…the Association was formed ‘to watch over and protect the interest of fruit-growers, and to meet at stated intervals and discuss and give practical experience’…
On May 12, 1890, a public meeting was held in the Mechanics’ Institute to form a fruit growers’ association. The meeting, convened by Charles Draper JP of Charnwood, was chaired by Councillor Richard Bassett of Tregowan. Mr. James Draper proposed ‘That this district be formed into an association to be called The Arthurs Creek Fruit Growers Association’. The motion was seconded by Mr. David Christian and carried unanimously. Charles Draper was unanimously appointed President, Patrick Murphy Secretary and John Herbert Treasurer.
Twenty-two members enrolled at the entrance fee of one shilling. ‘Chas. Draper, R. Hempel, W. Draper, J. Draper, R. Bassett, D. Christian, S. Spicer, P. Murphy, A.J. Macfarlane, P. Green, G. Gray, J. Mann, J. Lodge, O. McDonald, J. McDonald, O. Gray, J. Linton, J.W. Laidlaw, J. Herbert, H. McMillan (Macmillan), J. Harrison and Jas. Murphy.’
The Association was formed ‘to watch over and protect the interest of fruit-growers, and to meet at stated intervals and discuss and give practical experience’. The Evelyn Observer in May 1893 reported that ‘The Arthurs Creek Fruitgrowers’ Association has amply justified its existence. Though yet in its infancy the Association has been the means of securing the services of several fruit experts to deliver lectures on fruitgrowing and kindred subjects, such as peach aphis, irrigation, to the fruitgrowers of the district.’ The early efforts of the Arthurs Creek Fruit Growers’ Association and the Diamond Creek Horticultural Society, formed in September 1884, provided the foundations for the advancement of the fruit growing industry in those districts.
P.W.J. (Patrick) Murphy retired as Secretary in 1896 and was replaced by F.K. (Francis) Phillips. In 1897 there were 31 financial members. At the fifteenth annual general meeting held in October 1904, Charles Draper was replaced as President for a brief period by W. G. Goodman, followed by George Brain, before the lapse of the Association after the meeting held in December 1905.
The Association was revived in November 1911 with P.W.J. Murphy as President, David Murphy and M.J. Brennan Vice- Presidents, F.K. Phillips Secretary, John Herbert Treasurer, George Murphy and R. Goodman, Auditors. In December 1912 the Progress Association amalgamated with the Fruit Growers’ Association, which was to be ‘now known as the Arthurs Creek Fruit and Progress Association.’ Illuminated display cards were produced urging members to attend monthly meetings and ‘co- operate for the benefit of the district’. A splendid group photograph exists of local orchardists attending a demonstration of spraying and materials by the district orchard supervisor Mr. E. Wallis held at Martin Brennan’s property on July 16, 1913.
In August 1914 the Association supported the proposed erection of a Cool Store under the Government Trust Scheme at Hurstbridge and sought ‘the future formation of a Trust area for Arthurs Creek’. The Letter Book kept by the Secretary, Francis Phillips, under ‘Notes from Cost of erection Cool Stores’ states that at this time ‘Arthurs Creek has 70 growers, 1886 acres, averaging 26 3/4 acres. Export was 34,698 cases apples only – local output estimated at 102,000 cases exclusive of pears, peaches & plums.’
In December 1914 ‘Owing to the poor attendance of members the election of officers was not proceeded with and the meeting closed.’ This was the last meeting of the Arthurs Creek Fruit Growers’ Association.
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