skip to content

Rediscovering Ginninderra:

(Written by Walter Murty, son of John Stanley Murty (1882-1912)

"My Grandfather, Donald Murty, was born on the 4 August 1853, to Michael and Margaret Murty, who had been married by Rev. John Dunmore Lang at Scots Church, Sydney, in 1848.

In 1877, he married Fanny Plummer, whose family lived at Weetangera. In the same year he selected land, near Hall, which he named 'Gledeswood' and there built his home. The whole property is approximately 450 acres.

I have very little recollection of his first home but this is what I remember. It was constructed of upright slabs of timber fitted close together and standing close together on a base plate. The outside was white painted and rooms were lined with wallpaper and brown paper. Bedrooms were in a separate building with a covered passageway about six feet wide between them and the kitchen and dining room etc. The floor of this passage was of hard earth and a large wood box stood about the centre against a bedroom wall. The present lounge room would be built over the passage and extending into where the slab bedrooms were. I have a dim recollection of being very ill in the eastern bedroom. Aunty Min told me that I had double pneumonia for weeks.

The dairy was a separate slab building beside the road and in front of the house. Two olive trees were planted in line between the dairy and the present main gate. The front gate then was between the two trees. Grandfather planted an oak tree beside the home in 1877. Today, it almost covers the whole of the new buildings.

These were erected towards the end of 1923. The builders of the present homestead were Merlin Midmer and Ev. Rowley. Midmer was just out from England. He was six feet eight inches tall and his wife was five feet three inches. Of happy-go-lucky, easy going nature he knew his job well and completed it in about six months. Ev Rowley hailed from Sutton. He was the labourer and a hard worker and they made a suitable team.

All the large concrete bricks were moulded on the job and were used for the bedroom and lounge room walls. Verandahs on three sides plus the huge oak tree controlled summer temperatures very well. In winter, a roaring log fire in the long rather narrow dining room threw out such heat that sometimes we sat as far away as we possibly could or we would boil. A game of cards was a frequent pastime to wile away the hours.

Once the house was completes the dairy was demolished and separating of the milk continued in an annex on the northern side of the home. Two additional outhouses were added a few feet from the northern wall and used as a laundry and a storeroom.

Soon after Grandfather settled on his selection and had fenced all his paddocks, he donated about two acres of his property fronting the main road to the Methodist Church. There, a solid blue granite building was erected and so began the Wattle Park church which was complete in 1882.

It is quite probable that Uncle Jim and Aunty Min moved in to keep house for Grandfather soon after they were married and made that their home until their retirement when they moved to 3 Eurobin Ave. Manly, about 1951. I was one of the family until my marriage.

At the time of their marriage, Uncle Jim had a small property at Bulga Creek adjoining his sister Sarah's place. She had two sons, Carl and Athol, both a little older than I was. I remember Sarah Oldfield but not her husband. On an occasional trip to Bulga Creek, some three miles south of the Cotter, I played with them. The creek entered the Murrumbidgee before the Cotter River entered the same stream. The house, made of slabs, was built near the creek and snakes were a menace in summer.

The last time I visited Bulga Creek I was about nine. We drove a flock of about 400 sheep from there to 'Gledeswood' and Uncle Jim left there for good. We left Bulga Creek about noon and drove the flock to Coppins Crossing, arriving about five p.m. There was some difficulty enticing the sheep to cross the Molonglo River but finally after dragging a couple of leaders through the running water, the remainder followed. The sheep dogs were tied some distance up the Weetangerra side of the lane to prevent sheep straying too far at night. We camped under the stars on sand in the river bed for the night. Up early the next morning, we drove them all day, finally arriving at 'Gledeswood' about dark that day. Years later I was to camp under the stars with Os Southwell on a fishing expedition to Burrenjuck Dam.

The south-eastern boundary of 'Gledeswood' skirted the foot range of low hills from Kitty Hill to One Tree Hill. This range lies on the ACT boundary, 'Gledeswood' being in N.S.W. There are two brackish springs in the Top Paddock and in order to drain them Grandfather ran a ploughshare furrow from them and followed the lowest land contour until he came to the main road. This is now a creek which passes 'Gledeswood', in some places up to ten feet deep.

A dam was scooped out half way between the house and the church; another made in the Church paddock, where permanent spring fresh water was also located. This spring was sunk to a depth of about ten feet. Years later, water pipes were laid, bringing a permanent supply of water to the house and this supply also kept a vegetable garden going.

[Written by Walter Murty, son of John Stanley Murty (1882-1912)]

Note: Donald Murty carted water from a spring on his 'Gledeswood' property to the village of Hall, which was without water, during the 1908 drought.

Related Photos

< Rediscovering Ginninderra