The Gillespies of Horse Park, John and Mary Ann (nee Hutchinson), arrived in Sydney from Ireland on 11 November 1841 on the Lascar. They were brought to Australia under the bounty scheme. Other prominent settler-families were also on this boat (Shumacks, Currans, Sheedys). John was employed by William Klensendorlffe of Canberra and lived at their farmhouse where their second son James was born. John chose a site at ‘Dead Horse Gully’ near Ginninderra. He and Mary Ann had two more sons, William and Robert, and a daughter, Euphemia.
The family settled as tenants on unsurveyed land at the headwaters of Ginninderra Creek by 1843. In 1852 John and Mary Ann purchased the land and built a stone cottage and other structures. This replaced the temporary structure they had built when they first arrived (not to be confused with the slab remains of the replacement kitchen built by Thomas Jones at the site in the 1890s). A weatherboard extension was added later. Large concrete buttresses have been built to save the west wall of the stone cottage from collapse.
‘Horse Park’ was the first free selection of land in the Ginninderra district. John continued to purchase additional blocks of land and became a substantial landholder in the district. In later years his sons added to the land holdings. The property was later named 'Horse Park'.
William Ryan of Michelago purchased the property and homestead some time after Mary Ann died in 1895 and occupied it until 1916, when it was resumed by the Commonwealth.
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
- Gillespie, N. J., A History of a Pioneer Family of the Limestone Plains: the Gillespie Family, Canberra, 2005
- Maher, B., Planting the Celtic Cross: Foundation of the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Canberra, 1997
- Shumack, S. An Autobiography, or, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers (ed. J. E. and S. Shumack), Canberra, 1967
- Smith, L. R., Memories of Hall, Canberra, 1975
- Various editions of the Queanbeyan Age and the Goulburn Evening Penny Post
- Horse Park was placed the ACT Heritage Register on 24 January 2013. The heritage assessment is here