs.
The available produce spans a selection of tea varieties hand-picked and processed from the couples’ 16 hectare plantation in the rolling hills of Foxground, and cheeses made with milk from local dairy farms. Their products are designed to encapsulate the unique flavour profile of the Illawarra region; products grown in rich volcanic soil to lush, shady rainforests.
“People are excited by the idea that our teas and cheese are infused with the place they come from; this dirt, this forest,” says Kirsten. “To me, that’s what the future of boutique growing in Australia is: it’s about responding to a growing public that are more willing to enjoy what this piece of land offers, rather than thinking, ‘oh, it’s not the same as what I’m used to’.
“People come to try cheeses and will ask me, ‘is this a cheddar?’. And I’ll have to say, ‘no, this is a hard cheese that was created to showcase the particular milk from the cows or goats reared in this region, and that’s the product we ended up with. It’s not really like a cheddar, or anything else, for that matter. It’s unique’,” laughs Kirsten.