Fifth-generation dairy farmers and now award-winning cheesemakers, Paul and Kerry Wilson have come a long way since they started Nimbin Valley Dairy back in 2007. Building a business from scratch is no mean feat, let alone when it’s in an industry in which you were determined not to follow your forebears.
‘When you grow up on a dairy farm, the last thing you ever want to be is a dairy farmer,’ says Kerry. And true to his word, Kerry left the family farm in Kyogle for the bright lights of Brisbane and a corporate career. Meanwhile, Paul pursued a degree in Ag Science before working in agriculture in outback NSW and central Queensland.
But like many people who grow up in the beautiful Northern Rivers, both Kerry and Paul were drawn back to the area – Paul to help his ailing father on their Woodlawn dairy farm, while Kerry was lured back to the fertile green hills and wide open spaces.
When the two met, they decided to venture back into farming together. They found a farm for sale at Nimbin, but it didn’t really lend itself to traditional dairy farming, so they needed a plan B.
‘We realised we would need to branch out into value-adding,’ says Paul. ‘My grandfather was a cheesemaker and as a kid I made cheese. It was always something I was interested in doing, so it seemed like the obvious choice.’
‘At the time we didn’t think it would be very hard, but looking back it was a crazy idea. There was a lot more to it than we realised. Making cheese was easy, but making a successful cheese business was really difficult. It took us ten years of solid slog before it finally came together.’
Come together it certainly has. Nimbin Valley Dairy has won a number of awards over the years, with the latest being a gong in the Delicious Produce Awards 2021 for their St Billie goat cheese.
Today Nimbin Valley Dairy has a range of artisan goat and cow cheeses as well as milk, yoghurt, kefir, cultured butter and creme fraiche, which are sold, not only at the local farmers’ markets, but also distributed to stores, restaurants and delis around NSW and Queensland.
You can find Nimbin Valley Dairy every Thursday at Byron Farmers Market and every Saturday at Bangalow Farmers Market.
Byron Farmers Market is held Thursdays 7–11am at the Cavanbah Centre and Bangalow Farmers Market is held Saturdays 7–11am behind the Bangalow Pub.