SITE works have started for a new concept in dairying - Bannister Downs Dairy's robotic rotary dairy and milk processing plant that will double as a tourist attraction.
On Tuesday, Bunbury-based construction company Perkins Builders started work on the greenfields site, 1.8 kilometres from the existing Bannister Downs dairy and production facility east of Northcliffe.
To be known as the Creamery, the multi-million-dollar expansion of Bannister Downs' ethical dairy business is a beacon of hope for the rest of WA's dairy industry flooded with excess milk and dairy farmers in the eastern States struggling to cover production costs.
The Creamery will house a 24-stand DeLaval voluntary automatic milking rotary system capable of milking 540 cows three times a day - the first such system in WA and only the fourth in Australia.
It will be next to a new low-temperature pasteurisation and processing plant from the Australian arm of German-based GEA Group and a coolrooms storage and dispatch area.
The Creamery will feature a glass-walled, second-floor public viewing gallery enabling visitors to watch the whole process, from cows being milked, the milk being processed, to it being packaged and despatched.
It will have a tourism-focused exhibition space, caf((xE9))é and public sampling area, administration and marketing offices and a boardroom as Bannister Downs' new corporate headquarters.
Bannister Downs managing director Sue Daubney said it was an exciting time for the family and staff.
"We are very excited to see the beginning of our Creamery construction... and we are certain that with all the effort put in, we are going to end up with a world-class facility," Ms Daubney said.
"We see a long-term future in dairy and while we recognise our industry is facing challenges, we are confident there are great opportunities ahead if suitable markets are established.''