1926 - Now

The irrigation settlement of Coomealla was officially opened in 1924 and in 1925 seven settlers applied for farms. After a disagreement with government regulations only one farm was sold. The following year regulations were changed and the other six farms, including the one Sydney Heaysman bought, were sold and together they are recognized as 'the first seven settlers'. Sydney was born and raised in Mildura, one of six children, and their family ran the first jewellers in Mildura. To buy the block he had been saving money from working as a fencing contractor working and living out bush, and bought his 15 acres for £100. It is hard to imagine what establishing a block was like back in the 1920s, having to clear the land and cut all your own trees for posts for all the trellising, having to dig all the deep drains by hand, and later being able to afford Clydesdale's to help pull the machinery, but Sydney did just that, and in so doing created a fruit farming legacy for generations to come.

A family business since 1926

1925 * 1926

With the land purchased and cleared Sydney Heaysman decided to plant Sultana and Currant grape vines, to grow for dried fruit. All the settlers initially lived in tents, but after a few years of hard work Sydney upgraded to living under his newly built water tank stand! Four years later he married Rita Butcher, who was a seamstress from Mildura. In 1935 they had a son, Ian.


In 1961 Ian married Cynthia Sheldrick, a Sydney girl he got to know on her visits here to stay with her Aunty who owned the first local Post Office. The family then bought another 15 acres, and continued expanding in dried fruit production. By the time Ian and Cynthia's two sons Craig and Ashley were running the farm, Comla Farms had 120 acres of grape vines producing 300 tonnes of dried fruit and 400 tonnes of wine grapes.


In 2004, with the collapse of the dried fruit industry and the heavy water restrictions of the time, we decided to investigate alternative crops that would suit our location. Ian and Cynthia, along with Craig and Ashley and their families established Comla Farms as a leading fresh fig producer, with over 40,000 trees producing fresh fruit which is sold Australia wide and internationally.

2016 - Current

With the passing of Cynthia (2006) and Ian (2016), the farm is now in the hands of its third and fourth generation- with Craig, Ashley and their families continuing Syd's dream, but always open to innovation. Determined never to be stuck in the same situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of this century, we have decided to never get too comfortable with one crop and are still always investigating other fruits that may suit our climate. Currently we farm 190 acres, including Syd's original 15 acres, all of which is hand picked fresh fruit.


In Pictures