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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Wattle Park church

Wattle Park - Memories of Mr. Donald Murty (1853–1928) 'Gledeswood', Hall

"When the Robertson Land Act was passed in 1861 gradually land became available in this area as in many others. As so many progressive young men were anxious to obtain their own properties the population began to spread. By 1870 much land on the Ginnindera Creek had been taken. Money was scarce, many had to depend on the banks to help them out, as they selected their land, often only 40 acres at a time, at one pound five shillings an acre, first payment, and the balance in three years.

Strangely enough during the years 1876 to 1880 the Methodist activities moved from the Ginnindera Creek where they had been since 1865, the Parish of Wallarro and the parish of Ginnindera, distances of 10 to 12 miles. The virgin land in these areas, was covered with timber and needed a great amount of work and preparation before anything could be grown. Running water was a very essential part of choosing suitable land.

However, these young men and their families selected land close to each other in this area so were able to assist each other in so many ways. As they got their little homes built, so gradually they brought their wives and children and the communities developed. Among the families were Mr and Mrs. Samson Southwell, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Southwell, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Murty, Mr. and Mrs. William Mitchell, Mr. and Mrs. John Southwell and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Holligan. They were men and women of faith and courage and soon found need of a place to worship. For a few years at least they worshipped in the home of Mr.and Mrs. Samson Southwell of 'Wattle Park'. At length permission was sought from the Wesleyan Conference to build a church in the area known then as Bedelluck.

On the 10th August 1880 portions of land number 230 and 231, were approved for a Wesleyan Church and residence respectively. As Mr. Donald Murty had selected the land surrounding these two portions, it is quite likely that he made this land available for a Wesleyan Church, the area being 1 acre 2 roods. This seemed a central position at the time, because of these pioneer settlers who were becoming established here. Ginnindera was the nearest village a distance of four miles. Ginninderra post office was established in 1860. The village of Hall did not exist at that time.

Meanwhile due west of this centre where the proposed Church was to be built, and in the Parish of Wallaroo, other young couples were selecting their first holdings namely: James and Hannah Southwell of 'Heywood',Ellis and Jane Smith of 'Woodgrove' Job and Hannah Brown of 'Holmwood', Richard and Amelia Southwell of 'Brooklands', Captain Sam and Ann Southwell of 'Woodburn', Mr. and Mrs. Lachlan McPherson, and Mr. and Mrs. David Rule were all becoming established and were all willing to give of their time, strength and money towards building this new Church.

Subscription lists were taken around amongst their neighbourhood. One such list includes the names of Rev.S.J.Gibson, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Southwell,(Senior), Mr. John Cook, Mr. and Mrs. Edward Smith, Mr. Thomas Holligan, Mr. Donald Murty, Mr. James Murty, Mr. James Gillespie, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Smith, Mr. George Butt, Mr Phillip Williams, Mrs Plummer, Mrs.Sumner, Mr. James Bembrick, Messrs Samson, Samuel, James, Mark, Richard and John Southwell, Mr. Hardy and Mrs. Goslett together with Miss Amelia Smith all gave money to the building fund.

Records show the area was known as Bedelluck. The Building Committee of the Wesleyan Church at Bedelluck gave the contract to a certain Mr. Thomas Preece for the sum of £178/18/0. Mr. Donald Murty gave of his time and labour in drawing sand, stone and water for the building, other men gave their help with the result that the life and work of this church was established and opened on the 6 March 1882. So the work of God continued to be a very vital part of these pioneers and their families.

Gradually the population increased and on the 17 February 1900 at a Trustee meeting it was decided to enlarge the church by adding a Transept, the cost not to exceed £200. It was decided that £100 be promised before commencing the additions. Once again the collectors went around, the appeal met with a wonderful response, and in less than a month £139 had been promised. The addition was to measure 30 feet by 15 feet with 18 new seats. James Kilby and Donald Murty were appointed to supervise the enlargement.

During the month of June the tenders were opened for the new portions, the accepted tender was for £194/10/0 and so once again with much voluntary labour, the new portion was added, by September 1900 the building was complete and opened with great satisfaction and thankfulness to God, for all concerned at the Wattle Park Church, which still retained that name on the preaching plan as it had been when the first services had been held in the 'Wattle Park' homestead of Mr. and Mrs. Samson Southwell.

At this time (1900) the following men became the registered Trustees of the Church: Messrs Samuel Samson, John, James, Richard and Mark Southwell, James Kilby, William Mundy, Donald Murty, Edwin Davis, Ellis Smith, John Southwell(Junior) and George Shumack.

These Trustees were ever mindful of their duties and so met early in 1901 and arranged to peg the line for the fence around the church property. In March 1902 tenders were called for 50 roods of fence, resulting in Mr. Murty's tender being accepted at 8/- per rood. The fence had to be erected to certain specifications, with fence posts of Blue Gum or Box Wood and the rails to be of Stringy Bark. The mortice holes for this post and rail fence were to be cut to certain measurements. The two double gates had to be true to the required measurements, also the small gate at the top corner. Several trees had to be lopped and the ground prepared. Three young ladies of the church collected money to aid the cost of the new fence. Miss Lizzie Southwell, Miss Bertha Southwell, (now 90 years old) and Miss Lily Smith. By June of that year the fence was completed. As you will have noticed one of these handsome gates posts have been preserved and can still be seen with its shapely sides and mitred top.

[.....]when the Pioneer Vestry was added to the church in 1955, a stone from Mr. Murty's first home was placed and names in the wall along with other pioneers, so his name is perpetual there.

Mr Murty continued as a Trustee of the Church for the remainder of his life. Although almost blind and with loss of hearing, while health permitted, he continued to attend the morning service and was always to be found in the front seat often accompanied by one of his grandsons.

He passed away on the 19 April 1928 aged 74 years and was laid to rest beside his wife Fanny and two sons Stanley and Harold in the Weetangera Cemetery. And so came to an end the life of a true pioneer in the true sense of the word. Donald Murty had known great sadness in his life, but had kept the Faith until the end. We remember him today with respect and affection, as a man of real courage, a good neighbour and a friend to all. We thank God for every remembrance of him. For all those who laid the foundations for the cause of Methodism here have passed on. They sowed seed for righteousness in the hearts of those who followed on. We remember them with gratitude.

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