The property and the homestead area is associated with the early European settlement and evolution of the district that subsequently became the ACT, the property remaining in pastoral use from at least the 1850s to quite recently. While John Flinn, E Ryan, A Cameron and James Burton were early purchasers of land in the area, Well Station has specific associations with the Rolfe and McKeahnie families. It is believed that George Rolfe (brother to Edmund Rolfe, who established Gold Creek) erected a house here perhaps as early as the 1850's. Block 72 on which Well Station stands, had been owned before that by John Scott. However it is the McKeahnie family which is most closely associated with the property.
Archibald McKeahnie was the son of pioneer Charles McKeahnie. Charles, a Scottish ploughman, arrived in Australia in 1838 with his wife, Elizabeth. In that same year he moved to Queanbeyan before becoming a successful landowner in 1860, purchasing the properties of Booroomba and the adjoining Blythburn (Barrow, 1998: 66). Eventually the McKeahnies owned Gudgenby, Booroomba and Auroral stations.
Archibald McKeahnie, while resident at Orroral, purchased the block on which an early Well Station homestead stood, some time in the 1870s or 1880s, and took up residence there in 1881. The McKeahnies extended the existing homestead by the addition of a new block incorporating a kitchen and sitting room, with bedrooms added at a later date. By 1915 a new building incorporating a dairy and a school room had been added. As there is no record of public education at Well station it is presumed that the school room was to provide for a family tutor.
The McKeahnies extended their holding so that by 1915, they had acquired 2723 acres of freehold land in the area. This property, along with others in the district, was resumed by the Commonwealth in March 1915. McKeahnie’s son-in-law, Charles Peden, then leased the land from the Commonwealth from 1915 to 1926, followed by John Joseland, the Gungaderra Pastoral Co, E A G Mawson and the Rose family.
Gillespie records that when the lease was sold to Joseland in 1926 it comprised 2,020 acres, together with 2,150 sheep, plant and equipment. Joseland was married to E G Crace's daughter Helen. When she died in 1933 he remained at Well Station until his own death in 1937.
According to the Act Heritage Register entry:
The homestead complex comprised three separate components grouped around a courtyard. The buildings were erected at various times and altered or added to, demonstrating how it evolved to meet the needs of different occupants over a long period. While all of the original structures have been changed in some way, parts of the original slab and adobe work are still present. The setting consists mainly of a pastoral landscape, with scattered trees and dams. The homestead group of buildings has a history of addition over time, with little removal of earlier components, and as such has a strong potential to contain archaeological and built evidence research significance.
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- Entry to ACT Heritage Register Well Station Homestead precinct. 2004
- Scougall, B. Well Station. Libraries ACT website.
- Gillespie, L.L.Ginninderra. Forerunner to Canberra. Canberra. 1992
- Barrow, G., Canberra’s Historic Houses – Dwellings and Ruins of the 19th Century, Dagraga Press, ACT. 1998.