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‘I’ve tried everything over the years’: This Riverland family are celebrating 100 years on the land

‘I’ve tried everything over the years’: This Riverland family are celebrating 100 years on the land

Frank Heward says his father Amos “Jack” possibly would not recognise the orchard he planted 100 years in the past.

Key parts:

  • The Heward family are celebrating their orchard’s centenary
  • It changed into at the birth planted by a World Battle I soldier settler
  • Online sales of dried fruit applications are booming throughout the pandemic 

Merely two of the usual olive trees – now heritage-listed — that once lined the Monash property in South Australia’s Riverland stay.

Early Newspaper

Quinces and pecans are additionally grown on the property, while the fig trees and wine grapes, which were interplanted, stand alone.

“It wasn’t till [Jack] passed away that I changed into in a position to net rid of the vines because of vines and figs don’t mix,” Frank mentioned.

“They grow up thru them and design a lot of labor.”

Mr Heward and his family are one of a handful of descendants of soldier-settlers tranquil working on the usual farming block.

The family started off by selling dried fruit, but later additionally moved into glace fruit.

Black and white photo of a group of people standing on a flatbed tray pulled by two horses.

Jack Heward together with his wife Margie and team are inclined to the orchard’s younger trees.(

Supplied: Sue Heward 


When Jack passed away in 1970, Frank returned from Western Australia to Monash together with his wife Ros and toddler daughter Sue.

Frank mentioned he has additionally dabbled in rising button mushrooms and exported wildflowers to Japan for a decade.

He attributed the longevity of the property to simply fortune and his father sticking with figs when others bought out of them.

“Dad changed into one of the few guys that didn’t sure all the Mallee trees away,” he mentioned.

“And we own stayed with them.

“Anyone who did sure them has come back and replanted them.”

An old soldier settlement house.

The rental that Frank Heward grew up in tranquil stands at the present time. (

ABC Riverland: Eliza Berlage


Frank mentioned the introduction of mechanical harvesting and pruning, and enhancements to irrigation had been the greatest modifications all the scheme thru the century.

“It changed into continually a unpleasant job to own to exchange the water every two hours to a couple hours throughout to watering duration,” he mentioned.

“Your water got right here when they distributed it, rather than now we’re in a position to ring up and elevate out it on call.”

As to the subsequent 100 years, Frank mentioned thanks to the grand extinct sized blocks the family would seemingly transfer into rising higher price design when freight prices prick.

Catering to the city

Frank mentioned he below no situations expected his daughter Sue Heward to come back to the region after transferring away.

But after 28 years of international jog, Sue moved together with her partner Designate Biram and daughter Frankie from Melbourne to Monash.

Then in 2017 she launched her own gourmet meals alternate, Singing Magpie, the utilization of design from the family orchard.

“She’s absolutely seen a market that I changed into below no situations in a position to finding.

“Thanks to publicity to the city she knew other folk would be spirited to pay that net of money for the fruit, but we were continually on the bulk facet.”

A tray lined with different types of dried fruit.

Dried fruit equipment sales own skyrocketed. (

Supplied: Meaghan Coles


A hit awards, being section of shop regional campaigns and the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns own boosted online sales, with Ms Heward flat out packing orders to ship round Australia.

“We’re commonly packing up to 50 orders a week for Christmas, but this time of the year would mechanically be mute,” she mentioned.

When she changed into identified with most cancers earlier this year, Ms Heward, who is now in remission, mentioned she changed into in the beginning hesitant to make consume of more team to wait on out.

On the other hand, she mentioned stepping back from the production line gave her some grand-wished point of view on her position internal the alternate.

Group photo of people wearing hair nets in a fruit packing shed.

In the prime of fig harvest, Frank and Ros make consume of a team of local pickers and packing shed team.(

Supplied: Sue Heward


Ms Heward mentioned the family had assembled a team of local pickers to net them thru the backpacker scarcity.

“I did used to take but I possibly won’t in the future because of chemo can beget you quite UV intolerant,” she mentioned.

“Dad possibly won’t are looking out to hear that.”

Ms Heward mentioned being in a low rainfall area, supposed it changed into critical to retain finding contemporary ways to function.

“Honest grand every quince we grow, we consume in a scheme — whether it be wholesale or solar-dried.

“We additionally own a sticky quince syrup, which in actual fact changed into a extinguish product.”

Along with her alternate continuing to grow, she mentioned the subsequent step changed into to beget a producing shed on the property to accommodate her packing wants.

“We’re working out of reasonably room in our rental unbiased now,” she mentioned.

‘I’ve tried everything over the years’: This Riverland family are celebrating 100 years on the land