HISTORY OF HARVEY AND DISTRICT



BY: E G DAVIS - 1955


Between Seasons


Between a football match on October 3 and a cricket match at Mornington on November 28, Charman says on November 27: "Roy and I planting paspalum dilatalum." He also records Fiskin and Gloster trading in Harvey and paying Alexander (saddler) 4/9; also planting two persimmons (which are still growing) in September, 1905. Another entry says: "Geoff Hayward brought Mr Goss to look at the horse" and another "Roy, I, Ark and Geoff Hayward went after horses, 3 year olds. Got them very easy."


George Charman was a very lovable character and a staunch member of the Church of Christ. After selling his original house and land on The Avenue to W R Eckersley, he had a second house built in Third Street, which is now occupied by J Hindmarsh. This was sold and he built another house on the other side of Third Street, which is now occupied by his daughter Mrs Len Roesner.


He was an active supporter of the Harvey Citrus and Harvey Agricultural Society, a member of the Harvey Road Board, from which he resigned in 1923, and a director of the Harvey Producers' Co-op.


 


Early Industry


One of the earliest industries in the district was lime burning near Lake Preston, where the burning was done by a man named Buswell. The kilns are still in existence. Lime was carted from the kilns to Brunswick and Bunbury by bullock wagon. Little early information of this industry is available.


A short-lived industry in the early days was the manufacture of olive oil by Albert Driscoll at the old Uduc homestead. The trees from which the oil was extracted were planted by M B Smith when he first arrived at Uduc.


Edward Sharp, who came to Harvey in 1897, still lives in Harvey. He travelled the district with a portable chaffcutter and engine. He incurred the wrath of some settlers, who claimed his chaffcutter damaged the roads, and reported him to the road board, in March, 1897. A wordy warfare ensued between Sharp and the board, but years later he retrieved his character by loaning horses and drays to the board, free of charge, except for men's wages. Sharp cut many crops with a binder.


Jim Lowe and company travelled the district at a later period with a chaffcutter. He was killed in the First World War. His namesake, a nephew he never saw, was also lost in the Second World War.


Another link with the past was a portable spraying plant run by a private company in the hey day of Korijekup. "Dadda" Snell and Jack Handley were members of the company.


Trees were at first fumigated with cyanide under large tents, but later this was changed to spraying, a cheaper method. Fumigation was dangerous work and anyone inhaling the gas became very sick.


 


English Settlers


English settlers who came to Harvey 40 or 50 years ago and were well known in the district were Mr and Mrs Frank New and her brother, a Mr Main. In addition to being an orchardist, New was a market gardener and took many prizes at the local show.


Robert Hanks from Gloucestershire, took up land in Eighth Street, where he farmed successfully for many years. His son, C Jack Hanks, still farms the property with additional land. His other son, Robert, farms on Government Road. Hanks was a very fine horseman and when over 70 years old still rode like a young man.


Frank Morris, who came from Shropshire, was another west of England settler. He farmed at "Glentarra" in the hills before going to the First World War in 1914. Later, he took up land on Yambellup Avenue and developed it. The land is now farmed by his son and daughter. Morris was a prominent member of the R S L.


David Robertson came to Harvey before 1914 and after going to the First World War, farmed a property in Ninth Street for a number of years. He also was an active member of the R S L. Another Scotsman, Peter MacNeill, and his family farmed near Government Road and Uduc for many years. One grand daughter, Mrs V Kealy, still lives in Harvey.


Another Englishman, J Hindmarsh, farmed in the district for years and was followed by his sons. He vied with George Atkins for the honour of having the largest family in Harvey. For years Atkins conducted a nursery in Ninth Street, later selling out to go to the wheatbelt. Several of his family still live in the district.


 


Links With History


Charles Rees, born in King's Cross, London, was a pioneer beekeeper in the district. He worked in Cobb & Co's office in Queensland. This company was the pioneer of coaching in the early days of Australia.


Fred Brown, Harvey's first blacksmith, told his friends that he made the armour which Ned Kelly wore as a protection from police bullets. He probably did not know at the time that he was helping an outlaw.


 


Tree Planting


The earliest record of tree planting in the district is in May, 1900, when a public meeting was held in Harvey to celebrate the relief of Mafeking during the Boer War. Mrs Fry, snr., mother of Stephen Fry, of Benger, planted a sugar gum in front of the Harvey railway station. This tree stood for 50 years, but was grubbed out when it started to decay. The trees near the railway house were planted at the same time, but it is not known who planted them. It is not known who planted the tall poplar tree near the Harvey Post Office.


A lot of pine trees were planted around the district about 1910. They were planted on roadsides for breakwind to protect the young orchards. Only a few of these trees are left in 1955. A long row of sugar gums in Fourth Street, opposite Jack Woodier's farm, were planted by George Charman about 1916. The karri tree near the corner of Third Street was also planted by Charman. The tree was brought from Big Brook, Pemberton, by John Woods as a present for Charman, who was a great tree lover. In 1918 the road board supplied trees for planting on roadsides.


 


Libraries


The first recorded libraries in the district were at Ferguson's Mill and Yarloop in the 1890's. In February, 1904, 2 pound 2 shilling and 6 pence was collected for a bookcase at Cookernup. Fifty seven books were bought from the Yarloop Library for 2 pound and in July, 1904, 77 books were bought from the Ferguson Mill library for 2 pound 10 shilling.


At this period the Cookernup Library was very active. This subscription was 2 shilling a quarter with 1 shilling initiation fee paid in advance. Any member keeping a book for more than 14 days was fined 3 pence per week.


In March, 1906, the Korijekup Literary Institute held its first and associations in Harvey. Committee meeting: Messrs W Ash, C Rees and J Knowles were original committee members. The library was housed for years in the Drill Hall, where the road board held its meetings until the present boardroom and offices were built. The present War Memorial Library opened in 1920. W Ash was president for some years and the meetings were usually long affairs, with plenty of arguments.


 


Banks


The trading banks have played their part in the progress of the district.


The West Australian Bank opened an agency in Harvey in August, 1909. Wallace Dunn was sent from Perth with a bag of change, which was deposited in a bed for sage keeping on the first night. He slept on top of the bag.


The bank's first manager was Charles Shenton. Until the bank erected its first building on the present site, business was conducted in a small wooden shop on the opposite side of Uduc Road. The bank amalgamated with the Bank of New South Wales in 1927. The original bank on the corner of Hayward Street and Uduc Road was burned down in November, 1937, when Buckhold's store next door was also burned. The heat of the fire was so great that the strongroom remained hot for several days. The bank carried on business in Markham's Buildings until the present building was erected in 1938. Messrs. S Wooley and C F Robinson were managers for long periods.


The National Bank in Harvey was opened in 1929, with George Bartley as manager and Geoff Brotherson as his assistant. (Brotherson was killed several years later in an accident at Katanning). When Bartley left Harvey, Lou Tierney was appointed manager.


Without exception, bank managers and their assistants have done much for the civic life of the district and in all churches and associations in Harvey.


 


Irrigation to Harvey


On June 21, 1916, the then Governor of West Australia (Sir Harry Barron) officially opened the first irrigation undertaking in this State. The ceremony was performed at what was then known as the intercepting weir on the Harvey River, which is now known locally as the little weir.


The span of years from that time until today does not seem a very lengthy one. Time has that little habit of slipping away, each day contributing something, until suddenly we blink our eyes to find that a structure has been built and that history has been made.


 


Development


In this article it is my pleasure and privilege to comply with the wishes of my board that I should undertake the outlining of that development. What I am able to put down here of the things that happened 25 years ago, aided by my own knowledge of these days and by the memories of many others still living, will, in 25 years time, when most of us may have passed on, perhaps have a flavour of antiquity that will be more fully appreciated then than now.


From my own personal knowledge of the subject, and from all research I have made, I cannot escape the conclusion that the establishment of our irrigation scheme in this State have been the direct result of the much bigger irrigation project initiated by the brothers George and W B Chaffey at Mildura, Victoria, and Renmark, South Australia.


 


Water Into Gold


In 1884 these two remarkable men were literally turning water into gold by irrigating apparently hopeless desert acres in America. Their work then was destined to become an inspiration to the great Victorian statesman, Alfred Deakin, who in 1880, commenced to preach irrigation of the mallee to the Parliament of which he was a youthful member. In 1884, as a Cabinet Minister, Solicitor General and Commissioner for Public Works, he visited America on behalf of his Government, to investigate irrigation, and there met the Chaffey brothers. That meeting caused splendid cities to rise from desert sands of his own State, and to cause the gospel of irrigation eventually to percolate to our own State.


From where once wandered a few dying sheep along the banks of the Murray River; there rose the beautiful and prosperous city of Mildura; and there commenced the history of the industry, which through trials and tribulations, grew till it provides a very large portion of the wealth of two States. In her most commendable book, "Water Into Gold," Ernestine Hill has lately told the fascinating story of Mildura's rise from poverty and ugliness to riches and beauty, and the story is of particular interest to us for the reason that any men who lived in Mildura in its early days afterwards came to Harvey, and became the apostles of similar irrigation and closer settlement here.


 


Christie's Work


Indeed, Harvey itself (which was then called the "Korijekup Estate") was actually laid out on the same lines as Mildura by W Bede Christie, surveyor and journalist. Coming from Mildura, Christie was engaged by the Western Australian Bureau of Agriculture to lecture at the various agricultural centres of this State on the methods of fruit culture obtaining at the irrigation colonies of Mildura and Renmark. After listening to one of Christie's lectures, Dr Harvey approached him, and an arrangement was made for Christie to survey the Korijekup Estate of 12,800 acres (then owned by Drs Hayward and Harvey), and to sell the blocks on a commission basis for citrus growing. Although Christie did not interest himself at all in the irrigation of the estate, at least he planned it on the same lines as the first irrigation district to be established.


 


From Mildura


In 1892, a young man called Frank Becher, took up a block in Mildura and was later put in charge of a big fruit-packing shed for J F Levien, who had provided a fair share of the finance for chaffey's undertaking. During his residence in Mildura, Becher was a friendly but keen football rival of Hugh Oldham, who had surveyed Renmark for the Chaffeys, and who was afterwards appointed engineer for agricultural areas by the West Australian Government, in which capacity he had charge of the first irrigation undertaking in this State.


Becher left Mildura and drifted to the Western Australian goldfields. In 1904 he accepted the management of the Korijekup Estate for Drs Harvey and Hayward. Then it was that the seeds of the irrigation idea began definitely to germinate in Western Australia.


 


"Blue Book"


In the meantime other Mildura men had settled on Korijekup. Christie had issued a "blue book" concerning the estate, on the cover of which it was described as having "magnificent soil," "Thirty seven inches rainfall," - "permanently flowing river" - "unequalled climate" - "no irrigation" - "picturesque scenery" - etc. Whether the "no irrigation" was intended to be a candid confession of the only disadvantage, or whether he considered it to be a good selling feature, it is not known. Certainly Chaffey brothers and the settlers of Renmark and Mildura had gone through many trials and troubles inevitable in the building up of a big structure, and Christie may have taken advantage of some acute period of trouble to extol the virtues of a "no irrigation" venture.


He circulated his booklet widely and other Mildura men followed him to Harvey. The late Mr Oscar Rath, and the late Mr John Newell, both of whom had been nurserymen in Mildura came to Korijekup in 1895 - 6. My own father, who had been a contractor for Chaffey Brothers there, arrived here in 1897.


 


Citrus Growers


Korijekup had been planned and the blocks sold purely as a citrus growing venture. Christie had said that irrigation would be entirely unnecessary, but after orange trees had been planted for 10 years they showed signs of being unable to stand up to summer dryness and irrigation was talked of freely by the settlers. Out of a conversation in the hotel in 1908 between such men as Dr Williams, Dr Harvey, Mr A J Smith and Mr R O Hayward, Dr Williams wrote long letters to the press on the subject and the late Mr W Catton Grasby, a leading horticultural journalist from South Australia, then settled in Perth, gave encouragement to the proposal.



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