1940 – 1945 Tweed Butter Churn

Era: Collection: Theme:Agriculture Economics Food Shops

Butter churn. Photograph Joanna Boileau
Butter churn. Photograph Joanna Boileau. Courtesy Tweed River Regional Museum

Tweed River Regional Museum, Murwillumbah, Australia.

Object Name
Butter Churn and Pat.

Object Description
Butter churn

Glass jar with metal screw top lid. A wooden handle on top of the lid works a cog wheel and a smaller cog and pinion nut, which together turn a metal rod projecting down into the jar. Metal flanges attached to the rod rotate when the handle is turned, mixing the contents of the jar. In poor condition, the cog wheels and metal flanges are very rusty. Dimensions: height 136.5 mm, width 145 mm, depth 560 mm.

Butter pat. Photograph Joanna Boileau
Butter pat. Photograph Joanna Boileau. Courtesy Tweed River Regional Museum

Butter Pat

Wooden butter pat with a rounded handle flowing to a rectangular shaped spatula. The spatula is rounded on the upper side and flat on the underside, the working surface. This surface has four radial lines incised in it. The spatula is wedge shaped in cross section, tapering to a thin edge. Dimensions: height 84 mm, width 230 mm, depth 10 mm.

This butter churn and butter pat are a selection of the dairy industry items in the collection of Tweed River Regional Museum. The dairy industry in New South Wales had its origins in the Kiama district, south of Sydney, during the 1860s and 1870s. By the 1890s most of the good farming land in the Illawarra was taken up and many settlers from the south moved to the north coast, encouraged by reports of the warm climate and good farming land which yielded consistently high milk production and good prices. These farmers contributed their skills and experience to the development of the dairy industry on the north coast, and also their belief in the co-operative movement. The Government, firm in the belief that closer settlement was the key to progress, released Crown land for agricultural purposes and encouraged settlers to clear the native forests and sow pasture for dairy cows.

The Butter Churn and Pat have historical significance because of their association with the many migrants who contributed their skills and experience to the development of the dairy industry on the north coast. They are evidence of the labour intensive nature of early dairying and butter making and the impact that technological developments such as the cream separator and butter churn and improvements in rail and road transport had on the industry.

These dairying items also have intangible significance representing the manual labour of the migrant families who worked in the dairy industry in northern New South Wales. They demonstrate the domestic work of women in particular, as they were generally responsible for making butter.


Blainey, G 2003, Black Kettle and Full Moon: Daily Life in a Vanished Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell.

Boileau, J 2006, Caldera to the Sea: A History of the Tweed Valley, Tweed Shire Council, Murwillumbah.

Cobb, Ernie 2000, Cobb Family History 1800 – 2000: A biographical record of the Cobb family history on the Tweed, Unpublished manuscript held in Tweed River Regional Museum, Murwillumbah.

Heaton, N 1946, The Complete Cookbook, Croesta Books, London, 1940.

Johansen, R ‘Life with Pigs’, Tales of Our Times, Vol. 1, 2002.

‘The Farm Separator Arrives and Disappears’, Tales of Our Times, Vol. 8, 1999.

‘Johansen’s Service’, Tales of Our Times, Vol. 1,  1992.

Kijas, J 2007, The Other Side of the World: International Migration to the Tweed 1940s to 1960s, Tweed Shire Council, Murwillumbah.

Ryan. M 1995, A Centenary History of Norco 1895-1995, Norco Co-op, Lismore.


Migration Heritage Centre logo
The Migration Heritage Centre at the Powerhouse Museum is a NSW Government initiative supported by the Community Relations Commission.

Powerhouse Museum logo
Regional Services at the Powerhouse Museum is supported by Movable Heritage, NSW funding from the NSW Ministry for the Arts.

Tweed River Regional Museum logo
Tweed River Regional Museum. A collaboration between Tweed Shire Council and the Historical Societies of Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah and Uki and South Arm. www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/museum/museumhome.aspx