Times Gone By: Coffs Harbour Butter Factory – The Factory’s Foundations (Part 5)

ESTABLISHMENT of the butter factory prompted an increased focus on infrastructure.

Initially, requests increased for road repairs between Coffs Harbour and outlying areas, while land sales advertisements promoted properties by their distance from the butter factory.

Owners of a private road were charging teamsters for its use as a short-cut from the highway to the jetty, reducing travel by three miles.

As its use would greatly increase, a ‘monster’ petition was started by Mr W J Robinson of Boambee among residents of Bellingen, Bowraville and other surrounding districts to open the road to the public.

An early issue faced by butter factory managers, especially around Coffs Harbour, was a rise in the cost of butter boxes, finding it ironic that they paid a premium for imported boxes constructed from New Zealand white pine when there was an abundance of Dorrigo white pine.

This concern was addressed at a state level and a meeting was called in March 1909 in the Employer’s Federation Room, Pitt Street, Sydney.

Representatives from 56 New South Wales butter factories, including Coffs Harbour, voted to form the Cooperative Butter Box Company of New South Wales.

In December 1909 the company paid 9d per pound of butter to its suppliers and early January 1910 saw the new factory making around 2 ½ ton of butter per week, with new additional patrons.

Coramba’s newspaper correspondent claimed part of this success was from the ‘luxuriant’ coverage of paspalum and natural grasses in Coramba’s paddocks, however, it was part of a larger trend.

In March 37,000 lbs of butter was manufactured, 5,000 lbs more than the previous month.

By August 1910, suppliers were paid 11 and 10 pence per pound for first-class and second-class butter and it was reported that the Sydney and Melbourne markets held a great demand for their product.

Local trade was also improving, with one company purchasing 30 boxes of butter per month and the half yearly shareholders meeting reported a profit of £400.


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