Staying on the front foot

Henry Hilton showing off his crop, Snowline Fruits at Stanley

This is an edited transcript of an unpeeled podcast interview with Snowline Fruits’ Henry Hilton. Henry has been growing apples at Stanley for fifty years and uses the latest techniques. You can also listen here.

Hello, everyone, I’m Peter Kenyon and welcome to another podcast from unpeeled press where I’m exploring food culture in North East Victoria. At the moment, I’m concentrating on apples and today I spoke to Stanley apple orchardist Henry Hilton from Snowline Fruits. Henry is the last full time, career apple orchardist in Stanley. He’s regarded by many in the industry as one of the best apple orchardists in Australia, with a very clear insight into what grows best, how to grow it and using the latest techniques. Let’s dive straight in.

Peter Kenyon 

I’m very keen to know how long you’ve been growing apples here in Stanley.

Henry Hilton 

In round terms, it’s nearly 50 years.

Peter Kenyon 

And you came from England?

Henry Hilton 

Well, I grew up and did my horticultural education in England, basically. Then I travelled the world through lots of different countries, primarily being involved in fruit growing as much as I could. When I first came here, though, it wasn’t possible. I didn’t have a direct lead into the fruit growing industry so I did other things like work in cotton. Then I became involved in agriculture and that’s how, in the long term I came to know Rita because I moved down to Victoria and I worked for a company that employed her brother. But realistically, after doing a year and a half of that I really wanted to get back to what I really knew and that was growing apples.

I ended up doing a course at Dookie Agricultural College. And unbeknownst to me there were a number of the sons of the older growers who were here in Stanley originally. And they said to me that this guy, Keith Nightingale had bought this orchard at Stanley off the old Sword brothers and they didn’t know how he was going to operate it. So I took the initiative to contact Keith Nightingale and it went from there. It took a long time to get organized. But that’s how it developed. And I was with them for 25, 26 years.

Peter Kenyon

Then you went out on your own?

Henry Hilton 

And then I moved.

Peter Kenyon 

And at that time you bought the orchard. I’m looking at the photo over your shoulder here on the wall. And that’s this block.

Henry Hilton 

Yeah, this block here I bought back in 1978-79. But the other block was bought in 1999 up the road, which is no longer there. I sold that off.

Abundant and beautiful, Snowline Fruits at Stanley

Peter Kenyon 

So how many acres do you have of apples now?

Henry Hilton 

The total area here is 15. That includes chestnuts, berries and apples.

Peter Kenyon 

So how many are apples?

Henry Hilton 

50 per cent of it, I suppose. Maybe a bit more than that. But it’s more a case, you’ve got to look at my age and the future is retirement or finish really. Because I’m 72. And if you allow for another 8 years – well 80 – I don’t think I’d be doing too much, really. Because it’s quite a physically demanding sort of business and it’s probably because of my previous knowledge that I’m able to still survive and keep going here.

Peter Kenyon 

You’re a very innovative grower, perhaps more so than you tend to see around here with other smaller orchardists who are still growing. You’ve kept up with the times.

Henry Hilton 

Yeah well really, coming out of Europe, Europe was probably 50 or 60 years ahead of Australia by a longshot and I was probably the first grower in Australia to use this dwarfing rootstock.

Peter Kenyon 

Because you come from an orcharding tradition.

Henry Hilton 

You see my father was an orchardist and so I was born with an apple in my mouth virtually so it’s never changed.

Peter Kenyon 

And all that rootstock research is really from England, isn’t it?

Henry Hilton 

Yes it’s Malling and Ashridge were the centres. They still do exist but in slightly different formats. But of course today the world has increased and advanced and there are many other countries now involved in research in rootstocks and all sorts of things. So there’s a lot of new generation things. And funnily enough, we were just talking about that just now with [bigger growers] Keith and Don Nightingale. Matching up the newer generations with the different varieties of apples and the rootstocks needs a lot more research because there’s a few problems starting to arise with compatibility, etc, etc.

Henry Hilton 

In Australia or everywhere?

Henry Hilton 

In Australia but also worldwide because things are moving so quickly. Varieties are changing and a lot of selections are just taken out of an orchard. It’s not really a pristine, sterile environment. Some of the research work needs to be done to actually find out what some of the problems are. They’re small things that will become a big problem in the long run.

But going back to the innovative thing, it’s very important that you keep up with change. And it’s interesting, I can tell you some interesting stories. When I first came here they used to plough all their orchards and many of the old growers used to grow potatoes up the middle of their apple rows. But I’d have to say the first thing that struck my mind was the environment. The erosion in all these blocks was horrific. And over the years I’ve been here, in my early days and in the latter days in growing potatoes and you know, you get a thunderstorm in the middle of the summer and you see most of the mud and dirt coming off of the hills and going down into the dams. So that was a big issue. And of course, once I started to get things organized, we went down to grass orchards like swards – no cultivation. I can remember often going up to the Stanley Pub. We’d go up there six o’clock of a night and they used to call me the educated agriculturist or whatever. And they’d tell me these things wouldn’t work. But fortunately I knew the science behind what I was doing and look where we are today.

Peter Kenyon 

And other orchardists have gone.

Peter Kenyon 

Yes but look, in fairness, it’s a multi prong situation, why it’s happened. Probably number one is you look at the family situations. The sons took it over and they did it reluctantly. They wanted to follow what their fathers did but most of them decided to do other jobs. And that’s entailed with economics. A lot of fruit even today is sold cheaply. And the costs of producing it are increasing. So the balance is getting a bit more uneven. So that’s one thing. But the other thing that has to be taken into consideration, and it’s amazing they talk about climate change today, but the weather and the climate in Stanley has done some horrific damage to growers and really, that’s probably one of the fundamental reasons why apple orcharding has gone. Frost, hail storms, wind storms, rain. All those sorts of things coming at the wrong time.

Peter Kenyon 

And so that’s happening more now than it used to. Is that right?

Peter Kenyon 

No, I wouldn’t say that at all. If you look at that rainfall chart, it’s all over the place. In the late ‘70s it was very wet. Wetter than it is now and then we’ve gone through ups and downs. And then we come to that Millennium Drought that started in 2005 and you can definitely see it on the rain chart there. It’s got drier. But since then we’ve had ups and downs to various degrees. Last year we were probably eight inches below the average 800. This year it’s slightly better. But for us it’s a question of the timing. It hasn’t been as hot this year. We grow berries and we haven’t had any trouble with sunburn or anything whereas the previous two and a half years gave us a lot of grief. But this time, nothing. Amazing! See how it changes. So yes, climate change seems a bit tricky.

Peter Kenyon 

So Henry, in terms of the type of growing that you’re doing now and the acres of apples that you’ve got under cultivation, you’re producing a huge amount with your intensive type of growing. So your tonnes per hectare from what you’ve got is more significant than an older style orchard with big trees.

Henry Hilton 

I can tell you the average has lifted slightly but it used to be around 32 tonnes per hectare on the average Australian orchard.

Peter Kenyon 

How long ago was that?

Henry Hilton 

Let’s say 30 years or 40 years ago. It would vary a little bit from year to year but that was generally the average. But now we’re trying to do annually 80 tonnes per hectare so it’s lifted dramatically but with that has gone a different style of tree, massive increase in costs, trellising and wires and all that sort of thing.

Peter Kenyon 

Netting and management.

Henry Hilton 

The netting! You see I’m the only one’s ever done it here in Stanley other than the bit that Nightingales have got. You just can’t go without it. Protective cropping.

Peter Kenyon 

And this is from birds or from hail or both?

Henry Hilton

Everything. It’s from birds, wind damage, the sun and hail. It’s predominantly hail but all these other things it has an effect on and I wouldn’t be here today if I wasn’t doing what I’ve done. Unfortunately, the  original outlay is very high. The two hectares is $100,000  just to net alone. And so what we’re doing today is we’re using dwarfing rootstocks, as you can see here and close planted. So this is what helps increase the tonnage. We’ve gone up in height and we’ve gone up in tree density. And because we’ve gone up in density, the trees control themselves. They feed off one another so they’re a growth controlling agent as well. But all this again is tied up with not only to economics but also with these narrow trees. Light penetration into the centre of the tree and bud development for the following season is greatly improved.

Snowline’s apple trees are closely-planted, short, netted and irrigated

Again, now it’s funny, you know, with an average rainfall of 1200mm, you’d say why would you need to irrigate but it doesn’t necessarily come at the right time so I say you can’t grow a tree without irrigation.

But we’ve also got to deal with frosts. We’re the only growers that use sprinkler irrigation in springtime to protect the flowers against frost and this whole area is set up for that. But it was also done to keep bushfires in mind. In 2009 it worked perfectly because it saved the place from burning because you could water the whole thing at once.

Look, this business requires foresight all the time. And you need to know you can’t keep reacting on the spur of the moment. You need to have a dedicated plan over a long period of time. And it’s one of those businesses – like we were talking before with the Nightingales – once you start, you’ve got to keep going. The day you stop or relax back a bit, it’s history really in a general sense. Then everything else takes over. So it’s a commitment. It’s a commitment. I always say to people if you went down to Crown Casino sooner you could do your dough just as easily. This game could go even harder, even quicker.

You get a hailstorm or a windstorm and it rips the place apart, which it’s done to me over the years. It can destroy you. So it’s important to keep up with the times. They change. OH&S [occupational health and safety] is a big thing for us. And it’s again the change in the design of the orchard that’s important. Like we were talking before, ladders are nearly becoming a thing of the past. OH&S is a big issue on that. So you know, a lot of the bigger growers have developed machines to pick high and the Nightingales will tell you that because they’re into that because they’re big enough, their scale.

But the one thing I’ve learned in the last, say, five years is that the little growers have got little or no future really. You can do the home farm, family farm thing but to keep up with this modern world, you’ve got to be big. The Nightingales are the key. They’re big operators but see again, it’s a niche thing. They’ve got chestnuts and they’ve developed that over the years. And apples. Whereas I’ve gone apples and berries. You know, it’s a slightly different niche.

The chestnut thing, we started that here in Stanley. Keith gave me the first trees and they were just bloody restock. And we grafted them. And those trees, some of them are still on that hill there, the very first ones we had that Nightingales developed. But it was Thompson’s started that before. Giff Thompson, he could tell you that. They had those chestnuts when they were just basic varieties. But those sidelines are important, because I think that’s part of the reason it’s kept Nightingale’s up and going. The chestnut side of it is a lot easier. There’s not the financial commitment into growing them at all. You just plant the bloody tree and pick the nuts up and that’s about it. There’s a bit of mechanical work and machinery but not much.

The automation that Nightingale’s have got is just unbelievable. They’ve got a pre-sizing machine there that’s all automated. You tip the bins out and the machine does the rest. Ross has now got a machine there with the cartons and it straps the cartons up and packs them on a pallet on its own. But it’s out in the orchards where it’s still tricky. We talked about robots before and we can’t really quite see how that’s going to develop. I mean, unfortunately, I’m too old. The younger blokes will work out a way. You’ll have to change the tree structure and the way they’re grown, I’m sure, but it’s going to happen.

Peter Kenyon 

But what we were talking about is that huge investment that’s constantly required to keep up with technology. And then you’ve got to turn out the volume to make that work and of course, smaller scale is difficult. But you don’t feel that there’s a niche for smaller scale if you don’t sell into the wholesale market, for example? You don’t sell I think into the wholesale market do you?

Henry Hilton 

No, not anymore. And it might be more of a personal thing how I’ve developed what we’re doing. Again, it’s knowing what the customer wants, as opposed to what you grow. I don’t believe you can grow and hope you’re going to get rid of it like that. It’s no longer the case. I mean, we’ve built this place up. I took on Honeycrisp because I thought I could work with it. It’s a very difficult variety to deal with but the consumer response to that thing is unbelievable.

Peter Kenyon 

That’s a club variety?

Henry Hilton 

It’s not necessarily a club variety. It’s under plant variety rights so it’s not a public variety but it’s not a club variety where there’s a certain number of growers. You can apply to be part of it. But realistically, we’re probably the only grower in Australia that’s growing it commercially at this time. They’ve tried in the past, groups of growers, F&A down in Melbourne, but they failed for the various cultural problems Honeycrisp has got.

But I found that people just keep coming and asking for Honeycrisp and so part of what we do here is all interlinked into this. And I suppose farmers’ market started that. Because we did the Albury Wodonga thing when it first started or farmers’ markets first started in Australia I suppose back in 2000 and something and we did that for 15, 16 years.

And then of course at the same time we’ve developed our own farm shop and the uptake of that is just phenomenal really. I don’t do any advertising other than local newspapers. I’m not interested in Facebook. I don’t need to. Word of mouth is the best thing. They just keep coming day in day out. So it’s a niche thing but I’m not sure that somebody could necessarily follow that thing. It’s been a long process. I mean, like I said, I’ve been here 50 years or thereabouts. And we change all the time and we also grow things other than apples, which helps draw customers in. So it’s a unique thing. We do a lot with Goldfields Grocer in Beechworth. We do a lot of work with Foodworks in Myrtleford and Yackandandah. We do when we’ve got volume in the season. And we’ve been working with Arnold’s for a number of years.

Peter Kenyon 

Henry how many varieties do you grow now?

Henry Hilton 

Well we’ve reduced it from what it used to be. Primarily we’ve only got about six.

Peter Kenyon 

What are they?

Henry Hilton 

Well we’ve got Royal Gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Granny Smith. We’ve got a bit of Bravo.

Peter Kenyon 

You’ve got Fuji.

Henry Hilton 

That’s right. Red Fuji. We used to have Red Delicious, Bonza, Golden Delicious, all those sort of things. They might be wanted on a small scale but you can’t have too many varieties on small property and they’re not economical, the returns.

Peter Kenyon 

What are the new apples? You’ve got about five rows in there, what are they?

Henry Hilton 

They’re the red strain of Honeycrisp. One row for pollination: Pink Lady. With Fujis you see, we’ve grafted a few more rows just out here but that’s just a change within the strain. Get a better coloured strain. We hope it’s better coloured strain. We had it in the other block and it was good. Fuji and Honeycrisp and Pink Lady too. They’re the predominant varieties for us. People follow us really heavily on Fuji because Fuji is difficult to grow. And there’s not a lot of it. It’s a diminishing variety.

Peter Kenyon 

They’re beautiful apples. My favourite, I think.

Henry Hilton 

The big growers, they just lose too much money on Fuji. It tends to be biennial bearing etc. And it’s the same with Honeycrisp. It’s a difficult apple to grow and the bigger growers can’t afford to muck around too much. They can’t necessarily do things to it that need doing like we were just talking about before. They’re probably a week or two weeks away from picking but they need picking three or four times because you take the red ones and then come back and get the others. You know, it’s one of those sort of things whereas Nightingales was just talking this morning about strip picking Gala for instance because the economics of going back for them [several times] is just horrific at that scale.

Peter Kenyon 

So the way you pick is for optimal flavour.

Henry Hilton 

That’s an interesting point that you’ve raised because that’s one of the keys here that we pick when we think the thing is suitable for people to eat and we’re able to do that. But we put some into long term storage as well.

Peter Kenyon 

For your own use?

Peter Kenyon 

Oh yes for our own use. But this business – and this is one of the keys to the farm shop – is that people can come here and buy something that’s ready to eat whereas the main system tends to have this business of picking a bit early so that it can travel the distances or it can stand up in the store.

Peter Kenyon 

Or hold up in modified atmosphere.

Peter Kenyon 

That sort of thing. The controlled atmosphere or modified storage as you call it, the fruit doesn’t need to be picked at optimum periods because you get different results if you go too early or too late. The stuff in the middle, that’s when you’re trying to head for it most and again for the bigger growers like Nightingale’s they can’t afford to pick over the trees two or three times whereas I probably do. I’m not sure I can afford it but that’s the way we do it. But definitely this business of the consumers getting a product that they can eat is a big important point. Definitely.

Peter Kenyon 

Henry when your father was an orchardist as well, where was that in the UK?

Henry Hilton 

Kent – Canterbury.

Peter Kenyon 

And how many varieties did you grow back then? And how did you father sell the crop?

Henry Hilton 

It’s interesting you bring that up because we grew everything. We grew apples, pears, plums, cherries, blackberries, and raspberries. And he would have grown approximately 12 different varieties of apples. And all the fruit was sold through something similar to Arnold’s in Canterbury, like a fruit wholesaler. In the latter years when it was operational they might have gone to a packing house nearby and they would have been packed and then perhaps sold in London or wherever. But primarily in my lifetime it was the same style of growing as I’m doing now. Funny that. I often think about this.

It’s the same when you think about the mix of stuff I grow. In a sense I follow exactly the same thing. I can’t do pears anymore because it’s too cold down here but we certainly do berries and my knowledge of that comes from, obviously, what my father used to do. And the same with apples and hence that’s why we’re still there. Cox’s Orange Pippin, Bramley Seedling, an apple called Laxton Superb, Blenheim Orange. What people would call heritage apples today. Worcester Peamain, all those sort of things. And I would never have a bar of any of them. I tried to go Cox’s Orange Pippin here and Bramley and I had the wood and I had the trees. I used to grow them up on the other block there at Nightingale’s in those very early days but the sun used to slaughter them so I gave that away and that was back in the 1980s.

Peter Kenyon 

Is there room for the heirloom varieties now? Just in a museum or something?

Peter Kenyon 

I don’t believe there is but my business is not designed for heirloom varieties. There are a number of people around here trying them. Charlie and Jade are trying to have a go at heirloom varieties but you know, I’m not really sure where they’re going at this stage because you’ve got to understand the technologies to grow the apple full stop, regardless of what variety.

Peter Kenyon 

And each one is slightly different with what it requires.

Henry Hilton 

Oh, absolutely, yes and look I’m going back to this business about being small. And the bigger growers you might say, whereas I’m saying there’s no future for the small things, but maybe heirloom varieties and the pick your own style thing might be the go. I’m not sure. I would find it uneconomical. We need long lines of similar product for the future. Again, the bigger growers get bigger and the smaller ones just disappear.

Peter Kenyon 

Where will that end? If you’re investing ever more money and assuming that you can get to that point, it’ll cost millions to put robot pickers into big orchards and then you’re on the hook for getting that investment back with even more volume. It’s a cycle and I don’t see where that cycle ends.

Peter Kenyon 

Well if you look at it now, I think the majority of growers … for us, wages would be 45 per cent of your expense now. So in a way, the machine really becomes more viable. We were only talking about that before is that they’re talking, as you well know, you’re talking about working four days a week – that’s what the unions are pushing for. So you can see that people are going to work less and less whereas we probably need them to work more and more. It’s the complete opposite. So you’ve got to develop a system that suits whatever. So a machine will keep going 24/7 whereas a human being – and they’re only going to do five, six hours a day and only in daylight hours – you can see where it’s going to be a problem because you do need to have this turnover to fill out what you’re talking about.

Peter Kenyon 

You’re constantly working the orchard. I think there’s an idea from a lot of people that you plant an apple tree and I suppose you might have to prune it and then you go and pick the apples but to work an orchard properly it’s really hard work year round. It’s constant maintenance and reworking.

Henry Hilton 

I always say to people like this business with apples. I mean, you change your car a number of times in your lifetime. And apple growers are the same. People come here on tour and I ask them whether they’ve bought a new car and they say, “Oh yes, I’ve just got one!” And I’m saying,  “Well, the public want a different apple variety. They like the taste of this one and so it goes on.”

Peter Kenyon 

And the new varieties have been well advertised as well so they think they want it.

Henry Hilton 

Yeah, absolutely.

Peter Kenyon 

And the flavour matches that but you know.

Henry Hilton 

There’s a constant change but the change can take anywhere from three or four years to eight to ten years, depending what method you use. We’re tending to rework some of the stumps or the rootstocks that are in the ground and use the old root system but get rid of the top and change the top over. For me that’s a more economical way because like I said before, I’m 72 and in another eight years I’ll be out of the system, providing I last that long. You know, you’re not going to throw your money away for no cause.

Peter Kenyon 

What’s the future for this orchard here?

Peter Kenyon 

Probably a lifestyle block, to be honest. We tried to sell the whole business back there three years ago, but you know, we had a couple interested but when it came down to the point of the money, it wasn’t on the table and they chickened out of the last point, which is a common factor in these sorts of operations. If we could sell it as a going operation that would be fine but it’s probably unlikely to be honest.

There’s a lot of risk involved, very high risk. And you really need to know. You know, like I say, this foresight and looking forward is important and I’m not sure about a lot of people today, whether they can see through that. Like you’ve got to deal with the frost. You’ve got to be prepared to get out at one or two o’clock in the morning. Or you’ve got to be prepared to cover up for hail because I’ve really seen it plenty of times you know, the place gets wiped out in two minutes. It can do from hail and it’s all gone. This is the big issue.

The other thing with Stanley too is that there’s a lot of pressure with lifestyle operations now. And I tend to keep very much to myself because I’m a bit wary. I read lots of stories on the internet or email system about what some people want to do and don’t like this and don’t like that but if you’re going to be in this business you’ve got to deal with that, like birds and animals. Otherwise it’s not worth it. And that’s what I say. The risk is fairly great from all sorts of angles and that’s why I say the future’s probably a bit grim really which will be a shame really, because it’s something we’ve built up over a long period of time and it’s got a big following.

The fortunate thing over the whole period of time, and then I’ve been prepared to put the work in and so sometimes you get the results, but I’ve always been quite open. We’ve had all sorts of field days and groups and people. Oh, masses of them from colleges to whatever. Come and look and talk. I mean that’s the whole reason behind the shop because literally some people don’t know apples grow on trees. Some people don’t know that milk comes out of cows. You know what I mean? Rita, she’s always telling me all sorts of weird stories that customers ask.

Peter Kenyon 

I don’t know if you and Rita have seen this book The Art of Apple Branding. They only published 2000 of them in Tasmania. So it’s a book about the art of apple branding and it’s got all the labels. It’s got a bit of history in the beginning about the apple and how they used to market the apples and they’ve got all of these labels in the back here by state.

Henry Hilton 

This tells you a story doesn’t it? In my view it does. They had all those things, all the things we’ve perhaps been talking about to some degree but now are virtually non-existent. The industry’s sort of dying. Now I can tell you because I’ve been on the Apple & Pear Australia board and all those sort of things over the years. Back in my day there used to be 3,500 growers in Australia. There’s now only about 1200 and decreasing. That tells you a story. It’s a pretty difficult business really.

Peter Kenyon 

And yet apples are the most popular fruit in the world. I don’t know whether that’s by tonnage. But the volume of apples is the most popular fruit in the world. So somebody has to keep producing it, because they’re not going to just switch the fruit off.

Henry Hilton 

No, no. I agree. In my mind one would be concerned about where humans are going to take their lifestyle or their food technology, I would be concerned but it’s way out of my realm.

We were talking about being young kids the other day. We were talking about my grandfather and I was saying to Rita he used to take me down to the railways and we used to try – it was always a bit of a fun thing – but just try and push a coal truck along the railway line. And that was the days of steam engines and things and I would have never ever thought you’d get to this sort of technology like we are now, where it’s going. And to me it’s getting worse and more common. And they’re constantly changing.

So where the food thing ends up, I don’t know. I mean, there’s a big cry to go back natural and have everything from the producer and all that sort of thing but in general the big volumes don’t come [through those small scale, direct methods].

Peter Kenyon 

And people also have to make a living. You can’t expect some people to do it almost as a charity, to fulfil the small scale production but have an income from somewhere else. I’m looking again at that picture over your shoulder and I’m just thinking of the landscape of Stanley. There aren’t many parts of Australia that can support that cool climate, beautiful production, rainfall. So what’s the future for a landscape like Stanley?

Henry Hilton 

Well no, it’s lifestyle. Absolutely. And I would have thought with COVID that it’s going to be even more so. I mean the push to get out of the cities. But I don’t know how far that goes: this push out of the cities. I don’t know how far it goes and probably it would only apply to the people who have got enough money to do that. There’s a big part of the population wouldn’t be able to afford a car to drive out here of a weekend. But to change, you know, if they sell their house in Melbourne they’ve probably got themselves a million dollars so they can afford to buy something out here and I feel that’s the way to go.

You look at Bright and Myrtleford, the push currently. Bright is probably overdone now with people. I’m not sure. Peter.

The other thing too, you’re not hearing me say much about it this morning but one has to be concerned about the climate. I’m not really concerned about it because I have to deal with what comes to me every day but when you think about the bigger picture and what people want to do, one wonders where that’s going to end, where it’s going to develop. I find it difficult to think that everybody’s highly concerned about what goes on in Australia when it’s only 0.03 per cent or 0.3 per cent of the world’s problem and yet there’s a major concern.

The whole business you’re talking about it’s complex and that’s why the others have gone, up in Stanley. When I came here, it was all orchard from Beechworth all the way through. Not so much this end. This end has only been developed through Nightingale’s and myself. Really this end was pretty basic. The Thompsons had a little bit over the back there. The Swords had 20 acres of their 60 up there. And gee, it was basic! There was no phone, no power, nothing. No sealed roads. I mean, people have just got no idea.

Peter Kenyon 

Well this road was only … in fact in the picture up there it’s not sealed. How long ago was it sealed?

Henry Hilton 

Fifteen years, something like that?

Peter Kenyon 

And the pass down the hill was only a year after we got here so that was only 2013.

Henry Hilton 

Yeah, I along with the timber industry and a few people around in those days, it was a big push to get it done.

Rita Hilton 

When I first came up here, the seal ended up at Nightingale’s.

Henry Hilton 

When I came here it wasn’t even out of the township. So, yeah it’s opened the place up dramatically but that was part of the design. I don’t know. It’s a good thing but nobody’s got any idea what it was like. It was pretty basic.

Peter Kenyon 

And thinking through what the implications of making it easier for people are. Sealing a road makes it easier for people to go quickly and as a result that lifestyle block stretch gets further and further.

Henry Hilton 

This road’s opened up now. You see those motorbikes, they come through in their hundreds, literally hundreds on some weekends because I guess they put it on Facebook or whatever and away they all go. They all connect and off they go. Even for our business that was part of the design because I had the inside knowledge of what was going on. That’s why we built the shop because I reckoned the future would be what it is now. You see people just drive in and out from all directions. Back when I first came here we wouldn’t even have entertained them.

Peter Kenyon 

Tourism. Well, it’s a market isn’t it?

Henry just to finish off do you remember your first apple, tasting your first apple and what was it?

Henry Hilton 

Oh it would have been Cox’s Orange Pippin in England. Cox’s Orange Pippin or a Bramley Seedling which is a cooking apple.

Peter Kenyon 

How old were you?

Henry Hilton 

Well I don’t know. One or two! I’ve got no idea! I can’t remember that far back!

Henry Hilton 

Well, thank you very much Henry.

Henry Hilton 

Might be of some use.

Peter Kenyon 

That’s it for today. Remember that the apple season is just beginning. So there are delightful weeks ahead as we transition from Galas through to other delicious varieties. Try to find a tree-ripened Granny and let me know what you think. I’m Peter Kenyon, and thank you for listening. Please leave a comment or a suggestion at the unpeeled.press website or find me on Facebook or Twitter. A special thank you to Charles Sturt University for its support in getting these podcasts underway through their Community University Partnership Grants. And a special shout out to Dr. Sarina Kilham from Charles Sturt and Dr. Nick Rose from Sustain Australia for helping to make these podcasts happen. Theme Music by Avocado Junkie. See you next time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s