Monday, 24 August 2020

Mr Clark's dairy farm at Hallam Valley

The Weekly Times of March 29, 1930 had an interview with Mr Norman Clark, a settler on the Hallam Valley Estate at Berwick. His property, Allotment 5, Section 4 was on the corner of Berwick-Clyde Road and Greaves Road.

Part of the Eumemmerring Parish Plan, showing the Hallam Valley Estate.

We can learn something of Norman's life from the interview but here is some additional information. Norman Oakley Clark was born in 1886, the son of Robert and Louisa (nee Oakley) Clark. Norman married Clara Maud Rogers on January 6, 1914 at the home of her parents, Mr and Mrs Noah Rogers of Brim. The Warracknabeal Herald reported on the quiet but pretty wedding. The bride looked charming in white silk; the bridesmaid, Ivy Rogers, wore a stylish gown. After the wedding breakfast the couple left by the midday train for Ballarat and  thence to Doncaster, their future home. They were the recipients of a number of useful and costly presents. You can read the wedding report, here.

Norman served in the First World War and had enlisted in the A.I.F on May 1, 1916. His Service number was 5982. He was sent overseas, but then repatriated back to Australia and discharged from the Army on medical grounds due to 'defective vision' on September 6, 1917. Norman and Clara had six children - James born 1915 at Warracknabeal; Gladys Clara, born 1918 at Swan Hill; Donald Norman born 1920 at Swan Hill; Noah born 1923 at Swan Hill; Albert Allen born 1925 at Werribee and Peter, who died in 1929 at seven days old. The four surviving sons served in World War Two - James (V367614) in the Army; Donald (V101737, W2790) in both the Army and the Navy; Noah (VX106242) in the Army and Albert (146886) in the Air Force. It must have been a worrying time for Norman and Clara to have four sons serving.

The Death notice of Norman and Clara's eldest son, James, at only 36 years of age.

The Shire of Berwick Rate books list Norma and Clara at Berwick until 1938 and then they are in the 1942 and subsequent Electoral Rolls at 29 Willesden Road, Oakleigh. Norman died at Oakleigh in October 1954, aged 68 and Clara died in June 1989, aged 95. They were both cremated at Springvale Botanical Cemetery.

Norman and Clara's entry in 1936 Electoral Roll, Electorate of Flinders. 
Their address is interesting. The Electoral Rolls are available on Ancestry.

This is the article from the Weekly Times of March 29, 1930. It is transcribed below, and you can read it here

Soldier Settler's Fine Dairying Scheme At Hallam
Milk for the City Trade
By "Casein"
Among many fine examples of initiative and well-directed effort which have characterised the work of returned soldiers in different parts of the State, that of Mr Norman Clark, on a small block in the Hallam Valley settlement, near the town of Berwick, is of special interest.

Less than three years ago he went to the locality to grow vegetables under a scheme devised by the Water Commission. After two seasons, however, he came to the conclusion that the results did not justify a continuance of that branch of primary production, and decided to engage in dairying. A start was made in May of last year with five cows. At the same time Mr Clark arranged with an adjoining landowner (Mr C. F. Greaves) to take over 150 acres of pasture property on which 35 cows were being grazed and milked, under a satisfactory share agreement.

Varied Experiences
When Mr Clark was invalided home in 1917 he settled on an irrigation block at Woorinen; near Swan Hill, and planted a vineyard for the production of sultanas, currants and raisins. The results exceeded expectations, but the climate did not suit his health or that of his family, and the property was sold at a price which left a substantial profit. From Woorinen Mr Clark went to a 40 acre lucerne block at Werribee. The conditions there were not so satisfactory as had been expected, and three years later he sold out at a loss with the object of market gardening at Hallam.

Prior to the war Mr Clark, who was a native of Warrnambool, had been associated with general farming pursuits and the dried fruits industry at Mildura. After having acquired a block of 19½ acres at Hallam, on the conditional purchase terms of £37 an acre, he found that the production of vegetables needed more cultural skill than he possessed. About the time he decided to engage in dairying a block of 21½ acres was abandoned by another settler, who had not been able to make a success of market gardening, and Mr Clark acquired it.

Returns From Milk
With the two blocks he estimated that he would be able to keep up a regular supply of fresh milk for the city trade from a herd of 20 cows. The results during the last eight months have confirmed that belief, and there are indications that the feeding capacity of the comparatively small area can be increased substantially, if not doubled, with special fodder crops and permanent pasturage in paddocks not exceeding three acres. It was, of course, fortunate that circumstances permitted Mr Clark to take advantage of the offer of Mr Greaves for an extension of the scheme at an opportune time. Apart from that, however, the settler is convinced that with the irrigable area of 42 acres he would have been able to establish a profitable scheme of dairying.

With nine cows selected and purchased by himself, and 35 belonging to Mr Greaves, he is of the opinion that he will be able to have an average of between 30 and 35 milking in each of the seasons. At the present time 38 are being milked twice a day for an output of 60 gallons. Since the beginning of summer the supply has been purchased by a city distributing firm at the rate of 1/- a gallon, less 1½d. a gallon for the cartage of the milk to the depot at Collingwood. The transport waggon calls twice a day at the dairy, and the service is satisfactory.

The Clark house on the Hallam Valley Estate at Berwick (not Hallam as the head-line says).
The Weekly Times, March 29, 1930

Assisted by his wife and son, Mr Clark does all the work on the farm. From the cows the milk passes through a pasteuriser, for which a special cold water service has been established through the medium of a brick and cemented underground tank, and reduced in temperature to between 55 and 60 degrees Fah. Clearances of the supply are made each day before 10 o'clock in the morning, and about 6 o'clock in the evening.

The gross return from the milk during the last two months has been approximately £20 a week, and it is not likely to go below that amount. During the spring period the milk yield is considerably larger than in the other seasons. Mr Clark realises that unless a fairly regular supply is maintained throughout the year the industry will not be as profitable as it should be. The regulation of the cows in regard to their freshening periods is, therefore, a matter of paramount importance.

A pure-bred Ayrshire bull is mated with specially selected grade Ayrshire and Jersey cows. It is intended to establish a pure-bred herd of Ayrshires or Jerseys, but action in that direction will not be taken until arrangements have been completed for the subdivision of the property so that fodders and the best kinds of grasses can be grown. Plans have been made for the cows to freshen at varying times from the beginning of the year until July and August. Some of them already have calved.

Under the existing conditions the cows have an extensive grazing area in the dry paddocks owned by Mr Greaves. The fodder they gather there is supplemented by the green herbage which grows luxuriantly in the irrigated portion of Mr Clark's land. All the animals are in excellent condition. While he does not contend that the conditions in the Hallam Valley settlement are unsuitable for successful market gardening Mr Clark has no hesitation in asserting that the land in blocks of from 40 to 50 acres can be put to more profitable use by utilising it for dairying. The area in the settlement, he points out is sufficiently large to enable dairying to be carried on in conjunction with the production of vegetables. Some of the blocks, he points out, are not so suitable as others for market gardening, and are admirably adapted for dairying on a small scale.

In the recent season Mr Clark obtained 20 tons of excellent hay from six acres. This will be fed to the cows during winter. Maize and Japanese millet make exceptionally quick growth with the assistance of irrigation, and there now is sufficient green fodder in several of the small paddocks to keep the cows in prime condition until the beginning of winter. Through the cold months a ration of hay and bran will be used. From the sections which were seeded last season with Subterranean clover and rye grass the results exceeded expectations, and provided abundance of rich milk producing food for the herd from the early part of spring, until summer was well advanced.

Mr Clark is satisfied that he will have no difficulty in keeping a herd of 20 cows in full milking condition throughout the year on the 40 acre area. The beneficial effect of bran has been noticed, and the cows receive not less than 2lb. a day even when the grasses and summer fodders are at their best. Since the beginning of the year it has taken nearly two tons of bran a month to meet the requirements but Mr Clark is convinced that the outlay on the concentrate is money well expended.

Shelter belts have been planted around the paddocks, and the eucalypts have made such vigorous growth that it will not be more than five or six years before these weather screens will give additional value to Mr Clark's dairying scheme and make it go effective that the capacity of the place may be raised to nearly a cow to the acre.


Sources: The information about the Clark family comes from various sources - 
Indexes to the Victorian Births, Deaths and Marriages
Norman's WWI enlistment papers are at the National Archives of Australia 
The dates of birth and military details of the sons comes from the WW2 Nominal Rolls 
Some information comes from newspaper reports and announcements on Trove
Casey Cardinia Libraries hold the Shire of Berwick and Shire of Cranbourne Rate books; the Electoral Rolls from 1903-1980 are available on Ancestry. The death dates of Norman and Clara are from the Springvale Botanical Cemetery records - part of Southern Metropolitan Cemetery Trust -

No comments: