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 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

The butter churns at the NORCO Butter Factory Murwillumbah in the 1930s.

Tweed Regional Museum collection, No: TH118-36.

The invention of a mechanised cream separator, allowing for cream to be taken off milk efficiently, changed the lives of dairy farmers. Previously milk was poured into shallow dishes to stand until the cream rose to the top and was then skimmed off by hand.

On the South Coast of NSW Separating Stations were established by cooperative groups of farmers but by the time the Tweed dairies were being established, the machinery had become more affordable so farmers separated the cream from the milk themselves. Rather than wasting the skim milk that was a by-product of the process, the dairy farmers raised pigs and fed it to them. The pigs were then sent to the NORCO factory at Byron Bay to be butchered and turned into bacon, ham, sausages and other products. As their farms produced more cream the local farmers pushed for factories to be established on the Tweed. Butter factories were opened up in Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads, Uki and Tyalgum.

At the factory the cream was weighed, tested for butterfat content, pasteurised, cooled and churned. The butter was salted, tested and packed into boxes for export. For local consumption, it was wrapped by hand in pound and half pound blocks and sold to grocers or sent back to the farmer via the cream carrier. Some farmers’ wives still preferred to make their own butter. A small domestic churn was kept in the dairy and used when needed to make as much as their family required. The cream carriers who delivered cream to the butter factories also delivered food and other necessities to the isolated farming families.

Alma's Story

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Carrier truck owned by C. W. Rogan, c 1920.

Tweed Regional Museum collection, No: TH204-02

"We got our goods by the cream carriers. They would come three or four times a week and we would have to ring up and give the order for the bread and also the meat. … And you’d hear this poor old wagon with a tray on it and four horses and you’d hear it coming around the bend and the whip cracking and you’d know you’d have to go up and get the goods

Alma Milsom recalls the arrival of the cream carrier, c. the 1920s/30s,
in Connery, M.L. (ed.) The Way it Was, 1987

Did you know?

 - Copyright Tweed Shire Council

Milking stool.

Tweed Regional Museum Collection, No: 32905

Most milking stools had three legs so that the person milking them could lean forward towards the cow without losing their balance. A stool with three legs is more stable on uneven ground than one with four legs.

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