The orchardist, who prefers to remain in obscurity, polishes one of the little apples he's spent 30 years quietly developing.
Home is 17 slender acres in Victoria’s Yarra Valley.
"If you take on a project like this, you have to become besotted. If you half-heartedly go into it, it’ll never succeed. So while you can, and while you’re younger, you chase.”
The orchardist’s overalled legs and boots protrude from an apple bush during picking. As commercial orchards have scaled up, his small operation has become an anachronism.
The orchardist handles his produce the old-fashioned way. By hand in wooden boxes. The little apple he invented is a quarter the size of an ordinary apple.
The orchardist puffs on an ever-present cigarette as he loads his ute.
The orchardist grapples with nets in preparation for covering the trees to protect them from birds. Hail is another threat.
At 75, the physical labour involved in maintaining the orchard has become more of a struggle.
There are several dams on the property, one spring-fed, that have provided irrigation for the fruit trees over the years.
An apple fit for haute cuisine. In the packing shed, the orchardist cuts open some of his crop to test for ripeness.
In his study the orchardist plots and smokes — and worries. To this day he’s unable to sleep past 2am, the time he used to rise on market days.
True to his surveyor roots, the orchardist has long kept meticulous diaries recording the details of life on the farm.
The orchardist tends his beloved trees.
A lifetime of hard work held in his shoulders, the orchardist pauses while boiling water for coffee, which he drinks black.
Propagating a dream
In a world gripped by ‘Go big or get out,’ he had a bold idea. Go small.
Never has there been a more reluctant hero of his own story. But in a quiet triumph of risk and innovation, this old orchardist has done what few can claim: he invented something original.