Fruitful pickings at Orange

Fruitful pickings at Orange

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Orange property “Doocarrick”, with about 25,000 trees, has been owned by the the Armstrong family for the past 98 years.

Orange property “Doocarrick”, with about 25,000 trees, has been owned by the the Armstrong family for the past 98 years.

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A LIFETIME of work has gone into "Doocarrick Orchard" and so it is with a strong sense of sadness Cliff and Yvonne Armstrong have decided to wind up their ownership with the family having held the property for 98 years.

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A LIFETIME of work has gone into "Doocarrick Orchard" and so it is with a strong sense of sadness Cliff and Yvonne Armstrong have decided to wind up their ownership with the family having held the property for 98 years.

Mr Armstrong's ill health has prompted the sale of the property highly regarded in the district for producing excellent fruit.

The property currently has about 25,000 apple trees with some of the main varieties including Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Sundowner, Fuji, Gala and Pink Lady - and fruit also extends to about 500 cherry trees.

This productive capacity of the 44-hectare (108 acre) Nashdale property is testament to the hard work of both Cliff and Yvonne.

Mrs Armstrong said it would be very hard indeed to leave the property with an upcoming auction date of June 14, through Don Wright and Brian Cullinane, McCarron Cullinane, Orange.

"We grow a very nice crop, but with a lot of work," Mrs Armstrong said.

"Cliff has put a lifetime of work into the property, and the other fruit growers in the region look on him as a legend."

"Doocarrick" came into Armstrong family ownership in 1916 when Cliff's grandfather, James Armstrong purchased the property, for his son Robert James Armstrong.

Robert was an asthmatic and the doctor had advised for a change of climate, and as such the decision was made to move to Orange.

The property had been named after Doocarrick, a county in Ireland from where James' wife Emily hailed.

In 1980, when Robert James became ill, Cliff took over the management of the orchard, but he had been working on the property long before, having left school at 16 and then working with his father.

Yvonne has been on the property for 52 years, arriving after marrying Cliff.

"We work together as a team," she said.

Mrs Armstrong said the local fruit industry had seen a lot of changes throughout the time she had been on the property; back in 1952 she estimates there would be many hundreds of growers but now there would be only 20 to 25 growers.

"It is diminishing every year, but Orange is still one of the best places to grow fruit; there's beautiful soils and scenery, and a great climate."

And "Doocarrick" in particular offered an ideal location to produce fruit, located about 11 kilometres to the south west of Orange, at Nashdale, in "a beautiful spot on the northern slopes of Mount Canobolas", she said.

Aside from his work on the farm, Mrs Armstrong said Cliff had been involved in plenty of outside interests, particularly as chairman of the Australian National Field Days committee.

"He devoted 20 years on the field day committee, helping his other committee members with many hours attending working bees, which has now contributed to the field days being so successful today," she said.

"He also held the orchard field day on his property many times, which attracted more than 3000 visitors."

This day has now been incorporated into the main field days.

Mrs Armstrong said the first coolstores on the property were built in 1952, while the last coolstores were built in 1981 at a cost of $100,000 each.

These are just some of a range of improvements to infrastructure on the property, which includes a large shed with an automated grading, a packing machine, bin storage shed, machinery shed and workshop.

"Doocarrick" also has three homesteads (a double brick, a brick veneer and a weatherboard).

Contact Don Wright, 0427 026 306 or Brian Cullinane, 0418 637 338.

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