Curds and Whey

An Ulladulla Butter Company Cheddar Cheese Crate

The Ulladulla Refrigerating Butter Company of Milton, established in 1896, was famous for churning the choicest butter. It was smooth, firm textured, even grained and was just the right shade of straw yellow. In 1926, the company also began making aged cheddar cheese, packing the rounds into timber crates like this, separated by fine timber dividers. The hundreds of tons of butter the company produced annually sold at top market prices and some was even shipped to London to be spread on English toast. But was the company’s cheese also in high demand?

In the mid nineteenth century, the lush, undulating pastures of the Milton Ulladulla region became popular for dairy farming. By 1906, there were about 150 dairy farms which supplied milk and cream to the Ulladulla Company. From the 1920s, the milk was curdled in large vats and the solid curd was separated from the liquid whey. Slabs of curd were stacked and turned, pressed into moulds, wrapped in cheesecloth, and matured for up to 18 months, before being packed into travelling crates like this with internal dividers.

The Ulladulla Company regularly won butter prizes at the Milton Show and the Sydney Royal Agricultural Show, and in 1937, it also won second prize for its large, matured cheddar cheese. The words ‘Australian Whole Milk’ and ‘New South Wales, Australia’, printed on the crate, suggest that the cheese was also destined for abroad, where it was enjoyed as much as the company’s prized butter.