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 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

The O'Keeffe dairy farm at Duranbah, Brian O'Keeffe feeding calves 1949.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection No: TH101-32


Dairy farming involved all the members of the family and everyone was expected to lend a hand to get all the jobs done, including milking the cows, separating the cream and feeding the calves and other animals.

During the 1950s and 1960s the small local butter factories closed down and were replaced by larger factories with modern machinery and methods of production. Some dairy farms were turned into beef cattle farms, encouraged by government initiatives and the rise in beef cattle prices, and other farmers changed to vegetable production. Once the United Kingdom entered the European Economic Community in 1972 the market for Australian butter was greatly reduced, another factor in the downturn of the dairy industry in the Tweed.

Alice's Story

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Cream can.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: MUS1986.45


“We worked together. Daph and I worked together. We milked. I milked eight [cows], we always had our share of cows. Daph milked more than the usual. Get up real early and Mum’d say ‘see how many we can get out before the sun hits Mt Warning’. We’d all go like mad. Then you had to clean the bails, separate [the cream]. One’d separate till they got tired, then the other’d take over. Hand milked, washed the separator, wash the cans out, wash the buckets out, feed the calves. Someone had to light the fire to boil the copper up. Dad used to feed the pigs as a rule.”

Alice Lange, who grew up near Uki remembers life on the dairy farm.

Did You Know?

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Glass butter churn.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: MUS2007.133


One of the reasons dairy farmers in the Tweed started to switch to beef cattle farming and growing crops was that margarine was introduced as a substitute for butter in the 1960s, and became very popular. Because people were eating less butter, not as much milk and cream was required and the farmers couldn’t continue to earn a living from their dairy cattle.


Last Updated: 12 April 2017