Sunday, January 21, 2018

Old Croobyar Farm House & Dairy

The old Croobyar Farm is one of the district earliest building and an impressive example of early life in Milton Ulladulla. It was build by David Warden just on 160 years ago. David Warden (1810 – 1875) and his brother James Warden (1820 – 1904) were the founders of the Warden family in the Milton Ulladulla District.

David & James Warden began shipbuilding on the foreshores of Ulladulla harbour in late 1830s, both were very much involved in the local community in areas of education, religion, local government and others. David Warden was appointed the first Mayor with the establishment of the Ulladulla Council in 1874.

David Warden recorded his occupation as shipwright when he married Grace Buchan, the widow of William Buchan in 1857 at Ulladulla. The Buchan family settled at Ulladulla in 1851, with William working in the boat building trade as shipwright. Even though the year before his listed his occupation only as farmer.(1) So it can be safe to assume that Warden was actually living at Croobyar by this stage. Alexander Macleay who was the Colonial Secretary 1826 – 1837 owned the original land. After his death in 1848 David Warden purchased the 2560 acres.(2) David built the stone house near Croobyar creek so access to water was close by able to be used for the dairy. Later in 1868 David Warden built Mt Airlee now a private home in the cultural landscape of Milton.

The old Croobyar farm house is said to be the location of the marriage between Henry George Gumley and Ellen Condon in 1860.Ellen was born in Brooman in 1840 whilst George was from England, born there in 1835, arriving in Australia in 1855. The witnesses at wedding William Walter Ewin and Hannah Maria Brook.(3) In 1878 Old Croobyar farm – Wandaree(4) was occupied by nineteen-year-old Winter David Warden who later married Margaret Kendall. David’s son Charles Forfar Warden inherited Wandaree after David Warden’s death 1885.

Both the stone house and dairy building are constructed with local stone and shell grit., with both featuring are shingled roofs with iron covering. Tenant farmers into the 1930s used the farm. On a recent tour of the farm site,(5) there is still evidence of the old pig sheds, milking bails, old style water tanks, fireplace and the dairy’s trolley tracks whilst the northern side verandah on the farmhouse is ruined. Wild garlic still grows at the rear of the house along with a pear & plum tree. Some of the old dairy equipment is still on site including a boiler and engine.

The old Croobyar farm gives us part on the development of the local dairy industry and also a story of early life and architecture in Milton Ulladulla.
1. Marriage Certificate 1857/2626. 9 September 1857. Marriage conducted by Rev. James Sommerville, the Wesleyan Minister. No record can be found for the death of Shipwright William Buchan. When David and Grace’s first child (Alick Frederick) was born in 1856 a year earlier, David recorded his occupation only as proprietor and farmer.
2. The land was brought in September 1849 as quoted in Meet the Pioneers, Joanne Ewin, the author, Milton, 1991, p. 223.
3. Marriage Certificate 1860/2697, 9 April 1860 by visiting Wesleyan minister Rev James Sommerville.
4. General location noted as Wandaree on Map Little Forest & Croobyar dated June 20 1878 mapped by O. H. Stokes Votes and Proceedings, Legislative Assembly NSW, 1878 – 9, Appendix E.
5. Author (Cathy Dunn) visited the old Croobyar Farm in November 1998.

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