You are here:--Dillon Family

Dillon Family

The Dillon Family quilt panel was worked by Elaine Zendler (nee Dillon). It depicts Jack and Ivy beside the Dillon Road sign, with produce from the farm. Jack and Ivy’s descendants, the joy of their retirement years, are recorded at the bottom of the panel.

This remarkable family of achievement has a long family history within its archives, stretching back to the Danish Sölling Dynasty, founders of Royal Copenhagen Pottery, on John’s maternal side.

John (Jack) Dillon was the second of eight children born on the 23rd February 1916 to his mother Petra and father Albert Henry, who was a carpenter and market gardener at Nambucca Heads, Coffs Harbour. No doubt it was this carefree life which gave young Jack the love of the land.

On completing his schooling at Nambucca Heads he spent some time working on the farm and at odd jobs throughout the area before setting off, in his late teens, exploring various parts of north Queensland, at times working on tobacco farms and enjoying living the free and easy life of a single man.

After returning home to Coffs Harbour he was nearly 23 when he attended a dance at Lowanna where he was to meet his soul-mate for life. At the age of 16 Ivy May Wilson was also at the dance and before too long it was clear to both families that here was a couple who would spend their lives together. When Jack approached Ivy’s father asking permission ‘for her hand in marriage’, he was told in very clear terms that “she is far too young. Wait a while.”

Ivy’s father and mother, Arthur and Ada Wilson ran the local Co-op store at Glenreagh, just outside Coffs Harbour and she was their only child, born on 8 May 1923. Arthur also has a team of bullocks and operated as a timber-getter, bringing in the huge logs from the surrounding hills. He had been fitted with a wooden leg after a previous accident and sadly, Arthur was tragically killed when a log rolled on him, not too long after Jack’s request and Ivy still just 16.

In 1940, shortly after Ivy’s seventeenth birthday, she and Jack married at the Anglican Church, Glenreagh on 1 June. Managing a sawmill in Coffs Harbour and living in a small cottage on site, their only child Elaine (now Zendler) was born on 15 April 1945.

The couple by now had purchased a 20 acre farm at Coffs Harbour and set about establishing a banana plantation, only to see it wiped out in the 1949/50 cyclone which devastated the area. A firm believer that education in a larger city would be more beneficial to his daughter, the property at Coffs Harbour was sold and the family moved and operated a General Store on the corner of Eton and Sleith Streets Toowong, with Elaine commencing school at Milton.

Selling the business, Jack was appointed Section Manager for McLaren Brothers at the Roma Street Fruit Markets and the family moved to Canberra Drive Ashgrove, where Elaine attended the Oakleigh State School.

Working with bananas and fruit at the markets, the call to go back to the land became too strong and Jack’s search for a property led him to The Gap, where on 21 October 1952 he purchased an area of 50 acres from Bill Proctor at a cost of £500.

Within a month he had cleared the property and purchased 317 suckers of the prime Cavendish banana variety from Ray Kratz, Shire Councillor of Coffs Harbour and President of the NSW Growers Association. Ivy, who kept detailed, wonderful diaries of events, recorded that planting started on 22 November ’52.

Work was hard and the days long with over 26 acres being under cultivation and between the banana trees, crops of beans, tomatoes, watermelons and other vegetables were grown, with many late nights cleaning and packing for delivery to the markets. Good help was always in short supply – though a number of locals often did part-time work.

Being aware of the need to have an assured water source on hand, a huge dam was designed by Jack and the Water Commission and on completion held a total of 2,750,000 gallons and is the biggest dam ever constructed in the district. Jack’s success with the farm, which he and Ivy called “El-Palma”is legendary with the B.B.C. making a documentary on the farm workings.

With ‘Open Days’ and ‘Field Day Demonstrations’ by CSIRO and DPI, the pinnacle of success came in 1959 when Jack took out the Royal National Show Centenary Medal for their competition on ‘water harvesting’.

The citation reads –

For Dam Construction
Correct Usage of Irrigation Equipment
Correct Water Storage
Feature – Prevention of soil loss or erosion with contour drainage.

Photographic evidence shows that in late 1960, 20 bunches of bananas from the El-Palma property were delivered to COD and weighed in at one ton. Working the farm to 1971, Jack spent time preparing the wickets for the Valley District Cricket Club and keeping the park area clean in Yoku Road Ashgrove. Jack also worked with Maurice Napier in Real Estate in the area for seven years and became well known to newer residents, before retirement in 1980.

Gradually selling off sections of the property and building a new home in what became ‘Dillon Road’, Jack and Ivy moved back to Coffs Harbour until her passing in 1996.

Jack then returned to The Gap to live with his daughter Elaine and son-in- law, Paul Zendler. He took a keen interest in his three grandchildren Susanne, Vanessa and John and their spouses. Jack enjoyed the activities of his four adored great-grandchildren, Madeleine, Jack, Amy and Isabelle.

He was to pass away peacefully on 25 September 1999 and following a service at The Gap Anglican Church, was laid to rest with his beloved Ivy in Glenreagh Cemetery Northern New South Wales.

Source: Reflections 1, Memories of The Gap, © Copyright 1999 by Richard Speechley

 

  • Banana Harvest

    A fisherman always likes proof of his exceptional catch, the pictured produce from the Dillon Plantation weighs 100lbs.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Banana Plantation

    Jack Dillon preparing for a day of mist spaying the banana plantation. Circa Oct 1962

    Date: c. 1962
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Bananas at Brisbane markets

    Consignment bananas at Brisbane markets, from Dillon’s Planation, The Gap, late 1960, 20 bunches weighed one ton.

    Date: 1960s
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Bananas for Market

    A truck load of Dillon’s bananas ready for Roma Street markets, February 1957.

    Date: 1957
    Courtesy: Jack Dillon
    Quick View
    Details
  • Competition Award R.N.A.

    R.N.A award for Dillon Farm, water conservation and harvesting.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Competition Award, Horticulture

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Competition Award, Pasture Improvement

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Competition Award, Water Harvesting

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Competition Award, Water Harvesting

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • D.P.I. Field Day

    D.P.I. Field Day at Dillon’s plantation in April 1961. Guests seated on the hillside watching an irrigation display.

    Date: 1961
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • D.P.I. Field Day

    Field Day April 1961. Banana patch on north-eastern slope in background. Well on flat in foreground.

    Date: 1961
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dam Construction

    03/03/1959 Ivy’s mother, Ada Wilson, and uncle, Jim Pritchett, helping with concrete pour to construct weir in dam spillway.

    Date: 1959
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dam Construction

    Dam Construction October 1956.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dam Construction

    Dam Construction October 1956 Ivy Dillon inside the dam.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dam Construction

    Dam Construction October 1956 Jack Dillon inside the dam.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dam Construction Site

    July 1956 Gully prior to dam construction. Track in foreground was the forerunner to Dillon Rd.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillion property

    An elevated view above Dillon Road showing Jack Dillon’s large plantation water storage tank (centre right). Circa 1962.

    Date: c. 1962
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon banana plantation

    View of Dillon’s banana plantation, circa 1960.

    Date: c. 1960
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Dam

    Dam constructed in Dillon Road by Jack Dillon. Taken from a helicopter by Noel Jackson, 1987

    Date: 1987
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Dam

    Jack Dillon pictured during the construction of their massive water storage dam. October 1956.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Dam

    Dillon Dam, April 1961. Dept. of Primary Industries Field Day with 100 people attending. Cark park below the dam.

    Date: 1961
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Dam 2016

    The property and dam are owned by the Dennien family in 2016.

    Date: 2016
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Dam 2016

    Members of The Gap Historical Society and Dennien family members celebrated the 60th anniversary of the dam’s construction. October 2016.

    Date: 2016
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Home

    “El Palma”, 1st home of Jack and Ivy Dillon which was started in 1952. They lived in the garage during construction. Photo April 1953.

    Date: 1953
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Plantation

    Fully loaded 1949 Ford fighter on the Dillon plantation.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon plantation

    A proud farmer displays the fruits of his hard labours. The Dillon plantation.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon property

    Dillon property circa 1956

    Date: c. 1956
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon property

    The second plantation on the Dillon property is situated in a northerly direction on the hill behind Jack. August 1955.

    Date: 1955
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon Road

    Current Dillon Road – Payne Road area circa late 1950s taken from the Low’s property. Pointer’s house and poultry sheds are in the centre of the picture and the wall of Dillon’s dam is visible beyond there. Port of Jack Dillon’s banana plantation is on the centre left. Other banana plots on land leased from the Proctor and Cotton properties are behind the Dillon plantation and to the right of Pointers house. Low’s house is in the centre extreme left.

    Date: 1950s
    Courtesy: Ron Low Photographic Collection
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillon’s Dam 2007

    Dillon’s Dam 2007 trees planted by Jack Dillon in the 1950s are mature.

    Date: 2007
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillons Dam

    Dillon’s Dam, April 1957. Dam filled for the first time 22nd December 1956.

    Date: 1957
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Dillons Dam

    Dillon’s Dam with Weir completed. December 1960. Jacaranda and pine trees around dam beginning to grow.

    Date: 1960
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Ivy Dillon

    Ivy Dillon harvesting tomato. Aug 1956.

    Date: 1956
    Courtesy: Jack Dillon
    Quick View
    Details
  • Ivy Dillon with Watermelons

    Watermelons!! Xmas 1955 and Ivy Dillon has realised it takes more than bananas to make a fruit salad.

    Date: 1955
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Jack and Ivy Dillon

    Jack and Ivy Dillon pictured in 1986

    Date: 1986
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Jack Dillon

    Jack Dillon stands proudly beside a loaded paw paw tree.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Jack Dillon’s Medals

    R.N.A. Water Harvesting Class 2, Winner & Medal presented to Jack Dillon at The Royal National Centenary Show in August 1959

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • John Dillon

    Aub O’Hara and Jack Dillon weighing “El-Palma” plantation bananas at Brisbane Markets in the late 1960s.

    Date: 1960
    Courtesy: Jack Dillon
    Quick View
    Details
  • Paw Paw Crop

    Having realised that fruit salads need more than watermelon and banana, Jack and Ivy pursue paw paw growing. What do you think of this crop?

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Pump House

    The Pump House, Dillon’s Dam, October 1962

    Date: 1962
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • View of Rifle Range

    View north to the Rifle Range from the high position of Jack Dillon’s water storage tank.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Water Tank

    Completed 20,000 gallon water tank at top of plantation. February 1962.

    Date: 1962
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Water Tank construction

    Concrete water tank construction on the Dillon property.

    Date:
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
  • Water Tank construction

    February 1962 Construction of 20,000 gallon tank at the top of the plantation to gravity irrigate bananas. Constructed by three Dutchmen.

    Date: 1962
    Courtesy: Elaine Zendler
    Quick View
    Details
2018-03-23T00:48:57+00:00