Can you imagine?
“Charmingly situated in the valley beneath the steep road which leads down to the Fyansford bridge, and extending away to the water’s edge, they form a striking feature of the attractive landscape… great patches of magnificent cauliflowers and cabbages… beds of onions, carrots, peas and beans, all of a luxuriant character…. New plantations of various fruits… particularly apricots and peaches… the plots set apart… occupied by several thousands of the best varieties of each fruit… The peach plantation covers two acres and the same space is occupied by courses of strawberries planted between the rows of trees… Apples form a great family… Eve, herself, would be perplexed which to select if confronted with the primary cause of our downfall presented to her in 1100 different kinds of flavor, colour and shape… In additional to fruit trees there are numbers of ornamental shrubs and street trees, including elms, of which there are 7000 in stock… Some acres are under rhubarb and the crop can hardly be surpassed… The whole area of the property consists of a rich black soil, and is naturally adapted for fruit growing and vegetable raising…”
These, then, were the Fairview Gardens at Fyansford
Geelong Advertiser, 6 November, 1889, p.4
Our River Industries – The Fairview Gardens at Fyansford
where were these amazing gardens?
1842 John Atkins opened the Fyans' Ford Inn on the west bank of the Moorabool river. Fyans' ford was on its way to becoming an establishing stopping-off point en-route to and from the western district.
1846 Charles Norton in his “View of Fyansford Hill” shows the track running from the Moorabool River to the top of Fyansford Hill.
Image held by State Library of Victoria
1847 First land sales occurred with James Williamson and Thomas Payne respectively purchasing blocks 1 and 2 of section XIV in the Parish of Moorpanyal.
Section from Moorpanyal County of Grant Dep of Lands and Survey Melbourne 1953
1848 Track up Fyansford Hill was officially gazetted as a road (Port Phillip Government Gazette, No 52, 27 December 1848, p577). It was subsequently named High Street (later Hyland Street) and passed through blocks 1 and 2 of Section XIV.
1850s Block 2 became the site of the Fair View Hotel.
1863 Henry and George King began to make a name for themselves as fruit-growers in Fyansford.
1869 Henry and George King reported to hold 26 acres of property adjacent to the Moorabool river.
1877 Henry King purchased a further plot of land (about 2 acres).
Henry and his father, George, went on to develop their property, Fairview Gardens, into one of the best-known plant nurseries and vineyards in the district.
1878 While the Fairview Gardens vineyard was considered one of the best-kept and most productive in the colony, it became one of the first properties to be struck by the tiny, sap-sucking insect known as phylloxera. Unfortunately, as was the standard practise, all vines on the property were dug up. Henceforth, the Kings focused on their other growing interests.
Ca 1880 By this time the Kings had 46 acres of land, included the sloping ground above the river, producing a wide range of fruit and vegetables.
Jo Mitchell, in her comprehensive blog observed that though she was unable to determine exactly what land was incorporated in the 46 acres held by the Kings, she suggested it could only be assumed, that it included some or all of the land originally purchased by James Williamson in 1847 and perhaps some of that originally owned by Thomas Payne and which was to later became the grounds of the Fair View Hotel. She went on to point out that though she couldn’t find any evidence that the name of the gardens was in anyway connected to, or inspired by, the name of the hotel, she does point out (coincidence or not) that the earliest mention she “found of the gardens using the name was in 1876, the same year in which Margaret Greenwood - the last owner of the hotel – died”.
1880 The Moorabool River suffered one of the worst floods on record. At Fyansford resulting in 50% of the land under cultivation by the Kings (20 acres) being inundated ~ with valuable topsoil carried off, huge losses incurred (a large number of cherry trees, 10,000 apple trees, 500 elms, 600 mulberry trees and a number of gooseberry trees were destroyed). Despite this setback, the Kings were still able to supply products to the fruit market and nurseries. Water for their gardens, at this time, was supplied from the Geelong water mains. As this was expensive and often inadequate, the Kings erected a windmill which would pump water from the river up to three 400 gallon tanks on higher ground.
1882 The windmill was still in use.
1889 The Kings sold their property to a group of local investors who registered and successfully operated their business under the name of the Fairview Gardens Company Ltd.
1904 The company decided to go into liquidation and the property was placed on the market. The Geelong Advertiser described the lot as comprising 45 acres of rich river flats, about 10 acres planted with fruit trees, and the remainder under crop, having a large frontage to the river Moorabool and main road. It also comprised three 4- and 6-roomed cottages, outbuildings, stabling, etc., an extensive irrigation plant and windmills and an extensive marl pit (lime-rich mud or mudstone which contains variable amounts of clays and silt). Though the property did not sell at auction, it was purchased later by John Ince, a local businessman and politician.
Image Ca 1910 Unknown photographer and source
1915 The property again placed on the market.
1916 The property listed for lease and given the title 'Fairview Farm'.
1925 The Australian Portland Cement Company (Fyansford Cement Works) purchased the gardens along with other neighbouring properties.
Image by Charles Daniel Pratt Ca 1924 showing approximate location of Fairview Gardens (dotted yellow lines) showing no evidence whatsoever of the vineyards, orchards or vegetable gardens that were once such featured landmarks.
Looking over the Gen Fyansford estate; land which once hosted the Fairview Gardens.2017 ( J. Flatt )
Where once there was rich black soil there is now fill, bitumen and houses. 2018 (J. Flatt)
Jo Mitchell, Barwon Blog: From ford to food bowl (14 September, 2016)
The Geelong Advertiser, Our River Industries – The Fairview Gardens at Fyansford (6 November, 1889)