Australia's first International Agriculture Winner!
est. Queensland's St Helena Island
St Helena Island, Moreton Bay, being a self-funded penal settlement, had a commercial grove of olive trees in the early 1900's. Prisoners had to grow their own food and sell produce to purchase goods and equipment. Remarkably, one of their most popular products was their locally grown and processed olive oil, being exported directly to Italy.
St Helena Penal Establishment was proclaimed in May 1867 and was a high security prison for long-term inmates until the 1920s, when it was decided to wind down the prison. It then functioned as a prison farm until it closed in December 1932.
In fact there is a Helena Olive Tree variety that has been preserved from the penal settlement and is said to be very similar to a Frantoio. It is believed that its olives won Australia's first international agricultural award. Today, olive trees still fruit on St Helena Island.
St Helena Olive – Now here is a plant with both a wonderful story and exceptional fruit.
Now here is plant with a rich and interesting history. The original Helena Olive was planted in the late 1800’s on St Helena Island, located off the coast of Brisbane in Moreton Bay. This island operated as a high security prison from 1867 to the 1920’s, and is today a heritage National Park. The original olive made its way from Europe to the Island, via a magistrate, and has continued to thrive in the testing Moreton Bay environment.
Today, this plant is a 3rd generation heritage tree, which not only offers a wonderful story, but also exceptional fruit and award winning olive oil. The Helena Olive will fruit in the South East Queensland climate, which for an olive is impressive in itself. Suitable for in the garden or on the patio in a pot, the Helena Olive is a beautiful looking tree that will add a little bit of Queensland history to your garden.
It is also worth noting that 5 cents from every plant sold goes to Queensland Parks and Wildlife to ensure the ongoing preservation of the historic structures on St Helena Island.
Sources: Australian Olive Gower, 1997; St Helena Island Education Centre; Brisbane Times Dec 10, 2013; Bush Garden Nursery 2012; Noel Burdette - Every Garden Deserves a Silver Lining;