Friday, 20 February 2015

Fruit growing in the Hawkesbury

Fruit has been grown in the Hawkesbury since the early 1800s and by 1810 there were over 100 hectares of orchards growing peaches, plums and apricots.  From the 1820s the cooler climate in the Kurrajong area became popular to grow fruit and the hills were covered with fruit bearing trees.

Stone fruits and apples were well-suited to the elevated areas of Kurrajong and Bilpin were suitable for stone fruits and apples. Granny Smith, Delicious and Jonathan apples were grown. Some orchards grew peas in between the trees as an additional crop.

Orchards at Kurrajong early 1900s
Courtesy State Records NSW Digital ID: 12932_a012_a012X2450000131

Did you know by 1890 the Hawkesbury grew over 195,000,00 oranges? In the 1930s the district was struck with an outbreak of fruit fly forcing a number of orchards to shut down. Other fruit grown included pears, plums, currants, gooseberries, strawberries and cherries all performed well. Melons were grown up and down the river and were easily transported by riverboat. By 1944 there were still 286,000 citrus bearing trees all over the Hawkesbury which was 20% of NSW total. The 1956 flood destroyed a lot of the orchards situated along the riverbanks. Beautiful peaches also were grown around Wisemans Ferry and Maroota – who can ever forget the taste? 

Unfortunately the number of orchards in the Hawkesbury has drastically reduced over the past 30 years with only a handful remaining.


  1. Australian Town and Country Journal, Wednesday 23 October 1907
    Hawkesbury Oranges.
    The recent shipment of oranges to London per the steamer Orotava Included a couple of consignments from the Hawkesbury River-or, to be more exact, from the Colo, a branch stream of the Hawkesbury. These were forwar ded by Messrs. James Metherell and William Jones respectively, the former's consignment consisting of 40 cases of common oranges, and the latter's of from between 200 and 300 of the same variety. These were forwarded mainly as an experiment, and although, ns tile cables Informed us the cabies informed us at the time, the shipment of fruit by the Orotava was unfortunate enough to strike a "flat" market. It is gratifying to local orchardists to know that Mr. Metherell's consignment easily topped the market-that ls, for common oranges. Of his trial shipment, 29 cases sold at 14s 6d per case, 10 cases at 14s, and one case, which was damaged, at 9s 6d. Mr. Jones' consignment is also very creditably spoken of. This gentleman is one of the oldest, and certainly the largest, grower of citrus fruits on the Hawkesbury. His fine orchard, up the Colo, about two miles from its confluence with the Hawkesbury, has produced close on 7000 cases of fruit in one season, and first-class quality fruit at that. Mr Jones is a practical farmer, and his trees will never become a breeding ground for insect pests or disease of any kind for want of care being bestowed upon them.

  2. The William Jones mentioned above was fondly known as 'The Squire of Livingstone'. William was the son of Catherine Elkins and his father a convict also named William Jones. 'The Squire of Livingstone' was a well known boat builder, Orchardist & agriculturalist. In the late 1870s? he purchased a property on the banks of the Colo river, he called it 'Livingstone' after the African missionary & explorer.