Potted Histories

The Changing Face of Harvey District (1905)

This article appeared in the Southern Times (Bunbury), 24 Aug 1905

A Day at the Citrus Centre – Where and What it is – An Appreciation of Harvey.

…What are known as the Harvey Estates were purchased from Sir James Stirling, a former Governor of this colony. They are distant 86 miles from Perth, or 28 miles from Bunbury and are prettily situated on the flats inside the coastal range of hills, a distance of about 10 miles from the sea. They are protected on the North and East by the hilly abutments of the Darling Ranges, the slopes of which are destined in the near future to become one of the largest citrus districts of Australia. West and South extend these fertile flats for miles towards the sea. A more ideal orchard site could not be conceived and the temperate winds of this Nature-favoured region make it specially adapted for citrus cultivation. The elevation is about 122ft. above sea level, and altogether the spot is an ideal one for the fruit farmer. The township is at present a half and half arrangement, one portion rejoicing in the euphonious name of Korijekup which indicates what is known as the Government Fruit Settlement at the South-West of the Railway Station, the remaining half being labelled Harvey.

Here, a Telegraph and Post Office, three of the inevitable “Cash” Stores and an hotel seem to do a fair amount of business, even apart from the frequency of the visits to the latter place on a show day. …With a present average of between 600 and 700 cases of citrus fruit leaving the district monthly and an output increasing proportionately to the rapid cultivation, Harvey township will soon be enlarged.

Amongst the earliest settlers who have devoted their time and energies to orange cultivation are Messrs. Oscar Rath, Newell and Christison, Charman and Jenkins, J. E. Knowles, J. Handley, W. E. Ash, A. T. Smith and J. Lowe, while of the more recent settlers mention must be made of F. Beecher [sic], Leitch Bros., H. T. Smith, Atkins, Berry, Gibbs Bros., R. Hayward, K. Gibsone P. Ryan, W. Clifton, H. Palmer J. Fattorini, T. H. Brown, Horrocks and Batchelor and Berry.

A walk round the orchards of Harvey is a revelation to the visitor whether, to pursue a pet theme, he comes from Gingin or Parramatta. Numbers of men have paid £10 an acre for land here, cleared it themselves, working on the half-time system and established really beautiful orchards. It is generally admitted that the country can he cleared for £10 an acre and the soil is of a consistent depth running to five and six feet. The leading orchardists are undoubtedly Messrs. O. Rath and Newell and Christison, but with so many promising orchards it is indeed difficult to attempt to pick out any for special allusion. When it is remembered that 8-10ths of the citrus trees of the State are growing in this locality and that considerably over 1,000 acres are under active citrus cultivation some idea of the enormous orchards may be gathered.

Thousands of citrus trees have been planted during the last few years, the varieties thriving best being mandarins, Washington Navels, Parramattas, Mediterraneans, St. Michaels, Joppas, Jaffas, Sevilles, lemons, and citrons, while among fresh fruits, apples, such as Jonathans, Cleopatras, Rome Beauties, cooking and desserts, loquats, passion fruit, and Cape gooseberries, have been pre-eminently successful here. A visit to Hawter’s Branch Nursery here is of more than usual interest. It extends over about 23 acres, and contains over half-a-million plants, more than half of which are citrus in all stages. Here are seen some of the new deciduous Japanese oranges, which, as Mr. Hawter facetiously observed “he was cultivating on a large scale for the advent of the brown man”; also Russian Weeping (“naturally,” remarked one visitor) or drooping mulberry trees, a recent and novel importation. The oranges and mandarins of all varieties looked remarkably well; also the young peaches, pears, walnuts, and loquats, and all the seedlings. A specialty is being made of Thompson’s Californian and Maltese Bloods of which a very large quantity has been imported by Mr. Hawter. On the subject of blood oranges it was ascertained that the “blood” is a natural orange which was originally discovered on the rocks at Malta. A variety of roses, including the English briar, were also seen to advantage here; in fact, it is the same everywhere. Wherever one inspects an orchard in Harvey, it would seem as though the soil was capable of growing anything. In the vegetable world gardens speak for themselves.

Throughout the district only the most modern and approved systems and methods have been adopted with the view of ensuring success, and in almost every instance this has been attained. The great, and the only drawback to the district is the drainage system. Individual drainage is out of the question on these flats and unless this is done the grower has to face the danger of his trees becoming waterlogged. To overcome this trouble which menaces the industry it is proposed to institute a Drainage Board which under the Drainage Act will be enrolled to obtain a grant and levy rates for the drainage system to be carried out by them. At present the district comes within the scope of the Brunswick Roads Board which has something like 70 square miles of country within its area, and cannot possibly give that attention to Harvey which its position demands. Representations are therefore being made with the object of alienating Harvey from the Brunswick division and establishing a local Roads and Drainage Board. Once this is accomplished and the main drainage system effected still greater prosperity is in store for this Garden of Eden.