Marble Hill Cherries is set in one of the highest parts of the Mt Lofty Ranges. More than half the property is steep, shaded and rocky; which has helped preserve rare native plants, including ferns and orchids. The native bushland has been preserved, and only the previously cleared 4 ha. apple orchard has been re-planted as a cherry orchard.
The Peramangk Aborigines of the Adelaide Hills lived in this area moving between the Barossa Valley in the north, Tungkillo and Mt Barker to the south, and trading with the the Kaurna peoples of the Adelaide plains. Sadly their history is very poorly documented. Click here for more information about the Peramangk Aborigines
European settlement of the Adelaide plains started in 1836, and quickly spread from Glenelg, to what is now the CBD and on into the Adelaide Hills. Throughout the hills, the local stringy bark forest was cut down both to clear land for farming, and to be sold for building timber to raise cash for the farms. This site was settled by the Watkins family early in Adelaide’s history, and over the last 150 years it has been a market garden, a dahlia farm, a quarry, an apple orchard and now a cherry orchard. Many of the local roads were built from our quarry, as were some houses (including the Marble Hill Cherries house).
The original farmhouse had three bedrooms and housed up to 11 children as well as parents. Early hills families had to be responsible for their own lighting, heating, water supply and sewerage. Lights, heaters and fridges were run on kerosene. Wood was used for cooking in wood stoves, heating chip heaters for showering and boiling the copper for laundry. Electricity only came to much of the Adelaide Hills in the early 1950’s. Marble Hill Cherries still has to manage it’s own water supply and sewerage. As with many early farm houses, the original kitchen was built away from the rest of the house so that if the kitchen caught fire, the whole house would not burn down. There were two fire places – one for cooking, and one for muddy workers to stand by to try and warm up after a cold and wet day in the fields.
Bush fires (wild fires) have always been a part of Hills life. The quarry and apple orchard and some sheds were burnt out in the 1957 bush fire. Although the apple orchard was re-planted, it fell into neglect after another damaging and deadly Ash Wednesday fire in 1983.
Paul Shanks and Helen Lindon bought the derelict property in 1985, made three rooms habitable and planted 1500 native trees. These are now between 10-20 metres high, and home to koalas, occasional echidnas and kangaroos, and many birds. In 1993, they were able to start taking out most of the apple trees and plant the cherry orchard. It now has 1800 cherry trees. At the start of the orchard, you can see the new native trees (and possibly a koala in them,) and some of the old Jonathan apple trees. They also grow enough apricots, apples, plums, quinces and lemons for Marble Hill jams and food. The blackberries just grow themselves, but are delicious.
Pick Your Own cherries first started here in 2002.