Oranges

2016
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Oranges

[media]Oranges arrived in Sydney with the First Fleet and immediately took root in the colony. They remain a feature of orcharding in the Sydney basin.

Oranges at Port Jackson

[media]In 1788, the First Fleet, under Captain Arthur Phillip, brought orange seeds and plants to Sydney. The diary of David Collins noted that at Rio de Janeiro plants and seeds were taken on board:

coffee, both seed and plant; cocoa in the nut; cotton seed; banana plant; oranges, various sorts, both seed and plant: lemon, seed and plant; guava seed; tamarind; prickly pear, plant with the cochineal on it; and ipecacuanha, three sorts. [1]

[media]Soon after arrival, the orange trees were 'taking root and establishing themselves in our new world' [2]. From early sketches, the original planting of these trees would be in what are now lower Phillip Street and Macquarie Street. The first orange trees to bear fruit were grown by Richard Johnson [3] at his Canterbury Vale property but the first orange seed to grow was in Ryde. [4]

[media]Orange groves were soon established in the Hawkesbury Valley and the Central Coast hinterland for proximity to the Sydney fruit market.

Suttor oranges

[media]In 1800, George Suttor and his family arrived in Sydney. In 1801 they settled at Baulkham Hills on what became in March 1802, a Government grant of 180 acres – Suttor's Farm, later named Chelsea Park. The orchardist planted four orange trees given to him by William Paterson who had brought young orange trees to Sydney via San Salvador. [5]

Sydney’s first orange tree orchard soon prospered and Suttor advertised young fruit trees for sale in the Sydney Gazette of 20 May 1804. In 1807, Suttor’s oranges, 'golden fruit of Hesperides', were for sale at Charlotte Square, Sydney, at 2 shillings and six pence per dozen. [6] Suttor sold seedlings to locals and soon significant orange groves were established. Visitors to Parramatta in Victorian times were taken on excursions to the Hill to view the orchards [7].

[media]Suttor advised that care is needed in cultivation of the orange:

The orange-tree in Australia is subject to the infection of an insect called the turtle-bug: this creature feeds on the sap of the tree, and causes it to become very sickly. Ants also infest it ... Great care should always be taken in gathering the fruit, so as not to break or injure the trees. [8]

By 1828 oranges were being exported from New South Wales to Van Diemen's Land. [9] An 1828 catalogue of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney lists twenty-one varieties of oranges and mandarins being grown, including 'Bahai Navel', 'Joppa', 'Maltese Blood' and a number of sour oranges [10].

The expansion of orange groves

[media]In Sydney, growing oranges continued apace and new orchards were developed at Seven Hills, Pymble, West Pymble, Lilyfield, Arcadia, Galston and Dural. At Rouse Hill Estate to the east of the house, Richard Rouse developed a citrus orchard bordered by paths. He most likely obtained stock from Suttor's nursery. By 1838, Rouse Hill's 'luxuriant grove of orange trees' greeted the traveller on the road to Windsor. In 1854 oranges were marketed and more trees purchased. [11]

James Pye[media] of Rocky Hall, Parramatta, developed one of the most productive orange orchards in the district as he harvested two crops annually. The trees in his orchard were also renowned for their size. One visitor wrote:

On arriving at another part of the orangery the magnificent orange-trees, celebrated for their size, and one of the objects of our visit, were now before us in all their beauty of fresh luxuriant foliage, and profuse bearers of luscious fruit. [12]

[media]In recognition of the history of orange growing in the area, The Hills Shire Council initiated the Orange Blossom Festival in 1959. It runs annually in September.

[media]Today there are two main varieties of oranges grown in Australia; navel oranges are a preferred table fruit and Valencia are good for juicing. These varieties also have complementary seasons – navel trees bear from May to October and Valencia bear from August to April.

Further reading

Bowman, Frank T. Citrus-growing in Australia. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1956.

Collins, David. An account of the English colony in New South Wales, with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners, etc. of the native inhabitants of that country. To which are added, some particulars of New Zealand; compiled, by permission, from the MSS. of Lieutenant-Governor King. London: T Cadell Junior and W Davies, 1798.

Suttor, George. The Culture of the Grape-Vine, and the Orange, in Australia and New Zealand. London: Smith, Elder and Co, 1843.

Webber, Herbert John and Walter Reuther, Harry W Lawton, eds. The Citrus Industry: Volume One: History, World Distribution, Botany and varieties. Riverside, California: University of California, 1967. http://websites.lib.ucr.edu/agnic/webber/Vol1/Vol1TOC.html.

Notes

[1] David Collins, An account of the English colony in New South Wales, with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners, etc. of the native inhabitants of that country. To which are added, some particulars of New Zealand; compiled, by permission, from the MSS. of Lieutenant-Governor King (London: T Cadell Jr and W Davies, 1798)

[2] David Collins, An account of the English colony in New South Wales, with remarks on the dispositions, customs, manners, etc. of the native inhabitants of that country. To which are added, some particulars of New Zealand; compiled, by permission, from the MSS. of Lieutenant-Governor King (London: T Cadell Jr and W Davies, 1798)

[3] 'Introduction of Oranges', Cairns Post, 7 August 1926, 3

[4] John Fairfax, Historic Roads Round Sydney (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1951), 5

[5] 'Introduction of Oranges', Cairns Post, 7 August 1926, 3

[6] 'Oranges Come to Sydney: George Suttor's trees', Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 1941, 11

[7] John McClymont, Pictorial History: Baulkham Hills Shire (Alexandria, Kingsclear Books, 2003), 20

[8] George Suttor, The Culture of the Grape-Vine, and the Orange, in Australia and New Zealand (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1843), 178

[9] Frank Bowman, 'A history of citrus growing in Australia 1788–1900', Citrus News 31, 8, 1955, 102–3

[10] Catalogue of plants cultivated in the Botanic Garden, Sydney, January 1828, Manuscript ledger compiled by Charles Fraser, Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, Sydney Living Museums

[11] Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, Rouse Hill Estate, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/34958/20030430-0000/www.hht.nsw.gov.au/news_room/guide_books/rouse_hill_estate.html

[12] 'The Orange in New South Wales', The Inquirer and Commercial News, 14 August 1867, 3

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