The Emu Bay Butter Factory
In 1892 Burnie’s most prominent businessman, Captain William Jones, established the Emu Bay Butter Factory just three months after the first butter factory in Tasmania was opened in Wynyard. Although called a butter factory, this building is really like a farm dairy and shows some of the equipment originally used by pioneer dairy farmers.
Dairying in the late 19th century was a hard life. Pioneer farmers and their families slaved away from dawn to dusk, clearing forests of enormous trees to establish pasture. Before separators, milking machines and butter factories, they laboriously milked the cows and then separated the cream from the milk and churned the cream to make butter, all by hand. When the butter had been churned and all the buttermilk was removed, they ‘worked’ the butter on a table or on a butter-working machine. Here it was washed several times to get rid of all traces of buttermilk. With all the water squeezed out it was salted to taste and then weighed and shaped into round 1lb and ½ lb lumps. Butter-block moulds, with a wooden plunger and decorated with a maker’s moulded emblem, did away with the need to weigh each lump. The block of butter was decorated with an attractive design pressed on with a flat wooden mould and wrapped in grease-proof paper ready to sell.
By 1900, creameries were using centrifugal separators to separate the cream from the milk. The farmers would cart their milk to the creameries where it would be separated using this method. The cream would be taken to the butter factory and the skim-milk would be carted by the farmers back to their farms to be fed to the pigs.