No whey! Eungella dairy’s new cheese factory plan
For Eungella's Dale Fortescue, sweet dreams are made of cheese.
After three years producing milk locally for the region, the Eungelladale co-owner is planning to expand his operations with a cheese factory.
But the new venture is not only about value-adding to Mr Fortescue's business.
"It's more about supporting tourism up here," the dairy farmer said.
"It has been a year that we've been trying to get it up and running - we're still at the planning stage."
If Mr Fortescue is not able to raise funds for the factory, the alternative is a transportable boutique cheese van that can be set up by the side of the road or at markets.
So far, he said locals had thrown their support behind the plan.
"It would be good for employment here too," Mr Fortescue said.
"It would be good for the community and it would provide more things to do here."
The expansion into cheese is a natural progression for the Fortescue family, who purchased their Eungella dairy farm back in 2008.
"When we bought the farm in 2008, we used to supply milk to Parmalat," Mr Fortescue said.
"And the milk price was still good.
"For the first five years, we were putting all our money back into the farm to improve it."
But that all changed when the supermarket giants introduced $1 milk to the market, which cut Eungelladale's contracts.
"Eventually we were dying a slow death, so what we did was come up with a plan to build our own factory," he said.
"That was three years ago."
Eungelladale currently distributes its locally-made milk as far as Airlie Beach, to Sarina, Moranbah, Dysart and Collinsville.
Mr Fortescue said COVID-19 had increased demand for local products because of border shutdowns.
"People are looking for local now," he said.
"I'm the only processor within 700 kilometres.
"The closest other milk factories are in Bundaberg and the other way would be Malanda."
Eungelladale also has plans to expand into ice cream and yoghurt.
This story was thanks to the My Town series - a Daily Mercury and Mackay Regional Council initiative.
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