We are the Crooke family – fourth generation dairy farmers and food lovers who instill our passion into crafting our award-winning ice-cream.
The historic Gundowring property, originally settled by the family of explorer Hamilton Hume in 1835, encompasses 1000 acres in the Kiewa Valley in northeast Victoria. Magnificent river red gums line the river flats and grey box eucalypts dot the hillsides of this pristine landscape watered by melted snows from Mount Feathertop.
The Crooke family purchased the Gundowring property in 1945, with Oliver now the 4th generation Crooke to live there.
Stephen and Sarah have dairy farmed at Gundowring for 36 years, and in 2003 were looking for a new challenge. They wanted to use their love of food and the premium quality milk the cows were producing and make something unique.
While waist deep in a New Zealand river, Stephen was having a conversation with some dairy industry friends about what shape the new challenge might take. The conversation turned from Gundowring milk to the ice cream they had tasted the day before. With a wink and a nod all agreed that this would be the Crooke’s new challenge.
The first commercial batch of Gundowring Finest Ice Cream was churned in late 2003 and sold at a local farmer’s market to great acclaim.
Fast forward to 2009 and Gundowring Ice Cream is available in Melbourne, Sydney and a few regional centres in between. The small Gundowring Team is beginning to feel the strain and James and Iris are convinced to make the move back to Gundowring from Melbourne. They set about renovating the farm cottage, planting a vegetable garden, fruit trees and vines and installing four chooks, all the things they couldn’t do in North Fitzroy.
The next phase in Gundowring Ice Cream’s history sees James and Iris take the reins from Stephen and Sarah. Stephen and Sarah will still be part of the all-important tasting panel, and will certainly lend a hand when grand parenting duties with Oliver allow. Gundowring Fine Foods is an integral part of the local community. It provides employment and skills training for its loyal team of locals, as well as a market for local produce such as fruit, nuts and honey. It works closely with the local wine and food tourism groups.