Avondale Agricultural Research Station

Avondale Agricultural Research Station

Avondale Agriculture Research Station or Avondale Discovery Farm is one of thirteen research farms and stations operated by Western Australia's Department of Agriculture and Food. In addition to its research, Avondale has historical buildings, a farming equipment museum and operates as an agriculture education centre specialising in introducing primary school children to farming, and teaching of its history in Western Australia.

Avondale is situated on land where the Dale River joins the Avon River 10 kilometers (6 mi) northwest of Beverley. It is located on land originally granted to the first Governor of Western Australia, Captain (later Admiral Sir) James Stirling and Captain Mark Currie RN in 1836.cite web |url=http://www.heritage.wa.gov.au/n_yobe.html |title=2004 Year of the Built Environment |accessdate=2007-10-12 |work=Heritage Council of Western Australia ] These grants were combined in 1849 and with additional land purchases they became known as Avondale Estate, expanding to in excess of convert|13330|acre|km2.

On the 4 April 1924 the remaining convert|1740|acre|km2 of Avondale were passed on to the Department of Agriculture and Food. Initially Avondale continued its involvement with Group Settler program, it wasn't until 1926 that research activities commenced. During the 1930s it was to be the laboratory for Dr Harold Bennetts successful research into "Bacillus ovitoxicus". As part of Western Australia's 1979 sesquicentennial celebrations a machinery museum was built and the other buildings were restored to original condition.cite book | title = The Story of Avondale | author = Jones, H. and D. Johnston | publisher = Department of Agriculture, Western Australia | year = 1997 | id = ISBN 0724487433]

Early farm years

In November 1835 an expedition led by Governor James Stirling joined another party led by the Surveyor General John Septimus Roe in King George Sound. Roe had made arrangement for both parties to return to the Swan River Colony via an alternative route. The route was intended to join the settlements of King George Sound, York and the Swan River Colony along with the newly established settlement of Williams. This expedition passed through the area of Avondale sighting the Dale River and a granite hill that Roe name Bald Hill on 27 December. Bald Hill was to become the primary reference point for surveying the region.

In 1836 Thomas Watson returned to area and used Bald Hill as the principal trigonometric reference. Watson was to map out a number of lots in the area including the western boundary for Beverley town site. Two of the lots surveyed were Avon location 14 (5,000 acres) and Avon location K (4,000 acres); location 14 was given to Captain Mark Currie, Fremantle Harbour Master, while location K was given to Stirling. Stirling as Governor and Currie as harbour master were not paid salaries by the colony but given land grants as compensation for their services. In 1978 surveyors using current equipment were engaged to determine the exact location of these original holdings commented on the remarkable accuracy of Watson's survey 142 years before.

In September 1838 Currie sold his grant of land to Nicholas Carey for ₤330, and in December Carey entered into a lease agreement with Governor Stirling for his grant which included Carey purchasing the property at the end of the lease for ₤750 in 1846. Carey also purchased convert|3000|acre|km2 to west of location 14 he also received an additional grant of land in 1849. With all the land in the vee formed by the Avon River and the Dale River the property was now convert|13330|acre|km2 in size and was named "Avondale Estate". During the late 1840s Carey moved to Guernsey leaving Avondale to be operated by an unknown caretaker.

Upon Carey's death in March 1889 Avondale was inherited by his 16 year old Grand Nephew William Herbert deLisle. In 1893 deLisle arrived at Avondale and took up residence with the land title to Avondale being transferred to deLisle in 1894. Until deLisle's arrival Avondale was a pastoral property, over the next ten years sections of the estate were sold off to fund the development of Avondale. During this period the house was expanded and the stable were built, which included 20 horse stalls with hollow walls and an over head loft. [cite web |url=http://register.heritage.wa.gov.au/PDF_Files/A%20Reg/Avondale%20Res%20Stn%20(I).PDF |title=Interim Entry No. 05566 Register of Heritage Places |accessdate=2007-10-12 |format=pdf |work=Heritage Council of Western Australia] The hollow walls enable feed from the loft to gravitate directly to the feed bins in each stall.

In 1904 the remaining convert|5232|acre|km2 were sold to William James Butcher and Charles John Hunt Butcher. The brothers purchased adjoining properties adding convert|4403|acre|km2 which enlarge Avondale to convert|9635|acre|km2. In 1908 they offered to sell Avondale to the Western Australian Government for £5/10/- per acre, the Government countered with an offer of £5/5/- per acre which the bothers accepted. Avondale was purchased in March 1910 under the Agricultural Land Purchase act for a total of £51,494/12/6, equivalent to approximately A$5,500,000 in 2006.

1910 to 1924

Even though the Butcher brothers' farming operations continued until January 1911 the government start preparation for subdivision. In April 1910 John Hall was sent to Avondale to locate all improvements and draw subdivision lines following existing fencing where possible. Hall's arrival sparked considerable controversy because not only had he set up camp on the golf course but the golf club also had lease 40 acres of Avondale that joined the edge of town. Investigations found that the lease was terminated when the land was sold.

Hall divided Avondale into nine substantial size farms whose boundaries have remained unchanged since, the 40 acres that was occupied by the golf course was made in to small lots which have since been further subdivided. Lands Department accountants calculated that the sale of the lots would after expenses return £8,768/3/3, the estate was gazetted and land made available on December 21 1910. Of the nine substantial lots only four were taken up as settlers were unable to pay the £6 per acre price. Lot 1 was taken up by George Hancock, the father of mining magnate Lang Hancock George's brother Richard had taken up Lot 2. Lot 13 was taken up by G.W Isbister and 4 was taken up by former Premier Sir Newton Moore who then proceeded to London with the plans. As Agent General Newton was to offer to prospective settlers lots at Avondale, though a number telegram inquiries to ascertain availability of lots at Avondale were sent theres no record any lots being allocated in London.

By November 1911 none of the remaining 5 substantial lots had been taken up, it was suggested that 4 of the remaining lots be used for an Agricultural College with the Lands Department responsible for continuing to farm the remaining lots. This left one lot known as Drumclyer available, in 1914 a Dowerin farmer tried to lease Drumclyer after losing his property there due to drought but was unable to negotiate an acceptable rate. In December the Hancock brothers had abandoned lots 1 & 2, Isbister had also abandoned Lot 13, though it is not known exactly when, leaving only the convert|780|acre|km2 of Lot 4 in private hands. With the outbreak of World War I the Agricultural College plans were abandoned as well.

Near the end of 1916 the Beverley community started to request that Avondale be subdivided in to 20 lots for returning Soldiers. It was also suggested that Avondale be a nursery where soldiers are given small allotments and those that succeed are then given larger grants elsewhere in the state. In July 1918 it was decided that Avondale would have 6 lots made available for servicemen from the Beverley area and that convert|1740|acre|km2 which included the area around the homestead was to remain under control of the Lands Department.cite web |url=http://register.heritage.wa.gov.au/PDF_Files/A%20-%20A-D/Avondale%20Res%20Stn%20(I-AD).PDF |title=Heritage Assessment Document 15/08/2003 |accessdate=2007-10-17 |format=pdf |work=Register of Heritage Places, Heritage Council of Western Australia]

Department of Agriculture

The original homestead block faced an uncertain future for many years, until it was given to the Department of Agriculture in 1924. Initially intended for the production of pure seed wheat and oats, very little was produced for several years. Avondale was used as an assembly and holding ground for dairy cattle, prior to them being sent to group settlers in the state's South West. During this period the Silo was built with a capacity of 100 tonnes; the silo is now heritage listed.

The local farming community raised concerns about cattle being unsuitable for the area, while the concerns were not immediately addressed Avondale was turned towards seed production and research. In 1926 the first research started, this was in the application of superphosphate its alternatives and the timing of application. Initial results were published in the "Journal of Agriculture" in 1927.


l origin but was unable to establish the source. [cite web |url=http://www.ava.com.au/showhtm.php?page=archive/associates.htm&PHPSESSID=4cf |title=Associates of Profession |accessdate=2007-10-21 |work=Australian Veterinary Association]

Dr Harold Bennetts was appointed the state's first veterinary pathologist in May 1925. Bennetts commenced an immediate investigation into the disease, using alleyways and open space around the departments city offices to house the sheep needed for the research. [Australian Dictionary of Biography|last= Maughan |first= Jill |authorlink= |year= 1993 |id= A130197b.htm |title= Bennetts, Harold William (1898 - 1970) |accessdate= 2007-10-17] In 1930 a field laboratory was built at Avondale, a flock of 1000 sheep were purchased to enable feed experiments. In 1931 Bennetts had identified "Bacillus ovitoxicus" as the cause of the disease. With this knowledge he was able to develop the infectious enterotoxaemia vaccine, for his efforts Bennetts received a CBE. [cite web |url=http://www.vetsci.usyd.edu.au/avhs/eminent/bennetts.pdf |title=Harold William Bennetts CBE DVSc 1898-1970 |accessdate=2007-10-21 |format=pdf |work=Australian Veterinary History Society ]

The sheep populations that were required by Bennetts at Avondale also afforded additional research opportunities. From 1931 for several years experiments were conducted with the object of determining how to best produce prime export lambs. This investigated various breeds and cross breeds determining that cross bred ewes where significantly more productive than pure bred Merinos. During 1935 investigations into the affects of castrating male lambs with either mechanical pincers compared to using a knife, both of these methods have since been replaced with rubber elastrator rings. The experiment on 499 sheep concluded that no significant differences were observable in respect of mortality, maturity rates and meat quality.

Dr Eric Underwood began his research at Avondale in the mid 1930s also utilising the sheep flocks. Underwood's initial research was into the effects of sulfur on wool growth, he followed that research with investigations into botulism in sheep during 1935. These experiments were the first of many by Underwood over the next 30 years. During the 1940s he studied the nutritional value of hay and pasture for sheep, the on going results from these "Studies in Cereal Hay production in Western Australia" were published in the Journal of Agriculture. [cite journal |last=Underwood |first=Eric.J |coauthors= A.J Millington|year=1944 |month=March |title=The influence of time of cutting upon yield |journal=Journal of Agriculture WA |volume= |issue= |pages=35 |accessdate= 2007-12-19] [cite journal |last=Underwood |first=Eric.J |coauthors= R.J Moir|year=1944 |month=March |title=The influence of time of cutting upon the chemical composition and digestability of Wheaten and Oaten hay |journal=Journal of Agriculture WA |volume= |issue= |pages=41 |accessdate= 2007-12-19] During World War II, Avondale farm provided research into farming of Linseed and flax in Western Australia, though Avondale was not the most suitable location for growing either. Three varieties of Linseed were trialled "Riga Crown" an early maturing variety, "Italian" also early maturing and "Walsh" a mid season maturing variety. It was discovered that all were susceptible to cutworm with greater damage occurring later in the season, early trails of the insecticide DDT was said to show promising results in combating this. [cite journal |last=Millington |first=A.J |year=1946 |month=March |title=Flax and Linseed Breeding in WA |journal=Journal of Agriculture WA |volume= |issue= |pages=39 |accessdate= 2007-12-19]

Other efforts

In 1942 there was some pioneering in the development and use of contour banks, the equipment required a team 4 horses or two Clydesdales, a teamster and two labourers. Through the 1950s Avondale had monitored its sheep flocks as part of the research into Dwalganup strain of clover as a livestock feed and its effect on ewe fertility. [ [http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/content/AAP/SL/HEA/SHEEPINFERTFARMNOTE.PDF Farmnote No 41/2005] Western Australian Department of Agriculture] On into the 1960s and 1970s Avondale was involved with the breeding and trial of various cereal crops for use within Western Australia. Since the early 1980s Avondale has focused on environmental and sustainable farming along with farm income supplemental alternatives like marron farming. Avondale like most Western Australian farms utilised horses and Clydesdales in particular for pulling farming equipment. Farm economics of the 1930s meant that the Clydesdales weren't retired to enjoy the governments grassy paddocks. In 1937 a letter to the Agricultural minister details the disposal of horses that were no longer useful;The letter details how the Perth Zoo is responsible for the freight and that the Minister had approved the transaction. Many Clydesdales were to follow the first two bay mares with the consignment note description "for lions food, freight payable by consignee". This practice continued until well into 1950s until tractors replaced the use of horses in farming. Since the opening of the museum in 1978 Avondale again utilised Clydesdales for demonstrations of the old equipment these horse are sold as pets once they are incapable of working.

1976 to present

In 1976, as part of the preparations for Western Australia's 1979 sesquicentennial celebrations, the Department of Agriculture decided to restore the historic Avondale farm to its original state to display the achievements of Western Australian farmers. In response to the announcement, farmers from around the state responded generously with donations of old machinery and equipment. Most of this machinery was restored by Department of Agriculture mechanics. In 1978 an invitation to visit and open Avondale's agricultural displays was sent to Prince Charles, this was accepted and on 16 March 1979 Avondale was officially opened with commemorative tree planting near the entrance to the farm.

The farm continues its research into improving farming and farm practices under Western Australian conditions. Avondale's displays are open to the public with picnic facilities available, included in the displays are the original homestead, the stables complete with Clydesdales and a machinery shed. There is also road maintained around the farm with information boards on each paddock explaining its current usage. [cite web |url=http://www.beverleywa.com/avondale/fun.htm |title= A day in the country at Avondale|accessdate=2007-12-19 |work=Avondale Discovery Farm ] [cite web |url=http://www.beverleywa.com/avondale/landscape.htm |title= Explore the landscape|accessdate=2007-12-19 |work=Avondale Discovery Farm ]

ee also

* Agriculture
* Agricultural science


External links

* [http://www.beverleywa.com/avondale/ Avondale Discovery Farm Website] - Beverley Tourist Bureau
* [http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/ Department of Agriculture and Food Website]
* [http://www.heritage.wa.gov.au/register/PDF_Files/A%20-%20A-D/Avondale%20Rsch%20Stn(P-AD).PDF Heritage Council of Western Australia - Register of Heritage Places Assessment Documentation]

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