Sydney — Auburn — Moss Vale, 22 May 1893

After I had attended mass on board — it was Whit Monday, I visited a large factory in Auburn, situated West of Sydney in the direction of Parramatta. The factory produces meat tins. It is managed by a group of sheep breeders  and supplies the English and the Belgian army with tins. New South Wales is the classic territory of the meat canning industry. Its importance today in meat production from the numerous herds of Australasia has been started 50 years ago by a Mr. Sizar Elliott from Charlotteplace. In 1892 New South Wales was already exporting meat valued at 3,408.144 fl. in Austrian currency.

Built in open meadows the factory lies close to the large cattle and sheep market on which every week many thousands of cows and sheep from all parts of the country are sold. Large enclosed spaces near the factory are intended to keep the cattle and sheep prior to being butchered.

The tour started in that department responsible for the packaging of the containers and cases are produced out of tin. All these processes such as cutting, turning and soldering are done by machines at enormous speed.

The most important part of the factory is butchering sheep located in a hall that contains compartments for groups of ten sheep each. The butcher kills each sheep by slashing the throat of each animal and at the same time breaking the spine by bending the animal’s head over his knee. Then the butchered piece is taken by two assistants who remove the skin, cut off head and feet and put the gutted body on a rolling band which feeds it into a line. The work proceeds at such a speed thanks to the workers‘ practice in their bloody trade that the whole procedure from the butchering of a sheep to its loading takes only about two minutes, which explains why a good worker can „handle“ about 160 sheep on a daily basis.

The removed skins glide through an opening to a room below where they are packaged to be sold untanned. Heads, feet and entrails are used for producing tallow.

With astonishing skill the workers on the line execute their work in first splitting the body into two parts then removing the parts free of fat and bones, namely loin and ham if they are spotless and move them into cooking cauldrons while the other parts go into pans to produce tallow. It runs out of the pans by special tubes through cooling machines and then directly into barrels. The remainders of the tallow production, namely the bones are used to produce fertilizer.

The pieces of meat intended for preservation are boiled for a short time in cauldrons, then cut into small pieces by machines and pressed into tins that are soldered close after a worker has properly adjusted the mass of meat in the tin. It is then cooked in a water bath in an iron tub. To increase the speed of the process chemical substances are added to the water.

After the completion of this procedure the goods are ready for the market. The whole procedure takes only a few hours from the moment the butchering of the sheep begins to the moment when it disappears into a tin.

In a similar manner beef and sheep tongues are preserved, only the cows are not killed in the manner practised in our country by hitting it on the head. They are shot here. For this purpose cattle are driven into chambers on whose walls are small slits. A butcher approaches to one of the slits, aims for the head’s spot between the horns and shoots one cow after the other with a small caliber rifle, almost a Flaubert.

The factory processes 4000 sheep and 26 cows daily with a relatively low number of workers who are well paid as the weekly earnings are on average around 26,4 fl. in Austrian currency. I tasted various tins and found especially those intended for the military quite tasty. I liked best the beef preserved for the Belgian army.

Back in Sydney we ate breakfast at the amiable and very obliging consul general’s who lived in a very lovely house in one of the suburbs and possesses a large number of interesting objects that he had acquired on his earlier missions in Asia.

As my collection efforts had not abated, I drove in the afternoon to various dealers who had been recommended to me to acquire bird bodies, ethnographic objects as well as platypus hides and there discovered a speciality of Sydney, emu eggs on which were engraved inventive depictions of kangaroos, lyrebirds emus, brushtail possums etc.

A five hour railway drive brought us to Moss Vale, on the Southern Line, 138 km south of Sydney, the starting point for another three days‘ hunting expedition. Mr. Badgery, a farmer, on whose extensive property the hunt would take place this time was our guide. In the station of Moss Vale a rich evening meal was waiting for us. Having conquered it, I retired to the salon wagon that had been decoupled while my entourage booked rooms in a nearby hotel.


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