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The naming of Treeton: progress and a request for information

Back in July, I wrote about the difficulty in discovering how Treeton Road got its name.

My enquiry to the Treeton (Yorkshire) Historical Society was promptly answered by Sue Dauris.  With no information at hand, she suggested that a contact in Canada – Shirley Parent – might have the time, interest and experience to follow up the question.

Shirley was born near the village of Treeton and retains a life long love of that part of Yorkshire.   And she is a dynamo in chasing up genealogy and local history.  Her enquiry to Jan Mathews at the newly-formed Margaret River & Districts Historical Society was warmly received but provided little new information. Little (often no) documentation has survived from this part of the State’s history and the naming of Treeton is just one of many mysteries relating to those places that are so familiar to us today. Jan did comment “it is safe to assume that there was a native of Treeton involved, and as there is only one Treeton in England, it must be yours“.

With no written documentation publicly available, the only hope of finding out more would be to track down people who have information through their family histories.

So the next step for Shirley was to contact the West Australian newspaper.  The quote below was published in the ‘Can you help?’ section of the paper on Monday, September 21, 2009 copy of the paper (page 29):

Treeton connections

Looking for descendants of “soldier settlers: who migrated from Treeton in South Yorkshire circa 1922 and farmed anywhere in WA – in particular those who settled in Treeton Road in the Cowaramup area.  Also hoping to hear from anyone whose relatives may have lived or even visited Treeton, in Britain – perhaps during or after World War I or World War II.  They may have come from the nearby towns of Rotherham or Sheffield.

Contact: Shirley Parent, 107-980 Huron Street, London, Ontario, Canada N5Y 5L5.  Email:

Shirley and I would love to hear from you if you have any information: letters, photographs or family stories.

John Simmonds

Winter break

(C) 2008 Maia SimmondsJen Le Quesne, Craig Earl-Spurr, Perrin Franks and Maia Simmonds called into Treeton Estate one cold wet day in July.   The group were down from Perth for a winter break and to taste some of the new Margaret River vintages.

The cellar-door fire and a glass of the Special Blend port provided a perfect antidote to the seasonal weather.

Fig and walnut biscotti

Winter evenings provide a perfect time to stoke the fire and enjoy a bottle of good wine with friends.  As committed believers in democracy,  the question “Which wine?” is put to the vote around the Treeton Estate table.  the Shiraz, the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Special Blend port?

Whatever the decision, the perfect winter-time accompaniments are a good cheese and an interesting biscuit to match.

Rosemary Gooch of Biscuits by Rosemary has provided this recipe for her mouth-watering fig and walnut biscotti.  Trading from her kitchen in the city, she sells gorgeous home-made biscotti, biscuits, shortbread, cakes and slices from the Farmers Market at Mt Claremont Primary School each Saturday between 08.30-11.30. Her fresh-baked, home-style products have been refined from a lifetime love of ‘mum’s recipe books’.

Fig and walnut biscotti

120g softened butter
220g white sugar
2 eggs
330g plain flour
2g baking powder
60g chopped dry figs
60g walnuts

Cream the butter and sugar together.  Add eggs.  Mix the flour and baking powder together.  Add  walnut and figs to the butter mix and fold through.  Add flour mix. Knead dough together (it will be sticky) and allow to rest for 30 minutes.  Form into 2 or 3 logs – dampen hands slightly if still sticky.  Bake for 30 minutes at 150C .  Let cool for 30 minutes then slice across width in 1cm slices and lay flat on a baking tray.  Cook until slightly brown and biscuit is firm.  Store in airtight container when cool.

Enjoy with a good strong cheese and a glass of the 2006 Treeton Special Blend.

John Simmonds

Fresh coffee: a burning need

IMGP1803_474-80cropThe last 3 weeks has been back to basics. Working in one of the less inhabited parts of central Africa, hot water, cold drinks and other luxuries of life have been just a memory. Pat woke each morning from dreams of cheese; Tim of fine red wine. I missed my Treeton Estate wines but often I dreamt of fresh vegetables. 

With a couple of bottle of warm Bulima lager at the end of the day, we were doing OK.

Then we ran out of fresh coffee.

Tim is an addict and I learnt in Boston that life is too short for bad coffee. We were down to an instant powder that had nothing to distinguish it except the guy on the can reaching ecstacy by drinking his morning mug. We failed to find excitement.

Then inspiration. At altitude and close to the equator, don’t they grow the stuff in places like this?

We were introduced us to a grower, and with prices at $2.50 per kilo for green beans, it was time to experiment. Wikipedia taught us the basics; Mathius, our cook, offered some experience.

His first batch was superb and we voted for a 2-3 day ‘aging’ to develop the best flavour. Then it was my turn. I was shown the process: a light tamp in the dolly-pot mortar to break the husk, a gentle flip in a basket to separate the broken husk onto the breeze, a careful removal of unbroken beans and then into a hot dry frying pan over an open fire.

The beans slowly darkened as I carefully stirred the pan to avoid burning. After ten minutes and with the first gentle aroma, I felt the job must be close. Oils sizzled out of the beans and began to darken the pan. Then disaster. The pan took on a life of its own and nothing I could do would stop the flames. Eventually extinguished, I had created the darkest of dark roasts with a strong front palate, back palate and nose of charcoal.


I retreated from the fire and handed the pan back. After dinner, Mathius brought in a tin of the finest local Arabica, freshly roast and ground. I gave my thanks and promised to try again. Can it really be that difficult?

John Simmonds

The naming of Treeton

Several streets in the new Cowamarup Country development have been named in memory of ANZAC veteran and early settler, Roy Earl.  Norueil Circuit, Villiers Street and Bretonneux Turn are all named after towns close to where Mr Earl won his military medals.

Other streets will be named in honour of the early settlers, who in 1922, cleared forest and erected tin humpies in this area.  

But is there another story from this time? 

Treeton Estate got its name from the road that runs past our gate and because the name describes our tree-lined surroundings so perfectly.  And Treeton Road takes its name from Treeton, a small village in Yorkshire (UK).  According to Treeton’s local history group:

Referred to in the Domesday Book as Trectone, the name changed through Trectone, Tretone, Treton and Tretthon to the present-day Treeton.  In the UK, virtually all of the place names decided on up to around the 14th Century were due to the environment of the area. In Celtic Terms ( 800BC – 400 AD )- Tre meant a hamlet, village, or town. The Saxon Terms ( 350AD – 1000AD) Ton meant a house or a farm.

In 1922, many of the new Group Settlement Scheme settlers in Cowaramup were soldiers who had served with the British forces in France. And there is a story that many of the roads built at this time were given names designed to appeal to these men and their famlies.  Fearful over traveling so far across the world to a place about which they new so little, names like Treeton may have represented a beacon of hope that their destination was ‘just like home’.  

Truth or myth?

How many of our other local road names date from the 1920’s settler expansion?  

The Internet seems empty of an answer and I would love to hear from anyone who can fill in any gaps in the story. 

John Simmonds

A house in Bali: Ubud premiere

In Ubud this week, we were lucky to catch part of the final rehearsals for Evan Ziporyn’s new opera: A House in Bali. Based on Colin McPhee’s famous memoir, it traces the roots of the west’s century-long infatuation with Bali, through the true story of three westerners – composer Colin McPhee, anthropologist Margaret Mead, and artist Walter Spies – during their 1930s sojourn in Bali.

Unaware of the impending premiere at the Water Palace Theatre in Ubud this Friday and Saturday (June 26-27), the voices of Marc Molomot and Timor Bekbosunov drifted across the lotus ponds to to our table at the Lotus Cafe. The music was bewitching.

The next day, we watched and listened spellbound to the interplay between singers and the young Massachusetts-born dancer, Nyoman Triyana Usadhi.  This multi-media spectacle of classical opera, gamelan music and dance promises to do more than justice to Colin McPhee’s writing.

To our regret, the performances were to take place after our departure.  Already a sellout in Ubud (standing room available?), the next performances are scheduled for Berkeley, California in late-September. From Treeton Estate, Western Australia, all we can hope is for the early release of a recording.

John Simmonds

Northern delights: 1881 Uleaborg


Across two weeks in Finland, spring had arrived.  The lake ice had melted and the last snow was fast vanishing from the high ground.

The birch and alder had come to bud and the woods echoed to the sound of nesting swans, woodpecker and cuckoo. The Arctic hare and fox were returning to their summer colours from the white of winter.

We took a weekend break in Oulu to catch up on communications.  Trusting to the Lonely Planet, we chose 1881 Uleaborg for dinner – an old wooden warehouse on the waterfront. With a choice of degustation or a la carte, it was hard to make up our minds.

Both of us chose the potato soup to start, with sliced shitake mushrooms, infused with truffle oil and foamed to the constency of a great cappuchino. For a pair of mushroom addicts, this was heaven

For the main meal, I chose fried breast of pidgeon with a bird comsommee and winter vegetable pot-au-feu and sour cream with fennel. The rare-cooked meat was perfecly matched to the aniseed of the fennel. Steve’s Arctic char poached in red wine, with fried lentils, vegetables in filo and beetroot sauce was a triumph.

The glass of 2007  Peter Lehmann Seven Surveys Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvèdre blend was a fine match to the richy flavoured pidgeon.  The Finns are lovers of fine reds and I look forward to introducing our wines into this most-approachable part of the Arctic.

The chef  was thankfully happy to share this beautiful soup recipe with me.  Thank you Johanna – I look forward to my next visit to your wonderful place!

Truffle flavoured Potato Soup with Shitake Mushroom Foam (for 4-6 persons)

For the soup:  Peel and slice 6 large firm potatoes into a pot. Add a mix of ‘runny’ cream and full-fat milk (your choice, depending on taste)  just to cover them up and simmer gently until cooked. Blend to a smooth texture, with a little extra milk if required. Flavour with salt, black pepper and 1 tablespoon of white truffle oil.

For the foam:  Simmer down 100ml of  fresh shitake mushrooms with 300ml of cream until there is one third of the cream remaining. Flavour with salt and black pepper. Blend the remaining mix, then add 50ml of non-fat milk and bring to the boil. Add a further 50ml of cold non-fat milk and whip air into the mushroom ‘soup’ with a small blender.

Place the potato soup into individual bowls. Add a few thin slices of shitake mushrooms on top of the warm soup and spoon the shitake mushroom foam on top.   A slash of grated nutmeg on top makes for an optional final touch.  Johanna’s suggestion is to

“Enjoy the soup with good spirit and nice people!”

And enjoy with a crisp white wine – perhaps the Treeton Estate 2008 Unwooded Chardonnay.

West Australian fish chowder

Driving to Treeton at Easter, we took basic ingredients for our local version of a New England fish chowder.  With a promise of guests and a cool Saturday evening, this soup is simple, delicious and quick to prepare.

The secret of a great fish chowder is combining some ingredients that disintegrate into the soup and others that hold their form and texture.

Buying fish in Perth from the Crawley boatsheds caravan, I picked orange roughy fillet and one perfect swordfish steak.

Just past the Dawesville Cut, I pulled in to buy whiting fillets (perfect for the stock) and some local prawns. 

Two fresh loaves of olive ciabatta from the Lawley Bakery, purple Royal Blue potatoes and fresh parsley finished the shopping.

Ingredients (for 10 good servings)

1.5kg fish, cut into 3-4cm pieces

Optional: 0.5kg uncooked prawn flesh

0,5kg rindless bacon, cut into small strips

5 large onions, coarsely chopped

6-8 large potatoes, sliced to 0.5cm

Large bunch of parsley, chopped finely

Salt and a pinch of cayenne to taste. 

1-2 tablespoons  of flour.

Preparation time is maybe 25 minutes if you go slowly and enjoy the sunset.   In a (very) large saucepan, spread thin layers of the ingredients in the order: bacon, fish. onion, parsley, potato slices and then repeat.  Just cover the ingredients with water, bring to the boil and with the flame down to  a low simmer, you can walk away from the kitchen.  After 45 minutes, take a ladle of the stock and carefully blend the flour.  Pour this back into the saucepan and stir gently. Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.

Serve at the table with your choice of bread and maybe a fresh green salad on the side.  White and red wines both go wonderfully with this dish:  I chose the 2008 Treeton Estate Chardonnay.

John Simmonds

Sunrise near Treeton Estate, Margaret River

(C) 2008 Rob CoulesA visitor from the UK, Rob Coules was overnighting with the McGowan family at Treeton in late December. He captured this beautiful dawn image while helping out with some early morning work in the vineyards.

A cool spot on a hot day

(C) 2007 Alice ChaiVisiting Treeton Estate with a group of young friends in December 2007, Alice Chai of Perth took this photograph of Sam, the winery dog.

While he is often ready to meet visitors, Sam knows every cool spot on the estate on a hot day.