The Miller family are 3rd generation dairy farmers here in Cowaramup, Margaret River, and our story is similar to many farms in the Margaret River area. It consisted of untouched bushland until the 1920’s when the area was settled as part of the Group Settlement Scheme.
Group Settlement Scheme
In 1932, during the depth of the depression my grandfather Sandy Miller, a Scotsman from Stirling, immigrated to Australia as a 19 year old. He secured some land on Wirring Road, near Cowaramup and together with his wife Joy, they worked hard to establish the dairy farm.
In those days, the means to turn the bush into viable farm land were very limited. There were no tractors or bulldozers, roads were just dirt tracks and were few and far between.
Back then dairy farming was vastly different than today. The cow herd was small, only a dozen or so, and they were milked by hand, morning and night. The product was not milk, but cream produced on site on the farm using a hand driven separator, with the cream then stored in cream cans. These cans were taken to town, by horse and cart, and onto Perth by train.
As you can imagine life was very different from what we call “normal” now:
Milking only a dozen cows back then, to having over 450 head of cows now
Farming 300 acres, to now over 1000 acres
Milk leaving the farm in churns, to truck loads of milk
The post war years were a boom time for the area. Increased number of settlers, the arrival of tractors, bull dozers, bitumen roads and state grid power all saw rapid growth in the local economy.
By the 1960’s, Sandy’s second son Don (my Dad) had taken over the farm. Don and Dossy (my Mum) took advantage of more modern practices to increase the farm’s productivity. Improved breeding, better pasture management, modern equipment, and a larger herd all contributed to vastly improved milk production. Herd size increased to over 100 and milk production average 2500 to 3000 litres per day.
By the 1990’s I was busy taking over the dairy farm operations, hindered by deregulation of the dairy industry in 2000 which led to signficant uncertainty. My wife, Trish, and I were looking for ways to value add and I floated my “secret plan” based on my ice cream obsession. After much research, careful consideration (and delight of our 2 young sons) we decided to produce our own ice cream….and Millers Ice Cream was born.
Some things that have stood the test of time to ensure that Millers will continue to farm in the Margaret River region: pride in our cows, quality milk, good family values
The black and white photos on this page are from our family archives and we hope this gives you an insight to the past. We feel proud to call Cowaramup home and look forward to sharing a piece of this with you through Millers of Margaret River.