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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Dungarvon

Walter Ginn was born in 1854, the son of William and Mary Ginn of Herfordshire, England. Walter, his parents and a younger brother arrived in Australia in 1857 as Bounty Scheme immigrants. Bounty Scheme immigrants, usually young parents and families, had their fares from England to Australia wholly or partly paid for by the Colonial government. The families were screened in their home countries and had to be of first-rate character and ‘of good bodily health and strength’ (see Gillespie 1992: 252).

William Ginn was first employed as a ploughman on Campbell’s Duntroon estate and the young family became the first residents of Blundell’s Cottage living there from c.1860 until 1874. Following the Robertson Land Act in 1861 William Ginn selected land in the parish of Goorooyaroo and built a small homestead there (Canberra Park).

Probably during the mid 1870s, Walter and his young brother, Harry, left the parental home at Duntroon and together farmed the Goorooyaroo holding. The land in the area was generally seen as poor farm land, hard, stony and thickly timbered but the two young Ginn brothers worked vigorously, acquired more land using the Robertson Land Act in the area and were able to turn their farm into productive holdings.

Walter, who remained a bachelor all his life, moved to one of the holdings nearby to the north of the original homestead in what is now the Mulligans Flat Nature Park. He built a small homestead probably around 1886 (Pearson 2002), shearing shed, yards and established an orchard and garden either side of the Old Coach Road. Walter named the holding ‘Dungarvon’. He farmed his holding until around 1920, when in his sixties, he moved to Canberra probably as a result of the land resumption in the area associated with the Federal Capital Territory. The ruin is about 1km along the Old Coach Road, beside a small dam. Only a few bricks and some large field stones remain beside a rectangular mound of earth, indicating that a chimney once stood at the eastern end of the structure. Bricks with a cigar shaped frog are said to have been made at a nearby kiln.

Walter died in 1925 and is buried in St John’s cemetery. The saddle where the present Federal highway crosses Mt Majura on the ACT/NSW border is known as Ginn’s Gap, named after the family who farmed the area. The eastern corridor of the Old Coach Road runs through the site of Walter Ginn’s homestead and orchard. The homestead site is located at the western foot of a slope leading up to the ACT/NSW border. Little remains of the homestead today apart from scattered brick fragments from the brick chimney of the house, stone footing sections of the house platform, and remnant fence wire from yards. The 1915 ACT feature map marks the site as 'W. Ginn’s orchard'.
Fruit trees, including apple trees, are located on both sides of the Old Coach Road corridor and are the remnants of the orchard which Walter planted.

[Our map shows the position of the property 'Dungarvon' today, not the original site]

References

Cooke, H. A Short History of Gungahlin, Canberra Archaeological Society Inc, March 2010
Pearson, M. 2002 Gungahlin Pastoral Places Comparative Assessment, unpublished report for Heritage Unit, Environment ACT, Canberra.

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