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The Upper Murray Dairy


In 1892 many Cudgewa Valley farmers decided to put their hand up to get into the dairy industry. A dairy cooperative was formed and a factory was set up beside farmer James Briggs' flour mill (which no longer exists), several kilometres north of the Cudgewa township. At the time, small dairy cooperatives, just like the one at Cudgewa, were being set up all around Victoria to produce butter, a product that could be easily transported back for sale in England. Although it began with good intentions, the Cudgewa Dairy Company was initially operated by people with no real experience in managing and operating a butter factory and it was not long before management issues started to cause serious financial problems. The solution was to find someone with more experience to manage the factory and that person was James Ferris, who hailed from Glenormiston. The original Cudgewa Dairy Company factory operated from 1892 until 1898, near the corner of the Cudgewa Valley Road and Ross Lane. James Ferris made major directional changes to the local operation, including the relocation of the factory building to a more central location in the Upper Murray. This new factory was built beside the Thowgla Creek near Corryong in 1898. To encourage more farmers to participate, James instigated the construction of creameries around the wider district.
From that point on, the Upper Murray dairy industry flourished until the 1960s when the milk industry floor price dropped. A number of farmers at the time discovered that they did not have enough land to expand in order to counteract the fall in price and left the industry. The Cudgewa Dairy Company merged with Murray Goulburn in the early 1970s. The Thowgla-based factory closed in the mid 1980s and since then Upper Murray milk producers have had their milk collected daily by milk tankers, which take this milk to processing factories located out of the Upper Murray, such the Murray Goulburn factory at Kiewa - Tangambalanga.
The First World War The First World War resulted in many young men from the Cudgewa Valley enlisting in the Armed Services to fight in the war in Europe. The Cudgewa obelisk in the Main Street has sixty five names listed, including twelve who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Research has revealed that the men were sent to a number of war fronts in Europe, including France, Turkey, Egypt and Belgium. Several Cudgewa Valley families sent more than one son to war. One family sent five sons, clearly illustrating the strong link the people in this community had with their British heritage. Along the entire length of Main Street Cudgewa an Avenue of Honour,  comprising of around 270 plane and elm trees, stands tall. In August 1917, the initial trees were planted, as a show of support to the brave local men away at war. These trees are now mature and create a striking picture in Autumn.
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“The Man From Snowy River’ Country of North-Eastern Victoria & Southern NSW