|History Of Olives|
|Written by Olive-SA Admin|
|Sunday, 15 August 2010 21:06|
South Australia has a long history in Olive Oil
In 1910 The [South Australian] Daily Herald praised olive oil as "an
"A few and favoured parts only of the globe can grow the olive . . . those
A Brief History of Olives in Australia
All the states and territories, excluding Tasmania were planted with some varieties of olive trees during the 1800s. During this period, South Australia and Victoria were the states where most of the planting was going on and they were considered the leaders at that time. South Australia began to lead the charge of the olive industry back in the 1830s. Between 1830 and 1850 trees had come in from France, Rio de Janeiro and Sicily. One company took delivery of five varieties from Marseilles. These trees went on to produce oil which won honourable mention at the London Exhibition of 1851. The Stonyfell Olive Oil Company of South Australia won Gold Export Medals in 1911 for its oil exported to Italy. Dr Michael Burr in his book "Australian Olives" details how by 1875 there were over 3,000 trees in the parklands around Adelaide.
By 1873 there was a grove of some 10,000 trees in the foothills of the Mount Lofty ranges. Groves continued to be planted around the Adelaide area until suburban housing took over the land in the 1920s. After World War II the southern European migrants planted groves in the northern suburbs and in the Riverland area.From South Australia, olives spread across the border to Victoria. There were plantings at Dookie, Sunbury, Wangaratta and Longerenong Agricultural College near Horsham.
In 1943 a Mr Jacob Friedman started planting what is still today the largest plantation in Australia. The plantation is located at the foot of the northern end of the Grampians near Horsham. By 1956 there were 38,000 trees in the grove. Olives were also planted at Mount Zero, Edenhope, and Dimboola. These were mostly dryland plantings but a company at Robinvale did plant 700 acres of irrigated trees and also had processing equipment on the farm. Most of these trees were pulled out in the 1970's when the Mediterranean labour and production costs were low and olive products were being imported at unbeatable prices. It is interesting to note that the current owners are looking at planting large numbers of olives on the same property.
At the New Norcia Monastery in Western Australia, olives have been growing mainly for oil since the 1860's. Dr Burr notes that the monastery's oil won a silver medal at the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908. Parliament house in Perth also has some very old trees in its front garden - some believe that they are the oldest in Australia.
Olives have been considered as a commercial industry quite a few times in Australia’s history. In 1883 a paper was written under the heading "Cultural Industries for Queensland." One of the topics covered was the growing of olives in Queensland, primarily the Brisbane area. The author gives some insight into the way of thinking and the location of the nearest grove at the time in this quote from the paper.
"I think that in our early operations we shall do well to plant those kinds which have been proved by the nearest of our neighbours, (Camden Park, the estate of the late Sir W. Macarthur, in the county of Cumberland, N.S.W is the nearest locality to Brisbane where the olive has been grown to an extent sufficient for the manufacture of oil and for testing different varieties of the tree) who have grown olives to be early and abundant bearers. After that, we may with great advantage avail of the experiences of South Australia, although with further experience we shall probably, sooner or later, select some kinds as better adapted to our warmer climates."
The journal concludes that "The olive has fruited well on the coast near Brisbane and gives good promise on the Darling Downs. "It is interesting to note that the penal settlement on the tiny St Helena Island in Moreton Bay had a commercial grove of olive trees early in this century. Being a self funding settlement, the prisoners had to grow much of their own food and sell produce for the purchase of other goods and equipment. One of their saleable products was olive oil which they grew and processed on the island itself. The oil was then sold to, of all places, Italy!
The average daily temperature in July for the island is approximately 16 degrees Celsius! No wonder people retire to Queensland. Things have changed dramatically since those days and we are establishing an industry under completely different circumstances than 100 years ago.
Our Anglo Saxon population is discovering what Australia's southern European migrants knew all the time. That is, that we do have large areas of well priced land with the perfect climate to grow olives, and that olive oil is a very healthy and necessary part of our diet. The olive oil that was produced back in those pioneering days didn't have a market (other than for medicine), and consequently the price received for the product was very low. Now the demand in this country far exceeds the supply and technology along with modern orchard practices and suitable varieties is seeing the establishment of an internationally competitive industry.
History of Olive growing in South Australia
To learn more about the history of the olive industry in South Australia from 1836 to about 1960 visit www.members.ozemail.com.au/~cshill. This dedicated site put together by Craig Hill should interest anyone curious about the Australian olive industry or the history of South Australia.
History of Olives SA Committee
Olives SA (OSA) commenced in the mid north (Clare Region) with a few people talking about the potential olives have and exploring the possibility of a future in growing them here. A local meeting at Seven Hills gathered about 50 people with Margaret Sedgley as a guest speaker. There was strong interest and nominations for committee were requested. The speaker was Don Hiller with Kent Hallett assisting in the procedures. A collection of enthusiastic people formulated regional committees (small numbers) and the drivers initiated Olives S.A and its Board.
OSA meetings were originally held at the Stag hotel and then in 1998 moved to the Police Club in Carrington St. From there we moved to the Waite Institute and in 2000 after appointing our Executive Officer for the Strategic Plan we had access to his facility on Greenhill Road Wayville. Today we are settled back at the Waite Institute.
In the early days there was a competition held for someone to create an Olives S.A logo and the winners logo still remains as everyone knows it today. A constitution was formed with assistance from the newly formed A.O.A.
We had strong support from Waite as it had already the labs and skilled personnel to assist us with chemical and organoleptic skills. A tasting panel were inaugurated at the stag hotel in 1998 with a member of the IOOC taking them through the required tasting workshops so that once they completed the course they can be IOOC accredited. This was successfully done and Richard Gawel who had experience in the wine industry was to take charge and go overseas for more IOOC training. He became qualified as a chief judge and obtained the skills and accreditation to train others.
By 1998 the membership of O.S.A. had grown to approximately 240 and were keen for more information in olive growing. The industry at this stage showed a strong interest in olive growing not only from its members but also by the older Europeans who brought their methods of growing olives here. O.S.A. used their knowledge as a starting point for sourcing information.
The nurseries were experiencing a boom as the promise was for farmers/hobbyists to grow olives and the returns would be magnificent. O.S.A. looked at field days with speakers such as Susan Sweeney, Margaret Sedgley talking about varietal selections and soil requirements. We had Peter Maroudas speaking on growing techniques and potential processing details. Membership was strong but delivering information was limited as we were all learning together. The regions were strong and a sense of rivalry on who was the better performer was becoming evident.
By1999 the finances for O.S.A started looking grim as it was totally reliant on membership and the declining numbers, for many reasons, added more pain. Luckily by this stage Government had recognised that the olive industry had the potential to become a serious industry. Workshops were conducted through O.S.A and support from government came at the crucial stage. O.S.A had to reach its remaining members and give them support and confidence to stick with us. It worked. The marketing workshops were delivered to the different regions and proved to be just what the growers wanted. We expanded our presence to larger field days such as Cleve And Paskerville and became involved with The Royal Show, which exhibited member’s products, exposed O.S.A, and introduced the day-to-day people to the wonderful flavours and aromas of EVOO produced in SA. O.S.A was now becoming a strong name not only in SA, but the AOA and other regions throughout Australia. Even today OSA is considered a leader in this industry.
By 2000 O.S.A had accepted that there had been an enormous amount of plantings and as the peak body we had to have a strategic plan in place prior to the huge wave of production that was going to confront us in the very near future. Through the talents of Julian Sowik from FRDC, O.S.A. was successful in obtaining a grant totalling $140,000 from the Dept of Regional transport for a strategic plan. O.S.A. selected a Board of various industry people that could contribute towards a decisive strategic plan for not only South Australia but for the national body as well. Today OSA is still recognised at the Peak Industry body representing olive growers in South Australia. Our membership continues to steadily increase and sits around 230 at present. The OSA committee dedicates a huge amount of time and effort into effectively representing their regions. It needs to be understood that no-one on the OSA committee is paid for their services.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 15 August 2010 21:08|