Kerbside garbage turns out to be a gorgeous piece of Canberra history

Kerbside garbage turns out to be a gorgeous piece of Canberra history

A piece of masonite, slathered in black-and-white photos and official documents from the 1930s and 50s, has turned out to provide a beautiful background story to one of Canberra’s earliest buildings.

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The board was discovered on Collett Street in Queanbeyan, among a pile of rubbish awaiting collection by the local council. It was delivered to Zango by a reader who thought we might be interested in what appeared to be an unusual piece of Canberra nostalgia. Of course, we were.


What may have been a school project but looks more likely to be a showpiece for an anniversary of the building, shows the back story of the home of Canberra Dairy Society Limited on Mildura Street, Griffith.


The inter-war, functionalist style building is still there today – although several further buildings have been added to the site – home to the Canberra headquarters of Capitol Chilled Foods Australia, where your treasured Canberra Milk and Dare Iced Coffee is treated, packed and distributed.


Photos on the board show the original 1937 model for the milk treatment depot, including a manager’s residence, which was added in 1940.

According to the Canberra Museum and Gallery website, local dairy farmers joined forces in the 1930s to create the Canberra Dairy Society Limited, after ongoing complaints about milk quality and availability from Canberra’s ever-growing population.


Although individual dairies had established cool rooms and wash up areas on-site, there was apparently no improvement in the quality of milk and its distribution.

The purpose-built milk treatment depot offered bulk storage and modern cooling facilities.


For many years milk was received in 45L (10 gallon) metal cans, brought to the factory by farmers who operated dairy farms at Acton, Fyshwick, and Kambah. The milk was delivered to Canberrans without bottling or pasteurisation, ladled into waiting containers.


A new factory was added to the Mildura Street site in 1952, and pasteurisation and bottling began in 1958. Around this time, many local dairies ceased operation after the resumption of their land for the filling of Lake Burley Griffin in the early 1960s.

The original building and later additions have produced and distributed milk to the ACT community for more than 85 years.

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