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 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Arthur Loder's dairy farm 'Kniveton Wood', milking time, 1894.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection No: TH91-04

The first dairy farms in New South Wales were established in the Kiama District, south of Sydney, in the 1860s and 1870s. Reports of a warm climate and good farming land on the North Coast drew dairy farmers to the region in the 1880s and dairy cattle were first introduced to the Tweed Valley in the 1890s.

There were two factors that encouraged the growth of the dairy industry in the Tweed Valley:

  • The introduction of grass varieties, in particular, paspalum dilatatum, that were suited to the rich volcanic soils and which enabled the cows to produce more milk, and
  • The opening of the railway line connecting Lismore, Bangalow, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah, which gave dairy farmers direct access to towns along the railway line, and also to Sydney, to sell their butter.
 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Cream cans lined up at the NORCO Butter Factory in Murwillumbah in the 1930s.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection No: TH115-35

Butter boxes were made from Hoop Pine, a timber that was non-tainting, meaning it did not change the smell or taste of the butter packed inside it. The boxes were used to pack export quality butter which was sent as far away as London. The stamp on the box says that the contents were “pasteurised” meaning the milk was sterilised to remove bacteria through a process of heating and then rapidly cooling it.

Edna's story

"My dad said when they cleared the ground he built up a herd of cattle and the paspalum was up over the cattle’s backs, as soon as they got all the trees off the beautiful ground and soil underneath, and each cow would give a kerosene tin full, from this beautiful grass that grew, this paspalum.”

Edna Hall, born during World War I, recounting her father’s stories of creating a dairy farm.
in Langridge, L, 'The Story of Stokes Siding', 1988, p20.

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

NORCO butter box, manufactured by Munro & Lever Sawmill in GRevillian c1920.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection No: MUS1993.74.1

Kath's Story

"Meantime out in the yard there was a carpenter making butter boxes out of pine. Before they put the butter into them they were lined with greaseproof paper, one long piece. The lid was then nailed on. These boxes carried 56 lbs. They were sent to Sydney, most often it went to Byron Bay down on the ‘Orara’ or ‘Pooninbar’.”

Kath McIlrath, 1988

Did you know?

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

NORCO smallgoods trucks at Tweed Heads c1950.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection No: TH113-38

  • NORCO is an abbreviation, or a shorter version, of a much longer name. The original name was The North Coast Fresh Food and Cold Storage Co-operative Pty Ltd, which opened its first butter factory at Byron Bay in 1894. In 1904 the name was shortened to North Coast Co-operative Ltd and a few years later to NORCO.

  • Paspalum dilatatum, or paspalum is known as 'dallis grass' in the United States. It’s a native of South America, originating in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It is widespread now in Australia, used as a species of pasture grass for animals to graze on, and is also classified as a weed in some areas.
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