Long factory history at Girgarre

November 02, 2017

The Girgarre factory when occupied by the Heinz company in 2011.

Girgarre has a history of milk production and processing going back almost 100 years.

The establishment of irrigation in 1919 opened up the area for more intensive settlement in what had been a cropping and sheep production region.

By the 1920s there was a store, post office, railway, houses and a cheese factory.

Despite the introduction of irrigation, the Soldier Settlement program was not successful and many walked off or tried to obtain permission from the government to sell.

Cheesemaking in the Girgarre factory in the 1950s.

A new factory opened on the present factory site in 1921, established by Kyabram Butter Factory and managed by Fred Dunstall.

Within a year, cheese manufacturing had started.

In 1930 the factory was sold to George McDonald, a former Stanhope factory manager, for £1500.

The 1930s were extremely difficult times in the region with many of the small farming families living in poverty.

Will Crothers took over the factory in 1937, which was the start of a long association with the Crothers family.

In 1958 cheesemaker Ejnar Kristensen was recruited from Denmark to develop and make fancy cheese.

Trucks parked outside the Girgarre Cheese Factory in the 1950s.
The Girgarre Cheese Factory in the 1950s.

In 1968, Girgarre Cheese Company was sold to Tongala Milk Products, which was later purchased by Nestle.

Milk processing ended on the site in 1979.

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