At only 18 years old, Jim Burrows thought he would try his luck at sneaking his muddied truck into the Stanhope Dairy Co-operative factory to give it a wash down.
Halfway through the job, Jim got sprung by the milk collection manager.
“All sorts of thoughts were running through my head – I thought I was going to get a telling off,” says Jim.
What he didn’t know, was that he was about to get offered a job and it would be the start of a fantastic 43-year career as a driver for the Stanhope factory.
“I started work the next day – it was 1950 and milk was collected off farm in 12-gallon cans – that’s roughly around 45 litres.
“I used to visit around 15 farms a day, and through September, October and November, it was sometimes twice a day.
“It was tiring – I drove out to the farms, and I had to lift the cans onto the back of the truck by myself. The truck could hold about 125 cans.
“When I arrived back at the factory after collection, I had to then unload the cans onto a belt, and the milk was tipped into a big vat.
“The cans were then washed, and we would deliver them back out to farm so the farmer could use them again,” says Jim.
Around 1963, farmers started installing refrigerated vats on their farms and milk was collected and delivered to the factory in bulk milk tankers.
Jim, along with his brother Philip who also worked at the Stanhope site, drove the very first bulk milk trucks for the factory. He held many roles in the milk collection team right up until his retirement in 1993 – and “he loved it”.
Today, milk collection looks a lot different, with bulk milk collected in tankers that can hold up to 45,000 litres of milk, and pumps and hoses make it less labour intensive for the driver.
Fonterra Regional Operations Manager for northern Victoria, Steve Taylor, says Fonterra’s Stanhope factory is celebrating its centenary with a community open day due to be held at the Stanhope Town Hall on Sunday, 26 June from 11am until 3pm.
“As we prepare for the celebration, some incredible stories – just like Jim’s – have come to the surface.
“When we delved deeper into Jim’s story, we also found out that his family has over 200 years of combined service with the factory.
“Jim’s father, brother, wife, daughters, nephew, son-in-law, and grandchildren – and of course Jim himself – have all worked here.
“Although the tally might not be as high, I know there are many more family stories like this for the Stanhope factory,” says Steve.
The community open day will be a trip down memory lane for many as they look back at a hundred years of dairy history.
Fonterra will open its factory doors so people can look inside – and if people fancy it, they can also take a seat in a milk tanker. It’ll be a great day out for the family – food and drink, live music, face painting, pony rides, cheese tasting and butter making – and a lot more.
There will also be a time capsule to mark the milestone – so if you have something you would like to put in it, a written memory of the factory or even a photo, bring it along.
To RSVP for the event, email FonterraAustraliaCommunications@fonterra.com