History of Killarney Co-op

In 2012 Killarney Co-op celebrated it's 90th birthday.  To commemorate this special occasion, a history book was written by Author John Telfer.  Books are available by contacting Killarney Co-op.  Paperback edition $19.95, limited edition hard cover $39.95.


1922 – 2007

85 Years of Killarney Co-op

 The dairy industry which perhaps more than any other has brought stability to the farmer community of Killarney, was established in 1913 when a small group of farmers and businessmen opened a very primitive factory for the manufacture of butter.

This little enterprise had a hard struggle especially in 1920 with the termination of the Imperial Butter Control and the release of huge war stocks of butter on to the open market resulting in the collapse of cream prices from 2/6d down to 7d per lb.

Negotiations for the sale of the factory's assets were proceeding when a young man trained in the manufacture of dairy products and well versed in the management of such a project was appointed Secretary and working Manager in November 1921.  This young man, fresh from his native Denmark (the home of Dairying), set to work to convince his directors of the virtue of the co-operative.

In 1922, having convinced his Board of Directors of the wisdom of the principle he had put before them, the Killarney Co-operative Dairy Association was formed and duly registered with 41 Suppliers.  The staff at that time consisted of the working Secretary/Manager, and Engine Driver, a lad and part time Clerk.

The factory prospered and in 1928, the brick factory was built.  Great care was taken with the design and lay-out with the result, Killarney possessed a well laid-out and most modern butter factory.

So successful was the co-operative venture, a general trading section was added firstly in the old factory premises which were greatly modified and later in a new brick store.

Mr Petersen retired on 31st December, 1966 and was succeeded by Mr George Fielding.  Unfortunately, dairying which once thrived in the area was declining, and with a downturn in trading during the early seventies, and the closure of the butter factory in 1974, the co-operative was once again in trouble.

Not daunted by the problems facing him, Mr Fielding set about modernising and expanding the store, and sales began to soar to around the $2,500,000 mark when he retired on 31st March, 1980. He was succeeded by Mr. Kerry Woolacott who had been with the co-operative for the previous eleven years.

Mr. Woolacott converted the Killarney Co-operative Dairy Association to The Killarney Co-operative Society, as most other co-operatives who had become trading societies and were no longer producing butter had done at this time. The conversion was completed on 10th April 1981.

A consolidation of the co-operative’s funds, upgrading of assets, and installation of bulk fertiliser facilities as well as the latest technology ensued during the following years. He oversaw the removal and relocation of several staff residences beside the store and purchase of a neighbouring block of ground to provide an area for future expansion of the co-operative’s retail facilities. Sadly during this time the old butter factory site was sold to Killarney Abattoirs and has since passed into private hands.

New Queensland legislation in 1997 resulted in a further change of rules and a new name, Killarney Co-operative Limited and this was registered on 15th December 1999.

After many years of further consolidation of funds the co-operative found itself in a position to be finally able to expand its retail facilities and build a new department store incorporating a state of the art supermarket, hardware, electrical appliances, and instore bank. The doors of this bold venture were opened on Tuesday 27th April 2004, Mr Fielding returning to perform the opening ceremony along with former Chairman of Directors Mr Frank McIvor.

A further period of consolidation occurred before the Rural Merchandise department was relocated to the refurbished area vacated by the Grocery and Hardware departments and incorporated modern bunded and pallet racked warehouse facilities as well as a large undercover loading area for trucks. As Mr Woolacott heads to retirement on 31st October 2007 the final touches are being made to new offices, staff dining and meeting rooms in the area vacated by the Rural Merchandise department.


1928                            1938                            1969