Dairy farming, dairy food processing and horse breeding are the town’s most important industries.
Stanhope is a small community-minded town in the Goulburn Valley of northern Victoria, located on the Midland Highway, central to Shepparton, Bendigo and Echuca. The town prides itself on its close-knit supportive community, and claims to have the “tastiest cheese in Victoria”. That may not be an idle claim as there is an abundance of dairy production going on to support it! This little town was founded as a soldier settlement during the First World War.
Dairy quickly became an important industry and it remains so today. Stanhope’s most famous resident, Sir John McEwen, moved there in 1924, becoming the inaugural Chairman of the local Stanhope Dairy Co-operative, the forerunner of the Fonterra factory in Stanhope. McEwen had an impressive political career in national politics and went on to become Australia’s 18th Prime Minister in 1967, a testament to the ambition and influence of the people of Stanhope. A statue in the town square commemorates his short but significant period in the highest office of the land.
Today, dairy company Fonterra is the biggest employer in town processing more than 340 million litres of milk every year from some 260 surrounding farms in northern Victoria to produce specialty cheese, powders and ghee which are sold throughout Australia and around the world.