Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Chaffey, George and William Benjamin

Chaffey, George and William Benjamin, are the leading members of the firm of Chaffey Brothers, who in 1887 entered into contracts with the governments of Victoria and South Australia, for the settlement by means of irrigation of half a million acres of land on the banks of the Murray River. The Messrs. Chaffey are natives of Ontario, Canada, and for a number of years carried on irrigation enterprises with success in Southern California, forming settlements, of which the best known are those at Riverside, Etiwanda, and at Ontario in the San Bernardino County, where they established an agricultural college, endowing it with land valued at £20,000. In 1886 the brothers came to Australia, and secured from the governments of Victoria and South Australia the sites for two irrigation colonies on the banks of the Murray, the combined area totalling 500,000 acres. These settlements are situate at Mildura, in Victoria, and Renmark, 140 miles lower down the river, in South Australia, the former, being the first transferred to them, having made the most headway. The Mildura settlement consists of 250,000 acres, of which 50,000 acres are, in the first instance, being practically dealt with, this area including the site of a town and surrounding residential or suburban villa blocks. A company has been floated to provide the needful capital, and a most satisfactory and superior class of settlers has been attracted. The cultivation intended to be carried on is that of the grape, orange, olive, prune, and any other fruits or vegetables found suitable. The establishment of an agricultural college, similar to that at Ontario, is also provided for in the contracts with the governments, the stipulation having been inserted at the suggestion of the firm.