Workers at the now-closed factory at Fonterra Dennington have remembered and reminisced over a century of food production and friendships as they hang up their hair nets for the last time.
Food production at Dennington ceased at the end of October and the team have spent the past month conducting a “deep clean” of the site, scraping down the powder dryer to remove milk powder build-up, cleaning the silos and ensuring it’s in a maintainable and presentable state post-closure.
Over a century of memories forged at Fonterra Dennington
A family day at the end of November saw around 350 people, including families and friends of the team and local farmers, tour the factory, accessing areas that are normally off limits in an operational site. Newborns and nonagenarians alike toured the site, enjoyed local favourite Timboon ice cream, and checked out memorabilia commemorating the century-old site.
Dennington Site Manager Joel Saywell says the family day was an opportunity to celebrate the next chapter as well as say goodbye to colleagues and friends, with many team members having already decided their next career move.
“Around two-thirds of our people have decided their next step – whether that be moving on to another job in the region, retraining in a new industry, or packing up the caravan to enjoy their retirement,” says Joel.
“Some are still pondering their next move, and we’re all supporting each other as we step into the unknown.”
Although the factory has closed, its legacy will live on through the many community initiatives supported by the site, including Santa’s annual visit to South West Health and the Fonterra Grass Roots Fund.
“It was really important to us that we leave a legacy that we can be proud of. We’ll be there at South West Health this year, welcoming Santa back for his annual visit, and Fonterra will continue to support Grass Roots initiatives in the region.”
Joel says the community has been a huge part of Dennington’s history and had played a vital support role in the lead up to the closure.
“From the organisations that came to our Jobs Fair to the support received from the Warrnambool City Council, Regional Development Victoria and countless others, we’re grateful for that support and we want to thank the community – you’ve supported us for more than 100 years, and that community spirit, along with the camaraderie of our team, is what we’ll miss the most.