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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Esther Ann Cavanagh

Born: 1881; Died: 1973; Married: Smith

Esther Ann Smith was born in April 1881 at Weetangera to Mathew Smith and Eliza Plummer.

Mathew Smith (1857-1902) was born in Wistow, Huntingdonshire, England to Matthias Smith and Eunice Field, and arrived in Australia in 1862 with his father and brother and settled at Weetangera.

In 1879 Mathew married Elizabeth ('Eliza') Plummer who was born in 1860 near Picton to Levi and Frances Ann (Gutteridge) Plummer, who had arrived in Weetangera around 1865.

Esther attended []Weetangera Public School and at the time of her wedding was a cook.

She was married in June 1904 at St Gregory's catholic church, to Clarence Bede Cavanagh. She had worked in the household for Mrs E Crace, whilst Clarence worked as the stud groom.

'Mrs C Cavanagh' was present at Ginninderra Farmers' and Settlers Ball held in Mr Crace's new woolshed on Friday night. She wore black cashmere. [Queanbeyan Age 10.10.1905]

Esther and Clarence then farmed on the property Strayleaf Gundaroo Road, Mulligans Flat.

Clarence and Esther had six children -

Margaret Kennett remembered - "The Cavanagh children were born in a weatherboard house {Strayleaf} close to the Gundaroo Road.

The children did their bit on the farm, helping with the shearing, the milking and feeding the animals. Indoors, there were the usual chores of bread to be baked, kerosene lamps to be filled, the copper to be boiled and butter to be churned. Water had to be fetched from the nearest tank.

School was a half-mile walk up the road towards Gundaroo.

Groceries were delivered once a week from Hall and Mail was delivered twice a week from Ginninderra, for many years by the Boreham family. The routine was a leisurely one with the mailman stopping off at Cavanagh's farm for a cup of tea before continuing his deliveries along the Gundaroo Road. Letters were often replied to immediately, so that the mailman could pick them up on his return journey.

Canberra in those days was "somewhere to drive through" by sulky on the way to Queanbeyan.

Clarence died in February 1933, and Esther took over the lease to the property and continued to work it with her brothers-in-law and son Jack for another 30 years. Esther also took over the lease for the old Ginninderra Police Station in which her daughter Annie lived.

Esther reluctantly retired from 'Strayleaf' around 1965 and moved to Duffy Street, Ainslie. She died in April 1973 in Canberra Hospital and is buried at the Catholic Cemetery, Woden.

John and Joyce Cavanagh took over the leases for 'Strayleaf' and extended the house.

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