GOOD TIMES: Former workers of the Norco factory join together for a good catch-up session at Tweed Heads.
GOOD TIMES: Former workers of the Norco factory join together for a good catch-up session at Tweed Heads. Mairi Manley

Old mates gather to remember

THEY remember when Tweed Heads was a rural paradise with little traffic and a thriving dairy industry.

About 50 former workers from the Norco factory that once operated at Tweed Heads got together for a reunion and a cruise along the Tweed River last Sunday.

The factory acted as a store for goods and supplied the local shops back in the day, according to former worker Ian Pretty.

It supplied milk, butter, ice cream and other frozen goods.

Mr Pretty said things had changed dramatically in Tweed Heads since he began working at the factory in 1973.

"Tweed Heads certainly looks different now," he said. Former manager of 10 years Ray Smith said the whole dairy industry had changed since he worked at the factory.

"When the old butter factory stood at Tweed Heads you would hardly see a car," he said.

"It was a very rural setting then."

Mr Smith said the annual reunion gave everyone a chance to swap notes and catch up with additions to families.

"It's great to see everyone and see what they have been up to in the last year," he said.

"Each year the numbers attending gets bigger.

"It's like a great big growing family."

Mr Pretty said the idea for a reunion started with a few former workers who met for morning tea.

"We started with around 10 of us," he said.

"Last year we had a barbecue and the numbers had increased considerably.

"To see so many meeting this year is very heart warming."

The group embarked on its cruise at 9.30am and travelled the Tweed River as far as Tumbulgum, enjoying lunch during the trip.

At its peak Norco operated 20 factories at Byron Bay, Murwillumbah, Lismore, Kyogle, Tweed Heads, Tyalgum, Uki, Binna Burra, Ballina, Corndale, Bonalbo, Ettrick, Mt Lindesay, Alstonville, Coraki, Nimbin, Dunoon, The Channon, Cawongla and Wiangaree.

The North Coast Fresh Food and Cold Storage Co-operative Company Ltd began operations at Byron Bay, New South Wales, in 1895.

By 1896 bacon curing operations began at Byron Bay and by November of 1897 the company opened its first depot at Murwillumbah and processed cream into butter.

"There's quite a history when you look into it," Mr Pretty said.



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