The Willow Blue Story
Began in 1976 when Ian Callen discovered that English Willow had been sent to Australia in 1902 by the English Test Captain, Archie MacLaren.
MacLaren whilst honeymooning in Healesville was struck by the similarities to Healesville's English climate.
Archies cuttings had been sent to Bob Crockett (Test Umpire) and as a result a plantation was established along "Jim Crow Creek" at Shepherd’s Flat near Daylesford in Victoria.
This plantation produce bats for Australian Test players until it was bought by Slazenger in 1956 and cut down putting an end to an Australian industry.
Ian began searching for suitable locations in the Yarra Valley, found some of the MacLaren's original progeny established a nursery and began rebuilding the industry. It was not an easy task... a part from finding suitable locations, environmentalists needed to be convinced that the English Willow had not nuturalize or would not cross breed.
Eventually in 1994 after 9 years of frustrating setbacks... it was on 25 acres of Watts River flood plain in Healesville that our first "salix alba caerulea" English willow trees were planted.
English Willow or Blue Willow as the tree is known... and because we are from a land "Down Under we have taken the name "Willow Blue".
Today we are felling and processing timber for more than 50 Bat Makers throughout Australia & New Zealand and exporting to International markets.
It all started with this Man
A.C. MacLaren (Lancashire)
35 Test 61 innings 4 not outs 1931 runs 140 H.S. 5 100’S 33.87 Average
Century on Debt v Sussex at Hove
First Player to score 400 in an innings 424 (Somerset 1895)
Captained England 22 times
The Yarra Valley Connection:
Married Maude and honeymooned at Healesville
Great friends with Dame Nellie Melba.