Property - Emu Creek | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Property - Emu Creek

Item details

Name of item: Property - Emu Creek
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Cottage
Primary address: Emu Creek, Walcha, NSW 2354
Local govt. area: Walcha
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Emu CreekWalchaWalcha  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Emu Creek has historical significance being taken up as a squatting run in the 1830s by the partnership of Gilbert Eliot and Arthur Hodgson. Historical association with the development of pastoralism, and government was achieved when both men entered the first Queensland Parliament - Eliott as Speaker until 1870 and Hodgson in the Ministry until he returned to England in 1869. The partnership was subsequently dissolved and after several different mortgages were taken out, in 1868 George Robert Gill purchased Emu Creek. His descendants continue to live in the homestead and graze the land. Emu Creek is internationally known for their fine wool and sheep production, having won prestigious awards in the past.

The Emu Creek homestead has aesthetic and technical significance being a prominent building within the landscape. The scale and size of the shearing shed and outbuildings are a valuable example of the changing nature of the pastoral industry, and the prosperity of the fine wool industry in the past. Social significance arises from the many labourers and visitors to the property including the social occasions held in the woolshed for charity fund raising events. Social significance also arises as a consequence of children from the surrounding locality attending the Emu Creek/Moona Road School which was taught intermittently between 1886 and 1917.
Date significance updated: 12 Jul 07
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

Designer/Maker: Kent and Budden - Sydney Architects
Builder/Maker: Harrison - Walcha
Physical description: Emu Creek On - 15km North East Of Walcha
Modifications and dates: The original Emu Creek homestead was built of timber and located below the present house, nearer the creek and to the left of the road approaching the house. The early station buildings have all gone except for the slab stables near the homestead and woolshed beyond the pine tree windbreak near the road to Walcha.

Some alterations were made in 1976 when a family room was added to the south-west side of the house using bricks from the billiard room, the only brick section of the original homestead. These bricks were used for the garage, and slabs from the old buildings were used for the fence of the garden which was enlarged and redeveloped by the present owners.
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets may be updated by the Council as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Grazing property with homestead, out-buildings and woolshed
Former use: Pastoral property including homestead, out-buildings and woolsheds

History

Historical notes: Emu Creek was taken up as a squatting run in the 1830s by the partnership of Gilbert Eliott, a Scotsman and Army Officer from Stobs, Roxburghshire and Arthur Hodgson, a former Naval Officer educated at Eton and Cambridge. They were friends of Patrick Leslie and followed him in 1840 to the Darling Downs where they took up Elton Vale. Subsequently they entered the first Queensland Parliament - Eliott as Speaker until 1870 and Hodgson in the Ministry until he returned to England in 1869 where he purchased Colton House, became Mayor of Stratford-on-Avon and held other Offices such as High-Steward, Deputy-Lieutenant and High Sheriff. When the Eliott-Hodgson partnership was dissolved, Eliott retained 'Emu Creek'. Its mortgage changed several times in the period 1859-68, being held in the names of Salting and McDonald, McDonald Smith & Co., James Mark and the Bank of New South Wales.

In 1868 George Robert Gill purchased Emu Creek at auction at Maitland for one pound per acre. He had emigrated from Urney, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1856 to join his elder brother, John, who at that time held Moonbi Station near Tamworth and operated under contract a coach and mail service along the Great North Road from Maitland to Toowoomba. The business was later sold to Cobb and Co.

During the Eliott period, Emu Creek was approximately 38,000 acres but after GR Gill purchased the neighbouring property in the 1870s it was increased to cover an area of more than 80,000 acres. With subdivisions and sales in the twentieth century Emu Creek was reduced in size.

Emu Creek superfine wool is world renowned. Its merino stud was founded in 1868 with sheep from Havilah, Mudgee, and rams introduced later from Trefussis, Valleyfield, Winton in Tasmania and Merryville, Yass in New South Wales. World record prices have been gained on numerous occasions, the prestigious Lumb 'Golden Bale' gold medal in 1975-76 and1980-81 (JE Lumb and Sons, is an English company that uses the best wool for quality woollen manufacturing). Emu Creek has also won the prestigious Emenegulbo Zegna trophies in 1971 and 1980 for the finest wool fleece for quality and style.

The original Emu Creek homestead was built of timber and located below the present house, nearer the creek and to the left of the road approaching the house. The early station buildings have all gone except for the slab stables near the homestead and woolshed beyond the pine tree windbreak near the road to Walcha.

The present homestead was designed by 1908 by the Sydney architects Kent and Budden, then with offices at 129 Pitt Street, and was constructed by the Walcha builder, Harrison. Some alterations were made in 1976 when a family room was added to the south-west side of the house using bricks from the billiard room, the only brick section of the original homestead. These bricks were used for the garage, and slabs from the old buildings were used for the fence of the garden which was enlarged and redeveloped by the present owners.

There have now been four generations of the Gill family living at Emu Creek.

The Emu Creek School operated as:
Provisional School: May 1886 - April 1893
Half-Time School with Moona Road : April 1896 - August 1899
Provisional School: February 1900 - June 1906
Half-Time School with Moona Road: September 1907 - December 1909
Provisional School: January 1912 - June 1916
Half-Time School with Moona Road: July 1916 - March 1917

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 Homestead and Outbuildings-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Sheep and Cattle Production, pasture improvement-
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 Homestead Gardens and Landscapes-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Agricultural Workers-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Emu Creek has historical significance with the development of the Walcha region and pastoralism. The property started as a squatting run and continues today as a prominent pastoral property in the New England region. In 1868 George Robert Gill purchased Emu Creek and his descendants continue to run the property and live in the homestead.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The property has association with the beginnings of the expansion northward to Queensland looking for land. Emu Creek was taken up as a squatting run in the 1830s by the partnership of Gilbert Eliott, a Scotsman and Army Officer from Stobs, Roxburghshire and Arthur Hodgson, a former Naval Officer educated at Eton and Cambridge. These men became leaders in the early Queensland Parliament. The pastoral run later became important in the New England Region as a consequence of the success and wealth of the Gill family and their fine wool and sheep production efforts.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The homestead and out-buildings including the woolshed form a significant complex which provides the opportunity to examine the aesthetic and technical elements of the building's construction and materials utilised.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Emu Creek is socially significant due in part to its past owners, occupiers and rural workers. The Gill family have established Emu Creek as a premier location for fine wool production at an international market level. The homestead provides a focal point for visitors and business activities. The property including the woolshed has also been linked with social occasions such as fund raising activities for the hospital and community organisations. There was also a school run intermittently for surrounding children between 1886 and 1917 providing educational and social opportunities.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The homestead and shearing shed provide research opportunity to examine the architectural and construction designs and materials utilised. It also enables better understanding and awareness of the people involved in the design and construction of buildings on the property.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The development of Emu Creek is representative of the changing nature of pastoralism within Australia. Originally it had importance as a squatting run and during the last century has been developed to reflect the wealth and prosperity of a grazing enterprise. The homestead provides a building that was reflective of the Gill family status in the community and their family wealth. Outbuilding including cottages for rural workers and their families were built, and the shearing shed were expanded as wealth in the agricultural industry developed.

The establishment of the Emu Creek/Moona Plains school indicates the importance of Emu Creek's location as a connection between the various rural properties. The decline of the School reflects the changing wants and needs of education in the community.
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan  13 Oct 00 13711130
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Trust Country Register 5890National Trust of Australia (NSW)  No
Walcha Shire Heritage Study2008 Susan Blake  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDepartment of School Education1993Government Schools of New South Wales: 1848 to 1993
WrittenMr & Mrs RB Gill1988Heritage Week Tour of Walcha, 24 April 1988
WrittenMr EL Hogan & Mr GJ reynolds (ed)1992Where They Grow Old Gracefully: Walcha District Hospital Centenary 1892-1992
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW) National Trust of Australia (NSW)

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: 2580102


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