The land where the Old Cheese Factory now stands, was first purchased by Sir William John Turner Clarke in 1854. William John Turner Clark was the father of Sir William Clarke, 1st Baronet, the man who built the famous Rupertswood mansion in Sunbury. When William John Turner Clarke died in 1874, his properties in Victoria, worth about £1,500,000, went to his eldest son, Sir William John. Berwick on those days were considered as a good farming country, but a large extend of the land was devoted to dairying and grazing. The Estate was known as The Springs and was leased by Murdoch MacDonald from W.J Clark since 1865. This land though unsuitable for cropping possessed good thick sole of Kangaroo grass at all seasons. MacDonald, who was a Cheesemaker initially built a homestead here of inferior quality with handmade bricks.
By 1875, W.J Clark constructed a dairy farm and a Cheese factory here which was designed by architect G Browne. Along with it an external kitchen and a homestead was also built. On those days this was a hillside, from where whole of Berwick country could be viewed. South Bourke and Mornington Journal in their 17th November 1880 edition published an article about the Cheese factory and it reads, “Mr Clark not only erected the building but furnished it with a first class Cheese making plant, having all improvements and the cleanliness and the neatness with which the appliances for cheese making are kept is very pleasing to the visitor”.
The Cheese making factory was built with double walls and double roof with space in between them to keep the building cool in hot weather. The article also mentions that two hundred cows were milked every day. The Cheese produced here was even exported to Queensland. Murdoch’s lease ended in December 1888 and 1,275 acres including the Cheese factory was sold to William Wilson Junior in 1903. The estate was renamed Springfield and was leased to Anderson Brothers until 1912.
Anderson brothers turned it into a horse training facility. In 1912 the land was leased to Willmott family until 1928. In 1925 the property was sold to The State Rivers and Water Supply Commission and the land was subdivided and made available for settling returned soldiers. Willmott family moved out in 1928. Mr Charles Hatten, who retired as a Second Lieutenant from Army took up residence until his death in 1980. Since Hatten never took up the option to purchase the property, it was returned to Crown after his death in 1980.
The Old Cheese factory is currently classified as Crown Land under the control of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and is managed by Casey Council.
The Facilities and Services
Today, The Old Cheese Factory and the property around it serves as a venue for many functions. A homestead Café functions inside the compound. The landscaped gardens provide a beautiful background for Wedding photography. It also has a large Children’s playground, BBQ and picnic facilities.
The site is available to hire for Social functions, Children’s birthday parties, Wedding ceremonies and receptions, Meetings, conferences and training sessions, exhibitions, Community group meetings and activities.
Its beautifully manicured gardens and historic buildings makes it a perfect venue for Wedding functions. The venue offers Special Wedding packages and details can found in their website.
Berwick District Woodworkers runs Farmers Market here on Second and fourth Saturday every month from 8.00 am-12.30 pm.
Farmers Market Website: http://www.farmersmarketattheoldcheesefactory.org.au/
Address: The Old Cheese Factory, 34 Homestead Road, Berwick VIC 3806
Office Opening Hours: 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (7 days a week)
Contact: Phone: 9702 1919 (business hours)/ Fax: 9702 1360