Braving the thick bush and slippery
mountain slopes to live in the Illawarra
“After the long journey to Australia by sea there was difficulty in penetrating the Illawarra
district.. many of the early landings where accidental and wrecked ships were not
The first white intruders came without government sanction… ..in boats to plunder the red
Then came the cattleman guided by aborigines through tracks from Appin to Bulli and
The first genuine settles began farming in the early 1820’s in Bulli, around Lake Illawarra,
Jamberoo, Kiama, and Gerroa.
The holding sizes varied in size from 20ha to 350 ha with the land usually gifted by the
After the 1830’s the government was instructed to sell the land and use the proceeds to assist
further migrants from the UK. Many Irish families came to Kiama.
By the end of the century the Illawarra was known as a good place to recommend to relatives
and friends in the UK so they too could become part of the Illawarra family network.”
Excerpt from forward by Dr Winifred Mitchell to “Illawarra Pioneers pre 1900”
published by Illawarra Family History Group Inc. 1988
History of Dairying in the Illawarra
• The word Illawarra is an Australian
aboriginal word to describe the land some
125 kms south of Sydney,
• With few natural harbours it remained
unexplored and unused until a big drought
in 1815 forced such settlers as Charles
Throsby to seek new pastures.
• In the early years farmers struggled with
mixed farming and soon found the rich
fertile soils perfect for dairying.
• With this came a greater interest in
improving the types of cattle in their herds.
• The farmers now began to focus on breeding
cows to produce milk rather than beef.
History of Dairy Produce.
• Traditionally households kept cows
to supply the needs of the family
for milk and butter.
• Dairying was a household task
done by women. The word “dairy”
comes from Middle English dey, a
• Butter is as old as history itself with
recorded use of butter dating back
to 2,000 years BC.
• The word butter comes from
bou-tyron, which means “cow
cheese” in Greek.
From Farm to Factory
• The transition from butter made by
individual farmers’ wives, to creameries
that collected milk from local farms
and made butter on a larger scale using
machinery, began about 1860.
• The factory system of butter-making
made rapid strides through the
introduction of the centrifugal cream
separator and the invention of a simple
method by which the exact butter fat
content of milk and cream could be
determined by the creamery operator.
• Modern firkins, tightly-made oak
barrels, kept butter fresh for up to four
months without refrigeration, and
permitted shipment to distant markets.
From Farm to Factory in the
• Up until the mid 1880’s most of NSW butter was produced in
the Illawarra. It was made at the farm with the cream that had
been skimmed from the milk which was allowed to stand in
broad flat dishes for about 24 hrs.
• Churned butter which was highly labour intensive (muscle
building work) and was heavily salted and originally placed in
wooden kegs for transport to Sydney on packhorses and bullock
• The market for dairy products began to expand and became very
profitable during the 1850’s.
• In the 1850’s the building of the Kiama Wharf changed all this
and the trade in dairy products was extensive enough to keep a
fleets of steamships in constant employment.
Bringing the Purity of Country
Milk to the City.
• In 1871 a road to Sydney was opened
• The world’s first freezing works “NSW Fresh Food
and Ice Co” was set up at Darling Harbour in 1875
and this led to much prized fresh milk from the
Illawarra being sent to Sydney in 1882.
• The milk was stored in cans and then placed in tanks
packed with ice and taken by steam ship to Sydney
• Then in 1888 the railway from Kiama was connected
to Sydney and farmers then switched to this much
faster and more reliable mode of transport.
Illawarra Centre of Innovation
• Experiments in exporting butter from the Illawarra
began in the late 1860’s when 2 farmers from
Jamberoo succeed in sending salted butter to
• In 1864 the first attempt was made to introduce a
• The new technology of the cream separator from
Europe led to the concept of a farmer owned butter
• The local farmers could then control both the
production and marketing of their produce and share
in the profits.
Illawara – the home of many firsts
1. Home of the Cooperative Movement
2. The Kiama Pioneer Cooperative Butter
Factory was built at Spring Ck and opened in
3. In 1885 another first when the first shipment
of Pioneer Coop butter reached English tables
4. Birthplace of Australia’s first true blue dairy
cow the Illawarra
Growth of the Cooperative
• Hard times were ahead for Illawarra dairymen in the 1870’s
when prices paid for butter dropped dramatically and the farmers
had no idea how to solve the problem of surplus butter in the
• It became imperative to resolve the butter price problem which
stemmed from the existing corrupt market system and the
Sydney commission agents who ran it.
• Some visionary farmers saw a solution in exporting the excess
butter and establishing a large central produce market in Sydney.
• A radical unknown lobbyist who wrote under the non de plum
of the Dairyman started to agitate in the press for the formation
of Australia’s first cooperative movement in the Illawarra.
• Under the cooperative system farmers would be both the only
shareholders and board members and would have control over
marketing of their produce and benefit from the profits.
The Kiama Pioneer Cooperative
The factory cost £300, the separator £95 and the steam
engine to drive the separator £260 as well as running costs
like wages 35 shillings per person.
Thriving processing community
• In 1888 the Jamberoo Central Dairy Co Ltd
was established with capital of £4000.
•Another factory at Woodstock and
Druewalla was established all within a 5km
• By this time the region had 7 dairy factories
with in a 35km radius.
Dairy Farmers Punch above their
• In 1881 the South Coast and West Camden
Co-op Society was formed with a
membership of 800 farmers who contributed
start up capital of £1000 with £125,000
worth of produce sold in the first year.
• Dairy farmers had learnt a great lesson-
when joined together with the right
leadership they had power.
How the System Worked
• Milk delivery to factories was normally
made twice daily.
• Each farmer’s milk was weighed and paid
for at the end of the month on volume.
• The whole income of the cooperative was
determined, then all expenses deducted, and
the balance divided by total volume to arrive
at the price per gallon to be paid to the
The Emergence of the Super
• The Dairy Farmers
Co-operative Milk Co. Ltd
was formed on January 15,
• Sixty five stakeholders,
many of them dairy farmers
from the Illawarra came
together and agreed to run
the new organisation on
‘true co-operative lines’.
Cow to Consumer
• The Co-operative
helped these early
farmers to work
together to effectively
market their milk and
butter directly to
consumers in the city.
• The Co-operative
System still underpins
• In 1864 the first
attempt to introduce
milking machines was
• However the machines
were met with great
suspicion and cows
continued to be milked
by hand twice daily
seven days a week for
many decades to
come. Strange but true!
to milk up to
100 cows in a
rotary dairy in
Birth of the True Blue Dairy Cow
• In the later part of the 19th century Ayrshire
cattle imported from Ayr in Scotland were
the most popular dairy breed in the
• A number of farmers started to cross breed
to find the most suitable dairy cow for the
• The new breed became known as the
Illawarra in honour of its birthplace
• Australia’s first true blue breed of dairy cow
known today as the Illawarra appeared in the
• She was a cross between the most popular
dairy breed of that time the Ayrshire and the
Durham (Shorthorn) the popular beef breed.
• This created the all purpose breed the known
at that time as the Australian Illawarra
“Honeycomb” the inspiration
• One Ayrshire bull named “The Earl of Beaconsfield”
owned by Mr John Lindsay of Dapto proved
outstanding when mated with cattle of the Illawarra.
• The most celebrated offspring was a cow called
• Claimed to be Champion Dairy Cow of the world in the
early eighteen nineties, she was also invincible in the
show ring and winner of all the milk and butterfat
• This was the cow that inspired the Illawarras, and the
breeding programs began revolving around Red and
Roan Shorthorns and Ayrshire bulls.
AIS becomes “Illawarra”
• In 1899 a contingent of “Illawarra cattle” were registered in
the Milking Shorthorn Herd Book.
• In 1910, dairymen met at Kiama to establish another Herd
Book, under the title Illawarra Dairy Cattle.
• The cattle were know for many years as Australian
Illawarra Shorthorns or AIS
• Now the term Illawarras is commonplace and the Society is
called The Illawarra Cattle Society of Australia.
• The “Shorthorn” was dropped from the name because it
caused confusion to some overseas buyers, who associate
Shorthorn with dual-purpose animals.
Line up of Illawarra Cattle @ Kiama Show in 1949
In recent years in
order to broaden their
Illawarra cattle are
being crossed with
Red & White Holstein
Bulls and Red dairy
genetics such as
Swedish Red from
Daisy – International Icon
• Kiama’s Icon - "Daisy” was modelled out of papier-
mâché after the famous Illawarra cow Meadow Haven
• She was created in 1991 by local sculptor, Ernesto Murgo,
through the Community Arts Program for the Kiama
Seaside Festival in 1991.
• To this day, Daisy continues to take her position outside
the Community Arts Centre, signalling when the centre is
• Available for painting by community art groups Daisy has
taken on a variety of appearances. She has been painted
red for World Aids Day, black and white for the Kiama
Jazz Festival, and sported everything from stripes and
paisley, to the names of famous poets for Poetry Week
• In 2007 she was painted with a healthy landscape theme
as inspiration for the dairy industry Picasso Cows
program and environmental art education program for
Check out the video story of Daisy here ( its great fun don’t miss it)
Holstein Friesian Cattle
• Holstein Friesian cattle originated in Holland and date back over
2000 years to the oldest Dutch inhabitants - the Friesland tribe.
• Their capacity to produce high volumes of milk was highly
valued and they spread eastward into Germany.
• Holstein Friesians get their name from the area where they
originally predominated - Schleswig-Holstein and Friesland.
• Like most cattle breeds the colour results from selecting only
animals of the preferred colour to breed from. Holstein Friesians
are hence black and white due to artificial selection by breeders.
• Holstein Friesians were exported to America in the early 1600’s
• In America and Canada the Holstein quickly became a
specialized milk breed and grew much taller and more productive
than their European counterpart.
• The North American Holstein is the genetic type favoured by
Australian breeders today.
Holstein Cattle in Australia
• Frederick Peppin imported the first Holstein into
Victoria, Australia from New Zealand in 1886 and
this foundation herd was sold to David Mitchell in
1892. David Mitchell is credited with bringing the
breed to prominence in Australia.
• David Mitchell recorded the amount of milk
produced and exhibited his cattle at shows and it
wasn’t long before he started selling them to farmers
in other states.
• The NSW Government started importing Holsteins
from Holland in the 1890’s.
Holsteins in Australia cont..
• Importations continued from UK,
Canada, US and New Zealand giving Australian
Australian breeders access to top Magpie
• The introduction of Artificial
Insemination into Australia in the
1950’s broadened their genetic diversity
• Originally nick named “Magpie Cattle”
Holstein Friesian cattle are now known
in Australia as Holsteins following the
lead of North America.
• Holsteins have the capacity to produce
the highest milk volumes of all dairy
breeds and have the broadest genetic
diversity and now make up over 70% of
the dairy cattle in Australia.
Holstein Cattle in the Illawarra
• Dr John Hay of the Shoalhaven region imported Holsteins from
Holland in the late 1890’s and this “Coolangatta” nucleus herd
underpins many of the famous local and Queensland Holstein herds
• In the Illawarra, Ayrshires and Illawarra cattle remained the two
• Holstein cattle did not have a major presence in the Illawarra until the
• With the rising popularity of artificial insemination many of the local
Ayrshire breeders moved to Holstein cattle with Illawarra breeders
remaining intensely loyal to the breed they had developed.
• Illawarra cattle predominated in the Illawarra region up until
deregulation of the Australian dairy industry in 2000 with Holsteins
now the preferred option for most dairy farmers in the 21st century.
of Holsteins in
• Jersey cattle are a small breed of
very attractive dairy cattle.
Originally bred on the British
Channel Island of Jersey,
• They apparently descended from
cattle stock brought over from the
nearby Norman mainland, and
were first recorded as a separate
breed around 1700.
• They are prized for their ability to
produced high percentages of
butterfat (6%) and % protein (4%)
however Jersey bulls are
Jersey Cattle in Australia.
• The first sale of Alderney ( cattle
from channel islands) and Jersey
Cattle is reported to have been held
at Windsor New South Wales in
1829, when Mr. John J.T. Palmer`s
herd comprising 200 head was sold.
• The man to whom the credit should
go for being, probably, the first
importer of registered Jerseys to
Australia was Hon John Baker of
Morialta, South Australia. He
arrived from England in 1838 and
took up breeding in the Gawler
• Jersey cattle make up 13% of the
Australia dairy herd and this makes
them the second most popular breed
of dairy cow in Australia.
• The Isle of Guernsey, a tiny island in
the English Channel off the coast of
France, is the birthplace of the
• About 960 AD, besieged by buccaneers
and sea rovers, the Island came to the
attention of Robert Duke of
Normandy. He sent a group of militant
monks to educate the natives to
cultivate the soil and defend the land.
• The monks brought with them the best
bloodlines of French cattle - Norman
Brindles, also known as Alderneys,
from the province of Isigny and the
famous Froment du Leon breed from
Brittany - and developed the Guernsey.
Guernsey cattle in Australia
• Guernsey cattle produce milk that is high in protein and
high in beta-carotene (Vitamin A), which gives the milk
its distinctive yellow colour and flavour.
• Guernsey milk is used in Australia to make quality white
and flavoured milks, yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream and
other dairy delights.
• The most famous local Guernsey stud was “Meadow
View” at Albion Park
• Though their numbers are few Australian Guernsey
cattle are found in a wide range of climatic and farming
conditions, from tropical Queensland to cool Tasmania.
Learn more about Guernseys in Australia - www.guernseyaus.com
More breeds of Dairy Cows
• Other Australian breeds of dairy cattle are
Brown Swiss and Aussie Red Breeds
• Information about these cattle in Australia
can be found at
Sad but true:
• Pure-breed Alderneys were smaller, more slender boned animals
than the cattle of the other Channel Islands and in some ways
they were more deer-like than bovine. They were docile animals
and would even follow children passively to and from pastures.
Their milk was copious and produced very rich butter.
• Most of the pure-breed Alderney cattle were removed from the
island to Guernsey in the summer of 1940, because the island
was then occupied by the Germans (during World War 2) and it
was difficult for the few remaining islanders to milk them. On
Guernsey, the cattle were interbred with local breeds.
• The few pure-breed cattle remaining on Alderney were killed and
eaten by the Germans in 1944.
Want to go back to your
and learn how to make
Videos on making butter at home can be viewed here:
From Small Things Big Things DO
• In 2009 Australian dairy farmers produce 9.3
billion litres of milk from 1.7 million cows.
• 45% of Australia’s milk worth $2.9 billion is
• This is 9% of world dairy trade and our main
customers are Japan, Singapore, Malaysia,
China and the Philippines.
• Average Australian milk consumption is 104
litres of milk and 12kgs of cheese per year.
1. “Kiama on Show 1848-1998” Karen
2. “More than Milk” Jan Todd
3. “Dairying Industry in Brief…” WH Boxsell
4. David Jupp COO Holstein Australia
5. “Pioneers of the Illawarra pre 1900”
Illawarra Family History Group
PLATINUM GOLD SILVER
BRONZE MEDIA SPONSOR
& Albion Park