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The Old Cheese Factory and surroundings


Prior to European Settlement 

Old Cheese Factory is on the lands of the Bunurong and Wurundjeri people. 

1800s: The Springs

1837 – The First settlement in Berwick by Captain Robert Gardiner. He began with sheep farming and had cattle run on Crown Lands, which he then purchased and lived on. 

1850 – The son of an enormously wealthy landowner William John Turner Clarke (“Big” Clarke), who was also known as William, came to Victoria at 19 and was entrusted to manage some of his father's properties.

1851 – Black Thursday. On the 6th of February, a terrible fire swept the greater portion of the Colony. 

1854 - 3,200 acres of land known as “The Springs”, which includes the property that is now The Old Cheese Factory, was owned by William Turner Clarke (“Big” Clarke).

1860 - Robert Henry takes over the Springs and manages a large herd of cattle there. 

1863 – The first ever recorded outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia in Victoria occurred on “The Springs” property, leaving Robert Henry with no choice but to destroy his herd of cattle.

1864 -1865 - The Cheese Factory, Homestead and Washhouse were built by Murdoch MacDonald. From 1874 until 1900 the Cheese Factory was functioning, with 200 cows milked twice per day, and the combined work of 100 employees making 150 cheeses per week. The cheeses were of superior quality, and mostly sold in Queensland. 

1874 – Big Clarke died and his son William John Clarke, inherited 1.5 million pounds of Victorian property.

1880 – The Springs were leased by Mr. Greaves and his large family for 23 years. 

1882 – William John Clarke was bestowed with a baronetcy, becoming Sir William John Clarke 

1897 – Sir William John Clarke died. 

1900s: The Springfield Estate

1904 - The Homestead and Cheese Factory with 1280 acres was purchased by William Wilson Jnr. and John Sweeney. The Homestead and Cheese Factory portion was about 652 acres and under William Wilson’s ownership, became “Springfield”. 

1912-1928 – “Springfield” is leased to the Willmott family who ran dairy cattle, grew oats and hay, and trained racing ponies. Their 7 sons slept upstairs in the Cheese Factory, while their 4 daughters slept in the Homestead with their parents. 

1928 - The “Springfield” Estate was purchased by the State Government for a Post-World War 1 Soldier Settlement Scheme. Returned soldier and farmer, Mr Charles Hatten was given life occupancy, but did not take up the offer to purchase the property, so it was passed back to the state upon his death in March 1980.

Recent Years

The property is will under the control of the Department of Crown Lands, with the City of Casey acting as the Committee of Management.

The property today consists of nearly 30 acres, approximately 10 of which are garden and lawns housing the original buildings and various other buildings which have been built or moved to the site.  

The site is now used as a community facility, for community-run programs, City of Casey events, and private hire for parties.

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