Batlow is a town in the South West Slopes region of New South Wales, Australia, on the edge of the Great Dividing Range, 775 m above sea level.
Batlow is well known for its apples. About 50 growers in the district supply 1.6 million cases of apples, or 10% of the Australian apple crop, to the Australian market. The district also produces cherries and stone fruit. The town's main landmark, the 'Big Apple' which stands on private land 5 km north of the town, stands testament to the orchards which have been vital to the town's economy for over 120 years.
Before European settlement the Wiradjuri people lived in the Batlow area. Hamilton Hume and William Hovell were the first Europeans to explore the area in 1824, en route to Port Phillip.
When gold was discovered in the area in 1854, a small settlement called Reedy Creek was established as a supply point and service centre for the mining area, and a Mr Batlow surveyed a townsite nearby. The gold deposits were quickly exhausted, but farmers found the area better suited to a variety of crops, so the mining supply point was moved and the current township established around 1855. Reedy Flat Post Office opened on 1 August 1873 and was renamed Batlow in 1889. Fruit trees and timber quickly became the main sources of income for the town, and in 1910 the townsite was gazetted.
In 1922, the first cool stores in New South Wales were constructed in the town. At the same time a railway was built from nearby Tumut. These developments facilitated the town's trade with Sydney and beyond. The district supplied troops with dehydrated fruit and vegetables during World War II. Many Land Army Girls were stationed in and around Batlow during the Second World War and a sizeable collection of memorabilia is held at the Historical Society Museum. There are two Soldier Settlements close to Batlow; Willigobung and Kunama.
Batlow is an agricultural town offering services and facilities to the surrounding area, including two primary schools and a high school, a library (with telecentre), a hall and several stores and small businesses. The Batlow Fruit Co-operative, trading since 1922, is based in the town.
Batlow was the home of the 'Mountain Maid' cannery until its closure in the early 2000's. The steel frame of the WWII Lend Lease–constructed building used in the production of food for the allied troops is still visible today.
Batlow's economy turns around the production of apples for the fresh food market. Some revenue is also obtained from other agricultural exploitations and timber from the large soft and hardwood plantations. There is a strong influx of seasonal labour for the harvesting of fruit from March to April. A smaller influx occurs at thinning time in December. There are a number of producers of cherries, nuts, honey and eucalyptus oil products.
The 43,000-hectare (110,000-acre) Bago State Forest, between Batlow and Tumbarumba, contains stands of alpine ash and radiata pine, Pilot Hill Arboretum (est. 1920's) and the Sugar Pine Walk - a beautiful avenue of sugarpine resembling a cathedral.
Each year, the Batlow Ciderfest is held in the main street, showcasing locally produced cider and regional food. Many interesting stalls from across the country also attend the family-friendly event. A Cider Industry Conference is held on the preceding Friday.
The Apple Blossom Festival is another popular annual event. This re-invigorated festival began in 1942 and the first Apple Blossom Queen was a Land Army girl.