Millers Forrest creamery
A stone and plaque at the intersection of Woodberry and Raymond Terrace roads mark the site of the former Millers Forest creamery (GPS: 32° 45.780'S 151° 42.024'E). It began operating in 1892 not in 1896 as indicated on the plaque.
In 1882 the first cream separators were imported into Australia and by the late 1880s many milk factories and creameries were operating, particularly on the south coast of NSW. Farmers brought their milk to the creamery in cans to be separated into cream and skim milk. They sold the cream to the factory and brought skim milk home to feed to pigs.
The Millers Forest creamery was established as a cooperative and it began operating on 26 October 1892. The Maitland Mercury (29 Oct 1892 p2) reported the event as follows:
Yesterday (Wednesday) morning the Miller's Forest Creamery started Operations in the presence a large number of Shareholders. About 165 gallons of Milk were put through and as only about 20 of the Shareholders were represented, it was considered a very successful beginning. Everything seemed to work regularly and true, thereby reflecting great Credit on the Contractor... The Works are in Charge of Mr D J McAuliffe, of Osterley, who had had some experience in the Osterley Creamery and we have no doubt but he will be an efficient Manager. There is no doubt but it will prove a great benefit to the District in general and many who are not at present Shareholders, will then become so but at the present time are awaiting results.
The creamery was typical of creameries at that time (see photo at bottom of page). They were usualy two storeys high so carts could drive underneath where the milk cans were hauled to the top storey by block and tackle. Here the milk was weighed then fed by gravity into steam-powered separators where the cream and skim milk flowed into different containers. If the farmer wished he could move his cart along to a skim milk line and fill his empty milk cans with skim milk to take back to the farm.
At one stage the Millers Forest creamery also made butter on-site. On 13 June 1902 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that this creamery had produced 74,090lb of butter for the half year ending April 1902.
In January 1893 David McAuliffe, the manager of the Millers Forest creamery was charged at Raymond Terrance Police Court with separating milk at the creamery on a Sunday and fined 5s or two hours in the stocks. The company intended to appeal to the Supreme Court as all creameries worked on Sundays (Australian Town and Country Journal, 14 Jan 1893 p17).
The last mention of the Millers Forest creamery in the press seems to be June 1904 (Australian Town and Country Journal, 8 June 1904 p22). By that time it was delivering cream in alternative months to the Duckenfield Park and Raymond Terrace Cooperative butter factories.
This gives the clue to its demise. Both those butter factories had refrigeration plants, giving them a competitive advantage over smaller non-refrigerated creameries. Also, by this time most farmers were separating their milk into cream on the farm using hand-cranked separators. On both counts the days of the Millers Forest Creamery were numbered. It seems to have closed in late 1904 or thereabouts (if anyone can pin down the date of closure please email the webmaster).
Millers Forest creamery. Note the man second from left hauling a milk can to the top storey by block and tackle (photo: The Hunter Valley, 1953).
History of dairying in the Williams River valley on-line.
Maitland Mercury, various.
Australian Town and Country Journal, various.
The Hunter Valley - An Anniversary Tribute. Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd, Hexham, 1953.
Tribute to the Past. Hunter Valley Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd, Hexham, 1963.
Todd, Jan. Milk for the Metropolis - a Century of Co-operative Milk Supply in New South Wales. Sydney, 1994.