Camel farm proposed for Girgarre East

By Country News

A 296 ha camel farm has been proposed for Girgarre East, with up to 900 camels and a processing plant expected to be located on the property as part of a three-stage plan.

Planning documents submitted by dairy company Ausnutria to Greater Shepparton City Council reveal a new 60 m x 32 m shed for a camel dairy would be built along with a holding yard, milk dryer and milking parlour.

The documents list plans for a "very small" spray dryer and administration buildings included on the farm which is bordered by the Midland Hwy, No.8 Channel, Kilmartin Rd and Girgarre East Rd.

A further two open-sided 135 m x 30 m sheds and a 16 m x 41 m hay shed would also be built.

The farm would employ up to 30 people, which includes a farm manager who has already been hired.

A representative from Ausnutria said it had taken three years of research to determine a suitable property, which was purchased from farmer Murray Marke earlier this year.

“The decision to bring investment to the region was based on the strong support of the dairy industry and the expertise and infrastructure in the area,” the representative said.

The representative said the market for camel milk was "predominantly export" but the business could look to "range products locally".

An aerial image of the proposed camel farm at Girgarre East. Picture: Google Maps

Although the neighbouring landholders were concerned about the number of camels on the farm, the representative said the operation plan would be to introduce between 25 and 50 camels this year.

“We would like to have 300 milking camels within two to three years,” it said.

“The progression to following stages will require further investment and the development of a local industry. We do not foresee more than 450 milking camels at any one time on the existing property. ”

According to the planning application the company does not expect the spray dryer to be active until stage three, with milk instead collected by milk tankers and transported to Melbourne.

About 750 litres per day is expected to be produced in the first stage before ramping up to 1500 litres per day in the second stage and 2500 litres per day in the third stage.

Once up and running the company expects milk from external camel farms to be processed at the site.

The prospect of living opposite a camel farm has angered some landholders who have voiced concerns that the camel dairy would create bad smells, heavy dust clouds, loud noises and devalue neighbouring properties.

Vic Grzesiak said he moved from the Yarra Valley to Girgarre East for an "easy retirement" but would consider selling his property if the camel farm went ahead.

“I feel unlike cattle dairies this is more like factory farming and Girgarre East is not an industrial area.

“I was told when I spoke with the people the product will be shipped overseas so I don't see it in Australia's best interest.”

Fellow neighbour Graeme Osborne said he shared the same sentiment but his biggest objection was the potential devaluation to his land.

The planning documents said the public was consulted via letter drops and phone calls in April due to COVID-19 restrictions before the application was submitted to the council.

The documents said the feedback was "supportive" but did mention "concerns raised" which were addressed in the report.

As the application is on public notice until August 31, Greater Shepparton City Council was unable to comment.