Find out more about the ABC Cheese Factory and Dairy Farm in Tilba as seen in River Cottage Australia.
The town of Tilba Tilba in the far South Coast region of NSW is not well known to outsiders. Its main claims to fame are as the home of Dame Zara Bate the Widow of former Prime Minister Harold Holt, and its cheese.
Paul West discovered Tilba cheese for himself when he caught up with local cheese maker, dairy farmer, and owner of the local cheese factory Erica Dibden on her picturesque farm in Tilba Tilba at the foot of Najanuga (also known as little Drom).
Along with her husband Nick, Erica helped Paul on the road to producing his own cheese and dairy products by providing him with River Cottage Australia’s first large animals Bessie the cow and Stevie calf. Prior to becoming part of River Cottage Australia Bessie and Stevie were part of the Dibden’s 600 strong Jersey herd. Along with their good looks, heritage value, and placid temperament Jerseys are an ideal breed for any cheese making enterprise thanks largely to the high butter fat and protein content of their milk.
Although not strictly certified as organic, the Dibden’s use Natural farming methods on their property. Organic based fertilisers and no urea. Urea is a typical fertiliser used on many farms which despite making the grass look green can have a negative impact on microbes and earthworms which help improve soil fertility
When he visited Erica on her farm Paul tried a number of cheeses Erica had created at the historic ABC cheese factory in Tilba. The factory currently produces full cream milk and a wide range of cheese including vintage Cheddars, Brie and Camembert
Erica also visited Paul at home to assist in the creation of his own curd cheese - a perfect choice for the novice cheese maker as it only takes about an hour to make and has just three main ingredients; salt vinegar and milk.
Erica and Nick Dibden were a great help to Paul as he established River Cottage Australia and provided great support and advice on the milking process as well as the care and husbandry of dairy cattle.