COBDEN celebrated a special birthday on Friday – Western Star commemorated 90 years of butter making.
As well as marking the milestone, the day also launched the Western Star 90th Birthday Voyage.
A large truck in the form of the iconic butter block on wheels set off on its maiden voyage to the Sydney Royal Easter Show from Cobden following the celebration.
Cobden plant manager Bruce Manson said last year Australians purchased nearly 38 million Western Star butters and spreads.
“For the past 90 years and to this day, Western Star has been expertly crafted in Cobden from just two natural ingredients – cream and salt,” he said.
“We couldn’t do this without the Cobden community or our 250 farmers throughout the south west region of Victoria, so it’s only fitting that our Birthday Voyage celebrates where it all began and those who helped us reach this milestone.”
Corangamite Shire mayor and Cobden resident Jo Beard, whose great grandfather was involved in the Western Star butter factory, said Western Star was a valuable part of the community.
“Western Star has made countless contributions to the Cobden community and regional Victoria over the past 90 years, from investing millions, supporting community initiatives and not to mention creating jobs,” she said.
“Western Star is truly ingrained here.”
Cr Beard said the longevity of Western Star’s involvement with the region was positive for the shire.
“Western Star is nationally recognised; it’s fantastic to think it’s been made right here for 90 years and to think we’ve been able to keep it here, we should be really proud,” she said.
“It’s (Fonterra and the production of Western Star) significant for what it brings to the town, the employment is such a major driver for the region.
“There’s been tough times in the industry, it’s a great time to celebrate. It’s great that the company is sharing this celebration with the community.”
Along with Fonterra workers, suppliers, community members and Cobden Primary School students and teachers were invited to the celebration.
Supplier Mark Billing said his family has supported the Western Star brand for four generations.
He said he was proud to share that history.
“With brands, Western Star is probably the most recognised in Australia, it’s been a long association,” Mr Billing said.
He said due to the family linkage with Western Star his children “really associate” with the brand.
“It’s locally produced and employing local people and that’s all part of it (the success of the brand),” Mr Billing said.
The birthday celebration also proved to be a chance for Cobden Primary School Prep-Grade 1 students to learn about the butter making process.
School principal Peter Lee said students appreciated the free activities which included butter making, a jumping castle and face painting.
“We appreciate the support that Fonterra has shown us,” he said.
“A lot of the children come from dairy farms. They are the future of the dairy industry in this area and the future is only as good as the past and the past is very good.”