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Emerald Museum & Nobelius Heritage Park

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In 1904 an article in the ‘Australian Nurseryman’ reported that the nursery had 200 varieties of apples, 107 varieties of peaches, 64 varieties of pears, 60 varieties of cherries, plus a range of other fruits and ornamental trees for sale. The article also reported that there were 25,000 of each of the four most popular varieties of apples for sale.

However, it should be noted that to achieve this sale volume Nobelius not only sold trees in Melbourne, he also sold substantial numbers of trees interstate and overseas. In fact, by the beginning of the twentieth century Nobelius had established markets for both fruit and ornamental trees in the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, South America, Europe and parts of Asia.

The success of the Gembrook Nurseries was, in part, based upon the nurseries reliability and the cleanliness of its stock. This, no doubt, was due to the use of blight-free rootstocks and cultural practices such as regular weeding and the quick removal and burning of any stock damaged by pests or disease.

Gembrook Nurseries map smlMost of the trees grown in the nursery were grown on rootstocks that were later either budded or grafted. A journalist at the time reported that a man, on average, could bud 2,000 trees in a ‘nine hour day’. A fact, perhaps not surprising. given that the men were paid based upon the number of trees that they budded.

As demand for his trees continued to grow, Nobelius purchased another fifteen hectares (40 acres) to the south of his existing holdings in 1906 which allowed him to increase his stock levels to one and half million trees and employ 50 workers.

In 1909 Nobelius purchased even more land to increase his total holdings to more than 80 hectares (200 acres). This allowed Nobelius to increase his stock levels to two and half million trees and employ 80 workers just before World War I. At about this time, it was clear that the Gembrook Nurseries were the biggest in the ‘southern hemisphere’.

At its peak, Gembrook Nurseries stretched from Nobelius Street north of Emerald, south across Gembrook Road to Paternoster Road, and included land that both the Emerald Country Club and the Emerald Lake now occupy.

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