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Clare's Dried Fruits

19 Feb 1904 Fruit Growing and Drying.png

"Until 1900, South Australia’s stone fruit industry was focused on fresh fruit production.

  • Production of dried fruits expanded rapidly post WW1.

  • The dried fruits industry commenced in Australia in the 1880s.


"The future of Clare depends solely on the results from the soil, and so the degree of prosperity pulsates with the success or failure of the producing interests."

CLARE, February 13, 1905. "The currant crop will be good. In some instances the fruit will be small, but this is not a fault. This district is undoubtedly well adapted to currant growing.

The utmost care and attention are displayed in cultivation and pruning, and the result is satisfactory. One hears of crops varying from 4½ tons per acre downwards."

February 24 1905: "The area under cultivation for wine varieties of grapes is not large, as during the last two years a considerable area has been grafted into drying varieties."

"Little is known about the history of the dried Fruit industry, yet it has been a player in some of the important social, political, legal and economic initiatives of the nation." --Alison Wishart (SLNSW)


In 1898 at 'Chatswood Farm,' (Stanley Flat , Clare) Messrs. W. and M. Kimber carried on an extensive and profitable fruit-drying business. 

"The currants are dried in the sun in trays in the ordinary way, and this season the drying process has been very short, the great heat and dry atmosphere soon completing it.

For raisins, of course, a different procedure is adopted. Tho Muscatels are first dipped in a hot liquid to give them a good color, and Mr. Kimber has been experimenting with new dips, the formulas for which wore supplied by Mr. W. C. Grasby of tho Agricultural Bureau."

Chatswood S. Flat - Drying fruit on Kimber's property. B-19323.jpeg

Above: Chatswood Stanley Flat - Drying fruit on Kimber's property. Approx 1900

4 Jun 1881 Fruit Drying and Jam Factory at Clare.png

Co-operative Formed

In 1910, the fruit growers of Clare district formed a co-operative consisting solely of growers, with a capital of £4000 in 4000 shares. Over 2600 shares were taken up at the first meeting.

  • The Clare Dried Fruits Association Limited published a Memorandum and articles of association at Clare, printed by A. and R. H. Tilbrook, in 1911.

  • Englishman Frank McDougall arrived at Renmark, South Australia, in 1909. This young man found his own purpose in life as a fruit-grower in Renmark, an irrigation settlement depending on self-help and technical efficiency

Dried Fruit Initiatives

The temperance movement, marketing to children and women, and the promotion of ‘super foods’ are some of the social changes that are part of its history.

On the political-legal front, the industry played a part in the soldier settlement scheme, the formation of the Country Party, a constitutional challenge that went all the way to the Privy Council, an innovative public-private partnership and a ruling by Justice Higgins that entrenched wage inequality for women.


Economically, it promised riches and sometimes delivered poverty, saw the bankruptcy of the industry founders and relied on high tariffs and protectionism. 

November 1921: ‘A California within the Empire’

ADFA delegates from four States conferred in the temporary federal capital, Melbourne, in October 1921, and resolved to seek federal and State help in ‘agitating’ for a preferential duty on dried fruits in the United Kingdom.

  • As ADFA deliberations concluded, senior ministers from all States were arriving for a premiers’ conference.

  • On its first day, Barwell requested consideration of an additional agenda item concerning ‘some matter’ from the ADFA Conference. A New Idea Each Morning 38

  • An ADFA deputation wished to see the Prime Minister. H. D. Howie of Renmark and a

  • Mr Victorsen of Clare saw Hughes at his home on Tuesday, 1 November, the Melbourne Cup Day holiday.1

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