11 January 2018
The saga of Fry Bros Orchard at Bathurst began during the great depression of the 1930s and there were six brothers involved in the early days of the project.
The land was in their blood, as their father was a founding pupil at the Hawkesbury Agricultural College and, from there, was involved with the land all his life. He was the first person to experiment in the growing of cotton and tobacco with bore water. He was the leading planner in setting out the orchard at Tamo, where now it is the largest irrigation and fruit canning area in New South Wales. He helped the brothers purchase two soldier settlement blocks and advised them to plant out more fruit trees. The first Fry Bros were Ray and Stan (the eldest brothers), but later hen took over Ray's share. Three other brothers, Clive, Bob and Ken, always helped during harvest time. But it was Len and Stan who carried on the orchards when the war started in 1940. Bob and Ken went into the services and Clive was in defence work.
The Fry Bros carried on the orchard through difficult times. They battled through drought, hailstorms and through devastating frosts. When the fruit trees were beginning to blossom-in the spring it was a critical stage for the blossom to set, and late frosts could cause complete loss of the fruit. This is when what is known as the frost pots' were used -pots filled with sump oil and kerosene. It was not unusual to have to rush out to the orchard between 11pm and midnight, or at 1 or 2am, to light these pots, causing the smoke to hang low around the trees to stop damage. It was not 100% effective, but it helped.
The youngest of the brothers, Ken, won a scholarship which enabled him to gain an agriculture degree at Hawkesbury Agriculture College, where his father had gained his degree in 1900. After the war Ken and Clive formed a mixed poultry business with a hatchery and a large farm. This was formed into a company and after ten years they had over thirty people on staff Stan passed away in 1976 and Len has continued to work the orchard to this day and at 8/years of age, he still has an orchard area to look after.
Clive Fry (1912-1999), 1997
Find out more
- View Merrick Fry's 2003 Exhibition 'The Orchard'