Tuesday, 29 April 2008

RHSV Lunchtime Lecture - Onions in Gippsland 1900-2007

Speaker: John Murphy OAM
When: Thursday 22 May
Lunch: 12.30 (Delicious onion soup!!)
Lecture: 1.00pm
Cost: $5.00 members $10.00 non members

Bookings Essential 9326 9288

Onions were first grown in Australia in NSW soon after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 but it was not until 1855-60 that commercial production began in the Western districts of Victoria, around Geelong, Colac and Warrnambool. Production in Gippsland began in 1900 where the growing of the long keeping Brown Spanish variety on the naturally fertile soils around Leongatha enabled many landowners to use this crop to improve their pastures. A similar pattern of land development took place in the Koo-wee-rup Swamp area.

Returns to growers however were variable, and in 1936 an Onion Marketing Board was formed to ensure that growers obtained a reasonable return for their labour. This Board operated until 1975 and succeded in stabilizing market returns, but it indirectly led to its own demise because the consequent price stability resulted in increased production in neighbouring States. This lecture also looks at the changing techniques; mechanization and herbicides and their
impact on land use.

For over forty years between 1925-1965 onion growing was an integral part of farming on the Murphy family farm which fronts on to the Ruby Creek at Leongatha North. With the formation of the Leongatha and District Historical Society in 1964 John Murphy’s interest in history led to the writing of several books on the area with major works being No Parallel - The Woorayl Shire 1888-1988 and On the Ridge -the Shire of Mirboo 1894-1994. From 1988 till 2000 he served as Gippsland representative on the Council of the RHSV as a result of which he was awarded a Fellowship to the Society in May 2000. In January 2004 he was awarded the Order of
Australia Medal in recognition of his contribution to the history of South Gippsland.

No comments: