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.
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- Barrow, G., Canberra’s Historic Houses: Dwellings and Ruins of the 19th Century, Hackett, 1998
- Gillespie, L.L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992
- Heffernan, K. and J. Klaver, 'A Conservation and Management Plan for the Gribbles' Homestead Ruin, "The Valley", Gungahlin, A.C.T.', report to the ACT Heritage Section of the ACT Government, Canberra, 1995.
- McDonald, J., ‘The Gribble Who Came to Queanbeyan’, Quinbean, Vol. 9.1 (2016), pp. 10-15
- Canberra Tracks: www.canberratracks.act.gov.au/heritage-trails/track-5-gungahlin/the-valley-ruin
- Canberra Archaeological Society The Valley Homestead and yards, CAS website. Sighted 10 Sept 2016
- Shumack, S. An Autobiography, or, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers (ed. J. E. and S. Shumack), Canberra, 1967
- Dowling, P., Two ruins, Heritage in Trust, NTA (ACT), Winter 1999, pp 18-19
Further information about The Valley may be found at Canberra Tracks