Situated in Karragullen, a beautiful valley in the Perth Hills, Illawara Orchard is one mile long with an area of 200 acres of which 60 are stonefruit.
In 1899, Thomas Price, Tom’s grandfather became the first managing director of the orchard as a shareholder with Lionel White, the manager of Canning Mills Timber Company. As a highly educated man in horticulture back in England, Thomas was very successful on the orchard and retired in 1929, handing his share of the orchard to his sons, Hector and Wilfred (Tom’s father and uncle).
Hector took over as managing director and Wilfred managed the day to day operations on the orchard. Tom joined the family business in 1960 after 12 months at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne, becoming the third generation Price on Illawara Orchard.
In 1973, Tom bought out Wilfred’s share, giving him 51% share but Tom always dreamt of owning the orchard himself. This became possible in the 1980s with the success of the WA bred Pink Lady apple which the orchard was one of the first to produce the variety.
It was during Tom’s travels when he fell in love with stonefruit. California was breeding new varieties and in recent years, the pluot variety Tom planted on the orchard has been very successful for flavour.
Tom continues the family tradition in pulling out non profitable trees and replacing with new stonefruit. Quality assurance is an important tool and challenges are massive to maintaining the production of high quality and flavoured fruit.
Seasonal weather is a challenge each year and long hours are often worked but Tom feels blessed his wife Renee fully supports his passion.
Illawara Orchard has new stonefruit varieties to enjoy each year, keeping West Australian returning to purchase delicious and healthy fruit for their families.