Almond trees, Giles Rd
|Town or Locality:||Willunga|
|Built by:||Spencer Hall|
This row of about 50 Brown Brandis almond trees are all that remain from 10 acres planted by Alan (Spencer Alan) Hall in 1901 on what was formerly a vineyard. The varieties planted were Brandis, Hatch's Nonpareil and California Paper shells.
Alan was the son of local bank manager Spencer Atkinson Hall and was consecutively a vigneron, almond-grower and dairy farmer at Willunga. Hall Road is named after his family.
These very old trees now mark the boundary of Willunga’s first almond grove on Section 256. This was the earliest known commercial planting of almonds in the district. Prior to that, almonds were grown with fruit trees in home gardens. Then the practice developed of growing them as ‘bonus’ crops on the boundaries of land used for other purposes.
Thomas Atkinson of Ashley Farm was another pioneer almond grower. Then in 1909, Richard Strout planted 30 acres with Johnston and Californian Paper Shell varieties together with the Strout variety which he evolved specifically for Willunga conditions. Another 50 acres followed. Walter Brown began planting almonds in 1927. In 1934 the newly-formed Almond Groves Company purchased Ashley Farm and planted its 240-acres to almonds.
During the 1930s commercial plantings continued on an even larger scale, using the increasingly popular Chellaston variety. The Giles family began planting almonds in 1946. Almonds were initially grown contrary to horticultural advice which suggested that the land was too near the sea for adequate growth and also that the crops would be destroyed by the prevalent white cockatoos.
Nevertheless, a thriving industry developed to the stage where in the 1970s over 2000 hectares of land in the district were planted to almonds. New varieties were developed to suit local conditions and Willunga was the centre of the State’s almond production until the emphasis shifted to the Riverland in the late 1970s.
The Annual Almond Blossom Festival celebrates the importance of the almond growing industry which provided a solid economic base for Willunga from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Giles Road commemorates the Giles family who settled in Willunga in the 1930s; they were among the pioneers of commercial almond growing in the district.
- Willunga: Place of Green Trees. 1952
- W A Pretty. Almond Growing in South Australia. 1976
- Almonds in Australia: from pioneer planting to prime production: Almond Board of Australia 2012.