Judy and Alan Cadman (OAM)


Interviewees: Alan Cadman OAM, born 1937

          and Judy Cadman, born 1938

Interviewer: Frank Heimans,
            for Baulkham Hills Shire Council

Date of Interview: 3 April, 2008

Transcription: Glenys Murray, April, 2008

This interview represents the personal recollections, views and opinions of the interviewee


What was life like for you as a small farmer and also for you Judy as a farmer’s wife picking fruit and getting it to market? What was it like in those days?

Hectic well we worked from dawn ‘til late at night going through the whole process. The fruit picking was only part of it because there was all the preparation of thinning out the fruit and the care of the orchard which Alan did most of himself.

You had three boys to look after as well?

Three boys as well and morning teas for the student workers during the picking season.

A staff of twenty or so during the picking season and Judy would have to be very much a farmer’s wife. Although she was a school teacher and loves school teaching and was very popular at the local schools where she taught casually for a period, didn’t you?

‘til nineteen seventy seven.

You had a particular timetable over the course of the season? This needs to be done, the pruning and so on, right?

Well some fruit are very seasonal. The winter time when it was cold out there pruning, then in the spring you had a spray programme making sure that the crop was set and appropriate number of peaches per tree, maximum size highest quality. Harvest period started around about 20th, 22nd November was usually the start date. Wilson plums we used to start with. Watts peaches and then move through the various peach varieties. Mostly white fleshed peaches beautiful flavours until after Christmas or just on Christmas New Year period when we’d start on the yellow fleshed peaches and the nectarines. Then finish about Australia Day about the end of January. We then later on moved into apples. We leased an apple orchard or were involved with our business partners in an apple orchard up at Blackheath at Shipley. High quality apples, beautiful apples and we used to move up there for harvest. The season was extended by our property over at Glenorie which was a much larger property with navel oranges which were a good product and stone fruit as well. Then we had a property out at Sunnyridge Road Arcadia and then we leased another one further out. Stewart’s at Fiddletown. Then we also had connections in Bathurst with the stone fruit growing industry in Bathurst. So what we tried to do was start our season as early as possible and run it as late as possible. So we could spread our costs and our labour requirements over a longer period, which seemed to work quite well for a long time.

Spraying peaches in the Hills district

How did you learn to become a farmer because you didn’t really go to agricultural college did you just pick it up...?

But I did Ag Science as I’ve said and I studied. My whole life had been working on the land really and working for myself hadn’t it?


But horticulture was sort of a theoretical subject for me because all my life had been really livestock and broad acre farming. So to learn about stone fruit I knew the theory of stone fruit or orcharding. I knew the pests and diseases broadly but I had no idea of just the husbandry of an orchard or how to manage it. So there was a wonderful organisation in this district at that time called The Agricultural Bureau. It was the Arcadia Galston branch of The Agricultural Bureau which was a farmer extension programme. I became very much involved in that secretary of the local branch attended national and state conferences. Judy became involved with the Country Women’s Association at the same time didn’t you?


Because that was something for families and something for women, the Agricultural Bureau ran field days, educational days and it didn’t just cover the cultural practices but also covered managerial things. Economics all of those sort of things that are now gone from the spectrum of information available to farmers. I think that there has been a sad loss of the transfer of knowledge from the researcher to the farmer has been diluted in such a way that the very large corporations can access it. But the medium and small family farmers have great difficulty getting the most relevant current information. I think it is a very sad thing and Australian farming has diminished in my view over the last twenty to thirty years. We are now living to a fair degree on research which was done twenty or thirty years ago. We need to reinvest in these great export industries. We need to use more resources to make sure that the agricultural advantage Australia has compared with the rest of the world is maintained. I was fortunate to grow up in a time and run a business in a time where there was the Department of Agriculture. People were always on our property weren’t they?


Whether it was presentation of your product or cultural practices or new techniques people who were doing scholarships and research were always with us. We would talk over morning tea or they’d come on an orchard inspection and we’d spend a couple of hours. Me gaining as much information from them, but them also making suggestions for change and together working out new changes or practices that should be adopted. I think we were fairly innovative certainly in the packaging area. In cultural practices we were the first ones to start close row planting. High density cropping of stone fruit.

Espaliered trees.

Yeah, espaliered trees all that sort of thing.

Picked peaches outside shed in the Hills district

Did you get involved in the local fruit growers co-operative as well?

We worked co-operatively but we didn’t establish the formal thing because it commenced I reckon when we tried to salvage the citrus industry in this district. People came together to try to boost their prices. That meant that the growers from the Galston Arcadia area came together with the Glenorie and Kenthurst growers. For the first time I experienced the diversity of outlook across the Hills Districts. Gradually formulated my ideas about how we could be more effective by co-operative effort. We were exporting citrus to Japan and to Asia at that time because we were southern hemisphere climate and we came in at the off season so there was a market there for us. We did moderately well but the district wasn’t big enough to be able to supply the quantities of the quality required by those large markets. So eventually the change continued and the people went to stone fruit. The stone fruit industry that was another scene and eventually I was able to establish or reignite an organisation call the Cumberland Fruit Grower’s Association. This included fruit growers and farmers from this part of the world right around the fringe of Sydney taking in the Hawkesbury, Penrith, Campbelltown and those districts. The whole region which had a mass production of fruit at that stage of something like six billion dollars it was a large industry and the farmers involved needed to work together. So having established that I chaired it for a long time and I guess from that relationship and some wonderful people. People whose names like Les Geelan, Bob Pattern, Ted Burgess other growers in the area who were really forward looking and encouraged me strongly to take a strong leadership role. They’d developed their businesses and the industry groups very successfully and so they encouraged me to become involved as well. To look at export of stone fruit as well as citrus to look at industry organisation and make sure we were not neglected from research or from resources.

Stone fruit trees in blossom in the Hills district

It’s good to have that scientific background and co-operation of the scientists. What do you think has happened to the stone fruit industry in this area now?

Well it’s very specialist, it’s not an ideal climate for stone fruit it produces fruit at an early point because of the climate. Because of the rainfall that often occurs over that Christmas period it is very difficult to keep your fruit disease free. Also it’s also prone to hail these districts. There are a number of really excellent farmers still producing quality stone fruit. A few here in this Galston district many more out towards Maroota some in Glenorie. One or two in Kenthurst and many up in the Bilpin district which was also part of the region that we were familiar with. Stone fruit is diminished though at large. There has been much more direct selling, on farm sales and the development of the Hawkesbury Harvest and the Farm Gate Trail where people from Sydney are invited to visit orchards. In fact we started that with our apples, didn’t we?

You initiated it, yes.

That’s right, with the apple crop.

People coming here to buy peaches and people going to the apple orchard to pick their own fruit on the weekends.

Was that a new thing at the time?

Yes completely new.

 Roadside stall on Old Northern Road Middle Dural 2003

How did you get it going?

Ah, that was funny. We had a large crop of beautiful Granny Smiths and despite all the care in the world of packaging and presentation we couldn’t seem to get more than a dollar sixty for a large case of fruit. Which seems a crazy price these days but that was all we could muster. We were going broke at that because just to package was costing us a dollar fifty. That was without all the fertilizer and sprays and pruning and cultural things and picking as well so we were going backwards fast with that crop. So I said “I’m going to try pick your own”. There were a few doubts in the family about whether this would work so I took some of our own money rather than the family company money and we advertised in local newspapers. Which really, really worked we tried larger advertising programmes such as the dailies but didn’t get the results that we got from a little par. in the back of the local press. Which is amazing how that worked “come and pick your own apples” so starting right away back down almost to Dural we started with a trail of blue arrows with Cadman’s apples on them. Every corner we used to have an arrow all different sizes and shapes of arrows leading right to the farm gate where they could come in. We used to keep our students some of them on from the stone fruit they would help direct the people picking their own apples. Because they would climb ladders and pick from the tops of trees because we said every apple is good. We would cut them and they would sample them and the kids would love it. Judy and my mother made jelly.

Batches of apple jelly every week.

Yeah batches of apple jelly, the people loved it too didn’t they?


Peaches for sale outside a farm gate in Hills district 2003

Very enterprising, then?

We had 2,000 people turn up the first weekend, which shocked us.

Did you give them a case of apples to take home?

Yeah they could pick as much as they liked. Many families got carried away and said “look we’ve picked far too many do you want to keep these”? “No you picked them you can pay for them and take them home”. “Your enthusiastic children have penalised you financially”. But they always came back year after year didn’t they?


That’s a great idea great story that actually it’s very good. Now did you stop growing apples when you decided to get more involved in politics? Tell me how that began?

That was really interesting I think that my father was not well but anyway we….my father died we had at that stage had a subdivision of the apple orchard to be put into action at any stage in the future. Just a precaution no definite plan but when my father died. No before he died they built a house on this property and we moved into this house. So my father had sold his business in St Ives. He moved from St Ives to buy the orchard from my grandfather who went into retirement.

He’d lost a leg while travelling to England.

Suffered ill health hadn’t he?

Yes when grandad came back from England Auntie Freda married and they moved down to Northmead leaving this house on the orchard.

So we moved into it didn’t we?


We rented our house out there but when my father died it just wasn’t going to work. This was enough for me to look after. The family wanted to subdivide this property and my brother and sister wanted their share of it. So it was a stage of reorganisation in a way. But at this time in parallel was this request from community leaders and people involved in the community that I should run for parliament. I just didn’t like that idea very much but I said “I would give it a try”. I had to work out which party I was going to belong to because when you were in the bush there was only one party that was active but that seemed a lot of fun. But here there was more choice so I read the philosophies of all parties. Have to say that in politics I’ve always believed that there was only one party that would ever suit me really well and that was the Cadman party and I’d only always have one member of that. So the Liberal Party was closest to what I felt.

Alan Cadman being presented with a Thank You Badge
by District Guide Commissioner for Baulkham Hills Ruth Wilson 1977

I joined the Liberal Party stood for preselection was beaten in 1972 for preselection for the seat of Hawkesbury. We’d lost the federal election and in early 1973 we had a bi-election for the seat of Hawkesbury. Bernie Dean the then member had stood down from ill health. There was a preselection Kevin Rizzoli was successful. I was involved in a tie in the preselection. Kevin’s supporters thought this was a good time to vote Cadman out so they did. I think my supporters agreed with them because I found that after the preselection being unsuccessful I said to people who came back to me saying “oh well that was a trial you’ll do better next time”. I said “there’s not going to be a next time”. “Oh but this was a trial that we really wanted. We want you for the federal seat of Mitchell”. We’d lost the federal seat it was up for grabs. They’d decided that was my trial run without saying anything to me of course. The trial run for me was to stand for pre- selection for Hawkesbury in 1972. Kevin Rizzoli won the seat in 1973 and in 1974 I was selected in a field of thirty six to run for the May 18th 1974 general election caused by Vince Gair and his prawns. Bill Sneddon was leader of the Liberal Party and Gough Whitlam was prime minister. So that occurred in 1974. All the time this family reorganisation was going on. Properties were changing hands we stayed here in this house where we’d been. It became our property rather than part of a company process. So it all happened basically together though for a number of years you continued to run the orchard. What for two years?


You continued to run the orchard in a most debilitating and stressful way for you.


So on my second year in parliament I returned from a wonderful powerful exciting trip to Japan where world shattering decisions were taken to find that my wife had ordered bull dozers to destroy our orchard.

How did you react to that?

He was absolutely shocked and horrified.

I really was can you imagine twenty students mostly young men working in the orchard and Judy trying to at the same time manage the staff that were packing and sorting fruit. Keep an eye out for what was happening in the orchard.

Look after three small sons.

Look after three small sons yes. See my job would be outside making sure that the harvesting was going OK and making sure that the supply of fruit was being well managed in the shed. Judy looked after and could manage quite well but to do the whole lot …

The only thing I couldn’t do was use the power take I was too scared to use the power take off on the tractor to do the slashing.

To slash the orchard to keep the grass down.

Alan Cadman at FESPIC Games held at Balcombe Heights 1977

I suppose by this time Judy you had finished teaching had you?

Oh yes.

You couldn’t do everything?

No I did a couple of terms of casual teaching after that.

How did you feel about the fact that Alan went into parliament?

It scared me. See I wasn’t in that scene at all that Alan was doing a tremendous amount of community things at that time in the Hills District. I was at home keeping the home fires burning so I really didn’t want to go into that sort of thing. I was really scared of it.

What were you scared of there wasn’t that much to be scared of?

Because I wasn’t used to being involved in public things and immediately I was thrust into all sorts of situations that were totally new to me. I didn’t know anything about them, didn’t know the people. Still had the boys going to school and it just seemed a bit too much for me.

What about your children how did they react to Alan’s being in parliament?

I don’t think they liked it very much because he was away all the time and even when he was not in Canberra he didn’t have time at home and that’s the way it’s been ever since.


It’s more than a full time job.

Sure, Alan do you remember your maiden speech that you gave I think in May 1974?

July I think, I remember everybody coming down for it and I remember the congratulations from my colleagues. I was only one of two people successful to win a seat for the coalition in May 1974. The other one was John Sullivan for the Seat of Riverina which had been Al Grassby’s seat ‘til that time. Al went out and Arthur Ashley Brown who was the Labor member for Mitchell went out and Colonel John Sullivan and I were elected. I think that I spoke more than anything else about the electorate and gave a fair bit of emphasis to the rural nature of it. But also to the urban character as well. The establishment of homes for young families, the punishment of high interest rates which is relevant now as well. The services for the outer fringe of Sydney. The whole family were there for it, we stayed for lunch. It was great having the family in Canberra because it was all new to them. Wasn’t it?

Totally new.

So I remember arriving in Canberra and saying “where do I go”? People at the front door knew me. I found out later that they had all photographs and they had to study photographs of the new members so that they could recognise them instantly. Because there was no label, no badge or anything like that they were supposed to know who we were. So we were welcomed. I found my way to the Whip’s office who said “I’ll talk to you later”. I was just turned out on my own to find my way around parliament house. There were no induction courses in those days because there was this perverse attitude that if you were going to be any good you’d find out for yourself and make your own way and why should I help somebody who may be a competitor for some government position. Such as a minister or chairman of a committee or something like that. Why should I help this young bloke who’s likely to be a competitor. Let’s see how he turns out and if he’s any good we’ll give him some encouragement in a year or two but not immediately.

Site proposed for Hills District Public Hospital eastern side Old
Northern Road north of Excelsior Avenue Castle Hill c.1963

What was your community involvement Alan with this local community even before you went into parliament?

It was fairly wide reaching wasn’t it? I’ve mentioned the Agricultural Bureau which was quite extensive. Then there was Cumberland Fruit Growers, there was the Local Citrus Grower’s Association. There was…


I’ve never been on council.

Citrus Grower’s Council.

Oh Australian Citrus Grower’s Council, that’s right. They were sort of local, state and national levels. Frequently seeing state ministers and federal ministers. I guess that led to the suggestion that I should run for parliament. Then there was the Parents and Citizens I was president of the local P&C.

And secretary.

And secretary of the high school. We started the high school didn’t we?


I guess a number of other things.

Youth group

Oh yes I ran a youth group that’s right a local youth group at the church.

That’s quite…..

Parramatta Show Society.

Thank you Judy, I was vice president of the Parramatta Show Society that was really good.

Hills Hospital.

Oh yes, I was on the board of the Hills Hospital and it was never built.

Go To Part Two