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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
The Glebe

The property, which eventually became known as 'The Glebe', was first settled by Donald Cameron in the 1850s. It had its origins in a 200-acre donation to the Church of England by absentee landowner Charles Campbell in the early 1840s. An acre was set aside for the church itself and another two acres for an adjacent cemetery.

There were two homesteads on the property. The first was probably built by the Cameron family, many of whom are buried in the destroyed cemetery nearby. It was a four-room pise (rammed mud) cottage with a separate two-roomed structure for the kitchen and was situated southeast of St Pauls. The house faced south, which meant that most visitors - who arrived from Hall and Ginninderra - entered through the northern kitchen. In 1897 a night fire destroyed the original cottage's detached two-room kitchen. The event demonstrates the wisdom of the pioneer families who kept their kitchens detached from the bedrooms of the house.

A second, timber structure was built by the Gribble family in the early 1900s (pictured). It was situated northwest of St Pauls (at the end of modern Goossens Place).

The Glebe was leased by the church to a succession of tenants, with the funds administered by the church wardens of St Johns, Reid. Unfortunately, the funds raised were, more often than not in the early days, used for church expenses, which meant that the property suffered neglect, particularly the fences and quality of the pasture. Neighbours became used to complaining with little response from the church authorities. Edward Crace was so concerned about the spread of noxious weeds from The Glebe that he even threatened to discontinue tithing and to use his money for weed control instead. However, most of the later clergy proved to be better landlords and, in bad times, even permitted reductions in rent for tenants.

The Gribble family leased The Glebe from at least the late 1880s and made a number of improvements. They built sheds to house the 15-ton traction engine and chaff-cutting plant and equipment operated by the family (where the Copeland College tennis courts now stand). The homestead was occupied by their eldest son, William Gribble and his family.

When neighbouring St Pauls church became derelict in the mid 1900s, Gribble used the building as a garage.

In 1915 the Government resumed The Glebe, compensating Bishop Radford £1,135 pounds (but not the Gribbles for their improvements). The Gribbles, therefore, had new landlords and ran the property until the lease was terminated by the Commonwealth in 1971 for its development plans at Belconnen. The historic Glebe homesteads and outbuildings were demolished to make way for suburban development in the early 1970s. Shamefully, even the cemetery was ordered to be bulldozed, despite the protestations of local families with relatives buried there and even by the bulldozer driver himself.

The Glebe - 'Selected Spaces' exhibition, 2019

A 'glebe' is land assigned to the support of a priest - by the state, or by wealthy individuals. Robert and son Charles Campbell both provided land to support St John's church, Reid, established in 1845. Robert's gift is recognised in Canberra's remnant 'Glebe Park'. Charles' 200 acres in Ginninderra included three acres for a church and cemetery, when required.

St Paul's church was built there in 1861 'for about ₤130', mostly subscribed in Devon, England. A cemetery opened in 1872 and saw at least 18 burials. Both church and cemetery were closed in 1904 – and bull-dozed in 1971.

The 'Glebe Camerons'

One of 13 children, Donald Cameron (Jnr) was 25 when his father died in1853 while shepherding at Emu Bank and Goat Station on the Palmerville estate. He then leased the 200 acre Glebe from the C of E until his own death in 1883. He was a farmer and teamster, owning a horse team and a bullock team.

By 1880 he had added 300 acres to his initial 200, which fronted Ginninderra Creek. Over time he grew wheat, oats, corn, potatoes and pumkin. He was active in the Free Selectors Association and the Presbyterian church, and an avid cricketer.

He is one of five Camerons from three generations buried at the small Glebe cemetery, including his wife Elizabeth and his mother Ann.

Gribbles of Glebe Farm

When Duncan Cameron Jnr died Glebe Farm passed to the Gribble family – William Henry, until he died in 1946, then his son Thomas until 1971, when the farm made way for suburban Evatt. Before that Glebe Farm had doubled in size, extending south across the creek (Florey) and north (Spence, Fraser), including Mt Rogers.

As well as cropping, running sheep and a few cattle on their 1000 acres they maintained the chaff-cutting and threshing business begun by Tom (Snr) at Tea Gardens, working as far away as Booroowa.

Tom Gribble recalls Glebe Farm

"Dad [William H Gribble] left the farm to the family, but I worked it with my brother-in-law, Paddy Munday, for many years, and then on my own. Paddy did the farm-work and my nephews, Jack Munday and Perc O'Brien, helped me with the chaff cutting. Mum and Dad lived at the Glebe until they died. I had to get rid of the chaff cutter in the 1970's when the Government took the Glebe from us.

Related Photos

Gribble's Traction Engine ⧉

The Glebe ⧉

The Glebe, St Pauls ⧉

Ernest William Gribble ⧉

Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.


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