The factory produced butter supplied from the farms in the Wallamba-Wallis Lake district, made ice and generated electricity for both Forster and Tuncurry. Waste products from the butter production supported a thriving piggery close by, run as part of the factory operation.
The Butter Factory 1917-1958
In 1917 a group of citizens and farmers met to discuss the establishment of a co-operative dairy society – a factory which would process cream and turn it into saleable butter. At that time the prime use for skimmed milk resulting from the separation process was a basic food for pigs and the establishment for a piggery was also mooted. Land at what is now no.1 Rockpool Rd, Tuncurry was taken up and the factory built there from local timbers by George Perkins was known as the Cape Hawke District Co-operative Dairy Co Ltd.
The co-operative also purchased the old ice works off Ben Coombes, situated on Point Rd, where Boatland Marina stands today, and the engine and boiler were moved and installed to produce ice for the factory’s use as well as for sale to fishermen and the general public.
The butter factory had two rail lines and trolleys, the first running from the wide double doors of the factory out to the river channel on a heavy wharf to the cream boats. The second line ran from the factory along the shore to Wright’s Mill (where John Wright Park is today) and on to Porter’s Mill (on the southern side of what is now Coral Avenue). The factory was powered by steam and waste timber from the mills was transported by rail trolley to the factory to fuel the boilers.
Tuncurry’s Working Waterfront local history project is a heritage mosaic due to be installed in John Wright Park in June. The artwork has been designed as a visual representation of the early industries that utilized the waterfront site and the vital role they played in forming the foundations of the town and community.