The History of Wheat Production in Australia

Wheat is one of the most important food sources for humans. For thousands of years we have grown, milled and baked wheat, transforming it into countless types of foods. It is grown on almost every continent in the world, and is the worlds most cultivated plant. Originating in the Middle East and becoming more popular as people migrated, wheat has become of the most important plant staples today. It is also one of the most popular staples because it is versatile. It can be made into flour or flaked, and even its by-products can be used as building materials.

Wheat requires a specific temperature and a certain soil composition to grow successfully, and only a few regions are suitable. Most parts of Australia have the wrong climate for wheat to grow, or the wrong soil composition. It was originally planted in the Sydney Botanical Gardens, and surrounding regions, as this was the only known regions at the time of the settlement of the First Fleet. Today, however, it is planted all along the south coast of Australia, in Victoria, New South Wales, and the southern most parts of Western Australia and Queensland.

The origins of wheat in Australia date back to 1789, with the arrival of the First Fleet from England. It was planted by James Ruse, a convict who upon arrival to Australia applied to Governor Arthur Phillip for land, and was granted an allotment at Parramatta. He proved himself industrious, and showed it was possible to grow adequate amounts of food to provide for a family on what land was available. Having successfully completed this, Ruse received an additional grant of 30 acres along the Hawkesbury River, and grew both wheat and maize successfully.

Other crops of wheat, planted in drier regions, were not successful at first and it took farmers many years to calculate exactly where they could grow wheat the most successfully. During the 19th century, wheat farms were set up at all the convicts farms, however they lived off the wheat they grew and did...