Thomas Price Reserve Named

The Federal Member for Canning, Mr. Don Randall Addresses the Crowd

The official naming of the “Thomas Price Reserve”, Karragullen and the unveiling of the plaque commemorating this occasion was preformed by Mrs. Pat Hart, City of Armadale Councilor for the Roleystone – Karragullen Ward, at the 2011 Karragullen Horticultural Expo on Saturday 15th October. It was Cr. Hart’s last day in this position. Among the many hundreds present were descendants of the Price family and family members of other early pioneers of the area.

“It is very fitting that this last section of railway land owned in Karragullen by the City of Armadale and the site of the former Karragullen Railway Station, is to be named after Thomas Price Senior.

Thomas Price was a pioneer in the fruit growing industry in Western Australia, whose influence was legendry. He also exhibited outstanding leadership in the establishment of Karragullen and had a major influence on the lives of many pioneering families in the Karragullen area. His influence is still seen today with Illawarra Orchard owned and operated by third generation Tom Price and still well known for its innovative and outstanding orcharding practices and its support in the local community.

Thomas Price was born and educated in England in 1864. He studied and worked for over two decades in England gaining considerable knowledge and experience in horticulture then added further to his knowledge after arriving in W.A. with employment at “Woodbridge Orchard” at Guildford.

In 1899 Thomas became a managing financial partner with Messrs. Smith and White in Illawarra Orchard in Karragullen. (It is worth noting that Illawarra Orchard has after many, many years finally come under the total ownership by the third generation Tom Price who has successfully bought out all previous partners.)


The role as Manager of Illawarra saw Thomas Price faced with many obstacles both with the land and fruit management and the industry itself. His broad knowledge, ability to be very lateral in his thinking, his approach to issues, and his determination and drive to achieve positive outcomes was outstanding.

It was noted in an article titled “Illawarra Orchard 1903” by journalist G. Bichanan :- “The way in which land is prepared before planting is a model which might well be set up as a standard for those who intend planting, to copy”. He also noted amongst many other things the substantial and serviceable building on the property and the neat and comfortable cottages and plots of land that were supplied to employees.

Thomas Price played an important role in the lives of many of the earlier pioneer families of Karragullen and Roleystone communities.

Illawarra Orchard created employment for many pioneering families of the district, many of whom went on to have their own orchards. A considerable number of the employees lived within the orchard and their families were ensured of many benefits. Numerous employees went onto employment with the Department of Agriculture. The first State Government Primary School at Karragullen was at Illawarra Orchard. The first Church services and Sunday School were held at Illawarra Orchard.

He lobbied over many years through his role on the Darling Range Railway Group to have the privately owned Canning Jarrah Timber Company Railway taken over by the State Government to ensure the community had fair access to transport both for private and business use. This was finally achieved and then a few years on, through his and others intense lobbying, had the line extended an additional 2km towards Illawarra Orchard. This created a siding that evolved into the township of Karragullen.

In 1914 he was elected unopposed as the first councilor for the newly formed ward of Karragullen and was very successful in ensuring sufficient funds were allocated to assist with local road construction and management.

He was also involved with the fund raising for the original Karragullen Hall.

A few very brief roles of Thomas Price Senior’s achievements with the fruit industry:-

In 1895 was a member of the Darling Range Vine and Fruit Growing Industry – He played a key role and influence with many aspects of this Organisation over many years.

At one stage grew the largest crops of Granny Smith apples in Western Australia.

In 1907 pioneered the first shipment of locally grown apples to England.

Won Gold Medals and other awards at International Fruit Exhibitions in London.

In 1915 had the first cold storage facility for orchards in Western Australia built at Illawarra.

Went overseas regularly to keep up todate with international fruit growing trends to use himself and to pass onto the Fruit Growing Industry.

In 1930 established the Canning Hills Fruit Growers Association and was inaugural President. Within this role he achieved many significant outcomes.

Thomas Price died on the 8th February 1955. An excerpt from one of many obituaries – this one from the President of the W. A. Fruit Growers Association – “He had the unique experience of his name and personality becoming a “legend” during his lifetime and this cannot be said of many men in any walk of life. To most fruit growers in this State, ‘Tom Price’s name stood, amongst other things, for thoroughness and efficiency”.

To the community of Karragullen, the role Thomas Price played in all aspects of the establishment of their community is also legendary and should never be forgotten.

I have much pleasure in formally naming the reserve “Thomas Price Reserve”.

Cr. Mrs. Pat Hart.


References: Article: Mrs. Pat Hart & Pickering Brook Heritage Group

Images: 1, 2, 4, 5 Tom Price
3 Gordon Freegard