The Role of The S.A. Department of Agriculture In The History of Dairying In The Central Region

Prepared by: Wilf Bowen

Historical Anecdotes of the Adelaide Hills Area 1920-1950.

In about 1924 Ken Bowen bought 65 acres of uncleared land at Flaxley. At the same time Cecil Downing took up a larger block on the north side of "Flaxley Comer". The Downing farm subsequently became the Flaxley Dairy Research Centre.

Ken Bowen cleared his land with an axe, a grubber, hand tree puller, and one horse. A small dam dug with the help of a neighbour provided water for livestock. Ken and Cecil helped each other as needed.

Ken prepared his land with a single mouldboard plough and grew tobacco and potatoes for cash. As pastures developed a Jersey herd was established with a stud bull and grade cows. The cows were hand milked until a walk through dairy was built and an Eclipse milking machine installed in 1938. In January 1939 an Adelaide Hills bushfire destroyed most of the fencing but the dairy was saved.

Initially milk was separated for cream which was collected on a weekly delivery and sold in Adelaide. In the late 1930's milk was taken to the roadside in 10 gallon cans and collected by milk trucks and taken to the Jacobs Dairy Company, Mount Barker cheese factory, where Ken was a Director.

During World War 1, Ken co-ordinated billeting of Italian prisoners of war on farms in the district. His wife Mara and schoolboy son Wilf milked the cows in Ken's absence. In 1947, the 20 cow herd and well developed property was sold. It later became a horse farm. Ken retained his interest in the dairy industry becoming Deputy Chairman of the Metropolitan Milk Board from 1947-1968.