Potted Histories

The Changing Face of Harvey District (1930-A)

Country Towns and Districts – Productive Harvey – Dairying Industry’s Growth – (By “Scribe”)

This article appeared in the Western Mail, Thursday 13 Feb 1930, p. 43.

The results being achieved on small holdings in Harvey’s irrigated area provide a fine advertisement for the State, and an illustration of what can be achieved by farmers who follow a sound agricultural policy. The area served by channels represents a small proportion of the district, and those farmers who are settled on what is colloquially known as the “dry” country have also done well. It is impossible, however, to think of the district without forming a mental picture of its irrigated holdings, which, all the year round, are a study in green. This year, unfortunately, there is a serious water shortage, so that a diminution in production seems inevitable. In previous years apprehension has been caused, but timely thunderstorms saved the situation.

Primarily famous for its citrus groves, the district is now, essentially, a mixed farming one. The dairying industry has made big strides, potato production is considerable, while orcharding is important. The value of good pastures, and particularly that of subterranean clover, is apparent. The township has grown rapidly during recent years, and is a good business centre. On its outskirts is the new model butter factory. A feature of Harvey is the brick war memorial, which takes the form of a reading room and library.

Miss C. T. Heppingstone

One of Harvey’s show properties is Rannoch, a 30-acre irrigated dairy farm owned by Miss C. T. Heppingstone. Worked on economic and scientific lines Miss C. T. Heppingstone well nigh maximum results are obtained, the management of the property and its returns providing a fine example of the efficacy of sound farming methods. Scoring 191 points out of the available 200, Miss Heppingstone won the dairy farm competition conducted by the Harvey Agricultural Society in 1928.

The judge (Mr. G. K. Baron-Hay) said that the pasture on Rannoch was the finest of a permanent nature he had seen, while Miss Heppingstone had gone to considerable trouble to ensure proper shelter for her stock. Rannoch is divided into nine paddocks and about 26 acres are devoted to pasture subterranean clover, paspalum, white Dutch clover and kikuyu grass, the latter a native of South Africa and resembling couch grass. Two hundredweight of super is applied in early autumn followed in September with one cwt. of potato manure, and the pastures, normally, are irrigated monthly. The farm is carrying 30 cows, a pure bred Shorthorn bull, two horses and a few sheep, and the 24 cows in milk are producing 50 gallons daily. Eight of the cows are pure bred Friesians. Miss Heppingstone purchased Rannoch eight years ago, and has effected considerable improvements. The farm house, its attractive garden and orchard and imposing avenue of Camphor Laurel trees should surely engage the attention of an artist.

Mr. W. E. Ash

For 36 years Mr. W. E. Ash has resided in the district, arriving in 1894 to take over the management of the Harvey Estate. The following year be took up land and in 1897 commenced the planting of his orchard, the fruits of which gained many prizes. In 1907 he commenced breeding Dexter Kerry cattle and was a successful exhibitor at the Royal Show for 21 years. Mr. Ash was president of the first farmers’ association formed in Harvey. That was in 1894. In 1904 a reading room and library were established and he was president of the controlling body for 18 years. He has vigorously applied his student mind at various times to the solution of the district’s problems. A Canadian by birth he is an associate of the Ontario Agricultural College. Arriving in South Australia in 1881 he joined the staff of the Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1887 for two years, and in 1891 came to this State and was engaged by the West Australian Land Co. to become manager of its proposed training farm near Broome Hill-a scheme which was abandoned. Mr. Ash, before going to Harvey, designed and planted an orchard at Katanning. This was one of the first orchards in the State where modern methods of culture were introduced. He is now living in partial retirement.

Mr. W. R. Eckersley

In 1910 Mr. W. R. Eckersley, the engineer and secretary of the Harvey Road Board, arrived in Perth from England and joined the Public Works Department, having been five years with the Cumberland County Council as engineer and architect. The following year he was engaged on the initial surveys for the Harvey irrigation scheme, and, later as district engineer, he was associated with the construction of the weir and the provision of channels. The scheme became operative in 1916 and Mr. Eckersley carried on with the administrative work. Drainage work at Torbay and on the group settlements at Busselton was also carried out under his supervision. In 1925 Mr. Eckersley resigned from the department to take up his present position which necessitates much attention to irrigation matters. He takes much interest in public affairs and in the sporting sphere he is a tennis enthusiast, and is chairman of the tennis dub.

Mr. L. Temple

Since his taking up an abandoned block of 89 acres in the “dry” area in 1924 from the repatriation authorities, Mr. L. Temple has effected a big transformation in its appearance and productive value. He has dug 175 chains of drains, destroyed the under growth, ring barked the timber, sub-divided the block into 15 paddocks, and established a heavy growth of sub-terranean clover. In 1926 the block was carrying 10 head of stock: today, 20 grade Jersey cows, 13 young cattle and a pedigree Jersey bull, which obtained a second prize at the Centenary Royal Show, are maintained. Starting dairying on July 1, 1926, with six cows his receipts for the following six months totalled £50. From July 1, 1929, to December 31, he averaged 16 cows daily, receipts being approximately £300, while returns from pigs for the period amounted to £100. The average daily test of the herd was 4.5 per cent. As the land is not of first class quality, concentrates are fed daily and also 2oz. of bonemeal per cow. Mr. Temple has won numerous prizes at the last three Harvey shows with his stock.

Mr. R. O. Hayward

A son of the late Dr. W. T. Hayward, one of the owners of the old Harvey Estate, Mr. R. O. Hayward has lived at Harvey for 27 years. He was educated at St. Peter’s College, Adelaide, and later at Roseworthy Agricultural College and owns Riverton, which now consists of 255 acres, 160 acres of which are in the “dry” and the balance irrigated. He also owns some hill and coast country. On Riverton dairying is now the principal industry, but orcharding once held pride of place. Formerly there were 62 acres of citrus trees, now there are 22 acres and the area is still being reduced. Mr. Hayward’s herd is composed of pure bred Jersey cows and Jersey-Shorthorn crosses. He considers the cross to be valuable because of the hardiness it imparts. On his irrigated area paspalum, couch and subterranean clover are the principal pastures and on the “dry” country subterranean clover and various grasses. Mr. Hayward is interested in the community life of the township and district, and was intimately associated with the citrus society from the time of its inception until its enlargement to an agricultural society in 1920. He is now connected with the agricultural society. The opinion that more concrete irrigation channels should be constructed so as to prevent seepage and reduce maintenance costs is held by Mr. Hayward.

The Rustics

There is a company of bright entertainers in Harvey who call themselves the Rustics. When ever a suitable opportunity presents itself the company puts on a show for either a local or city charity. The secretary of this altruistic body is Mr. J. F. Mercer, Harvey’s popular stationmaster. He is the company’s comedian and impersonator. During official hours Mr. Mercer is very interested in compiling figures to show how much milk and cream the district dispatched during a given period. Arriving from Scotland 20 years ago he joined the railway service and he has been in the South-West for 12 years. His value to the Rustics may be explained by the fact that for five years be was in the clerical branch of the Glasgow theatre of Moss Empires Ltd. He can now put his glimpses behind the curtain to good use.

Mr. F. J. Becher

One of the most prominent public men in the district is Mr. F. J. Becher, who has been chairman of the Harvey Road Board for six years, and a member for the best part of 20 years. Educated at the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, he went to Mildura for five years after leaving college, and studied orcharding afterwards taking charge of a large fruit packing shed. In 1896 he went to the eastern goldfields, and in 1905 became manager at Harvey of the Korijekup Estate for Dr. H. F. Harvey and the late Dr. W. T. Hayward, many of the orchards owned by absentee holders being planted under his supervision. Mr. Becher has a property in the irrigated area, on which orcharding, dairying, and grazing are the principal activities. He is keenly interested in marketing and other problems affecting the primary producer, and his long association with orcharding makes him an authority on horticultural subjects. He is president of the Harvey branch of the Primary Producers’ Association, and in the early days was one of the prime movers in connection with the securing of irrigation and drainage. Before the advent of the State Licensing Court he was a member of the Wellington Licensing Bench. The hospital committee is under his leadership, while in the realm of sport he is president of the Trotting Club and a tennis devotee. Mr. Becher is a candidate for the Murray-Wellington seat in the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. W. Johnstone

His 10 years as district Agricultural Bank inspector have enabled Mr. W. Johnstone to acquire an exhaustive knowledge of the capabilities and possibilities of that portion of the South-West. Moreover, he takes a live interest in the district’s welfare and is an enthusiastic collector of convincing information, statistical and otherwise. The district he travels extends from Cookernup in the north to Waterloo in the south, and from the coast to Collie. There are 240 Agricultural Bank and soldier settlers in his area and they are now mostly on a good, sound basis with the pioneering stages behind them. The agricultural expansion of the district is evidence by the fact that when Mr. Johnstone took over there were about 170 settlers to whom he had to pay periodical visits. He considers that the settlers’ headway is attributable to their determination and the hard work, particularly in the early days, of the womenfolk. Mr. Johnstone, who was born in New Zealand, first went to the South-West in 1899, where, after farming in the Upper Blackwood district he was engaged in Government surveying for 11 years and later, with the Home and Territories Department, in surveying and engineering during the construction of the trans-Australian railway. He was formerly president of the Harvey Agricultural Society.

Mr. J. Lowe

Intimately associated with both the business and agricultural activities of the district, not to mention its community life, Mr. J. Lowe, is an ardent believer in its resources. He has lived there for 33 years and is one of its oldest residents. Mr. Lowe’s father was one of the first settlers to take up an irrigated block at Mildura and removing to this State in 1900 he purchased a property on the Harvey River which his son now owns. There, two years later, he planted four acres of Blenheim apricot trees-a special variety-which were obtained from Mildura. Their growth was prolific and the orchard has gained a big reputation, Mr. J. Lowe later planted another apricot orchard of six acres. The former orchard averages normally, between 300 and 400 cases per acre annually, but this season production was inordinately high. Mr. Lowe was the foundation president of the Harvey Agricultural Society.


  • The area of the Harvey Road Board is 1,000 square miles, and there are six timber mills with- in its borders.
  • The population is 5,000.
  • Motor vehicles licensed with the board number 400. There are 700 miles of roads.
  • Designed by Mr. W. R. Eckersley, the imposing war memorial cost £750. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Francis Newdegate in 1921.
  • Harvey has a fine recreation ground, which is controlled by the road board. The township is electrically lighted, and there are 110 consumers.
  • The Harvey troop of light horse won the Boan Shield last year and in 1926-27.