Hillas Hut and other buildings | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Hillas Hut and other buildings

Item details

Name of item: Hillas Hut and other buildings
Other name/s: Yabtree Farm Building Group and Hillas' Hut
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Stables
Primary address: Mundarlo Road, Yabtree, NSW 2722
Parish: Yabtree
County: Wynyard
Local govt. area: Gundagai
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP598951
PART LOT1 DP837139

Boundary:

Approx 13km west-south-west of Nangus, on Hillas Creek. Part of Yabtree Station.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Mundarlo RoadYabtreeGundagaiYabtreeWynyardPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

A timber slab hut and stone stables on Yabtree Station are evidence of the selection of a run outside the limits of location by John Hillas and his family before1835. Despite Hillas' death in 1937, it remained in the family's ownership until 1854. The hut is remembered by the Gundagai community as the place where James Hillas, John's son and manager of Yabtree was murdered in 1835. The c.1845 stone stables were also built during this period of ownership while other farm buildings and the cemetery relate to Yabtree's ownership by the Horsley family.

Hillas' Hut is evidence of the construction of a modest residence c.1835 using timber slab construction techniques and local materials. The c.1845 stone stables are also modestly detailed and purpose-built as are the 1898 brick stables and workers quarters. From 1859 the Hillas' Hut was used as a blacksmith's workshop. The headstones and palisade fence of the Horsley family cemetery near the farm building group demonstrate a variety of styles linked to various eras. The number of memorials to children is evidence of the high rate of infant mortality in the 19th century.

The Yabtree Farm Building Group including Hillas' Hut and the Horsley family cemetery is valued by the Gundagai community as part of the history of the district and of early settlement outside the limits of location. The farm complex is a good example of its type and has the potential to yield information about vernacular building techniques and the use of local materials in the Gundagai district.
Date significance updated: 07 Aug 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Construction years: 1845-
Physical description: Hillas Hut Group is located close to Hillas Creek on a low ridge which drops in an embankment to the river flats. The group consists of a cluster of 19th century farm buildings and is located about 100m south of Yabtree Station Homestead Group, a pastoral homestead complex (See SHI No. 1680014).

Hillas group includes:
1. Brick stables,
2. Stone stables,
3. Timber and corrugated iron shed, open farm machinery shed & stock yards,
4. Workers quarters,
5. Hillas Hut- a timber slab blacksmith's hut, and
6. The Horsley family cemetery.

1. Brick stables (c.1898),
Located along the western side of the cluster of farm buildings are the brick stables. The rectangular-in-plan structure is of face brickwork and has a gabled corrugated iron roof. It is a single storey building with a loft entered on the south elevation via wooden stairs. On the east elevation the building retains the original stable half-doors.

2. Stone stables (c.1845),
To the northeast of the brick stables is another stable building, it is rendered and lined in ashlar coursing. At the entrance the render has cracked exposing the gravel and sand mixture used in its construction.

The building is rectangular-in-plan with a skillion, wooden slab extension to the west elevation. The main building is a single storey structure with a loft. It has a gabled corrugated iron roof which covers the original shingle roof.

The main entrance to the building is on the east elevation, it consists of a double hung wooden door with a wooden beam architrave. Window openings are square-shaped, have iron bars and a sandstone sill. The loft entrance is on the south elevation and is reached via wooden stairs.

3. Timber and corrugated iron shed, open farm machinery shed & stock yards
Linking the rendered and brick stables is a long, rectangular-in-plan shed. It has a hipped roof of corrugated iron. The roof extends over the open south elevation and is supported by unworked wooden posts.

To the south of the cluster of buildings is an open corrugated iron farm machinery shed and associated stock yards.

4. Workers quarters (c.1898),
To the east of the cluster of farm buildings is a long, rectangular-in-plan building which once housed the staff/worker’s quarters. It has three distinct building periods although the exact phases are undetermined.
The building has a skillion brick extension to the rear. It is constructed of face brickwork with a corrugated iron roof. Part of the front façade at the northern end has been painted. The front elevation is broken by a series of double hung, multi-paned sash windows and wooden doors and is entirely covered by a skillion verandah.

To the rear the skillion brick extension appears to have been used as a kitchen. Part of the original stove and bread oven remain intact.

5. Hillas Hut - pre1835 a residence and later a blacksmith's hut
Directly south of the worker’s quarters is a timber slab hut, called Hillas Hut. The hut is square-in-plan with a skillion slab extension to the rear. The structure has a steeply hipped roof of corrugated iron. The north elevation has one opening which is now covered in chicken wire. The front elevation has two wooden doors and an opening covered by a flap of corrugated iron.

Inside the building the original blacksmith’s bellow’s and other working’s remain in situ.

6. The property cemetery.
Located north of the cluster of farm buildings is Yabtree Cemetery. The cemetery is marked by a Late Victorian style palisade fence and contains numerous monuments and memorials to the Horsley Family. The high rate of infant mortality experienced during the early settlement of the area is reflected in many of the memorials.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. Most of the buildings are in need of maintenance and upkeep works.
Date condition updated:09 Feb 06
Modifications and dates: Further investigations would be required to ascertain the nature and extent of modifications to the entire group.

According to the National Trust (NSW) records, a Conservation Plan for Hillas Hut was undertaken in 1984. A grant of $25,000 was subsequently granted to the National Trust in 1986 to undertake restoration work on the hut and the stables.

History

Historical notes: Today Yabtree consists of approximately 404.68 ha and is located 13km west-south-west of Nangus. It operates as a cattle and sheep station and has a 5km frontage to the Murrumbidgee River. In 1838 Yabtree pastoral holding consisted of 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) and occupied by John Hillas, of Bunnaby near Goulburn. It is possible that Hillas was occupying the property from at least 1835, at the same time leasing Tumbarumba Station. Records indicate that in 1835 James Hillas, son of John, is recorded as having been murdered by Samuel Collins at Yabtree [Supreme Court 7 Aug 1835 quoted in Butcher 2002: 29; Death Reg.V18352422]. The hut in which the shooting occurred is still standing. The Horsley family, owners of Yabtree from 1859, reportedly used Hillas' hut for many years as a blacksmith’s shop.

John Hillas never lived at Yabtree and died aged 68 in 1837 [Death Reg No. V18372428 21]. In 1841 the Hillas Estate claimed a 14 year lease over Yabtree’s 50,000 acres (20,234 ha) and his widow, Martha Hillas, did not apply for probate until 1847. A Government Gazette of 30 September 1848 stated that the property, managed by Francis Watkins, had the capacity to hold 1,100 head of cattle and 4,000 sheep. The property was offered for sale in 1853, described as including two cultivation paddocks of 30 acres (12.14 ha) and 5 acres (2.02 ha), and substantially fenced [SMH 6 Apr 1853 in Butcher 2002: 30]. Daniel Cooper (or Cowper) Jr purchased Yabtree in 1854.

A plaque is fixed to a fence facing a slab building known as Hillas’ Hut. It commemorates the murder of James Hillas of Yabtree, murdered there on 3 March 1835, aged 28 years. Henry Stuckey and others buried Hillas at the property on 5 March 1835, however the location of the burial is not marked.

Daniel Cooper (or Cowper) Jr purchased Yabtree in 1854 but put it back on the market in 1855. It was advertised as 10 miles (16.09) from Tarcutta Post Office with a 12 mile (19.31 kms) frontage to the Murrumbidgee as well as to Hillas Creek, which ran through the property [SMH 14 Mar 1855 in Butcher 2002: 30]. In 1856 Messrs Moreland and Young purchased Yabtree and the title was then transferred to Walter Buchanan Young. In 1858 Young was a magistrate on the bench at Gundagai [Gundagai Bench Book 1858 in Butcher 2002: 30].

The Sydney Morning Herald of 16 September 1858 indicates that Luke Crowe of Yabtree was a passenger on the paddle steamer Albury that was due at Gundagai. A report dated 1854 suggests that Crowe was the owner of Yabtree, however this has not been confirmed through other sources and he might have been a potential purchaser or lessee. In 1857 Yabtree consisted of 45,000 acres (18,211 ha) with an annual rent of £30.

Richard Frederick Horsley (d. 6 Aug 1891) and Richard Whiticker purchased Yabtree in 1859 with Horsley acquiring the full title in 1867. Horsley had lived in the district for some time and had run the Gundagai Pound. He was one of the survivors of the 1852 flood that inundated much of the old Gundagai township, and sadly that claimed the life of his wife Jane Hemphill. Yabtree has now been in the ownership of the Horsley family for six generations.

The homestead is a single-storeyed, red brick building surrounded by deep verandahs. A conservatory links a four-roomed cottage built in the 1860s to the 1890s wing and a 1904 nursery wing. The complex of homestead buildings includes a brick kitchen and ‘office’ blocks and outbuildings consisting of two slab huts, shearers’ quarters and a barn [National Trust of Aust 1980: 45-6].
The homestead complex is included in the Register of the National Trust of Australia (NSW) [Reg 30/5/1977]. The homestead and landscape are included on the Register of the National Estate [Place Id 706 & 18632 Registered 21/10/1980 & 22/6/1993]. Also see Inventory No 1680014 - Yabtree Station Group.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Run/Station/Property-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Stockyards and outbuildings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Land selection-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burial/Unmarked-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The timber slab hut and stone stables on Yabtree Station are evidence of the selection of a run by John Hillas before1835. Despite Hillas' death in 1937, it remained in the ownership of his family until 1854. James Hillas, John's son and manager of Yabtree was murdered in the hut in 1835. The Horsley family, owners of Yabtree from 1859, used the hut as a blacksmith's workshop. The c.1845 stone stables were built during its ownership by the Hillas family while other farm buildings and the cemetery relate to Yabtree's ownership by the Horsley family.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Hillas' Hut is associated with the murder of James Hillas, who managed the property for his father John Hillas. Other elements of this group, including the brick stables, machinery shed, worker's quarters and private cemetery are associated with the Horsley family's ownership from 1859 to the present day.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Hillas' Hut is evidence of the construction of a modest residence c.1835 using timber slab construction techniques and local materials. The c.1845 stone stables are evidence of a modestly detailed, purpose-built farm building using locally quarried stone. The 1898 brick stables and workers quarters are equally modestly detailed and purpose-built, using locally burnt bricks. The outbuilding group is completed by a timber and corrugated iron machinery shed.

The Horsley family cemetery is located adjacent to the farm building group at a distance from the homestead. The headstones demonstrate a variety of styles linked to the taste of the eras in which they were commissioned. The cemetery is enclosed by a Later Victorian Style palisade fence. The number of headstones commemorating the deaths of infants is evidence of the high rate of infant mortality in the 19th century.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Yabtree Farm Building Group including Hillas' Hut is valued by the Gundagai community as part of the history of Yabtree Station and of early settlement outside the limits of location. Hillas' Hut has a strong association with the community as the site of a murder in 1835 of James Hillas, an early settler.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The item has the potential to yield information about vernacular building techniques and the use of local materials in the Gundagai district.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Preliminary research has not identified any attributes that might confirm whether the site meets this criterion.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The site is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics and evolution of a farm building complexes dating from the 1830s.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

A CMP should be prepared to guide all future management and maintenance of this item. This should be undertaken prior to any proposed alterations, additions or changes. A Statement of Heritage Impact should be prepared to assess the impact of any such proposals on the significance of the site. If the CMP has not been prepared at the time of such proposed changes it should be prepared prior to the SHI. The SHI should take into account the CMP and any relevant recommendations.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanGundagai LEP 201112223 Sep 11   
Heritage studyHillas Hut Farm Group168007520 Jun 06   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Trust Country Register  National Trust of Australia (NSW)  No
Gundagai Heritage Study20061680075Comber Consultants Pty LtdCathy Fisher Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCliff Butcher2002Gundagai: A track winding back
WrittenM Walker1977National Trust of Australia (NSW)
WrittenMcBean & Crisp Pty Ltd1984Statement of Heritage Significance for Hillas Hut and Yabtree Outbuildings and Conservation Plan for Hillas' Hut

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1680075
File number: HC 33477


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