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Rediscovering Ginninderra:

Lochleigh - Soldiers Settle Down

Keith Kilby applied for land just a month after brother Athol Kilby and was granted a 25-year lease on 390 acres from June 1923. He married Ruth Smart in September 1928. He and Ruth had their 'four room house with verandah' built for them on their land which they called Lochleigh. A 'formal' tender from Queanbeyan builder F.B. Powell, who declared to complete the work 'in a tradesmanship like manner for the sum of £684', was accepted. They had two children and their son Wesley continues to live there today with his wife Elizabeth.

When the Kilby brothers began they only held 770 acres between them and like other rural lessees they were looking for additional land to make a decent living. They leased 535 acres in 1927 and another 259 in 1935. Both blocks had originally been leased to other returned servicemen.

Like their parents before them, both Keith and Athol were closely involved in the Hall community, being among the committeemen who in 1925 organised the first Hall Show, forerunner of the Royal Canberra Show. The two brothers established a formal working relationship and went on to become two of the foremost wool producers in the district.

The Depression of the 1930s hurt all rural lessees around the Capital Territory but the Kilby brothers were able to meet their obligations. They were prosperous enough in 1935 to make an offer for freehold title to the Commonwealth-owned land in NSW that they were leasing. The offer was rejected but they eventually prevailed, paying £2,372/10 for the three blocks in February 1940.

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