William Hapgood and the Kin Kin Butter Factory

I come from a long line of dairy farmers on the Hapgood side – from the first arrival of the Hapgoods in Milton Ulladulla, all the way to my grandfather in Malanda. William and Clara Hapgood grew bananas and ran a herd of dairy cattle on their farm in Kin Kin. Kin Kin and the broader Gympie and Wide Bay region were strong dairy producing areas.

Another cool photo popped up online on the Kin Kin Kitchen facebook page today by Greg Nicholas, who also shared the photo of the 1935 Kin Kin Cricket champions yesterday. This photo is of the Kin Kin Butter Factory Board, and also features E. Nicholas and William Hapgood in the photo as shown below. Edward “Ted” Nichols is on the back left (with the clean white shirt and big moustache) and William Hapgood is seated in the front row, with the denim? shirt and jacket with the contrasting lapels. I haven’t identified the other Directors in the photo but will try to piece it together from Trove newspaper articles later on. The man in the white shirt and suspenders, without a jacket, is possibly the factory manager? William Hapgood was closely connected to the Kin Kin Butter Factory for most of its existence from 1912 – 1937.

Kin Kin Butter Factory Board, about 1930s. Possible at closure in 1937? Ted Nicholas back row left. Willam C Hapgood front row, second from left, with contrasting lapels. I would guess that the man in the white shirt and suspenders without a jacket is possibly the factory manager. possibly Mr Findlay ( [1]

There is a photo of the Butter factory in 1937, before it closed, at the Heritage Noosa Library. The same man in the white shirt and suspenders appears on the left of this photo, so I would guess the photo of the Directors is to mark the closing of the factory in 1937 . This might also explain William Hapgoods dejected appearance in the photo above.

Kin Kin Butter Factory as it was closing in 1937. Noosa Heritage https://heritage.noosa.qld.gov.au/nodes/view/6444 [5]

The Hapgoods and Nicholas’ were neighbours – Greg remembers this from Nicholas oral history, and Olga Hapgood also mentions this in her unpublished memoir [2]:

The Nicholas family owned  the adjoining farm and Bertha and Ruby became my closest friends, indeed most of my young life was spent in their company. We roamed the hills and the creeks and I am sure we knew every tree that grew. We also knew every waterhole that was safe to swim in.

Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942 [2]

The Kin Kin Butter factory was established in 1912 [3] followed by the Kin Kin Dairy Co. in 1914 [4]. Before this the milk from all the farms was combined at a depot and sent by rail to Cooran [4] or Gympie [3]. It made a big difference to the local farmers and local community. Many other butter factories were built in the surrounding townships, including a massive one at Wide Bay (connected to Williams brother Herbert Hapgood, a post for another day). Competition for milk supply was fierce, and in a scene played out all over Australia, the factory that offered a couple of cents more for milk attracted the most farmers, but put the smaller cooperatives out of business. The Kin Kin Butter factory closed in 1937. William Hapgood was on the board of directors for many years, from at least 1915-1933.

In Olga Hapgood’s Memoir, she writes of her life on a dairy farm and her eternal regret at asking how to milk a cow!

When I reached the age of seven our farm was well established – the Butter Factory at Kin Kin was built in town so our cream was taken to the road on a slide pulled by one of the two horses [Tom or Diamond] and there it was picked up and taken to the factory in a wagon in early days and later on in a truck.  Our cow bails and dairy were built on the top of a hill so it was a good climb and good exercise night and morning. At about the age of seven I had a mad desire to learn to milk a cow, so was given an easy one to start on. I think her name was Night Watch named after a race horse. Little did I know what a mistake I made in learning that particular art. Dad kept a herd of about sixty Illawarra cows, and in the summer months we would at times milk as many as twenty each by hand as in those days milking machines were unheard of. My job after milking was to sweep the cow bails and help feed the calves and go to bring home the horses from the hills. Tom and Diamond were huge draught horses who really scared me, and I always liked to be near a fence when I started them for home [just in case].

As is usual on the land there were droughts and floods and fires to contend with. One lengthy drought I remember was in 1932- the creek had dried to a few small water holes and the cows developed three day sickness. It was believed to have been caused by a disease the paspalum seeds developed called “Cigot”. The seeds became a sticky mess which would stick to our legs and clothes, like glue. At about this time a new breed of grass called Mat grass was introduced to the area and proved to be a menace to the growth of paspalum. I believe Doctor Earl Page a parliamentarian introduced it. I well remember Dad walking around the hills with a hoe chipping  out little pieces of it as it appeared, and saying “if this grass gets a hold it will wipe out the dairying industry”.  How right he was. The matt grass took over and of course the milk supply dropped. Most farmers decided to change to Jersey cows hoping this might solve the problem.

Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942 [2]
Cream Carrier, Kin Kin (about 1900-1910?) Heritage Noosa Library [6] https://heritage.noosa.qld.gov.au/nodes/view/6455

Later on Olga adds:

In the year 1932 I left school with no qualifications for obtaining outside work so there was no option but to continue milking cows and living on the farm, which my two sisters Stella Gwen and myself , disliked intensely. Despite that we were always there when needed, and at 3 pm each day, would wind our way wearily up the steep hill to the cow yard.

Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942 [2]

Olga also talks about the change in the dairy industry, moving away from hand milking to milking machines, and the intense local competition for milk supply:

   With the introduction of milking machines, dairying never seemed to be the same. I always felt the machines took away the personal contact between man and beast. Cows were very much like people in fact some of ours were named after people that we felt they resembled. Dad was a director of the Butter factory and it was a heart break to him when the factory closed in 1937 due I feel to man’s greed. The Pomona and Cooroy factories were paying few cents more for butter, so the farmers began to send their cream there. A few years later Nestles opened a milk factory in Gympie so most suppliers sent their milk there. Prior to this Kin Kin was a very alive little town, but with the demise of the butter factory and the banana industry on the rocks there was not very much industry in the district.

Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942 [2]

This story was not unique


[1] Post by Greg Nicholas, 21 Dec 2021 on Kin Kin Kitchen facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3137261699822713&set=p.3137261699822713&type=3

[2] Olga Hapgoods memoirs “Sunshine Valley” 1918-1942. Unpublished. If you are a relative of the Hapgoods (or Waddells) from Kin Kin and dont have a copy of Olga’s memoirs, then please email me at karenhapgood [at] gmail.com and I can share a copy with you.

[3] Noosa horizons : a history : timber, tradition, tourism by R.J.L. Adams, Ultreya Publications, 2004  https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3099486

[4] https://kinkin.org/about/

[5] Heritage Noosa (16th Dec 2021). Butter Factory and Staff, Kin Kin, 1937. In Website Heritage Noosa. Retrieved 22nd Dec 2021 10:16, from https://heritage.noosa.qld.gov.au/nodes/view/6444

[6] Heritage Noosa (16th Dec 2021). Cream carrier, Kin Kin. In Website Heritage Noosa. Retrieved 22nd Dec 2021 10:20, from https://heritage.noosa.qld.gov.au/nodes/view/6455


  1. Love the history of KinKin as we owned the garage/servo (better known as butter factory) in the 1970’s before it was destroyed by tornado.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Erica, I’m working on a local history project and would love to talk to you and Terry about your time in Kin Kin, I’ve sent you a message through Facebook.


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