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Willie Smith's Cider - Huon Valley

The Apple Shed

sunny 19 °C

Early immigrants from England with great faith and a few precious pips, were responsible for the development of an apple industry in Tasmania. About 170 years ago trees were planted at Yorktown on the Tamar and from here the industry began.
Willie Smith’s - William and Elsie Smith inherited land from her parents and planted their first apple trees there towards the end of the 1800s. Aged in his late 40’s when World War 1 began, William was too old to enlist. He kept working, expanding the family business, adding initiatives like beef cattle and the manufacture of timber apple cases to the Smiths’ fruit growing enterprise.
An industry pioneer through the boom years of the 1920’s, William was one of the many Huon Valley orchardists who grew, graded, packed and exported their fruit across the globe. During the 1930’s William gradually stepped back to let his son Ron take over. But when Ron went off to war in 1940, 72 year old William went back to work in the orchard and the packing shed.
Making the grade – Apples were sorted for size through apple graders. Smooth timber rollers and canvas made sure that the precious fruit wasn’t bumped or bruised. Early models were driven by small petrol engines, later electricity turned the roller belts and some machines graded the fruit with an electronic eye. Workers stood alongside the graders, checking and removing and blemished or miss-shapend apples before packing the fruit into boxes.
Done in a flash – here’s the quick way to peel and core and apple – mechanical peelers like this from 1900 were used in factories that produced processed fruit products, like dried apples, jams , sauces and preserves.
Just in case – Before apples were packed in boxes, Huon Valley orchardists used timber apple cases made of rough-sawn local timber. Some growers put their own cases together on a nailing machine, filled them with fruit, pasted their family label on the ends and sent them of around the world. Simple, sturdy and practical, timber apple cases often had a second life – as rustic cupboards, bookshelves and even home-made furniture.

Andrew Smith – A 20year old Andrew Smith made a deal with his Dad – I’ll work in the orchard for sixe months if I can go travelling for the rest of the year. Back home in 1991, he tried to convince his father to make a few changes, instead of 800 tress per hectare, Andrew wanted to plant 2800. After trialling organic techniques in a small section of the property, from the early 2000’s Ian and Andrew worked together to transition the entire orchard to full organic production.
Today the family has the nations largest organic apple orchard – The cider initiative is the Smiths’ latest challenge.
Installing the new apple juicer, stainless steel fermentation vessels and cider bottling plant was a hug investment. There are plans ahead for the family’s organically-grown fruit – calvados liquor, apple spirit, cider vinegar and more.
An internationally famous heritage orchard in our own backyard – The Grove Research and Demonstration Station has been the source of important research and technical innovations that have made major contribution to the nation’s apple industry. In addition the this it is world-renowned in cider circles – it continues to be the supply for the majority of apple tress planted in Australia.

There was even chance to test out one of the apple trucks for size... bit big me thinks...

Of course, all of this is thirsty work, so there had to be some cider tasting...

Posted by charlystyles 12:43 Archived in Australia Tagged huon_valley willie_smith

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