Still dairying despite the odds

Georgia, Dave and Harry Tommerup at the 1888 homestead
Georgia, Dave and Harry Tommerup at the 1888 homestead

DAVE Tommerup reckons the giant fig tree towering over the homestead he grew up in might be 180 years old.

It put down roots decades before his great-great grandfather Matthew Horan registered the family’s cattle brand in 1874 in a tale not quite as old as the hills, but pretty old all the same.

Now, Dave and his family are celebrating 150 years of farming on the property known as Central Kerry.

On the same fertile soil that giant fig has thrived in since before they came along, the family has tended thoughtfully to the land, enduring droughts, flooding rains and the deregulation that brought Queensland’s dairy industry to its knees.


In a tale of resourcefulness, determination and a willingness to go against the grain, one of Beaudesert’s only surviving dairies is celebrating 150 years of farming.

The story of sixth generation Tommerup’s Dairy Farm started when the 320 acres of agricultural and pastoral land Matthew Horan selected, known as ‘Central Kerry’, was officially approved in January 1874 at a cost of £142 and 10 shillings.

Horan’s great-great-grandson Dave Tommerup is continuing the farm partnership to this day with wife Kay and son Harry as business partners and daughter Georgia staying involved while pursuing her off-farm vocation as a teacher.

They still use the cattle brand 2HN registered in Mr Horan’s name on 30 June 1874 and keep a small dairy herd averaging 20 cows.

A pivotal moment in their story came when they made the bold move to leave processor Norco on 2 January 2021 after establishing their own boutique dairy products in 2019.

It was a decision they did not take lightly, having supplied Norco since 1984, when the company took over the former Logan and Albert Co-Op.

But after having to focus on survival since the dairy industry’s deregulation in 2000, they were intent on having a fair value placed on their product.

From the dairy and creamery on the hill, Dave can see the original homestead he grew up in with his sister Lorinne, which has housed five generations of his family since 1888.

The old home, which now welcomes farm stay visitors, is a living example of how the Tommerups have gone full circle to keep a diversity of income streams going at once, from boutique dairy and meat products to market garden fresh produce and agritourism.

Harry, 25, is softly spoken but there is conviction in his voice when he talks about why he felt drawn to leave his engineering job to be a sixth-generation farmer.

“It’s part of me, the farm itself. I didn’t really want to work away knowing that at some point I’d come back,” he said.

The Tommerups plan to host celebrations on the farm in April, with dates to be confirmed.

Their milestone comes as others, including descendants of Annie Horan and her husband Patrick Ward, gear up to celebrate 150 years of history in the Kerry Valley and the Beaudesert Sesquicentennial Committee plans activities throughout the year to mark the town’s 150th anniversary.

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About Susie Cunningham 0 Articles
Journalist telling the stories of where I live. I love living and working in Beaudesert and when I'm not working you'll see me walking the dogs with my husband Zac.