Mungabareena is a high quality Australian soft cheese, produced by the Italian-owned Parmalat corporation. It was voted best cheese of show at the Australian Specialist Cheesemakers Show in 1998.

The cheese has a beautiful golden soft rind and a delicate soft and fragrant interior. The cheese is made in the craft Mungabareena cheese factory in the southern Australian country town of Albury. It's name is borrowed from the traditional name of the local Koori tribe.

Mungabareena is a favourite cheese of our gastronomic expert sneff.

research sources: Australian Specialist Cheesemakers Show & Albury-Wodonga Tourism

Yes, as simonc says, this has to be one of my favourite cheeses and as far as I can ascertain, it is totally unique to the world of cheese. It was originally produced and distributed by the Butterfields cheese factors before the international dairy juggernaut, Parmalat bought out the tiny Mungabareena cheese factory.

Mungabareena is a washed rind cheese, which means the cheese is bathed daily in a flavoursome and aromatic liquid as it matures, usually wine. This has a twofold effect. Firstly it aids in the formation of a natural rind (which is edible in the case of Mungabareena). More importantly, rind washing gives the cheese an unmistakably earthy aroma. Hang on, I am being too kind with my euphemism. It has the pungently overwhelming stench of unbathed feet after a hard days work in mid summer.

What sets Mungabareena apart and makes it such a unique cheese is the fact that it has been rind washed with a eucalypt infused solution. This makes it, in my opinion, Australia's one truly unique cheese style.

About 10 years ago, Australia's farmhouse cheese industry was full of promise, but still a little wanting. With the notable exception of a few cheeses such as King Island cheddar, we did not have world class cheese. At the time I was lunching at a new five star hotel and we selected to finish with a cheese plate. The menu included no names or descriptions of the 3 cheeses, so we were unprepared for the onslaught.

Several minutes later a reeking plate moved through the dining room to the olfactory shock of several diners in the path. The smell was horrific, but the cheese was divine. The washing had softened the inside of the cheese to a deliciously creamy mess. Once you ate your first bite, the aroma hell subsided and you were left alone in cheese heaven. The cheese of course was Mungabreena.

Ten years on, Australia's boutique cheese industry is roaring. We now produce some truly stunning cheeses such as Pyengana cheddar and Gabrielle Kervella's range of goat cheeses. Mungabareena is still with us though and I feel it is time to revisit its wicked pungency. To that end, I am changing the cheese board at the restaurant tomorrow to include Mungabarrena.

If you can't find this cheese, fear not. Many washed rind cheeses are equally delicious. The are a little bothersome to pair with wine, a lightly fruity white dessert wine, such as late harvest riesling or dark, fruity ale are the best candidates. Serve with some crisp lavosh bread and juicy muscatels

For thousands of years, the area surrounding the New South Wales-Victoria border at Albury was populated by the Wiradjuri, Waveroo, Jaitmatang and Bangerang people. Although the tribes occasionally crossed paths, they only formally met once a year in November at Mungabareena, a flat bend in the Murray River. The word "Mungabareena" is literally "place of plenty talk" in the Wiradjuri language.

This was an important gathering where intertribal law was discussed and various ceremonial practices were performed and celebrated. Weapons were laid to rest, ongoing disputes were settled, goods traded, marriages performed. Following these meetings, indigenous men and boys of initiation age travelled up into the surrounding mountains in search of the Bogong Moth, a reliable and protein rich summer food source. This tradition is still commemorated each November in the Ngan-Girra Festival.

Mungabareena Reserve lies east of the Albury CBD on the Murray River, near the airport. It is still a popular fishing spot, basic campground and swimming hole. There is nothing better to do on a summer's day than to take an inner tube and float all afternoon from Mungabareena to Noreuil Park in the centre of Albury, and enjoy the languid river and majestic eucalypts.

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