Rosebud Apiary / Rosebud Cottage / Hillview
The slab cottage known as ‘Rosebud Apiary’ or 'Rosebud Cottage' was built around 1866 by Mark Southwell - but not at its present location. Mark and his wife Ellen (nee Smithson) arrived in Australia in 1858 and came to live at ‘Parkwood,’ the property established on Ginninderra Creek by his brother, Thomas Southwell. Mark worked for Thomas, and others, for some years before he and his nephew Samuel selected 263 acres at Ginninderra and erected a slab cottage on it. (Gillespie 1988: 68).
Richard Shumack bought Mark and Samuel Southwell's selection in 1879. Richard Shumack was the last of seven Shumack brothers who migrated to Australia from County Cork, Ireland, arriving in 1856. He had been left to care for his parents and decided to emigrate when they died. At that time, he was 39 years old and he and his wife, Ann, had four children. On arriving in Sydney, Richard was immediately hired by George Campbell of Duntroon. Richard and his family settled at Duntroon in a two roomed slab and bark hut. In 1858, he was employed as a shepherd on the Ginninderra estate, then owned by William Davis. In addition to wages, he had a paddock of four acres for his own use rent free (Shumack 1967: 27, 45).
After the Robertson Land Acts were enacted, Richard and his son, Samuel, then aged 15, took up 100 acres at Weetangera in 1865, calling their house and land ‘Springvale’ (see Image 3). In 1867, Richard's other son, John, selected 100 acres of land adjoining Springvale (Shumack 1967: 46). In spite of dire predictions from William Davis, who called the selection ‘Shumack's Folly,’ the Shumack's prospered on their wheat and sheep property. William Davis dismissed Richard Shumack in 1869, and the Shumacks took up more land, Samuel selecting another 100 acres and John Shumack another 200 acres. The family moved into Samuel's house at Springvale (Shumack 1967: 50-51).
When in 1879 Richard Shumack bought the 263 acres of land owned by Mark and Samuel Southwell, the cottage and they had built was re-erected at Round Hill (now known as Mount Painter) and enclosed it with a split timber fence. This property adjoined Springvale and was later the home of Samuel Shumack’s brother, George (Shumack 1967: 107).
Honey and apples were kept in a shed (now referred to as ‘Bell’s Cottage) nearby the cottage at Round Hill and it was from the bee hives in the orchard that the ‘Rosebud Apiary’ cottage derived its name (Waterhouse 1980: 38). The practice of storing and selling honey can be traced back to 1859 when dealers travelled from farm to farm throughout the district buying butter, eggs, poultry, beeswax and honey. The latter was plentiful, as bee's nests in the bush were abundant and honey fetched two shillings a pound. These commodities and other farm produce went to the goldfields, where beeswax candles were in great demand for use in deep mining shafts (Shumack 1967: 36).
In 1880, Samuel Shumack’s father (Richard), sister Emily and brother George left his home at Springvale and moved to Rosebud Apiary. Richard Shumack's wife (Ann) had died in 1873 and he remarried a schoolteacher named Eastern Jane Armstrong.
When the Federal Capital Territory was established in 1911, the Federal Government began resuming properties in the newly surveyed Territory. The previous owners were allowed to stay on as tenants but many did not wish to do so as they would no longer be free men on their own holding. Samuel Shumack's property at Springvale was resumed at £1 less per acre than had been offered in 1908, when the rabbit plague was at its height and before improvements to the property had been completed. Samuel Shumack and brother George both left the district in 1915 (Shumack 1967: 165, 166).
Rosebud Apiary was resumed by the government in March 1915 and George and his wife moved to a property at Tamworth. However, three months later they returned and took out a lease on the property. In 1913 Jean Shumack, who was the second daughter of George Shumack and had been born in the Rosebud Apiary cottage, married Christopher James Bell. Jean came to live in the cottage with her husband and they raised thirteen children there. The lease of the property was transferred from George Shumack to Bell in 1927, when George and his wife moved to a property at Yass. ‘Rosebud Apiary’ was then renamed 'Hill View' and the Bells ran sheep on it.
The orchard at Rosebud Apiary was still in use when Donald Tully acquired the land in 1937 and it included plums, pears and apples, as well as walnut trees (Tully, 1998). Jack Gault, a cousin of Donald Tully, lived in the cottage for about five years in the early 1940s with his wife, Jean and four children. After the Gault's moved out, Donald Tully used the cottage for shearers' quarters and the kitchen building as a cook house for the shearers. He replaced the slabs on the kitchen building with fibro and corrugated iron in the early 1950s. A workman lived in the cottage in the 1960s and left in 1966, leaving it vacant. In 1967, Donald Tully was forced to relinquish a large area of pasture to make way for the suburban development of Belconnen. However, the cottage and nearby buildings have survived to the present.
Today the site includes the slab cottage known as Rosebud, a slab dairy, stables and fruit and apiary store, and a range of early agricultural machinery, and it is on the ACT Heritage Register. The two cottage buildings have been completely restored and today the property operates as Rosebud and Bells Heritage Cottages. A series of fine historical images can be found at this site.
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- Gillespie, L. L., The Southwell Family, Canberra, 1988
- ACT Heritage Council, Background information. Rosebud Apiary and surrounds, Sept 2015 (accessed 31 Aug 2016)
- Heritage (Decision about Registration of Rosebud Apiary and Surrounds, Belconnen) Notice 2015 (accessed 31 Aug 2016)
- Shumack, S., An autobiography or Tales and Legends of Canberra pioneers, ANU Press, Canberra 1967
Further information about Rosebud Cottage can be found at Canberra Tracks