THE Kongwak Co-operative Butter & Cheese Factory was originally established in October 1896 in a wooden building.
Plant and equipment came from the Moyarra Butter Factory, which was closed in the previous year.
This factory was progressively enlarged and extended before a new reinforced concrete factory was constructed in 1925, which was opened on December 3 of that year by Thomas Patterson MHR.
The 1925 factory was constructed by Mr McClure.
After the outbreak of World War II, butter factories around the state were encouraged to change to cheese production for export to England.
The April 11, 1942, edition of the Korumburra Times reported that: “Bigger cheese supplies were needed locally for the troops and Britain would take all the surplus offering.”
The Kongwak Co-operative accepted the tender of Melbourne architect, T.C. McCullough, to design and construct the new cheese factory, which was in operation by February 1942 – one of 12 such factories opened in Victoria during that year.
Although other factories such as Leongatha and Korumburra switched to cheese production, this is believed to be the only purpose-built cheese factory constructed in the shire.
A new depot for the supply of milk to Melbourne was erected at the same time.
The co-operative continued to prosper in the immediate post-war period, and in 1955 an imposing new co-operative store was opened on the opposite side of the road.
However, increasing competition led to a merger with the Korumburra Butter Factory in 1963.
The factory was eventually closed a few years later.
The following statement of significance is from the South Gippsland Shire Heritage Study 2004. (Note: this is the current statement of significance from the Hermes database, the version used in the town planning report appears to be an earlier draft).
“The former Kongwak Co-operative Butter & Cheese Factory complex is of local historical, aesthetic and technical significance to South Gippsland Shire.
“Historically, the complex demonstrates the importance of the dairying industry to the development of the Kongwak township and district, and is important for its ability to illustrate in one location the key phases of growth that occurred from the Federation to post-war periods.
“It includes the 1941 cheese factory, which illustrates the change to cheese production that occurred as a result of World War II and is believed to be the only surviving example of its type in the shire.
“Aesthetically and technically, the 1941 cheese factory designed by TC McCullough is a locally rare example of the art deco/moderne style, which is expressed in a spare, but powerful way.
“It is the superior interwar factory in the shire, and the use of such a progressive commercial styling demonstrates the importance of the dairying industry at that time.”
CONSIDERING your next project or destination for an exciting lifestyle?
The Kongwak Butter Factory at 1486 Korumburra Wonthaggi Road, Kongwak, presents a unique lifestyle/business opportunity with current permits.
It holds significant historical value. Classic industrial facade has main street frontage with land adjoining Foster Creek.
Renovated comfortable residence and additional upgrading delivers spaces and facilities with current permit for cafe, hotel style accommodation and parking.
Expressions of interest close November 15. Vendor will consider offers prior.
The owner of the property also owns the cheese factory next door.
It needs a lot of work, however, they would consider selling it together.