DREAMS OF MILDURA.
(By Our Special Reporter.)
Two men stood on the Avon bridge
at Toodyay a while ago. The hair of one was white with many years. They watched the water flowing and flashing in the .sunlight. It was full noon. Near the bridge a cow browsed among the jonquils in the Anglican churchyard. Be side thc old women's gaol five other cows grazed. Their bells tinkled a ? casual chorus to the solo of their more de- vout-friend. On the window sill of. a deserted building in the main street a browu.'cnt dozed. A light, breeze stirred tlie air. Hills bounded the township with, quietness. Peace abode in the valley and the beau ty\of almond trees abloom. "It was down there,1' said the aged man, pointing where the Avon curved eastward. "I" remember . . .'!
Memories of days when the State was young are treasured by many people of Toodyay. The township is old. The original site, three miles from the pré- sent centre, was surveyed in ^833. To- day's location was fixed in I860 and the name Newcastle taken. About 15 year« ago the first name was reverted to- Toodyay ceased to be a munici- pality in 1911. The affairs of the whole
district bf 698.980 ïicres passed to the I
From a history of nearly a century many stories come-tales of . early con-, viet days; Of curfew for ticket-of-leave men: of aboriginals chained in a noise some corner of the' men's gaol; of at- tacks by natives and reprisals; of the hanging of nearly 30 natives from n tree at Yorkrakine: of bodies swaying
in the wind: and. of "Moondyne Joe," ! the bushranger who would disguise him- j self and discuss his doings with thc j police. There are other tales of large
Grown grants of land-narratives less 1 stirring, but more vital, since the past
has laid its hand upon Toodyay and keeps ; it there. Much land was given to few : men. Much lund is still held by few j píen. , . ' i
There are those in Toodyay who seek
to free their district from ' . j
The Hand of the Past. , J
Broad acres are the centre of thought S The local view is that , big landholders are. working their -estates as well as they can, but that, so, long as things remain as they are, nothing like, full productivity can be .hoped for. "And," argües the progressive element, '.'there will be no change until the big holdings are split up. Wheat and sheep are .all right in places only suited to wheat and sheep. We know, though, that the growing of vines "and citrus fruits is Toodyay's rightful sphere. We mean ?to alter things and make our district an- other Mildura."
"Toodyay is the best and most back- ward district in the State," remarked n leading townsman. Inspection reveals possibilities of a fine future- Popula- tion returns prove the backwardness. In 1911 thc census found 1,480 men, women and children within the munici- pal and road board boundaries. Ten years later the tally in the same total
area was only 1,544. One of the State's ( richest district gains 04 "souls in n de-
code! Borne subdivision, of estates has ( occurred lately and a greater popula-, tion than 1,544'is claimed locally. ,
The cutting dp of big estates, has i occurred in three ' notable instances, j The Norman estate has been subdivided j into 41 blocks, ranging from 101 to 292 j acres. Thirteen settlers lia Ve selected
6,431 acres in all. The. Bolgart estate, has been broken into 18 blocks, rang- , ing from 72 to 961 acres. Eleven farmers i now occupy 9,244 acres. Thc subdivision of , the Coondie estate provided 60. blocks.
The.« range, from 15 to 410 acres and. are worked by 21 settlers. In the
o'd days ii is said, the three estates., were held by,vat most, six people. To- , day the ownership is vested in 45 mer.. This is in 'narked r-outrast to conditions governing most of th? other land m the district. Ten Owners, for instance, j
grow wheat or run sheep and cattle tfpon approximately 65,000 acres.
On the whole, the charge of large alienated, uncleared lands levelled against other districts does not apply to Tood- yay. Local estimates assess the remain- ing timbered spaces at from 5 to 10 per cent, of the total alienated area. The problem is one of the better use and closer settlement of cleared eountry concentration of energy on dairying and the growing of citrus fruits and vines rather than wheat nnd sheep production.
The richness of its soil is Toodyay's right to closer settlement. Some far- mers are fully exploiting the fertility of their holdings.
Results Are Remarkable.
The growth of patches of lucerne and Soudan grass encourages advocates of dairying! Twenty acres were sown with" Soudan grass, for instance, by Mr. -F. P. Atwell. There he ran" 300 sheep for
three weeks, 100 sheep for two months, i seven cows for two months, and 14 horses for two weeks. The grass grew so high that cows disappeared from view when they entered it.
Five miles from the township is an example of intense culture, the lesson of which need not be ' stated. It is the 83-aere holding taken up Söven years ago by Mr. Yock Lum, who hails from Canton. China. Through the property runs Toodyay Brook. Twenty-eight acres have yet to be cleared. Of the remainder. 23 acres are under intense culture, yielding the finest varieties of vegetables. The celery ,js said to be the best in the State. Two acres of cauliflowers return 20 tons a year. Citrus fruits grow abundantly. Asked what profit he made from his farm, Mr. Yock Lum stated his gross income at
£600 for the year ended .Tune 30, 1921. ; When he bought it for £6 an acre, his I property was virgin country. He has brought it to the present state of pro- ductivity with the aid of his wife, his father And another Chinese. "How many hours n. day do you work?" he was asked. 'Well," he replied. "I reckon it takes 14 hours." "And then you go to supper?" Mr. Yock Lum Smiled and looked towards his comfortable European house." "Supper and tea together." He sets the worth of his farm to-day at £50 an acre.
Along Toodyay Brook are a few white men with good tales to tell of profits made ou small holdings with fruit and vegetables. Beside them are others who insist on planting wheat. The brook lands are battle grounds for new and old ideas.
If citrus fruit advocates wish to il- lustrate their preaching, they point to.
Mr. L. Lukin's Deepdale orangery. Hçre, it will be remembered, the recent Dutch trade delegation from Java was much impressed. The gouden frujt grows well.
About four months ago Toodyay ex- , ported 300 cases of oranges.. «
Viticulture is the chief gospel, how-j ever, of those, who \vork for a bigger,
busier population. "If they start viti- j culture here, "it will wipe sheep and ] everything else out," prophesied an old I 'resident. /Mr. G. J. Lloyde, who was I born in the district and lives 1$. miles \ from Toodyay, grew five acres' ol' vines (Wine grapes) last year, fie made j
'"a profit of £42. He estimates that j '650 acres of his 800-acre holding are j suited to, vines and that they would. ' if so planted, give a .j
Profit Of £5,560 Yearly.
Under wheat, the same area should' yield £3 per acre profit, or £1,950. Even if a v margin of error bf 33 1-3 per cent. . be allowed on Mr. Lloyd's vine estimate,. the grape profit would be still 90 per cent, greater
than that from wheat. -
Another man who has tested the dis- trict discussed the growing of grapes for wine. His sultana vines, planted
for four years, return about I6cwt. of j
grapes (5cwt. dried) to the acre- < Currant vines return 30cwt.' <10cwt.
dried) to the acre. He believed that i the owner of 20 acres of wine, vines would earn £18 per acre (present prices continuing) after five or six years. "A settler can attend to other things beside his 20 acres,""" remarked j this grower. "That area should not take more than two-thirds of his time if he
sold the grapes wet. For three weeks i ¡at harvest season he would need two
men for picking and carting. A settler | should receive a good profit from six- 1 ' year-old vines at one ton for sultanas !
(wet) and two tons for currants (wet), i I have had crops of wine grapes up to I three tons:" j
One has only to visit Mr. H. C..
Wood's Coorinjà vineyard and winéry to''; visualise the grape-growing future ahead of Toodyay. - Eighty acres of wine grapes there give an 8,000-gallon production yearly. The payment of £9 a ton for grapes bought in the district is stimu- lating viticulture.
Farmers who have experimented with dried sultanas and currants find the re- sults most encouraging. They claim a better product than ttiat of thç Upper Swan. Some assert that all the cleared land of Toodyay can grow sultanas, and currants. The more cautious , say that the Boil is rather patchy as tar as
sultanas and citrus fruits are concern- : ed, but that-all the land can produce currants. "Currants will grow any- where," declared an experienced settler Another, born in the district, urged that all the lands, whether in valleys or on hillsides, should bc cut tip into 50-acre blocks for» fruitgrowing. If "currants will grow anywhere"'in Toodyay, and jf the 50-acrc basis be accepted, the IO men who grow wheat and run sheep upon 65,000 acres would give place to 1,300 men producing currants. The prospect is alluring. i
Many of the bigger landholders wish to sell their properties. In all 26,843 acres are for sale, at prices ranging from £1 to £5 5s. per . acre, close to.
Toodyay, Culham, Bolgart and Calingiri.' Some estates are under offer to the Go- vernment and have been so for years'. It is claimed that the Government's slowness to act in the matter has per- mitted the purchase of more acres by
who could not fully use what they pre-. viously, had, -let alone their .recent ac- quirements.
So Toodyay waits at the door of op-
portunity. One of these days, perhaps,. it will be pushed caross the threshold by its Progress Association. Formed bare- ly seven months' ago, the association has already, made itself felt. It has wakened, some members of the Toodyay community; but not all. The sleep of many years is deep. An ally of the association is the school-one ~6i the /consolidated centres -where the practical value of intense culture is made vivid for the children of farmers by the chil- dren themselves. LesB energetic than the Progress Association is the branch of the New Settlors', League» upon'which the somnolence of its environment seems
to lia ve descended. :
Publicity may. -do much for Toodyay, evèn the publicity gained as'a tourist contre. Good hotel accommodation there is for visitors; but organised . facilities for sightseeing are entirely lacking. -The old men's gaol, for instance, stands four- square in'picturesque reminder of early penal days. Yet, to enter it, one must apply for permission to the Resident
-Magistrate at Northam! Big. indeed, is the 'task of those who seek to wake up Toodyay.