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Milkos were the cream of the crop

New milk cart for Studleigh Dairy, Nichols’ farm, in the 1930s. It was built on the axle and wheels of an old Ford car.


Milkos were the cream of the crop

After getting up with the birds to milk the cows, farmers had to saddle up. AUDIENNE BLYTH visits Maroochydore in the 1930s when milk carts delivered to homes and camping grounds.

The Nichols family settled on a dairy farm on Eudlo Creek in 1930. It was during the Great Depression and the family was thankful they had plenty of work, even if it was relentless.

Clyde Nichols began school that year and, with his siblings, rowed across Eudlo Creek and walked down a dirt track, now Bradman Ave, to  Maroochydore Primary School. The children helped with farm work before and after school.

In 1932, the family purchased a milk run from a Mr Stevens whose farm was just west of the school. A spring cart, a pony, two milk cans and a set of three measures – a quart, one pint and half a pint – came with the sale.

For the next 13 years, the milk run was their life. Prior to the milk run, the cans of cream were collected by Coulson’s Mail Boat and taken to Yandina where they were sent by rail to the Eumundi Butter Factory.

All cows were milked by hand. Cane tops were mulched in the chaff cutter and fed to the contented cows. A horse walking in circles supplied the power and the children fed in the cane tops.

Milk was taken across Eudlo Creek at 5am and 3 pm but actual milking began hours before.

The sign on the milk run cart was “G.R. Nichols Warm Milk Vendors”.

Milk had to be sold warm in the 1930s because there was no refrigeration or pasteurisation. They were mindful of how many hours had passed between milking and delivery. Scalding milk was a way to keep it longer.

The run to households went from Bradman Ave, around Picnic Point to Cotton Tree. Milk was also delivered to milk bars for the popular milk shakes.

Finishing about 7.30am the family then went home to clean up and get ready for the afternoon milking and delivery.

As Maroochydore grew, so did the milk run and extra milk from other district dairies was purchased to fill deliveries.

A Chevrolet utility was used to collect milk from dairy farms in Maroochydore Rd, Woombye, Chevallum and Buderim.

The Nichols’ dairy was relocated across Eudlo Creek nearer to Maroochydore.  What a day that was when 40 dairy cows were required to swim the creek to their new home.

Christmas and Easter holidays were busiest. These rush days needed extra staff. Energetic young men were the key to fast deliveries. The cart would pull up at camping grounds with a shout of Milko!

Campers appeared with their jugs and the amount required would be measured out – a quart, a pint or a half pint. At other times a two-gallon billy of milk would be carried from tent to tent to serve the customers.

Pocket money could be made by helping in those busy times.

There were other milk vendors in Maroochydore.

Dick Gill had a dairy on the north shore and rowed the milk cans across the river to different locations and he and his wife would then walk to customers.

He later swam his herd to a farm on the ridge near the primary school.

William Parker’s farm faced Aerodrome Rd.  His four daughters hand-milked their herd. Maud, May and Rose were remembered in street names when their farm was subdivided.

Gradually, the old sulkies became worn and tired and more luxurious carts took their place with inflatable tyres and springs and were “boxed in”, something like a chariot.

Source: How Blest My Journey by Clyde R. Nichols, 2006

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