From farmer to cheese maker
PETER Hansen's farm was producing well and by then four or five settlers nearby were also dairying.
In 1917 he had the idea of starting a cheese factory on his land instead of hauling their milk down to Maclagan (as Bismark was then called). His farm was producing 400 litres of milk and the other farms a little less.
Peter also turned his attention to forfeited blocks of land which could be bought. A lot of work was needed to bring these into production. Scrub cutters had to battle with prickly-pear.
In infested pear country the contract price was doubled. Peter Hansen continued to buy and develop properties and establish them as producing dairies.
He needed workers to assist with his different projects. They consisted of cheese factory hands, share farmers, fencers, ring barkers and some clearing the land for ploughing.
In 1924, Peter was elected a member of the Queensland Cheese Manufacturers Association and the Queensland Cheese Board. He needed a name for his farm so he called it Malling.
In the late 1920s, Peter Hansen became interested in producing hard cheeses. They made small lots of various cheeses abut settled on a Swiss type of Gruyere.
He employed a Swiss man to make it but things didn't go as planned.
They had 25 ton on hand and the Brisbane agents couldn't sell it. So Peter decided to sell it himself.
He travelled north to Cairns and south to Melbourne. They began to get sales for the cheese.
There were even inquiries from America. There was follow up demand in Brisbane. He encased it with red wax and so Malling Red Cheese was born.
There were orders from all over Australia and even from Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila and others.
Then came the years of the Second World War and Malling was ordered to revert to making cheddar cheese, but they were no longer set up to do this.
All the work pioneering a new variety would be lost. Peter Hansen battled hard to overcome these orders.
There were trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra even a personal interview with Sir Earle Page.
Then they were ordered to put their cheese into cold storage but Peter, refused explaining their type of cheese would spoil.
After the war, Malling Cheese prospered, but it was their farm that carried them through the tough times.
However, the era of dairying began to close as did some of the smaller cheese factories.
Peter Hansen continued to live at Malling in the heart of the country he had pioneered from the wilderness.