Growing identity

• Len Glamuzina, John Cunai, Tony Ravlich and Steve Srhoy say Spearwood’s rich soil made it Perth’s food bowl.

IT was a soil so productive it became Perth’s food bowl.

Spearwood’s red/brown coastal sands were so important in supplying the fledgling city with fruit and vegies that the area was connected to the rail network in 1905. Its residents were exempted from military service during WWII as their job supplying food to the troops was considered essential.

So why did we build over it?

It’s a question that still makes old-timers like Len Glamuzina shake their head.

He says there’s a local legend that Spearwood was once recorded as the most productive market garden district in Australia per acre.

But build we did, and following the housing boom of the 1980s there’s little left to remind newcomers of the area’s agricultural history, so Mr Glamuzina and a group of friends decided a prominent public artwork capturing that history was in order.

Last week two years of effort came to fruition with the unveiling of a 22-panel mural on the corner of Rockingham Road and Spearwood Avenue.

Mr Glamuzina said the panels were situated so drivers waiting at the lights could see the mural regardless of which direction they were heading.

Some of the panels depict the early wine and table grape vineyards, whose fruit was exported to England as exotic Christmas fare during the 1920s.

There are also the lime kilns, the steam train and siding, livestock, churches, community life and the migrant families who were the heart and soul of the market gardens after escaping a ravaged post-WWI Europe.

“The response from residents and passing non-residents has been extremely positive,” Mr Glamuzina said.

Tony Ravlich appears twice on the murals, having been in several of the 100 historic photos which were lent to the group so local artist Irene Osborne could develop the panels.

Mr Ravlich says it’s great to have been a part of a project highlighting Spearwood’s rich, but often under-rated history.

by STEVE GRANT

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