The Transfer of Knowledge

One Book, Three Orchardists

To students of the history of animal husbandry, the lecture notes contained within this book are of great interest. In elegant copperplate script we learn that even the best food will not produce good returns unless the cows are properly handled and their surroundings are comfortable and warm.

Although such information has a value in comparing animal husbandry techniques, the information contained on the frontispiece also generates interest. At a quick glance, these pages have the look of an autograph book. Closer inspection reveals directions for curing lemons; goodbye messages to Doll/Dolly Hill; an address for Jack Evans; and various signatures for John George Robinson Bryant (1884–1950) the book’s owner.

Bryant was a student at Windsor Grammar School and attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC) 1901-1904 working in the orchard post-graduation. In 1908 he was appointed to the position of orchardist at Bathurst Experiment Farm and then Assistant Fruit Expert in the NSW Department of Agriculture. Bryant was not the first HAC graduate to work at Bathurst. He was preceded as orchardist by Walter Fry (1880-1962) and replaced by Reginald May (1885-1963) in 1909. One commentator would drolly reflect that as both were redheads Bryant and May were well-matched.

These notes include information on pig raising, cheese making, and pickling were compiled while Bryant was studying at HAC and then used for teaching classes in Bathurst. The collection of lecture notes provides an insight into agricultural practices of the time and the broad range of subjects taught at Bathurst Experiment Farm School. Additionally, the book’s journey from Hawkesbury to Bathurst draws attention to the close relationship between and transfer of knowledge across the two institutions in the early twentieth century.