Introduction to Gol Gol Nurseries

Gol Gol Nurseries is a Proprietary, Limited, Family Company. It had its small beginnings in 1952 on 3 vacant house blocks leased by Peter Smith in Mildura Victoria. This was the year Peter commenced working with the C.S.I.R.O. Research Station at Merbein Victoria, having graduated from Burnley Horticultural College, Victoria. It was also the year in which he met his future wife, partner and Co-director, Lois. Together they worked in their spare time to produce field grown deciduous fruit trees, roses and citrus trees.

In 1961 they moved their nursery to the present “Head Office” 14.4 ha (36 acre) site at Gol Gol, New South Wales. Throughout the 1960’s they, together with an ever increasing group of nursery craftsmen, concentrated their efforts on the production of deciduous fruit trees, roses, grapevine rootlings, citrus and olive trees.

Grapevine production soon took ascendancy and remains today the major crop of this Nursery. This is to be expected when one appreciates the fact that the Sunraysia district is the largest grape-growing region in Australia.

The Nursery’s demand for land grew and an 18 ha. (45 acre) property was purchased at Trentham Cliffs New South Wales in 1972. The field grown grapevine rootling nursery was moved to that site, in order to make way for the development of the container-grown nursery at Gol Gol.
The transition to container growing was completed at Gol Gol in 1975 when a number of evergreen fruit tree lines were added to the production inventory such as: avocados and passionfruit, together with the development of ornamental plant production.

The ornamental production section was led by Lois Smith. It produces a wide range of both “garden” and “house” plants. This section uses conventional mist over cable heated propagating beds, in controlled environment propagation green houses (fibre-glass clad). Oil fired heat exchange units deliver hot air below benches and evaporative coolers deliver ducted cool air to the apex of these houses whilst exhaust fans are used to extract hot air.

The field Nursery’s demand for land increased (to facilitate rotational cropping) to the point where it was moved, in 1980, to a new site 150 acre site at Wemen, Victoria, some one and a half hours drive by road from the Gol Gol site. Ron McInnes who joined Sunraysia Nurseries in 1971 leads the Nursery Section along with his Mark McInnes. In years of high demand the field nursery sets in excess of 2,000,000 grape vine cuttings, consisting of, in excess of 100 varieties. These vines service the table grape, the dried fruits and the wine industries.

The year 1980, not only saw the move to Wemen, but also the development of the Retail Garden Centre, which is run as a separate division of Gol Gol Nurseries. The Garden Centre showcases a full cstalogue of inventory produced by Gol Gol Nurseries along with a spectacular display of beautiful gift ideas for any occaision.

The Garden Centre was upgraded and extended in 1995 to provide giftware and restaurant facilities so that Sunraysia residents and Tourists alike could all enjoy a ‘gardening experience’.

The production Section is led by Lynn Briant, who hass over 30 years of nursery experience having  joined Sunraysia Nurseries in 1982. He heads a team of plantsmen who can produce in excess of 350,000 citrus trees, 900,000 grafted grapevines, 20,000 avocado trees, 50,000 olive trees, and numerous other fruiting species in a year.

In addition to the production sections, the Nursery organisation is divided into:- The Sales Department headed by Kym James who joined in 1999 as an apprentice under Sunraysia Nurseries before stepping into the role of Sales Manager for Gol Gol Nursries in July 2015, The Retail outlet which is Headed by Debbie James whilst Steven Morrow is in charge of the farms located at Gol Gol and Trentham Cliffs.

In 1996, the demand for additional land to “rest” the existing field nursery saw the purchase of an additional 100 acres of land neighbouring the existing property. This was also the year that saw the construction of the new grafted grapevine facility which incorporated a large 12m x 18m steel shed for work space and two 12m x6m grapevine callusing rooms.

Proprietors Peter and Lois Smith could see the need to implement a succession plan to see that the business continued after their retirement and on the 1st January 2004 Corey and Belinda Jessup agreed to enter into a management buyout of the business. The buyout sees Corey take on the role of Managing Director whilst Peter and Lois both remain directors of the company until the completion of the buyout.

2004 also saw further expansion of the container nursery with an additional12 polyhouses being erected along with the construction of a 2 acre shade house bringing the total shade house area to in excess of 5 acres at the Gol Gol site.

For the purpose of inventory control, the container production sections are divided into irrigation bays and numbered beds within each bay. Each section has environment-controlled greenhouses, single skin poly houses and 40% shade. The container fruit production section also has “intermittent fog” available for “soft wood” cutting production.

The Nursery has conducted a number of trials, which conclusively indicate the need for container plants to be produced under 40% shade. The Nursery is located in a dry desert environment and the solar radiation levels received at this latitude of 34° South, grossly inhibit root development within the container if “grown on” in full light. We have recorded temperatures of 45° C in the root zone of pots in full light.

Nursery hygiene is of paramount importance. Both staff, clients and their vehicles are asked to move through feet and wheel baths prior to entering the production areas of the Nursery. All potting media is aerated steam pasteurised at 60° C for 30 mins. All field grown grapevine rootlings are steeped in hot water at 52°C for 5 mins prior to sale. All grapevine cuttings are steeped for 15 hours in chlorinated water, then hot water treated at 50°C for 5, 20 or 30 minutes, prior to refrigerated storage at 2°-3°C. The Nursery adheres rigidly to the principal of stringent propagule selection. State and Industry run propagule multiplication and distribution schemes (Citrus and Grapevines) are always patronised.

In addition to the plant nursery, the enterprise farms 32 ha. (80 acres) of wine grapes, 14 ha. (35 acres) of citrus orchard and 6 ha. (15 acres) of registered stock plants. The enterprise carries a permanent staff of 30 and as many as 100 casual employees when things get busy.