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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
The Valley

Thomas (Tom) Gribble was a Devonshire cobbler's son, who migrated to the colony in 1857. He married fellow bounty migrant, Kate Warren, at Windsor in 1860. They moved to a small selection at Ginninderra later that year, in the part of the district then known as Tea Gardens. Their homestead ruins now survive in the shadows of present-day Burgmann School at Gungahlin.

Tom and Kate first built a slab hut on the site and began farming. Kate is recorded as saying "I had been working at Ginninderra for some time and Tom Gribble decided to commence farming on his own account" (Shumack). The Gribbles grew wheat and Tom supplemented this income with hay-stacking and teamster work. Later, the family operated the district's first steam-powered traction engine for chaff-cutting and threshing.

In 1863, Tom's siblings and parents - Tom Gribble snr. and Agnes Gribble (nee Jones) - also came to Australia. They joined Tom and Kate at Ginninderra and tried to set up a boot-making business, but soon gave the idea away and relocated to Sydney, where they prospered.

In 1878, Tom and Kate replaced the original slab hut with a five-room stone residence and outbuildings, which became known in the 1900s as The Valley. Here, they raised their seven children. To this they added a room made of compressed mud walls; most likely constructed between 1874 and 1878. The method called 'rammed earth' or pise de terre, was introduced into the district by South American, Eusebio Ponsey, in the early 1870s. The house walls were double-dressed stone, some of which was quartz, quarried from a nearby ridge. In 1887 when a reporter from the Town and Country Journal visited the property, he described it as 'commodious and comfortable'.

Between 1881 and 1892 there was a small private school operting next to the Gribbles residence, run by Alfred Mainwaring Rich.

Tom and Kate Gribble retired to Yass in 1912. They sold their livestock and leased their property to Frederick Warwick. Tom is reported as describing his efforts in building up the farm and businesses and constructing the homestead as "50 years hard work to clear and fence and make it comfortable".

Warwick vacated the property in 1915 when it was resumed by the Commonwealth Government as part of the newly established Federal Capital Territory. After the acquisition, William Moore leased the property. He was responsible for naming the property, The Valley. He married local girl, Annie McInnes, who was related to the Crinigan family. The Moores made a number of renovations, including a dining room and new chimney.

In 1944, Ernie Cavanagh leased the property and it remained in his family, thereafter. The last resident was their tenant, Patrick Anderson, who was a well-known visual artist and retired vaudeville performer.

The Valley was destroyed by fire in the early 1970s and the roofing was removed for sale, leaving the wall exposed to degradation through weathering. Stone salvaged from the site was used in the construction of the Pioneers Memorial Garden at St Ninians, Lyneham. What remains is now protected by a fence, but The Valley needs further protection to insure against further degradation.

Variation 26 to the Territory Plan. 1 December 1993

The Valley


District of Gungahlin, Block 518 (Part) ACT Planning Series 1:10 000 Map 208 612. "The Valley" house is located at GR210460 613950 and the outbuildings at GR 210300 614000, as identified in Figure 9

Features Intrinsic to The Heritage Significance Of The Place

The place comprises:

a) within a home paddock measuring 50 metres by 50 metres:

i) the ruined walls of a five roomed stone house;
ii) a ruined free-standing pise room;
iii)archaeological evidence of a slab dwelling adjacent to the pise room;
iv)archaeological evidence of two sheds and a pit toilet; and

b) in a paddock to the west of the house - archaeological evidence of former outbuildings associated with "The Valley" including: post holes and three stone floors of roughly dressed local stone.

Statement Of Significance

"The Valley" represents the common evolution of the dwellings of small land holders in the late 1800s in the region which was to become the ACT. The earliest slab hut was augmented by a pise living room and finally a stone house. All three stages were used concurrently and are still visible.

The builder, Thomas Gribble was a successful small land holder who embraced new technology in agricultural practice. He and his family lived on the site from the 1860s until 1964. They were contributors to the economic, social and sporting life of the Ginninderra region and are still represented in the ACT and remembered by early residents of Canberra. The site has archaeological significance through the information it can provide on the lifestyle of the early settlers of the ACT.
Specific Requirements
In accordance with s.54(1) of the Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991, the following requirements are identified as essential to the retention of the heritage significance of the place;
i) The area of land measuring 50 metres by 50 metres which contains "The
Valley' homestead shall not be subject to development and shall be
protected until a conservation plan is completed.
ii) Archaeological control is to be maintained over the site of the former
outbuildings. No disturbance of the ground surface is to occur prior to the completion of a conservation plan of the area:
iii) A conservation plan which includes an archaeological study of the homestead site, sites of the former outbuildings and plough lands is to be undertaken and submitted to the Heritage Council of the ACT for approval within a time specified by the Council in consultation with the lessee or occupier. This study shall take into account planning for the Town Centre and result in a conservation plan and management plan.
iv) The Gribble family should be commemorated in an appropriate manner associated with the place.
v) Development of the place shall be in accordance with the requirements and provisions of the Conservation Plan for the place as approved by the Heritage Council of the ACT.

[The Valley. Variation 26 to the Territory Plan. 1 December 1993]

Related Photos


Further information about The Valley may be found at Canberra Tracks

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