Quick but slow . .
Flat, fertile land along the banks of the Helena River was some of the earliest to be selected by European colonists, much within the favour of Governor James Stirling himself. Yet, despite both the early grants system, and the valley's fertility, significant developments only occurred many years later.
Image: Bushland off Helena Valley Road near Nyannia Creek Reserve. Photography A Hall.
Firstcomers and farms
Arriving on the Caroline on 12th October 1829, Samuel Talbot and Henry Camfield were early arrivals who obtained grants in the Helena Valley. Talbot left the colony, and for virtually sixty years his grant was neglected. Camfield leased his the property out to various tenants and it came to be known as Clayton Farm.
Bricks and blocks
Richard Smith arrived in the colony as Camfield’s indentured servant. Camfield released him in 1830, and Smith was able to purchase Clayton Farm in 1853, building his home using clay from the site. By the end of the nineteenth century, the area became famed for its brickyards. The farm remained in the family for over 50 years, before portions were sold off in 1906 to Katherine Samson, who subdivided it into small orchard blocks.
Enterprise bears fruit
Sales of the Clayton Farm blocks increased after WW1. The area was promoted as ‘The Mildura of the Swan District’, and returned soldiers received discounts. James Morrison, who owned much of Talbot’s original grant, followed suit and subdivided. By the 1920s there was a considerable settlement of farmlets and small orchards.
State Registered Places in Helena Valley:
Above: Clayton Farm, Helena Valley, c1920s
Above: Helena Valley Road looking towards Boya and Darlington. Photo taken October 1955. Across the Helena River is Clayton Farm, and in the foreground of the farm the barn, which was used by early residents for events and meetings until 1927 when the Helena Valley School opened. The paddocks being grazed are now part of Helena Valley estate and completely built up with houses. Image courtesy Richard Moore.