Hazelwood milking sheds

by Leo Billington

In May 1901, the Victorian government announced its intention to appoint two dairy inspectors to secure the requisite conditions in the dairy factories, milking sheds and yards, and generally in the structures and processes in connection with the dairying industry. Contamination from bird feathers, bracken, lack of washing water, over-ripe milk, warm milk – a real problem in summer – were all recognised as health problems.

Hazelwood Dairy (1)

Earlier, in March 1894, during a meeting of suppliers to the Hazelwood Fresh Food Creamery, a question was asked if there was a “ system of cleanliness” that was to be observed by dairy farmers. The answer was that “all milk that came to the creamery was clean and well-strained and that the cans were free from any appearance of untidiness.” It was also pointed out that “the company is arranging to employ an inspector who will visit every farm, inspect every supplier’s milking yard and dairying utensils.”

The Victorian Dairy Supervision Act [1905] was initially tested across farms in Metropolitan Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo.

In part, the Act gives inspectors the right to confer with or advise such owner on matters connected with his farm, animals, premises, utensils, milk and dairy produce when requested to do so or when instructed to do so by the Minister: as well as inspect and examine all premises, utensils and appurtenances, and also all animals and their food and water supply. (Appurtenances referred to fencing, shedding, and a plot of land for instance.)

Local dairy inspector, Mr C Walsh, in October 1908, reported that “there are some of the milking sheds and dairies (in the Morwell Shire) that are conducted in a dirty and careless manner. To those of us who are familiar with dairy farming, it is undeniable that many people who follow the occupation are lamentably weak and dense as far as a sense of cleanliness is concerned.”<

Hazelwood Dairy (2)

Jos Quigley was the Morwell Shire Dairy Inspector during a period when apparently blackberries, ragwort and snakes caused plenty of bother. He reported to Morwell Shire Council meetings in July 1914, February 1916 and again in March 1916, that farmers in general were keeping their properties in good order. Nevertheless, he was understandably quick to recommend prosecution for farmers who seemingly ignored his first warning.

Pictured is a selection of early small farm dairies throughout Hazelwood North. Many others unfortunately disappeared during rampant, serious bushfires which raced across our part of Victoria years ago.