Soldiers Settlement

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SOLDIERS SETTLEMENT SCHEME   

Research by Gordon Freegard

 

At the end of the First World War, the discharged Soldiers Settlement Act of 1918 initiated a scheme to settle returned soldiers on the land. One of the areas chosen for settlement was along Piesse Brook, from Pickering Brook to where it is crossed by Mundaring Brook Road. In order to establish their orchards, settlers relied on loans and advanced payments from the Agricultural Bank. Since fruit trees took five years or more to bear enough fruit to sell, settlers found it impossible to meet loan repayments and the scheme foundered. The Great Depression increased the burden and the Government was forced to foreclose on many of the properties. Some of these holdings were later taken over by Italian migrants, who through hard work prospered as orchardists and became an integral part of the history of the district.

 

An article in the "West Australian Newspaper" dated Saturday 9th March 1918 discussed this scheme.

SOLDIERS' REPATRIATION SCHEME
THE PICKERING BROOK LAND
At Kalamunda on Wednesday the Darling Range Road Board, which consists of practical orchardists, held a special meeting  to consider the question of the settlement of returned soldiers on the land recently thrown open for settlement  at Pickering Brook. This land which comprises some 5,000 acres - a considerable proportion of which is first-class fruit-growing country - was until recently reserved as portion of the supplementary catchment area in connection with the proposed Canning water supply scheme. As the result of a long continued agitation about 5,000 acres were recently made available for settlement. Mr. A. C. R. Loaring put before the board  for consideration the land should be made available for returned soldiers. He proposed that it should be surveyed in 20 acre blocks, each of which should contain at least five acres of first-class fruit-growing land. Each applicant should submit himself for examination by a board of practical orchardists, with, say, Mr. Wickens, of the Agricultural Department, as chairman.

BUILT IN 1920. ORIGINAL HOME OF JACK & DORA POLLESE AT 12 FORREST ROAD.
PHOTO TAKEN 2008    #1

Some such examination was vital to the success of the scheme, for it would be worse than useless putting returned soldiers on the land unless they were the type of men who could be reasonably expected to make good. He proposed that the land should be sold on 25 year terms - the first five free of all taxation - and that a residential and improvement clause be inserted. With regard to price, land of no better quality had been sold in the district up to 30 pounds an acre. He though, however, it would be a mistake to put fancy prices on the land; the State should look for its recompense to the indirect return to be derived from a prosperous settlement. His proposal was that it should be sold for 2 pounds an acre: the clearing might be done by the Government en bloc, and the cost made a charge against the land.
In the subsequent discussion Mr. Hawkins urged a reduction in the area of the blocks from 20 acres, and he also considered the purchase price should be 5 pounds per acre. He believed the consideration which would subsequently be extended by the Government, would compensate the purchasers for the higher price paid.
The meeting, however, favoured the scheme as outlined by Mr. Loaring, and it was decided to ask Mr. Nairn, M.L.A., to arrange an interview with the Minister for Lands in order that the proposals might be laid before him.

BUILT IN 1922. ORIGINAL FERNIE HOME AT 230 REPATRIATION ROAD
PHOTO 2008   #2

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE FERNIE HOME. PHOTO 2008   #3

 

THE RUINS OF THE 86 YEAR OLD FERNIE HOME. PHOTO 2008    #4
 

 

VIEW ACROSS THE VALLEY SHOWING THE ORIGINAL FERNIE HOME
SURROUNDED BY NATURAL BUSH AND FRUIT TREES. PHOTO 2008  #5

 

 

 

 

References:    Article:          Tourism Heritage Cala Munnda
                                        West Australian Newspaper

                     Images:     1, 2, 3, 4, 5    Gordon Freegard

  

 

 

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