Tilba Real Dairy has revealed plans to expand their foothold and create a "paddock to plate experience" next door to the famous ABC Cheese Factory in Central Tilba on the NSW south coast.
The plans would also see the retail arm of the company moved next door into the old photography gallery, while the factory at the bottom of the hill would only concentrate on making dairy products.
A Tilba Real Dairy spokesperson said the key enhancements in the new store were a paddock-to-plate virtual dairy experience, a cheese and dairy knowledge centre, a cheese tasting experience, a virtual cheesemaking experience, junior dairy education, a dairy and cheesemaking heritage display, and a place to make your own cheese hamper or cheese picnic pack.
The plans are currently before Eurobodalla Shire Council as a development application.
Tilba Real Dairy's marketing manager, Cecilia Matthews, told the Narooma News the plans would create "a dairy and cheesemaking experience for young and old".
"Our plan is to create an interactive paddock to plate experience," she said.
"We'll have a video experience of the journey our special milk makes, from our beautiful Jersey cows to your home, and we've got plans to have a fibreglass Jersey cow that people can learn to milk.
"Visitors will be able to come to the factory and watch the cheese making, but we'll also be able to showcase more of our local dairy history, enhance our cheese tastings, and introduce pairings with whiskeys, wines, and beers in the new building.
"We're also planning to bring back cheese-making courses - it will be a whole dairy experience focused on how and why we produce this special milk and its heritage.
"We are hoping that our new store will be ready for the October school holidays and look forward to adding more dairy related experiences when we can."
Related reading: Dairy farmer's transformation to a cheesemaker
The expansion will pay tribute to the "rich dairy and cheesemaking history that played a big part in forming the Tilba region".
We're also planning to bring back cheese-making courses.- Cecilia Matthews
"It has always been important to us that our dairy and cheesemaking heritage is preserved and celebrated," Ms Matthews said.
"Our vision is to provide a unique experience where customers can learn, interact and purchase our delicious cheese and dairy products, whilst enjoying the history, heritage and unique beauty of Central Tilba and its surroundings.
"With the recent opportunity to purchase the retail shop next door to our historical ABC Cheese Factory, we plan to enhance and further develop an attractive dairy and cheese tourism business.
"With an emphasis on interactive experiences both in store and on-line, we see our business continuing to be one of the key attractions to our region and a must do for every tourist that visits."
Ms Matthews said the move was a necessary step as the company had "outgrown the area" where they currently operate.
"The current building will just be all factory space, so we'll be able to produce high volumes of product," she said.
"We've got a new packing machine coming in soon, so we need more room to produce a high volume.
"It was good the shop next door was available for purchase, and it'll help us specialise that shop side of things.
"The way we're currently set up, it's a little hard to display things and we can't give people the visual experience they may like.
We see our business continuing to be one of the key attractions to our region.- Cecilia Matthews
"When they come to a heritage town like Central Tilba, they want to experience that history."
And while the country is still in the grips of the uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Matthews said Tilba Real Dairy had come through well.
"After we had that initial lockdown and we reopened, things slowly ramped up," she said.
"People were travelling more in winter, and it kind of snowballed from there.
"We were consistently getting good trade from a lot of people in Canberra and people who would generally go north or overseas for their holidays.
"There was a big percentage of people who had never been to Tilba or hadn't been in a long time.
"It has tapered off a bit since Easter, and it's only really been the last couple of months where COVID-19 has shown us its true form."
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