Commercial orcharding in the Tallong district began in the 1890s after the passing of the Robertson Land Act in 1861, which encouraged the purchase of small blocks of land, and the opening of the railway to Sydney in 1868, which enabled easy access to markets.
Between WWI and WWII, it has been estimated that there were up to 35 productive orchards in the Tallong area.
The story of Tallong's historic apple orchards can be hard to unravel at times.
Owners and property names changed and there was no street numbering system until the mid-20th century.
However, the land title history of the last commercial orchard in Tallong is clear.
Originally selected by George Gardiner in July 1901, Lot 8, a block of 80 acres, fronts what is now Kettles Lane and the property passed at his death to his sons, Edward, Walter and John.
John and Walter transferred their interest in the property to Edward in 1916.
In 1920 Edward sold to Francis Brown who, in the same year, subdivided Lot 8 into two 40 acre blocks, retaining the front "A" block for himself.
The "B" block was sold to a marine engineer and his wife, James and Olive Duncan in 1926.
At this time the "B" block orchard was known as "Sans Souci" ("Without Care") and it retained this name until at least 1952.
When James and Olive retired to Sydney in 1935, "Sans Souci" was taken over by their eldest daughter Carrie and her husband Alan Jones.
Unfortunately, their marriage did not survive WWII and the orchard was sold to Arthur Johnston (the lessee of Davenport's Store) in 1947 to be managed by his son Harold (Hec) who had married James and Olive's youngest daughter Ethel Joan in 1943.
At the end of 1951, both "A" and "B" blocks were sold to James Herbert Watling who passed the reunited property to his son James Manuel (Jim) Watling in 1982.
The orchard name changed to "Homeley" and was run by Jim until his death.
Then the property was sold to its current owners Magnus and Belle Agren who have changed the name once again to "The Orchard" and run a farm-stay business as well as the orchard.
Apple Day Festival
Tallong's apple heritage is celebrated each year at the Tallong Apple Day Festival, held this year on May 5.
This year was bigger and better than ever.
Visitors enjoyed wood chopping displays, puppet shows, whip cracking and sheep shearing demonstrations, pony rides and a snake and reptile display.
The displays of vintage cars and internal combustion engines fascinated many.
Chefs from the Hyatt Hotel Canberra were the judges for Mrs T's Bake Off competition before giving a popular cooking demonstration.
The ever popular Fleece to Garment displays proved a major drawcard and the Apple Pie Eating competition. was another highlight.
The Apple Day raffle this year was the best ever, first prize being a Suzuki Baleno GL 1.4L auto, won by Tallong locals Ian and Ann Mitchell.
The second prize, of a holiday at The Moorings at Tomakin for up to six people, was also won by a Tallong resident.
In all there were 13 prizes worth a total of $30,000. A full list of all the competition winners will be included in a later Tallong news.
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