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History of Dairying in the Southern Highlands.

Soon after the Southern Highlands was first explored in the 1820’s, itinerant farmers settled the area and dairying was an important income for them. With its good soils, mild climate and good rainfall the Highlands was a natural dairy farming area. Added to that was the relative ease of getting to Sydney via the Old south Rd. In the early days butter and cheese was taken by horse to Sydney. Then in the 1860’s the railway came , first to Mittagong, then Bowral and Moss Vale. This opened the way for numerous factories to be opened and dairy farming boomed. Gradually the bigger factories took over from the smaller ones and by the 1960’s the area had 3 good sized factories, with milk processing at Bowral and Moss Vale and cheese processing at Robertson. However rationalisation of milk co-ops and pending deregulation of the dairy industry meant the end for processing in the Highlands. The Moss Vale factory was the last to close in the early 1990’s. Milk was now to be shipped from all parts of the state to huge factories in Sydney.

The Organic Milk Story.

The story of how we became certified organic milk producers really starts on a small farm in Scotland in the late 1950’s. Having been the one person in the family to embrace the farms small dairy operation, youngest son Tom was handed the task of running it. Aged only 16 and left to his own devices, Tom soon started doing things a bit differently. Traditionally the cows would be housed from September to April or May. Seeing the effect it was having on the cows he started letting them out in the snow for an hour a day and immediately saw improvement in their health. Time passed and in a new location on the other side of the world at Moss Vale, Tom continued to challenge the methods of the so called farming expert’s by using observations and experiences to shape the way the family farmed.
Sons Bill and Ewen joined the business after school and expanded to another farm at Nowra.

The Highland Organics Story

Main Street Moss Vale

Moss Vale

The mid 90’s saw father Tom and youngest son Ewen dairying at Nowra and oldest son Bill milking at Moss Vale. The first rumblings about deregulation of the dairy industry started about then and by 1998 it appeared inevitable.While this was going to be bad news for the local industry it would also allow people to process their own milk for the first time.
On numerous working trips to the U.K and Scotland in the 80’s and 90’s Bill had seen the rise in the organic farming industries in Europe and realised quickly that we were already farming organically. As a result Bill gained organic certification for the Moss Vale dairy in September 1999.  By 2004 Bill had convinced Tom and Ewen to become certified organic as well. Then followed the challenge of getting this wonderful milk processed. In May 2004 Highland Organics was born. Working out of a room at Country Valley’s milk factory in Picton and under the expert eye of veteran French cheese maker Andre’ Poirot, our line of organic cheeses got under way. Country Valley and then South Coast Dairy also started buying our milk for their bottled organic milk lines.

Our Own Factory.

By 2009 it was apparent we needed a purpose built factory. Highland Organics opened its organic cheese factory a few hundred yards from the site of the original Dairy farmers’s milk factory in Moss Vale. With the help of Andre and the support of Toby Lawson, a former school friend of Bill who became a shareholder our factory was opened in November 2009.  Andre and wife Annie made the long trip from the Central Coast every week until October 2011.

These are exciting times for us as people start to question how food is produced and where it comes from. We can truly claim to be Sydney, Canberra and the South Coast’s only local organic dairy.