The Sunshine Coast houses many secrets, and QCamel is one that I have only just discovered… with a little excitement, I might add.

QCamel are farmers of camels for their milk – not something that you imagine happening on the Sunshine Coast. Based on the outskirts of Caloundra, the QCamel dairy is most certainly one of the more innovative industries on the Sunshine Coast.

Lauren Brisbane is the driving force of QCamel, and you can see, it is passion and love for these unusual animals that drives her in an industry that has yet so see its true potential in Australia.

Lauren started her camel dairy in 2009, after a significant study of the camel dairy industry and has established herself as one of the leaders in the field.

Camel milk. It is not something you really expect to be produced here in Australia, but it is quite a productive industry with great demand, the reason owing to the nutritional properties the milk possesses.

Camel milk is not unlike cow milk in taste, perhaps a little bit saltier, but nutritionally it stands alone. It is a rich source of proteins, a volume of which, are not found in cow milk. The proteins, which are potentially antimicrobial in nature – lactoferrin in particular – are important for gut health. In comparison to cow milk it has 10 times the amount of iron, 3 times more Vitamin C and contains natural insulin, making it suitable for diabetics. It is lower in cholesterol than both cow and goat milk as well as being high in unsaturated fatty acids and B Vitamins.

Of course this is not news to the Middle East, who have been consuming camel milk since the year dot and using it to treat malnutrition in children and other conditions.

What sets camel milk apart from any other milk is it’s used to treat autism, something QCamel is passionate about and has resulted in an association with the Autism and Gut Centre in Brisbane in the research and treatment of autism.

Lactose intolerant, but love milk? Well, this may well be the milk for you – it is not your every day milk – seek it out and read the research. The health benefits are impressive.

So, that is my rave about the milk. Now it’s time to rave about QCamel’s property… wow! What a great spot!

It’s quite surreal actually. It’s an arid little spot as far as Sunshine Coast lusciousness goes, with the magnificent Glass House Mountains as a backdrop. The humps of camels almost mirror the humps of the landscape. It is incredibly beautiful, made even more so by the evening sunset that cast its stunning golden rays across the property, which my late afternoon visit allowed me to experience the joy of.

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And then there are the camels… I’m in love…

Now I know I say that every time I visit somewhere with baby animals, but this time I really am. I had no idea that baby camels – calves – could be so cute! That’s not to say the adult and adolescent camels weren’t as well.

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Filled with character and mischief, they wander over to say hello… closely… few slurps on the camera lens, a nuzzle behind my ear as I am trying to get one of the others in the frame… their curiosity made me giggle. Love them.

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I had heard camels can be quite… um… unpleasant, I guess. I had been warned of spitting and biting, and generally anti-social behaviour, but not these guys. These guys are just gorgeous. So loving and friendly and full of cuddles – and to my relief – no spitting.

Lauren suggests that it is the way they are brought up. It is clear, the love she has for her camels. Each is named, each loving and friendly and I have no doubt each and every one is incredibly pampered, even so, there is no bad behaviour here. It is reflective in their nature and their eagerness for a cuddle that these camels are very well cared for.

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The true heart stopper however is little Wibble. A little orphan baby camel (calf) of just one month of age, he lost his mother just the week before, so was adjusting to being bottle fed… a whole five litres of bottle-fed! This little guy has one voracious appetite.

Oh, and sooo beautiful. Such an awkward little creature… *heart melting*. He was still a little wobbly on his huge clumsy feet, but he seemed to be adapting well enough. He eagerly finished each bottle and waited for the next to be warmed up, slowly so fatigued by his feed he decided to take his last bottle sitting down – see, even camels can suffer from a food coma. If I could have fit him on the back seat of my car and smuggled him home, I would have! Note to self… take 4WD next time…

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The milking is actually done in the morning with each camel producing about 4 – 5 litres of milk per day plus the milk they feed their baby. At the moment QCamel is milking 10 camels and hope to be milking 20 of their 54+ herd by Christmas – they can barely keep up with demand, shipping milk all over Australia, as well as supplying a few local outlets.

They are currently collaborating with Maleny Cheese, where they use the facilities to process the milk, and Maleny Cheese has been instrumental in experimenting with camel milk cheese, curd and yoghurt. As soon as production picks up, we may get to see some interesting results.

While QCamel is not open to the public at the moment, there are hopes in the future for some farm visits so watch this space… camel cheese, crackers and a glass of bubbles while you watch the sun go down with these incredible animals extending their own hospitality… I can’t wait!

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So, I hung around for a while, enjoying the evening playfulness of the calves, cashing in on cuddles from Bam Bam, Aladdin and Maximillion while they were still interested in me, almost getting a playful nick because I wasn’t quite giving Bam Bam the attention he was after… what a great experience.

QCamel ticks all the boxes… innovative, enterprising and above all, ethical. I am really excited for what the future will bring and can’t wait to taste some of those camel milk cheese and crackers!

Check them out…

http://qcamel.com.au

Read up more about camel milk health benefits and nutrition – the research is really interesting…

http://qcamel.com.au/images/pdfs/Camel_Milk%20_Health_Benefits.pdf

http://qcamel.com.au/images/pdfs/Camel_Milk-Food.Allergies_in_Children.pdf

http://qcamel.com.au/images/pdfs/Camels_and_Camel_Milk.pdf

Or visit their profile on:
http://www.sunshinecoastregionalfood.com.au/item/qcamel/

QCamel milk is available at Maleny Cheese and Kunara Organic Marketplace and I have seen at a few of the Sunshine Coast IGA’s.

If you are out of the region, it can also be purchased online:

http://qcamel.com.au/index.php/ordering

This story was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds