Skip to main content

Who knew? Malty favourite Milo was first and is still produced in NSW's Macleay Valley

Black and white image of inventor Thomas Mayne smiling as he spoons dry Milo into an unknown child's mouth
Milo inventor Thomas Mayne (1901-1995) and an unknown, but seemingly happy child.

Supplied: Slim Dusty Centre

The iconic Australian milk drink Milo is 80 years old and the town where it was first made is celebrating its connection.

The 'Go and Go with Milo' exhibition in Kempsey tells the story of its deep connection to the Macleay Valley.

It was invented in Sydney during the Depression in the early 1930s by Thomas Mayne, an Australian industrial chemist and food researcher, to help ensure that children received enough nutrients from their daily diet.

Two young women making milkshakes under a Milo Fortified Tonic Food sign.
Young women working at a Milo Milk Bar.

Supplied: Slim Dusty Centre

It was launched at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1934, and this year the original Milo exhibition stand was recreated to mark its 80th birthday.

Smithtown restoration
Smithtown is a small farming community in the Macleay Valley on the mid-north coast.

Kim Honan: ABC Rural

Parent company and multinational conglomerate Nestle said Milo was one of its best known brands when it celebrated the anniversary at Easter.

But it is often forgotten that Milo was first produced, and is still produced, in a factory in Smithtown on the Lower Macleay of the mid-north coast of New South Wales.

Current factory manager Matthew Oram said the exhibition, which opens locally on Friday, includes sporting memorabilia, photographs, technical equipment, packaging and posters.

It also has historical video footage and examples of Nestle's involvement and support of many community projects and their support of sport.

"There's not many families on the Macleay that couldn't find a link to the product or the factory in some way, shape or form," Mr Oram said.

A black and white photograph of the old Milo factory at Smithtown, in the Lower Macleay.
The original Milo factory at Smithtown.

Supplied: Slim Dusty Centre

"The nostalgic collection details the history of Milo and the Nestle Smithtown site," he said, "just to provide some links to its history and its manufacturing base.

"It'll hopefully provide a lot of good memories for a lot of people on the Macleay that have been a part of the building of this great brand."

It's marvellous what a difference Milo makes, coloured poster from the 1956.
A 1956 poster advertising Milo.

Supplied: Slim Dusty Centre

Mr Oram said it was named after ancient world athlete Milo of Croton who was known for his strength.

Nestle suggests it can be prepared with hot or cold milk, or water, though the debate surrounding the best way to prepare and enjoy the drink has been going almost as long as the product itself.

To that end, Mr Oram said almost every Australian child has at one time or another has spooned dry Milo straight from tin to mouth.

Today, Milo products can be found in more than 40 countries around the world.

The nostalgic exhibition is currently on display at the Slim Dusty centre in Kempsey.