TUNCURRY’S WORKING WATERFRONT – The Butter Factory 1917-1958

Butter factory

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.


  1. Apologies to Admin if I posted in the wrong area.
    A question for those who resided in Forster in the 1950’s Was there a Hotel called COMMUNITY HOTEL in the area? If it existed, where was it situated please?

  2. My Great Grandfather Laurits Anderson was once on the board of directors of the old butter factory .. but that was a long time ago!!

  3. I lived in Tuncurry from 1946 ’til 1950 then came back for a short time in 1965.
    I lived on the corner of Wharf and Wallis Streets with my grandfather Ernie Cooper. The Bowling Club occupies the whole area now. I used to enjoy going down to the butter factory and play around the boats and swim sometimes when supervised by my mum. I went to Forster Public School and caught the punt over every school day. I enjoyed that trip. I also enjoyed catching tadpoles with my friends in the swamp near the Forster camping area. Also got into trouble many times for coming home late. I used to call in to Wright’s Sawmill and get an offcut of timber for the fuel stove, as a peace offering.Tuncurry was a nice safe place to be in those days and everybody knew somebody. It was very friendly. Unfortunately I had to attend boarding school in Brisbane, so mum and I left the area, but grandpa stayed on ’til he passed away. I have many fond memories of Tuncurry.

  4. Hi John, thanks for your kind words and feedback. That protected swimming arear is still there although the Butter Factory etc are long gone…but not forgotten. I’ll pass your comments along to the folks at the museum. All the best. Garry.

  5. What a great web site and articles.
    My first visit to Tuncurry was in the early 1950’s as a child. I don’t remember the road in but I remember my father saying that the road from the Pacific Highway was dirt but I do remember that the road into Forster along the Lakes Way was dirt (and rough) up to the mid 1960’s
    I remember that near to where we stayed in Tuncurry (flats at the northern end owned by a man, named Laurie Wood I think, who also owned the only taxi there) they used to dry fish. There were lots of fish on wire lines drying in the sun. I haven’t seen any mention of that her.
    Also I used to ‘swim’ in a protected area in the breakwater next to where the ‘Butter Factory’ was but I can’t remember any rail line there.
    As an adult I continued holidaying in the area with my own family and now my son holidays there with his family.

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