Sunday, January 3, 2016

One of the first fruit exporters; Ernest Bound

Ern Bound
From Obituary
"He always rubbed his hand together and said 'What can I do for you?' but everyone said he meant 'What can I do you for?'"1

Whether my grandmother was correct in her memories or not,  Ernest Bound (known as Ern) was a very successful business man, who was also involved in many aspects of the community. He was one of the first Victorians to export fruit to Europe, United Kingdom and India.2  At one time, his business supplied practically all the stores in the Wimmera (a large geographical area in North West Victoria, Australia) and a portion of South Australia with sauce.3  This is even more impressive when you consider that Ern had only a few weeks of formal schooling. 4

Ernest Bound was only 6 years old when he arrived in South Australia in September 1878 with his recently widowed mother, Amelia "Jane" Bound, and eight of his siblings, who were aged  between 7 months and 20 years of age.5,6

Source: Robert Geyer
The family initially lived in South Australia. Ernest Bound moved to the Nhill in Victoria in 1883.  In 1896, Ern and his older brother Tom (Thomas Congdon Bound) purchased sandy desert scrub land at Winiam, which was 'proclaimed as forever uninhabitable'.  Additionally they were 'handicapped by lack of capital'.  Over a number of years, they cleared land and planted apple, pear, peach and plum trees in conjunction with a market garden.  While they waited for the trees to mature and bear sufficient fruit to provide an income, they harvested the market garden with primary crops being tomatoes, pumpkins and watermelons.  An abundance of tomatoes resulted in the commencement of the Lowan Sauce Factory in 1909. 3,7,8,9

Trove; The Nhill Free Press (Vic.: 1914 -1918)
Friday 5 April 1918, Page 3
In 1910, they commenced using pruning and spraying processes as set out by the Victorian Agricultural Department, which increased yields.  They were soon exporting apples with contracts for 1300 cases of apples to Glasgow, Antwerp and Bombay in 1914.  The apples from the Bound orchard realised the highest prices in Europe so were favoured by the Melbourne exporters, which resulted in Ern exporting many apples directly to increase his profits. However the exporting was soon suspended with the commencement of World War 1. 2,7,13

According to a number of various newspaper reports, Ern was also very active in the community, being a member (and later chairman) of the Winiam Methodist Sunday School, secretary and member of the Winiam Rifle Club, Chairman of the Arbour Day committee, secretary and financial contributor of the "Telephone party" to bring telephone lines to Winiam, chairman of the School committee, member of the Cemetery Trust, member of the wartime Patriotic Committee, a Justice of the Peace and was nominated (but declined) a position as Councillor to represent the district.

Ern was fortunate to have a natural spring on his property, which was appropriately called 'Springvale'.  In 1915 a well was completed at a depth of 45ft where most wells in the area were 150ft.  He was rarely beaten and won many awards at the local shows for his tomatoes and during the war years he also had ewes and lambs, which flourished on being fed watermelons. 12,13

Circa 1935 - Bound Fruit Pickers.
Please let me know if you can identify any of the men.
Click to view a larger image.
With a surplus of fruit and tomatoes of reputable quality in the district and greater profit margins being achieved on retail sales, Ern decided to expand the business and in 1918 purchased a fruit and confectionery business in Nhill, which became known as the The Fruit Palace.  At this time there were 24 acres of orchards and 10 acres of market gardens.  The businesses continued to expand and flourish as a family affair with his four sons soon working with him in the company E Bound & Sons Pty Ltd, Lowan Preserving Works and Springvale Tomato Sauce. The businesses provided significant employment to the area and grew to 70 acres of orchards and market garden with 7000 fruit trees. 3,7, 14

Bound Fruit Pickers - Perhaps Ern standing in centre with white shirt
Please let me know if you can identify the men
Click for a larger image.
In 1934 they exported 2500 cases of apples and employed 15 men and utilised modern methods and machinery in the packing sheds.15

A letter from England in 1935 stated "I have received the case of apples so kindly sent by you and wish to express our admiration for the excellent manner in which they were packed, and the prime condition they were in.  Not an apple showed the least sign of decay and all were as sound as a bell.  One would have thought they had just been harvested the previous day from a local orchard.  As to their quality, I must say they are excellent; several of our neighbors sampled them, the unanimous opinion of all being that they are as good as the best apples they have ever eaten and better than most" 15

Circa 1935 - Bound Fruit Pickers
The sauce factory was sold in 1939. In 1947 they produced 25,000 gallons of fruit ice cream. 7

Ernest Bound died in Nhill on the 26th March 1953 when he was age 80.  The company E Bound and Sons Pty Ltd was disolved and the businesses split between his four sons. 4,7, 17

Ern Bound and family at Nhill - about 1932
Back, Tom Bound (with moustache) Frank, Ern, wife Emma, Ruby, Norm (holding Doris), Jeanette
Centre: Frank, Walter and wife Jean;
Front: Norm's children Betty and Muriel

This post was inspired by Sepia Saturday
Please click to read more posts

1 Eva Scott wrote this in her notebook about her Uncle Ernest Bound
2 Trove: Western Mail (Perth, WA: 1885-1954, Farm & Station Notes, Friday 17 April 1914, page 3
3 Trove: Nhill Free Press (Vic.: 1914 - 1918), Tuesday 5th March 1918, page 2
4 Robert Geyer: first families 2001
5 State Records of South Australia
6 Trove: The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1858-1889), Monday 23 September 1878, page 6
7 Obituary
8 Trove: The Register (Adelaide, SA: 1901-1929), Wednesday 15 June 1910, page 9
9 Trove: The Horsham Times, Tuesday 27 October 1925, page 2
10Trove: Nhill Free Press (Vic.: 1914 - 1918), Tuesday 12 May 1914, page 2.
12Trove:  Nhill Free Press (Vic.:1914 - 1918), Friday 21 May 1915, page 3
13Trove: Nhill Free Press (Vic.:1914-1918), Friday 3 March 1916, page 2
14Trove: The Horsham Times (Vic,: 1882 - 1954), Tuesday 27 October 1925, page 2
15Trove: The Horsham Times (Vic.:1882-1954), Friday 9 March 1934, page 6
16.Trove: The Horsham Times (Vic.: 1882-1954) Tuesday 4 June 1935, page 4
17 Australian Death Index


  1. Wonderful description and pictures and I really like the sound of a fruit palace, but I like the sound of Ern even better!

    1. Thank you! I come from a family of hardworking farmers :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Excellent history! Ern certainly did well for himself. His mother must have been a determined survivor in the circumstances too.

    2. His mother believed "The Lord will provide" and several of her children were very strong and determined.

  3. Sharon this such a great story! How lovely that letter was and what pleasure it must have given Ern to know that his produce was well received all over the world.

    1. Thanks Alex. Amazing to think that such a letter was published. Emails of today will be lost forever!

  4. What a great story, Sharon! You have a lovely blog and I also love the background! Happy 2016. :)

    1. Thank you for reading Linda! Happy New Year to you also!

  5. This is just the kind of article which is a delight to read. Social and commercial history, family history - bonded together with memories. Wonderful stuff.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Alan. It is probably too long for most, who are not family, to read but Ern did so much!

  6. A perfect success story! And quite a family. Generally speaking, where the parents are strong & determined so shall the children be.

    1. And the Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren and ..........

  7. A fascinating story. I had no idea fruit could be exported such a great distance in those days. I'd love to know what a Magnificent or Sweet Cleopatra apple tasted like.

    1. Me neither. I thought Export was a more recent thing too!

  8. A very interesting story and great photos.

  9. What a great story. I just wonder how you manage to find such old photos. They're totally great!