It’s Australian Camel Facts time!
For the avid travellers out there, we’ve probably gone on a ride on one in the Sahara Desert or somewhere else sandy like Broome in Western Australia. But there’s way more to these beasts with character than meets the eye.
Yes, if you’re after a travel experience with a difference – check out a camel dairy!
That’s right, a dairy that produces camel milk.
Don’t knock it until you try it – you’ll be pleasantly surprised if you give it a go! I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve tried an unusual food or beverage, only to think ‘where have you been all my life?’.
First of all, Summer Land Camels is the third largest camel dairy in the world – with over 850 camels. I was surprised to hear that because it’s just down the road from me! The two biggest camel dairies are in the United Arab Emirates.
By the way, Australia has the largest herd of wild camels in the world.. That’s right, more than the Middle East! They were brought here to help with the exploration and construction of remote Australia, so our history is inextricably linked with these animals.
Summer Land Camels have brought some of these camels here for the camel milk – plus as an added conservation bonus, prevents these camels from ending up in the culling program – which is another story.
So it seems a bit random – why a camel dairy?
Well the founders started up the dairy because they were motivated to create a market for camel milk for the health benefits.
Here’s more – a chat with Jeff, one of the founders. He’s very knowledgeable about camels (he has a science background) and it took a lot of guts to take a punt on establishing a camel milk business:
And that’s just the start of it. The more dug, the more I discovered. Check out some of the cool camel facts I found out:
Camel Milk Benefits
Before you think ‘yuck’, camel milk is quite different to milk from other animals like cows, goats and sheep. In terms of it’s texture, it’s like it’s somewhere between skim milk and trim milk. It has a very ‘clean and crisp’ taste, and it’s actually quite refreshing.
Camel milk has more protein and fat that cow’s milk, and less cholesterol. It’s also high in minerals and vitamins.
But the main reason for the interest in terms of health effects are the good bacteria in the milk itself – which ingested, changes your ‘biome’ (the bacteria in your digestive system) which then leads to a number of health benefits – many of which are still being researched to see why it’s good for us and how it all works.
Camels roughly produce four to six litres a day, which compares to around 25 litres a day for a dairy cow.
However, milking a camel is not like milking a cow. First of all, it’s a lot harder to set up a camel dairy because there’s just not that many of them around to see what works and what doesn’t work so well so you can set up a camel dairy in a certain way (I’m sure there isn’t a textbook titled ‘How To Establish A Camel Dairy!’). This causes complexities as you have to milk them differently to other animals.
Because Australia’s camels are actually a number of breeds that have cross bred, teat and udder sizes can be different which causes logistical problems when it comes to extracting their milk. One size doesn’t quite fit all!
And in terms of volumes and how many times you need to milk a camel a day to produce the optimal yields, Summer Land Camels are experimenting to see what works best. It’s pretty small scale – at the moment, they can milk up to eight camels at a time.
You’ll learn a tonne of this stuff if you decide to go on the camel dairy tour – which is worth it just for the camel mythbusting facts!
Once you see how it’s produced, you can then taste the end result! Like other milk, you can have it a number of ways! Which means that you can have….
Camel Milk Coffee!
It tastes great. The extra proteins and fats make it quite a creamy coffee.
and for the kids, you can get……
Camel Milk Smoothies!
in all sorts of flavours!
For the ice cream lovers, there’s
Camel Milk Gelato!
But I reckon one of the best things I’ve tasted in ages has to be…
Camel Milk Cheese!
This stuff tastes sensational. They make three camel based cheeses – Fromage Blanc, Persian Fetta, and Haloumi.
All have tonnes of flavour and a creamy texture.
Their cheese has won several awards and if you’re a cheese lover, the visit to Summer Land Camels just for that alone is worth the trip.
I’d suggest bringing this stuff out as a starter, and once your dinner party guests say how awesome this tastes, then tell them where it came from.
They won’t believe you!
Yes, from everything to shampoo, conditioner and hand cream to treat all sorts of conditions.
While most of the dairy concentrates on camel milk, some camels are processed into meat. It actually tastes good and you could easily think it’s beef – not a ‘gamey’ flavour like venison, and like cattle, the different cuts result in a different flavour.
And yes, because the meat is from a different animal, doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good! I recommend you try:
A Camel Hotdog!
as well as a…
There’s other cool an interesting stuff on the menu, such as camel Persian feta quiche, camel tagine and a camel steak sandwich.
Now I’ve just barely scratched the surface here. If you go and visit Summer Land Camels, you’ll come across loads more. When you’re there, go on the camel dairy tour to see how things are done, have a bite in the cafe with the interesting menu you won’t see anywhere else, plus even go for a camel ride if you’ve never been on one.
I actually prefer riding camels than horses. That’s because horses know that I’m scared and they screw with my head by threatening to throw me off. Camels, believe it or not, are pretty laid back and don’t want to do that. It’s just the getting up and going down bits are a tad awkward!
How to get to Summer Land Camels
Summer Land Camels is about an hours drive south west of Brisbane, just past the city of Ipswich. I’ve included a Google Map below so you get an idea.
It’s worth the trip out and it’s not something that you’re going to do everyday either.
You’ll learn a lot about camels, realise just how good camel milk tastes and what it can be made into, plus you’re out in the wide open spaces to escape the city for a bit.
It’s like one of those travel experiences where you may not necessarily go after it, but if it’s presented to you, you’ll be surprised how much you’ll actually enjoy it!
Hump to it!
Disclaimer – while I was provided this experience with Summer Land Camels, all opinions are my own.