Cider Making in the Diamond Creek Valley

December 23, 2023
Gray’s Cider Factory ‘Allwood’ Upper Diamond Creek

William Gray – Allwood Upper Diamond Creek


William Gray, who married Frances Hurst, added cider making to his business growing, selling and exporting fruit trees at “Allwood” Upper Diamond Creek after using the shared government plant of cider making equipment in 1905.
William’s brother Owen produced cider at their parent’s property “Cleir Hills’ Back Creek near Queenstown in the early 1900’s.


In early 1905, the Department of Agriculture imported a complete plant of cider making equipment at a cost of £130 to be used in apple growing districts across Victoria and to encourage the production of cider. The department proposed to send it to various apple growing districts, in charge of an officer, who would give full instructions as to the working of the plant. Each district would be given an opportunity to use the equipment during a fortnight to see how the plant is worked. The orchardist who borrowed the plant was required to pay its working costs.

Very soon after the plant was available to orchardists, William Gray, at Hurst’s Bridge was successful in applying and was possibly one of the first to use it – by mid-April it was in place and being used at his “Allwood” property.

An article in the Hamilton Spectator of Saturday, 27th May gives a good description of William’s enthusiasm and the department’s support for cider production as a way to increase income by using surplus apple crops.

CIDER MAKING NEAR MELBOURNE. Mr. W. G. Gray, proprietor of the Attwood (ed. Allwood) nursery, Diamond Creek is commencing to devote some of his attention to the manufacture of cider, and he feels satisfied that this method of treating the surplus apple crop will prove valuable to him to enabling him to use up fruit that would otherwise have to be sold at unpayable prices in the case and also by providing him with customers for the liquid product whose regular trade will represent a big increase of his annual income. The trouble among apple growers in the past has been that large quantities of their fruit has had to be wasted Mr. Jos. Knight, chief agricultural expert of the department, as for some time been an earnest advocate of the cider industry, and as a result of his representations of the information he has imparted on this subject several of the large growers around Melbourne have gone into the industry. Mr. Gray says he can take 15 tons of apples off an acre of his orchard, and each ton will produce 100 gallons. An average of 1500 gallons per acre at 2/- per gallon which he says is a fair estimate for a good quality of cider, will pay very well, and it is because he sees this hopeful side of the industry that he has become as enthusiastic in the matter as the Government expert himself.

Following the death of his father in 1903, William had first leased then purchased “Cleir Hills” and from the early 1900’s he established extensive fruit tree nurseries and orchards at “Allwood”, “Cleir Hills” and Pheasant Creek and supplied Australian and overseas markets.

William Gray was no stranger to cider production as his brother Owen had used equipment at the family property, “Cleir Hills” near Queenstown, to make cider two years earlier, taking it to the Diamond Creek Agricultural Show where it was well received. The Evelyn Observer and Bourke East Record of 13th March, 1903 tells us – Mr Owen Gray, of “Cleir Hills”, Back Creek, near Queenstown, is endeavouring to establish a new industry in the district in the shape of cider making. Cider, when properly made, is undoubtedly a very palatable and, refreshing beverage, and if it is popularised it will be to the interest of apple growers generally. Mr Gray had a keg on tap at the Diamond Creek Show on Wednesday last, and invited the public to sample it, and the invitation was liberally accepted, with the result that the opinions generally expressed were favorable; and what is better, from a practical point of view, Mr Gray booked orders for many gallons of the cider.

As a regular winner of prizes at the annual Diamond Creek Horticultural Show, reports of prize winners inform us that he also provided prizes for some of the classes of fruit. At the show in March 1910 he gifted fruit trees for two and a case of cider for a third.

From 1908, to at least the end of WW1, William included Pure Cider in his regular advertisements for Allwood Nurseries.

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