Charles McKinnon was taught the 'Canadian Cheddar System' (as it was called by two Canadian brothers) in Fairfax, New Zealand. McKinnon's cheeses were regularly exported to London from New Zealand. Despite the lengthy sea voyage, they arrived in England in perfect condition; in stark contrast to cheese exported from colonial Victoria, which consistently went bad on the voyage. The Victorian Government wasn't happy that New Zealand had cornered the British cheese market, so it brought Charles McKinnon to Melbourne to teach local cheese makers the 'Canadian Cheddar System'. McKinnon was just 21 years of age, which apparently caused consternation among local dairy producers: how could someone so young make such consistently good cheese? To prove his reputation, McKinnon made a batch of cheese which was sent to England. When word was received that the cheese had arrived in top condition, McKinnon's role as cheddar cheese expert was ensured.

McKinnon travelled around colonial Victoria to butter and cheese factories, instructing managers in cheddar manufacture. In March 1893 he married Miss Annie Warren, of Kilmore at Avenel Presbyterian Church. Once his job with the Victorian Government was done, he settled in Newry, near Maffra, where he managed the butter factory. He later moved to 'Fairview', Briagolong, where he started his own factory. McKinnon judged cheese for many years at the Royal Melbourne Show. Family lore tells that one year, the Gippsland butter factory entered two cheeses from the same batch into competition, as a test of McKinnon's expertise as a judge. McKinnon placed one of the Gippsland butter factory's cheese 1st and the other 2nd. The factory owners thought they had caught McKinnon out, but he allegedly pointed out that although the cheeses were from the same batch, the one he gave 2nd place to had a small crack in it!

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