John and Catherine Coppin lived and raised a family of seven children in the vicinity of the place now known as Coppin's Crossing - the point where a road from the Belconnen area crosses the lower Molonglo river going southwards towards the new town of Molonglo. After initially (1860) living in a tent that they brought with them (and in which Catherine gave birth to their first child, John), they shared a three-roomed hut at the Goat Station, a shepherding out-station of the Ginninderra estate at Palmerville, with John Patrick Cunningham. This was one of many such out-station huts for shepherds to be found towards the periphery of the Ginninderra estate. Others included Emu Bank, Lime Kiln Waterhole, Ginninderra Falls, and Crow Bone. The exact site of the Goat Station Hut is not known.
After earlier failed applications, he finally succeeded in becoming an independent landowner in 1878 when he selected 200 acres on the south side of the lower Molonglo river - portion 107, Parish of Yarrolumla. It was not far from their previous home at Goat Station and the area now known as Coppin's Crossing. Within eighteen months Coppin had made improvements to the value of ₤57 - a hut (₤10), garden fence (₤12), land clearing (₤30), and yard (₤5). In regard to his source of income he is described at this time as a 'cropper'. It seems that he struggled financially however, as the land was mortgaged in 1882, and in 1891 the holding became part of Frederick Campbell’s Yarralumla estate. It was named Coppin's Corner Paddock, the name persisting at least until the land was resumed by the Commonwealth. By that time the hut had gone.
While an 1880 survey plan of portion 107 records a garden and yards at the homestead, these have not been detected; there is very little evidence left of the residence and occupation of Coppin's Corner Paddock:
The site is characterised by the remnants of a stone fireplace and a pile of cut (dressed) stones which probably also represent a fireplace. The fireplace and the rock pile are some 3.8 metres apart and some 14 metres to the south west of an Osage orange tree. (Boxall and McAlister, 2013).
As is common with such pioneer homes the site is marked by some exotic plantings:
'The large spreading female osage orange tree [maclura pomifera] stands close to the fireplace remnants - probably grown as a windbreak to protect the homestead....The nearby Roman cypress [cupressus sempervirens], box thorns [lyium], hawthorns [crateagus] and briars [rubiginosa] were most likely planted as a hedge to protect the homestead from straying stock' (Boxall, 2013).
By 1886 it seems likely that the Coppins block has been merged into Frederick Campbell's Yarralumla estate, with their hut and other improvements being abandoned.
At the age of fifty John Coppin applied for three parcels of land at Burbong, where they subsequently built a home and the Coppins lived the rest of their years.
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- Boxall, R. Coppins Crossing and Beyond. The Life and Times of John and Catherine Coppin, Self-published, Wollongong, 2013
- ACT Heritage Council, Background information. Coppin Homestead site, Molonglo, Feb 2015. (accessed 2 Sept 2016)
- Biosis Research, Molonglo Future Urban Development Stage 2. Historic site Conservation Management Plan , Report for ACTPLA, April 2011 (accessed 2 Sept 2016)
- Warden, I. A little slice of paradise falls to the sprawl, Canberra Times, 21 Sept 2012.