The Myrtleford Butter Factory
The building’s history
The origins of the Myrtleford Butter Factory pre-date the building itself. When pioneer selectors first took up land around Myrtleford after the gold rush, many kept small dairy herds. The settler’s wives made their own butter and cheese, frequently walking miles to market with these products. As the forests were cleared for pasture, the dairy herds expanded and a market had to be found for the milk and cream.
In 1893 the Victorian Creamery and Butter Factory of Melbourne opened a small creamery on the site of the present-day Butter Factory. None of the local dairies had separators, so whole milk was brought to the creamery by horse-drawn vehicles. The separated cream was sent to Wangaratta to be made into butter, while the farmers took home the whey to feed to their pigs: nothing was wasted.
By the turn of the century, hand-turned separators were in use on most farms, and local dairy farmers began to think they would be better off financially by manufacturing their own products. In 1903 they formed the Myrtleford Butter Factory Co-Operative Company. A second-hand boiler from a Bendigo gold mine was purchased to run the steam-driven machinery, and a small brick building was constructed. By the 1920s, the Myrtleford Butter Factory was pasteurising its products, and had its own electricity supply. The present-day building was constructed in 1930.
The Butter Factory ceased production in 1966. After lying vacant for several decades, it underwent sympathetic restoration in 2005. Today it retains many original architectural features, as well as its turn-of-the-century industrial feel.