Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bushy Park

Bushy Park is located about 58 km from Hobart in the Derwent Valley. Its attractions include the Text Kiln, Hawthorn Lodge, and The Water Race, not to mention its olde worlde charm. The village is close to Russell Falls and the Styx Valley.
The first person to settle in the dramatically named Styx valley was AWH Humphrey who arrived in the area as early as 1812. The tiny settlement which grew up at this time was named Humphreyville but this was later changed to Bushy Park.In 1822 William Shoobridge arrived in Van Diemen's Land with some hops. He is credited with being the first person to grow hops in Tasmania although there are other claims. In 1824 a bushranger, John Logan, shot at Shoobridge as he tended his hops. In a stroke of good fortune, the bullet was deflected off a metal object in the pocket of Shoobridge - the event was put down to providence and hence the name of the valley.

In 1867 William Shoobridge's son, Ebenezer, came to the Styx valley and began growing and processing hops. He was, by any definition, a remarkable man who, with a combination of religious zeal and hard nosed capitalism, managed to make Bushy Park the largest producer of hops in both Australia and, that dubious accolade, the Southern Hemisphere. He built the iconic Bushy Park Text Kiln.
Behind the town is a 3 km water race (built by William Shoobridge - son of Ebenezer) which takes water from a dam on the Styx River and runs it to the Oast House. The water was used to drive a huge waterwheel which generated electricity to dry the hops. It is claimed that Bushy Park had electricity before Hobart.
The hop industry flourished over the proceeding years with 2,600 people making the journey to Bushy Park to harvest the crop. Henry Jones of IXL Jam fame became involved in the hop industry in the early 1900's by becoming a hop trader.

In 1970 the first signs of over production became apparent in the markets. This led to smaller producers leaving the industry and by 1980 all the existing Hop properties were amalgamated at Bushy Park. In 1988 the present owners of the property, Haas Investments purchased the property from Elders IXL. The new owners began a period of upgrade including the present harvest complex that was built in 1992.
The harvest complex is one of the largest and most modern in the world with a capacity to pick 35-40 tons of dry hops per day. The two picking machines will pick 80 vines (max) per minute and dryers dry a floor in 8 hours.

The present area of hops being grown at Bushy Park Estates is 227 hectares. From this area we expect a yield of 650 tons of dry hops. With new varieties bred from the research station at Bushy Park Estates this yield is expected to increase. Sheep are grazed in the hop growing areas to eat the base growth from the hop plant before harvest.