Gundowring Ice Cream
This is my third trip to Gundowring …the land of ice cream, and as we fly into Albury, I see a beautifully quenched landscape…with green fields and full dams. Sarah is picking me up, she’s just got a couple more things to knock off the list, so I have a quiet 10 mins in the sun, smelling the fresh country air. As we make our way to the Crooke homestead, we catch up on family, work and how spectacular the Keiwa Valley is looking with all this rain.
Stephen and Sarah Crooke have both had a strong history in agriculture. Sarah’s family, the McConnels, were early settlers at Cressbrook in the Brisbane River region of QLD, where dairy was one of their farming enterprises and Stephen’s family involvement in dairy farming dates back to the 1840′s, where his great grandfather started a dairy farm at Boisdale in Gippsland in 1896, where award winning butter and cheese was in production.
Sarah’s science background, which started as a medical researcher, has evolved over the years into specialist research focused around agriculture, mainly dairy. She has been involved in many on-farm research projects with later involvement in the Australian Research & Development Corporation and Dairy Australia. Her interests include the environment and water use, the fascinating biochemistry of milk, bovine genetics, and future farming systems such as robotic milking. Stephen is a farmer with many years experience in land management and biodiversity.
Stephen and Sarah started Gundowring Fine Foods in December 2003, where they sourced local ingredients to make the ice cream flavours and used the fresh milk from the dairy farm to create the base anglaise. The cows are milked daily, the milk is pasteurised straight away and then the base anglaise is made there and then. The fruit is fresh from the Gundowring trees and local growers. Even licorice and honey are local. No short cuts are taken with the ingredients, there are no added colours or flavour.
The Crooke’s grew their award winning dairy enterprise by balancing their concern for the environment with appropriate leading technologies. They were pioneers in developing on-farm environmental research projects, with 20% of the farm set aside for wildlife reserves. Stephen and Sarah are now in partnership with next door neighbours Ian and Alice Holloway, who look after the cows as the Crooke’s concentrate on ice cream.
Looking to the future, their son James and wife-to-be, Iris, aim to carry on the tradition of creating beautiful ice cream in this beautiful location. For James, growing up in the Kiewa Valley instilled a real pride of place, which was embraced by Iris when they moved back to Gundowring from Melbourne in 2009. “We are in the midst of a transition phase at the moment” Sarah says, “as James and Iris take the reins from Stephen and I. We are all excited by the work we have done on the new packaging and equipment and other future opportunities”.
So why is Gundowring Ice Cream so good? The secret is fresh ingredients. Milk, straight from the dairy. Natural ingredients from the beautiful Kiewa valley, an inherent understanding of the animals and the land and the most important ingredient, the love of what we do.
Written by Monique Emmi
Information and images provided by Lynne Tietzel