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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Hawthorn Cottage

Peter Shumack selected Portion 34 of 100 acres on Yass Road around 1856 and established his farm, which became known as 'Hawthorn Cottage'. (His nephew, Joseph Shumack, acquired the adjoining Portion 33 and built the Canberra Inn, which was later sold to John Read and re-named 'The Pines').

Peter Shumack married Mary Mathieson, sister of William Mathieson, in 1862, and worked the farm until his death in 1883. Mary then continued to work the farm as a dairy, and in 1886 re-married to Findlay McDonald. On some maps the cottage was shown as 'Mrs McDonald's House. Yemen's Directory of Landholders of NSW 1900 has an entry for "F McDonald, Hawthorn Cottage, growing wheat and oats and dairy farming".

Mary had no children of her own, but fostered and adopted several children, including Fred, George and Mima Potter. According to the ACT Memorial:

'George Potter was actually born George Bate on 27 December 1891 at the Sydney Benevolent Asylum, a site long since occupied by Central Railway Station. Bate was his mother's maiden name and, although she had married a man named Potter in 1884, George's father is unknown.

George and his older brother and younger sister returned to the Benevolent Asylum in early 1897 and afterwards became wards of the State and were fostered by Mary McDonald who lived at 'Hawthorn' in Upper Canberra. George grew up at 'Hawthorn', went to Gungahleen School and helped run Mrs. McDonald's dairy. He also became involved in local sporting organizations, building courts for the Ainslie Tennis Club on part of 'Hawthorn' and joining the Ainslie Cricket Club when it was formed in 1914'.

The Queanbeyan Age reported George's 'coming of age' in 1913:

"On Thursday evening 26th December a social was held at 'Hawthorne Cottage' the residence of Mrs F McDonald, to celebrate the coming of age of Mr George Potter. About twenty couples attended. Excellent music was provided by Miss Southwell and Messrs John and Frederick Southwell. Mr Thomas Sharpe was MC. Mr John Southwell wished Mr Potter many Happy Returns and asked Mr Edward Shumack to make the presentation". Queanbeyan Observer 3.1.1913

Findlay died in 1906. The farm of 100 acres was acquired from Mary by the Federal Capital Territory in March 1915 for £823-18-0. Mary died later that year. George Potter settled her estate and then enlisted in the AIF and was sent to France, where he was killed in 1918. A memorial to him stands in St Ninian's Church, Lyneham. 'Last Sunday afternoon the Presbyterian Church Upper Canberra was crowded to excess at the service held in memory of the late Sgt George Potter, killed in Action on 1 September somewhere in France. Rev D Finlayson conducted the service'. [Queanbeyan Age 8.10.1918]

Hawthorn Cottage was taken over by Henry Edward Gozzard Jnr of 'Aston', Mulligans Flat, Ginninderra and his wife, Harriet Southwell, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Cooper) Southwell, Sutton Road, until he eventually moved to Forbes, NSW.

Their daughter Eliza was born at Mulligans Flat and married Ernie Hobbs and they then took on the running of the dairy and at one stage ran ninety-nine cows.

Their children – Betty, June and Irene attended Ainslie School where Betty was school captain. Eliza died in 1935.

When the dairy was finally resumed Ernie's compensation was only a government house to rent in Ainslie and a job with Parks and Gardens. (personal recollections of Michael Stevenson on the CDHS Facebook site April 2021)

Nothing remains of Hawthorn Cottage, which was on the east side of Yass Road just behind the now Lyneham Tennis Centre and adjoining Yowani Golf Course, and the site in 2021 is a fenced off rubbish area awaiting development.

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