Avocado family celebrates 100 years at Appadene Park Manjimup property

Anjelica SmilovitisManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Tom and Robyn Winfield at Appadene Farm.
Camera IconTom and Robyn Winfield at Appadene Farm. Credit: Anjelica Smilovitis/Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Five generations of the Winfield family gathered on Saturday to celebrate 100 years on the property since ancestors Thomas Charles and Florence Lucy, and the family, emigrated to Australia on April 25, 1924.

The reunion was held on Tom and Robyn Winfield’s Appadene Farm with more than 100 first, second and third cousins, sharing memories on the day.

The Winfields celebrate a 100-year anniversary family reunion.
Camera IconThe Winfields celebrate a 100-year anniversary family reunion. Credit: Paul Rankin

Hailing from London on the TSS Hobson’s Bay ship to Fremantle a century ago, Thomas Charles and Florence Lucy set out for Australia with promises of dairy farms as part of a group settlement scheme in the South West.

Tom Winfield said his grandparents arrived in Australia with their children in 1924 and settled on a farm where they primarily focused on dairy farming.

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“Over the years, they cleared the land, built their herd, and eventually paid off their farm,” he said.

The family travelled by rail to Bridgetown and bullock team through Pemberton. Along with 14 families in Settlement Group 83 at Appadene, they drew lots out of a hat for which property block they would receive.

“(It was) ‘here’s an axe, here’s a crosscut saw, carve yourself out a couple of acres, or hectares nowadays, and we’ll provide a cow’,” Tom Winfield said.

“They were there for dairy only, they weren’t allowed anything else other than dairy, so it was very hard. You couldn’t sell any of your cattle.

Appadene Park farm.
Camera IconAppadene Park farm. Credit: Supplied

“If you had a bull calf, you had to cut it’s throat. You could have a couple of pigs for yourself to eat, and you could grow a few veggies, but could not grow any crops.”

It’s stunningly different these days, with more than 21ha of orchards about 10km outside of Manjimup.

The family has extended, now with 29 grandchildren (third generation), more than 78 great-grandchildren (fourth), more than 133 great-great-grandchildren (fifth), and more than 21 great-great-great grandchildren (sixth), with fifth and sixth still being added too.

Tom Winfield said between 1924 to 1930 many people in the area walked away.

“It was just too hard. They packed up in the middle of the night and disappeared. There was abandoned farms everywhere,” he said.

“We’re the only family that’s left continuously farming for the 100 years. There’s been other people come in and are still here. We’re the only people who came in the group settlements.”

The family have property surrounding Appadene Farm and over the years have swapped around with other members.

Tom took over the farm from his father Frank at 32-years-old, and would later start Appadene Farm in 1999 with wife Robyn.

They have now been together for 22 years.

Past generations of the Winfield family.
Camera IconPast generations of the Winfield family. Credit: Supplied

The idea to plant avocados came after Tom had managed a horticultural company previously.

Inspired, he planted his first 1000 trees on the property.

“I was fortunate enough to grow up on this farm. I liked growing stuff and working on the land,” he said.

“My son came home to be part of management about 10 years ago now, with his wife Rahela, and they have three children all living on the farm.

“It’s a very strong thing we have with our family. We want to keep the legacy going (from) my grandfather. He had a vision and I want to see that and my son has the same vision, and hopefully his two boys.”

“We’re Christians with strong values and members of the local Baptist Church. I’ve been in the church for 40 years and my son is involved too.

“We believe in caring and being very open and helping people.”

The family, also part of The Avocado Collective group, have been active members in the community raising money for local school church chapters.

Running a Christian-based business, the family stand firm on ethical principles such as fairness and honesty.

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