HISTORY OF HARVEY AND DISTRICT



BY: E G DAVIS - 1955


The Seventh Instalment of the History of Harvey.


The seventh instalment of the history of Harvey shows hoe the area prospered in the early days from its beginnings in 1829 until 1896. Progress was slow but unchecked during the period. It was not until 1898, and again in the period 1912 - 1916 that the district suffered really serious set backs, but details of these and the manner in which they were overcome will be publishes in the eighth instalment of this history.


In 1829 governor Stirling selected this area of 12,800 acres, hills and flats combined. He built a slab hut on the property, as a hunting lodge, alongside the Harvey River, and this was the full extent of his improvements.


Later on, from 1870 until 1884, the property was leased to J Thompson Logue, one of the very early settlers, who built the brick cellar, from sun baked bricks made on the property and planted the old trees now to be seen there. The homestead was destroyed by fire years ago.


In 1878, on board the SS Oaklands, Dr W T Hayward landed in South Australia and commenced practice at Riverton.


In 1881 on board the SS Hesperus a party of four people joined up on the voyage to Australia. They were Dr H F Harvey bound for WA; Mr H Gibbs and Mr John Richard Young, bound for South Australia.


The Gibbs Bros. took up land at Franklin Harbour and Mr Young, who was wealthy, also took up land.


Dr Harvey, who was on his way to WA, was delayed in Adelaide on account of a serious illness to Mrs Harvey. She was not allowed to travel for six months so Dr Harvey looked around for work. At this time Dr Hayward was anxious to visit England, but could find no one to carry on his practice and as doctors were few and far between in those days, he had to leave matters in his agent's hands.


A Failure


Meanwhile the Gibbs Brothers and Young's land venture had proved a failure and they came to form a partnership of Harvey, Young and Gibbs, with HYG as their brand and start trading in WA. This partnership started on July 3, 1883. The Gibbs brothers went to WA, bought the Harvey River Station of 12,800 acres from Governor Stirling's agents and 20,000 acres of grazing lease at Collie from Marshall Waller Clifton.


The Harvey River Station was bought for 10/- per acre, a mortgage being taken over from Major Alfrey in England. The property was being leased at the time by Mr Thompson Logue and the firm had to pay him very heavily for his improvements; house and sheds, etc. Too heavily, in fact, under the circumstances.


Early in 1885 the Gibbs brothers took up residence at Harvey at The Old Homestead. Herbert Gibbs was already married and his wife and children, May and Ivan, remained temporarily in South Australia. Herbert Gibbs, with native help, and being a very proficient bush carpenter, set about building a house for George Gibbs, who had gone to Adelaide to marry Miss Holden.


This homestead, so long the residence of Harvey Estate managers, was built. All the timber for the house was cut on the property by "pit sawing,' a very fine performance for amateurs.


The Gibbs Brothers managed the property until 1887 when they went to Fremantle. Mr Len Gibbs, of Wokalup (now deceased), was born in this house, now the property of Mr Colin and Len Knight, grandchildren of the original Mr George Gibbs.


Dr Harvey then came from South Australia about 1890 and took over the management of the estate. In the meantime, Mr Young sold his interest in the estate to Dr Hayward and in July, 1886, the firm became known as Harvey Hayward and Gibbs.


Dr Hayward paid 1,750 pound for Mr Young's share.


 


No Fences


Mr Herbert Gibbs had been shepherding the sheep in Collie in 1884 and writing to Dr Hayward from there says how disgusted they were that their Christmas goods had not arrived and being 35 miles away from the Perth - Bunbury Road, they could not go to Brunswick to get them as they could not leave the sheep, having no fences and the niggers likely to clear out if he left. He says "Soon we will be in Harvey with a post office on the estate."


The post office was situated on the corner of Mr London's property opposite the sawmill. The old acacia trees mark the spot. This old slab and single roofed building was also the stable for change of horses for the Perth Bunbury mail coach. Old residents will remember guard Mick White, of the Bunbury train, who was one of the coach drivers.


In 1886, Mr Herbert Gibbs writes, "You will be pleased to hear that the survey for the South West railway has begun at the Bunbury end." The line was not constructed until 1893.


Dr Harvey managed the estate until 1892, when he secured the services of Mr Buckby who had been managing a property at Dardanup for the Hon. Frank Venn. He managed the estate until 1896.


A Steady Expansion


This instalment of the history of the Harvey district continues the theme of the steady expansion over the years. However, in this instalment the author refers to two serious setbacks - in 1898 and again in the 1912 - 1916 period, which were only overcome by a commendable civic pride.


In 1895, Mr William Bede Christie, a surveyor and organiser and lecturer from Mildura, on the Murray River, came to Harvey and saw big possibilities of cutting up land for a fruit settlement on lines similar to Mildura. He set about doing this for the firm and was appointed general manager of the Korijekup Fruit Settlement in 1896. In 1896, Mr Buckby died and Mr W E Ash, a lecturer on agriculture from Ontario, Canada, who had been lecturing for the Government, took over the management of the station. Mr Ash was manager from 1896 - 1901.


During this period Mr Bede Christie had been selling land to settlers from Victoria and elsewhere, some of whom he knew of in Mildura. Among these was Mr Isaac Lowe, who came over in December, 1897, and took on cultivating land for absentee settlers before selecting land himself.


Mr Christie, who was a relative by marriage to Mr Murray, selected Lot 1, between First and Second Streets (now Hayward and Young Street), and Mr Murray built a house there known for some years as 'Riverton,' which was later bought by Mr R O Hayward, and is now owned by Mrs B Italiano.


During 1897 to 1899 it was found by Mr Ash that Mr Christie's sales were not giving settlers confidence and they thought they would not get their titles. Disagreement between the firm Christie and Ash, took place resulting in the retirement of Christie and the instalment of Mr Ash as general manager of both the estate and the station. Mr Christie sued Harvey and Hayward for 27,000 pound, loss of commission and expected commission, and after a very protracted court case was awarded 1,050 pound.


 


In Low Water


The firm then being in very low water, Dr Harvey sold the estate to the WA Land Co., who did not complete, but Dr Harvey, who was no business man, then started to sell land again and was promptly sued by the land company for breach of contract, which he had not thought to have cancelled. This cost another 1,000 pound.


The Gibbs Brothers could not stand any more and so Dr Hayward had to find this money and take over their share, so in 1900 the firm became known as Harvey and Hayward and started afresh with Mr Ash as general manager, but not a very satisfactory one, and he resigned in 1901. Mr McClure, of Felton, Grimwade and Bickford, was made attorney for Dr Hayward and the firm, and from then on confidence returned and sales of fruit land increased rapidly.


In 1902 Mr R Christison from Clare, South Australia, who had proposed leasing the station, was made manager of the whole estate and carried on until 1907, when he resigned and took over property from the Harvey and Hayward estate of 300 acres (now owned by Mr A L Johnson), in partnership with Mr Jack Newell. This property was later bought by Mr Teasdale Smith and sold to Mr Johnson. Mr Christison went farming at Tammin and died in 1951, at South Perth.


In 1907 the management passed to Mr R O Hayward, a son of Dr Hayward, who also took over Christie's property, Korijekup No 1. Hayward managed the estate until it was sold to the Government, and it was taken over by them in 1913. From 1907, the management of absentee owners' land was looked after by Mr F J Becher on behalf of the firm of Harvey and Hayward. Mr Becher later took over the management himself and later sold out to Mr Jack Lowe.


Irrigation


From 1910 onwards it was obvious that as the orange trees came into full bearing they must need irrigation, and many meeting with the Government took place urging them to erect a weir on the Harvey River and provide water. Although sympathetic, the Government never came up with anything definite.


Messrs Becher and Hayward, in discussing the reason why, came to the conclusion that until the Government owned the balance of the irrigable land they would not see any private firm reap the benefit, and it was resolved to try and persuade the firm to sell to the Government. This, although appearing simple, was extremely difficult and for three years negotiations went on. The terms offered by the government meant a very heavy financial loss to Harvey and Hayward, who at that time, were in a very low and struggling state. However, it was at last agreed to and a great deal of credit must be given to a firm which put the interest of the district before themselves and lost heavily by doing so. Even after the sale had been agreed to, at the eleventh hour, a Government proposal from the Solicitor General, that the firm forego the sale and sue for breach of contract, was only met by foregoing 18 months' interest. Because of elections and uneasy feelings in Europe, the future looked uncertain. However, things were finalised and a start made on the weir in 1914. There are very few alive now, who took part in these negotiations, who know how perilous a time was met with, before Harvey received the benefit of irrigation, and few know how much Harvey owes to the civic spirit shown by Harvey and Hayward, fatal to one.


The building of the weir proceeded spasmodically and a first watering, a courtesy one, was given in November, 1916. The distributing channels at that time were unlined and so seepage was a very big item.


The actual official opening of the Harvey irrigation works took place on June 21, 1916, and was performed by the then Governor Sir Henry Barron.


 


Citrus Planting


During Mr Christison's years of management and when citrus planting was again in full swing, with much land being cleared and planted before it was drained, a comprehensive Government drainage scheme was started and the big Harvey drain started from Government Road was built. It collected all the water from the Harvey River, which practically stopped at Government Road, and overflowed thousands of acres. This water was collected and diverted into the Mandurah estuary. It was where the river practically ended at Tenth Street that the crossing known as Stirling's Ford was located. The big drain, when completed at Government Road, was easily crossed in a sulky, but would take some doing now.


The drainage system at Harvey made it possible to proceed with irrigation, as the two go together.


 


Early Trade


The clearing in Harvey was immense and prices for clearing ranged from 15 pound to 28 pound with the wages at 7/- and 8/- per day. No explosives were used and it was all hand and horsepower and very hard work.


The first milkman to deliver was Mr W R Clifton.


The first store was "The Busy Bee," owned by Mr John Knowles.


The first butcher was Mr Henry. (Incidentally, the first sausage was made in Harvey on May 8, 1903 by Mr Henry and delivered to the hotel to Mr Alec Smith, licensee, brother of well known, Mr Aubrey Smith).


Practically all produce sent to Perth was carted to the station on sledges or wheelbarrows. Meat was delivered by sledges or horseback. Mr Bill Firkin, of HRV Store, was the first baker. Mr Brown, Hayward Street, was the first blacksmith.


 


Influx of Settlers to Harvey


When the South West railway was constructed it brought a new influx of settlers to Harvey. Some of them first met on the banks of the Swan River near Perth, where they camped after coming to this State from the Eastern States. Several of them worked for many years on contract clearing or road building after the completion of the railway.


Some of them took up land on the southwest side of the Harvey estate. What was then the Harvey Road or Lane, was the connecting link with Harvey for many of them. It is now known as Government Road, probably because the land west of it was the nearest Crown land to Harvey. Settlers in the area included N B Murray and his sons, James and Thomas; W Snudden and family; the Sheehans, Livingstones, Chapmans, Pidgeon (noted for his brumby catching) and Don Rudd. Later they were joined by the Rees brothers and Edward Sharp.


In 1894 Monty Wickham took up land near Cookernup, which is still farmed by his son, Charles Wickham. Monty Wickham was a member of the road board and one of the leaders in public life at Cookernup. His son is also a member of the road board.


John E Knowles, jnr., who was working in a Perth office first visited his parents at Harvey by riding a bicycle from the city in 1893. This was no mean feat on the roads of 60 years ago. As there was no room at his parents' home, Fairlawn, he spent the night at the Old Homestead. Three years later he took up 90 acres of land between Sixth and Eighth Streets and planted cherries, apricots and oranges. He grew summer potatoes between the rows of trees and irrigated with water pumped from the Harvey River with a large oil engine. This method of irrigation was adopted by other settlers on the riverbanks. For some time he lived with his parents at "The Busy Bee", and remembers seeing brumbies being rounded up south of where Uduc Road is today.


John Knowles, jnr., has a family Bible with the names of his male ancestors in a continual line all with the christian name of John, from 1777.


Arthur Logue was an expert at catching horses and would take them to the ship to be sent overseas. The horses were loaded at the old wharf near the Fremantle fishmarkets jetty. Two other expert horse catchers were Charlie Adams and Pidgeon. Many of the early settlers caught the brumbies for their own use.


The year 1895 was probably the most significant in the history of Harvey, because it was then that Drs Hayward and Harvey sub-divided 5,000 acres of their land and put Harvey, nee Korijekup, on the map. In this year Joseph Manning was at Myalup, which is still owned by his grandson. W J Sutton was elected to the Brunswick Road Board that year and later Ernest J Manning, a son of Joseph Manning, was a board member for about 36 years.


Another well-known man in Harvey at that time was George Burrows, who was shepherd to the Harvey estate for many years. Later he farmed on the Wokalup River banks and when he retired, lived with his wife in a cottage on the property of R A Johnson, near Harvey.


Settlers who came to Harvey at this period were:


O C Rath, who took up land in Fifth Street in February, 1896; A Mr Docton, who took up No. 10 block on the corner of Young Street and the Avenue; G P Charman, who bought block Nos. 11 and 13 in Third Street; a Mr Halor, who took a block on the Harvey River near Fourth Street (he sold this to Isaac Lowe in 1898); Harry Legg, who took up a block opposite Charman in Third Street, which was later sold to J Handley; Arch Jenkins, Fourth Street, was later joined by his brother, Arthur and Albert Fentiman.


A Mr Murray (father of Alex Murray, of Perth, well-known by all potato growers) lived on block No. 1, where 'Riverton' was built. Bede Christie made this his headquarters. When R O Hayward took charge of the Harvey Estate, he came to Riverton and was there for many years.


Drs Hayward and Harvey and many other medicos down the years have done much for the district. Dr Hayward gave everything that he had to make his dream for prosperous settlement come true. He put a lot of money into Harvey, but did not live long enough to reap the rewards which should have been his. In a smaller degree this applies to others who pioneered the district, but they have left a monument to their memory in a wonderful district.


The Korijekup fruit growers, many of whom had experience of deciduous fruit in other States and England, had a very hard time. Isaac Lowe and his family, (including Jack Lowe) and Frank Becher, came from Mildura. Lowe budded a large number of apricot trees he had brought with him and planted them in Fourth Street. For many years they were cultivated and pruned at great expense, but refused to bear a payable crop. He decided that for some unknown reason they were unsuited to Harvey conditions, and he considered pulling them out to make room for something more profitable. To save expense he did not prune them, and was surprised when they produced a bumper crop. Since then these trees have continued to bear until the present time.


It was found that when the orange trees reached a certain age they needed water in the summer to make them profitable. The few orchardists on the Harvey River were the first to discover this and for some years pumped water from the river. Statements made by experts earlier were proved wrong and it was also found to be a fallacy that oranges would grow on poor land.


Frank Becher and Jack Lowe took a leading part in getting irrigation for Harvey, and were ably assisted by Roy Hayward, Roy Eckersley, Ken Gibsone and others.


Jacob Hawter, who had nurseries in other parts of the State, established one at Harvey. A large number of orchards were planted by resident owners and they also contracted to clear land and plant trees for doctors and professional men who were keenly interested in the new settlement. These included Dr D Williams, at that time practising at Bunbury, with a Mr Hughes as his first manager. He was followed by Drs Dermer and Kennedy. E W Dermer, a dentist fro Melbourne, took up land at Harvey when he was in practice at Bunbury, and Harry Pimlott managed his orchard for many years. Dr Harvey, one of the partners in the estate, is believed to have had the biggest orchard in Harvey. It was 70 acres, between Government Road and Ninth Street. His nephew managed the place for some years until L Pearson (now farming at Benger) took over.


Other old identities were F Myatt with his sons and daughter, with Guy and Iris Gibney. The First World War took a heavy toll from this well-known family circle. Tom Myatt remained in Harvey for many years and was a leading figure in a number of public bodies.


Charles Stanford is probably the veteran of the early orange growers, and his orchard is still being managed by a son.


Fred Byrd, another early orchardist, has been in Harvey for nearly 50 years. He came from the Evesham Valley, a famous English fruit-growing district. Soon after he arrived in this State in 1906, he was passing through Harvey on his way to Donnybrook by train. He was so impressed with orange trees he saw growing near the Harvey River that he got off the train, and has been in Harvey ever since. He has realised his ambition and now owns an orange orchard on the banks of the Harvey River.


Teasdale Smith was partner in the construction firm of Smith and Timms in the early days. He was also associated with Millar Brothers, in the timber industry. His orchard between the river and the railway has always been a good advertisement for Harvey oranges. He manager was R A Johnson, and later he took over the orchard, which is now owned by his son, A L Johnson. Other orchards planted on the riverbanks and some on what was known as the Brook, are still flourishing. Most of the trees planted in shallow soil became unprofitable and were grubbed out when Harvey turned to dairying shortly after the establishment of irrigation. About 40 years ago oranges grew from near the bowling green, along Young Street, and up the Avenue to Government Road, and were a wonderful sight.


Some of the orchardists on this three miles of road were T Pinner, G Gibbs, Miss B Lambert, J Handley, B Woodward, D Campbell, G Horrocks, A Upham, G Clayton, F J Becher, Miss Main, Mrs R Forrest and Dr Williams. G Charman had an orchard of plums, apricots and other soft fruits. The only orange trees left there today are on the corner of Fourth Street, on what was originally Dr Williams' property, and a few near the end of the Avenue.


Many different fruits have been grown in Harvey during its existence. Those first known were oranges at the Old Homestead. In 1896, G Charman planted oranges on a block now owned by J Bacich, where young trees were recently planted. Charman imported strawberry plants and cherry trees from Nobelious' nursery in Victoria. Cherries were grown by J Knowles and A Upham, but did not thrive because the climate was not cold enough.


Charman records in his diary of having sent strawberries to Perth and of planting loquat trees in 1900, in Third Street. These trees are still bearing. Banana plants were brought from John Dunn, of Australind, and many different varieties of oranges have been grown by orchardists during the years. They include jaffas, joppas, Parramatta and marmasassa sweet, a special marmalade orange. The latter were grown by G Horrocks, who always took prizes with them. Other citrus varieties grown were poor man oranges, sevilles, pomelo, grapefruit and Mediterranean sweets. Most have disappeared, leaving Washington navals and late Valencias as the favourites.


Australian navels were a failure and Thompson's improved was never very popular. Mandarins were grown with varying success. Emperor, Beauty of Glen Retreat and Futrill, yielded the best, but O C Rath's "thornies" were the nicest in flavour to Spanish tangerines which were so popular in England years ago.



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