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Frederick Campbell of Yarralumla: a forgotten pioneer pastoralist.

The learning years

For thirty years before the Queanbeyan area was nominated as the site for Australia's capital city, Frederick Campbell was a driving force in the district's development. But who was Frederick Campbell?

Frederick Campbell was born at Duntroon on 26 February 1846, the same year as his grandfather Robert Campbell (merchant of Campbell's Wharf, Sydney) died in the Duntroon garden. Robert Campbell (1769-1846) was one of the earliest settlers to take up land on the Limestone Plains in 1825, naming his estate Duntroon. (2) At the time of his father's death, Robert's third son, Charles, was managing the estate. (3) Frederick was the second son of Charles and Catherine (nee Palmer). He was born with a cleft palate and hare-lip and had difficulties learning to speak. When Robert Campbell's estate was divided among his children, Charles Campbell renounced his interest in Duntroon, which was then inherited by his younger brother George. Charles and his family left Duntroon in 1854 to live in Bath, England. Frederick was educated at Cholmeley School, Highgate on the outskirts of London. (4) After his elder brother died in an accident at Cambridge University and his mother died following a short illness, Frederick returned to Australia in 1864 and enrolled at Sydney University where he was involved in the introduction of Rugby football to Australia. (5)

Experiencing difficulty with his studies, and embarrassment at his poor speech, he decided to try life on the land. He worked as a jackeroo under Godfrey McKinnon at Urana and then in Queensland, before accepting a manager's job at Tryphena Downs in the Mackenzie River district of Queensland. When that station was sold, he returned to Sydney to work with his uncle, John Campbell, at Campbell's Wharf. From 1871 to 1874 Frederick gained valuable business experience from involvement in the trading activities of Campbell & Company and in the management of a variety of charitable trusts established by members of the Campbell family. (6)

His uncle John had hoped that Frederick would follow him into the mercantile business, but Frederick preferred pastoral activities. He purchased his first pastoral property, Bundabareena near Walgett, in 1873 with financial assistance from his uncle, John. Frederick was the first landowner in the western districts of New South Wales to fence his entire boundary (nearly seventy miles) with posts and wire. (7) It was John who advised Frederick to keep copies of important correspondence in 'press letter books'. (8) Frederick continued this practice throughout his life and it is through these books that the details of the development of his pastoral stations, and the Queanbeyan district, have survived.

In 1875 Frederick sold Bundabareena, repaid his debts in full, and accepted his uncle George Campbell's offer to manage Duntroon for five years whilst George took his family to England to complete their education. George had managed the station for twenty years and had renovated and enlarged the house and garden, but had not fenced the property nor improved the livestock.

Frederick had been away from Duntroon for twenty years. During these years under his uncle George, Duntroon had become the centre for an elite society of established landowners, clergymen, doctors and other professionals. They dressed expensively, moved about in horse-drawn carriages, complete with liveried coachmen, entertained lavishly and accepted minor encroachments onto their land. Thirty-year old Frederick was not married, did not own land, and did not fit into this polite society. Unlike the district's elite, Frederick did not accept trespassing on his land, dressed conservatively, usually in a tailored jacket above buckskin breeches worn over work trousers. He travelled on horseback, or in a buggy, behind well-kept horses. He did not often entertain, but when among his employees, or in Queanbeyan, he liked to be known, and made a point of greeting and talking to the people he met. (9)

Shortly after Frederick took control of the estate, George's overseer Allan McLachlan died. Controversially, Frederick employed Richard Vest, a young migrant with Frederick Campbell in 1864, aged 18. (Original in St John's no pastoral experience. Schoolhouse Museum, Canberra.) Before migrating to New South Wales, Vest had been a railway worker in Wales, where he acquired good mechanical experience. Frederick wanted a working overseer and quickly trained Vest in fence construction and general livestock work. Frederick rebuilt the boundary fences and subdivided larger paddocks into smaller, more manageable ones, using posts and wire fences. He planted new windbreaks and shelterbelts for livestock, and assumed personal control of the livestock breeding, instituting a regular culling and selection program. (10)

Although disputes between squatters and selectors had developed long before Frederick's return, they escalated when he built new boundary fences and implemented an aggressive property rights policy to resist trespassing. His use of posts and wire in his boundary fences was controversial and Sam Shumack reported:
 When Frederick Campbell took charge of Duntroon, he commenced to
 fence the run which was previously in the charge of shepherds. With
 the advent of wire fences old servants were dismissed, and
 shepherding was a thing of the past by 1880. Following Campbell's
 lead, fencing became general. (11)

Many of the shepherds brought to Queanbeyan by Frederick's father became stockmen and remained at Duntroon.

Frederick settled into the homestead and in 1878 married Frances Wright, the daughter of James and Mary (nee Davis) Wright of Lanyon and Cuppacumbalong. (12) Frederick and Frances had two daughters, the first dying soon after birth and Sybil Jean (always known as Jean), born in 1880. (13) Soon after Fred's marriage, George's wife Marrianne (nee Close) returned to Duntroon from England with her daughters. Frederick and Frances were relegated to the manager's cottage. Rumours spread about disputes between Marrianne and Frederick. Frances Campbell died in February 1881, leaving Frederick with a daughter not yet a year old. Marrianne's husband, George, the owner of Duntroon, died in London in October 1881.

George had attempted to change his will on his deathbed and had appointed multiple executors. After a period of indecision, George's executors determined that his eldest son, Colonel John E. R. (Jack), was the new owner of Duntroon. Protracted legal actions followed the determination and rumours (unchallenged) suggested Frederick was responsible. In public he remained silent, but his letter books detail his correspondence with the executors and their solicitors and he continued to manage the estate until the determination was reached. Frederick and Jack had never been friends, and Frederick decided to move as soon as the executors finalised the estate. (14)

Frederick had been negotiating to purchase the adjoining Yarralumla estate for himself. He shared his time between the two stations and employed Dan Charters as overseer at Yarralumla. Once settled onto Yarralumla, he arranged for Vest to follow him and supervise the outdoor work.


In 1882, Frederick (now more widely known as Fred) finalised Yarralumla's purchase, The estate consisted of a collection of land grants and conditional purchases accumulated by Augustus Gibbes. (15) The individual land parcels were not adjoining and a single marked boundary did not exist. Fred needed finance to complete his purchase, and he initially arranged this through John Campbell. Subsequently he reached a loose agreement with Gibbes, who retained a mortgage of 40,000 [pounds sterling] guaranteed by his uncle John.

To consolidate his landholding, Fred's first priority was to buy the areas lying between his scattered titles. His second priority was to construct a continuous boundary fence around the estate. The small areas, Belconon--which he inherited from his father--and the Craven estate, which he had purchased from the executors of H. F. Cliffe of Dover, were soon incorporated. (16) Some areas were subject to conditional purchase agreements, and were disputed. The dispute over one such area of 640 acres resulted in a legal action. When the 'Gibbes v Grady' case was concluded, Fred purchased the disputed land from Grady's widow. (17)

After John Campbell's death in 1886, Fred found it necessary to formalise his mortgage arrangement with Gibbes. He wrote to Gibbes' solicitors giving details of his property:
 I propose to raise 40,000 pounds for a term of eight years. The
 bulk of the estate was picked from the surrounding district as far
 back as 1835, consisting mainly of a grant probably containing an
 area 2% greater than that given (400 acres in all). It has for the
 past sixty years never experienced the terrible drought of the
 interior, with an average rainfall of 24 inches. It readily ripens
 the grape, yet bears splendid crops of wheat ... The estate is
 divided into 27 paddocks by some 40 miles of first class fencing.

Fred wanted to breed top quality merino sheep and, as these sheep are susceptible to liver-fluke, he proceeded to drain his swampy land to eliminate this risk. In his Canberra memories, W. Davis Wright commented on the work done and its successful result:
 In the beginning much of the property was poor sheep country, being
 wet, flukey, cold flats and gullies, but with great energy and
 enterprise, five hundred miles of plough furrows--opened out and
 cleaned with shovels--were run through the lands. The work was
 great, but so was the reward--for all that poor country is now most
 excellent sheep land. (19)

Having drained the swamps, Fred discussed his selection of sheep with Godfrey McKinnon, with whom he gained his first experience of sheep management, and Thomas Shaw, his friend and a stud sheep breeder in Victoria. They decided to buy ewes from Shaw, and a Riverina breeder, Mr Douglas. Rams would be purchased from Collaroy Stud, Mudgee, and F. S. Falkiner of Boonoke. Having arranged the purchase of ewes Fred notified his drover, Tim Kelleher of the details and advised on stock routes between Victoria, the Riverina and Yarralumla. (20)

Fencing, particularly boundary fencing, was an important part of Fred's improvements. It was also expensive, costing 44 [pounds sterling] per mile, equivalent in value to about 100 sheep or 40 acres of land. (21) After numerous trials, he designed each fence for a particular purpose, and for a particular location. A contractor was then asked to construct the fence in accordance with Fred's written specification, which usually included a sketch of the required fence. For example:
 Erection of a five wire fence--I hereby agree with Mr Campbell to
 erect a 5 wire, post and baton fence in a workmanlike manner before
 30 October on the west boundary of Cliff's paddock at the rate of
 16 pounds per mile to the following specification ... (22)

Fred also pioneered 'give and take' fences in the Queanbeyan district. Many boundaries were unsurveyed or crossed uneven country. 'Give and take' fences negotiated a boundary line between the owners, such as the agreement with Richard Moore:
 It is hereby agreed by the undersigned that from and after 1 March
 1889 and until twelve months notice in writing is given by either
 party of the termination of this agreement, the following shall be
 the "give and take fence" between their lands viz. a line due north
 from the NW corner of Richard Moore's C. P. No 120, to S. Smith's
 (now F. Campbell's) C. P. No 101. (23)

'Give and take' fences soon became common practice.

After draining the swamps and purchasing his sheep, Fred found he needed to build dams to provide permanent water supplies. His specification for dam construction was just as detailed as his fence specifications:
 Sheep water Dams.--Trench two feet wide down to clay, to be filled
 with clay, well rammed where the embankment will stand. All earth
 to be carted to back of excavation (by a loaded cart passing over
 every previous load) to form an embankment (where pegged out) nine
 feet broad on top with a slope of one in three, the centre to be
 one foot higher than the two banks which must be two feet high, and
 protected from flood water by large stones. Excavation to be
 rectangular, four by five yards in the centre, and two yards deep.
 Sides to be an even slope of one in three and entrance to be an
 even slope of one in six. (24)

When Frederick moved to Yarralumla, he was a widower with a one-year-old daughter, Jean. He arranged for her to live with his two unmarried sisters in Sydney. When the sisters moved to London in 1883 Jean, her father and a governess, Christina McPhee, went to Britain, where Fred visited his father in Scotland. While in London, Fred visited a specialist and underwent an operation to improve his speech. (25) In his absence, Dan Charters managed the estate and Richard Vest supervised the outdoor work including livestock work. (26)

Fred's uncle John died in 1886 and his father Charles died in 1888. These deaths presented Fred with the responsibility for numerous church and family trusts. Both John and Charles had contributed to the foundation of the Anglican dioceses of Goulburn, Riverina, and Grafton and Armidale. Charles was the first Chancellor of the Diocese of Goulburn, and was also a trustee for church land in the Goulburn, Yass and Queanbeyan districts. Their wills provided funds to form new dioceses at Bourke and in Fiji. (27)

Fred married for a second time in 1889. Christina (Christie) McPhee was the daughter of Scottish parents who migrated to Queensland. Both parents died before she was three years old and she moved to Queanbeyan to live with her aunt, Mary Hope (nee Cameron). She and her sister were employed at Duntroon when Fred was the manager and he employed her again as a governess for his daughter Jean on their 1883 trip to Scotland. (28) Fred and Christina were married at St Paul's Anglican Church, Redfern by Bishop Mesac Thomas of Goulburn. The bishop was a close friend of the Campbell family and, on the previous day at North Sydney, had married Fred's friend and next-door neighbour James Cunningham of Tuggeranong to Mary Twynham. Christie Campbell's 1889 diary gives details of the wedding, and the world trip that followed. (29) She recorded their travels through the Pacific, North America, and the British Isles. In Britain they visited the graves of her ancestors near Fort William, Fred's father in Inverness, and his mother in Bath. They visited cathedrals, Fred's old friends in London, and the doctor who operated on Fred's mouth six years earlier. The doctor recommended that Fred obtain an upper plate to further improve his speech. Christie spent time with Fred's sisters and her stepdaughter Jean, who returned with them early in 1890, staying only a short time. (30)

On their arrival at Yarralumla, the couple's priority was the birth of their first son, Charles Bruce, in March 1890. Unfortunately Charles was afflicted with a similar deformity to his father but Dr Richardson was able to correct it within weeks. Charles's speech was not affected but he suffered from asthma, and throughout his life caught colds very easily. (31)

Christie and Fred planned to make the old stone Yarralumla farmhouse larger and more comfortable. Fred planned the renovations with a local architect but he and the architect did not see eye-to-eye and soon parted company. He then drew up plans with Fred Young, a local builder whom he employed for the first stage of reconstruction, completed in 1891. This work included the twin gables which feature the date and Campbell crest, and remain a dominant part of Government House. During construction, Fred made the decisions, but also acted as Young's labourer. (32)

Soon the Campbells were entertaining their neighbours, distant friends, and close relatives. Years later, Christie confided to her daughter, Kate, that she felt the visitors came to meet, observe and criticise her as she was a local girl, unknown to most, who had married her employer. After Fred's city cousins, the Honourable William Robert and Colonel Francis Selwyn Campbell, visited, stayed, and demonstrated their admiration and respect, criticism of her ceased. Visitors included community leaders, church leaders, and legal associates, all of whom were Fred's friends. To increase Christie's independence and self-esteem, Fred provided her with her own small carriage, horses, coachman and a gardener. Christie had become the mistress of Yarralumla, though they did not entertain as often or as lavishly as the Duntroon Campbells. (33)

The 1890s were a difficult period across Australia as three decades of prosperity stumbled with a major economic depression triggering company failures and bank collapses. Wool prices fell and, as mortgages became due for renewal, financiers and solicitors trust funds suffered through misappropriations and bankruptcies. Fred administered the trusts formed by the wills of his father, Charles, his uncles John and Robert, and his grandfather, George Palmer. As the trustee for the 'Palmer Trusts' (G. T. Palmer Trust), Fred found the assets consisted mainly of small properties in the Yass, Goulburn and Queanbeyan districts. To secure the interests of the trust beneficiaries, the tenants, and the trust funds themselves, he took a personal interest in each property, visiting them regularly, and advising on their management. Details were recorded in his letter books and his 1897 pocket diary. (34) Fred was also a trustee for the funds given to finance the Anglican Diocese of Riverina. The Goulburn solicitor, Davidson, who prepared the original deeds, misappropriated part of the funds and despite the investment having been approved by the church many years before when the trusts were formed, the trustees were held responsible for the loss. (35) To reduce his responsibility for the administration of the family trusts, Fred involved the Permanent Trustee Company. Even so, he continued to monitor the trust properties and report to the trustee company. Despite the time involved in travelling and letter writing, he maintained his involvement in community affairs. (36)

Soon after his return to Duntroon in 1876, Frederick was appointed a churchwarden at St John the Baptist Anglican Church, and a member of the Queanbeyan Hospital Board, where he soon became chairman. As a justice of the peace he sat as a magistrate on the Queanbeyan Licensing Board. He joined the Farmers and Settlers Association, the P. and A. Association, and contributed to the annual district shows through promoting membership, entering as many livestock events as possible, giving prizes for unusual events, and declaring a holiday at Yarralumla on 'show day', transporting any employees who wished to attend to the show ground. (37)

When sheep-stealing became a problem locally he was appointed secretary and then treasurer, of an 'Association to prevent sheep stealing'. During the shearers' strike in the 1890s he sent letters to the newspapers appealing for the members of both shearers and pastoralists associations to have a democratic vote at elections. (38)

Fred had always been a keen sportsman and founded the Queanbeyan Football Club and Queanbeyan Sporting Shooters Club, becoming patron of both. At Yarralumla he staged an annual cricket match against a team from Queanbeyan on New Year's Day, after the family's annual New Year's Eve woolshed dance. (39) Fred introduced trout fry into the rivers and streams of the district. After his first seeding of the rivers in the 1880s, John Gale joined him in subsequent additions. Gale wrote on this enterprise in the Queanbeyan Age and they were both recognised for the work.

In the years between 1893 and 1902, Fred and Christie had three more children: Kate was born in 1893; Walter in 1897; and Jack in 1902. With the pressures of the Depression, Fred delayed extending and rebuilding the balance of the old home until 1899. In 1898 he discussed his proposals with the architect, E. C. Manfred and his builder, Fred Young, their negotiations detailed in Fred's 'letter books'. The renovations included a porte-cochere, library, a billiard room, conservatory, a gun room, new dining room, additional bedrooms and modernised bathrooms. Every detail, from the position of windows and location of rainwater tanks to the placement of a wood bin near the fire place all came under Fred's close scrutiny. (40) In 1901, to complete the house renovations, Fred had an acetylene lighting system installed. (41) He then replaced the woolshed using plans prepared by himself and Fred Young. Young completed the twenty-three stand shed in 1902. The pens underneath could hold 5000 sheep. In 1904 Fred arranged for Manfred to design a new stables complex, which Young completed in the same year. (42)

Fred continued improving his Yarralumla estate and increased his other pastoral holdings. In the late 1870s when at Duntroon he had bought land in the mountains south of Queanbeyan and continued adding to it with conditional purchases and leases as they became available. He named his freehold in the area Coolemine Plain (or Coolemine Plains) and it is difficult to determine the exact area under his control until 1902, when he offered the land for sale through Pitt Son and Badgery. The total area offered was 25,470 acres, but he did not proceed with a sale, until twenty-three years later. (43) He used the land for summer cattle grazing and occasionally for sheep. On one occasion in 1899 he sent 10,000 ewes from Yarralumla for two months. (44)

Fred's first purchase in the Riverina district was a group of conditional purchases totalling 5000 acres in 1893, which he named Old Cooinbil. During the next fifteen years he added a section of Toganmain, Ashcroft's land and Pinegrove, totalling nearly 12,000 acres. In 1909 Fred realised he was going to loose his Yarralumla land and increased his efforts to buy more land near Cooinbil. By 1912, he had negotiated to buy another 56,000 acres from the executors of Tom Robertson's estate (Toganmain). The company, Cooinbil Limited, was formed to control Fred's Riverina stations. Fred sent his stud merino sheep to Cooinbil early in 1913. Additional sheep were sent from Yarralumla in March, before the Yarralumla clearing sale. Shares were issued to F. Campbell (Managing Director), C. B. Campbell (Manager), and Miss S. J. Campbell. The first meeting took place on 21 December 1912 with only Fred and Charlie attending. Later he issued shares to his sisters, Miss Agnes Campbell and Miss Susan Campbell (then in England). (45)

Late in 1897, the Union Bank of Melbourne placed the De Salis family properties Cuppacumbalong and Blue Waterholes on the market. Fred knew the land well and negotiated to purchase through the local agent, Trebeck and Company. After extended negotiations he purchased in the name of Circuitt and Company on 22 February 1899. Fred held 4/9 of the shares, his cousin Selwyn Campbell 4/9 (mortgaged to Fred), and George Circuitt (the manager) held 1/9. After twelve years of fencing, improving, consolidating land ownership, and very profitable trading, Circuitt and Company was sold in early 1911. To repay his mortgage to Fred, Selwyn sold his shares to Dr Thring. After Circuitt and Company was sold, Dr Thring and George Circuitt persuaded Fred to continue their partnership on Uabba, a Riverina station which included large areas of conditional leases, totalling over 100,000 acres. Again, Fred knew the station and the owner (A. B. Triggs), but was worried about Triggs' financial position. Fred was right and the purchase resulted in him personally supporting Triggs financially, for over ten years. (46)

In 1906, repeated dry seasons encouraged Fred to look for additional grassland for his livestock. He purchased The Grove from Dan Lahey, a station of 20,000 acres at the southern end of Lake George. After completing an unfinished boundary fence, constructing a large dam, fed by surface drains, and installing a windmill, he changed the name to Brook's Creek and sold the station to his neighbour Joseph Gill, in 1908 at a good profit. (47) Fred then needed more grass and told his bank manager: 'It is the present unseasonable year, which urges me to secure country in the north where there are millions of acres of grass going to waste'. (48) He borrowed from the bank to purchase Calooma and Mildool, two stations on the Queensland border with a total area of 36,000 acres. He sent 10,000 sheep from Cooinbil to his new properties. He kept the stations for three years, and after the usual fencing, improvements and profitable trading, sold them in 1911 at a profit that repaid his borrowings with interest. Fred told his friends that the experiment proved cheaper than buying fodder or sending livestock on agistment. (49)

Fred had strong feelings about controlling pests, and was quite intuitive in the methods he used. His prevention of liver fluke was one example. On another occasion when possums reached plague proportions, he trapped large numbers, skinned them and sent the skins to England for sale. On another, when rabbits first became a problem, he suggested to a friend that native cats would probably control them. After a short time, the cats, which had been trapped and released to kill the rabbits, became as serious a pest as the rabbits. A third occasion involved buying a flock of turkeys to control a grasshopper plague. Fred had to employ a group of girls to control the turkeys, and when the grasshoppers left he killed the turkeys and sent the carcases to England for sale. Sadly neither the possum skins nor the turkeys sold satisfactorily and in both cases Fred received a bill for freight greater than his return on sales.

Fred never gave up on controlling rabbits. At Yarralumla he first employed trappers to destroy them. This was not totally successful and he tried poisoning them in their burrows. Finally he decided to net his boundaries and main subdivision fences with rabbit netting. In conjunction with this, he employed a team of men to dig out the warrens inside the netted fences. The cost was enormous but the results were satisfactory. To maintain his control he employed Harold Circuitt to patrol the paddocks and 'destroy any remaining rabbits'. This was successful and in 1909, the Pastures Protection Board inspector pronounced Yarralumla 'free of rabbits'. (50)

At Cooinbil, Fred went one step further in rabbit control. He netted the boundaries and also employed a full-time rabbiter, equipped with a horse and sulky, and a pack of dogs. Initially, the rabbiter was an Aboriginal stockman. After Fred's death in 1928, the company employed a long-term semi-retired employee, a policy continued until the company was sold in the 1970s. (51)

Federation and Canberra

The 1890s saw a rapid movement towards Federation. Fred was not a politician but supported the idea. The most difficult decision was to reach agreement on the most suitable site for a capital city. When John Gale and other local leaders formed a committee to promote Queanbeyan as the best site, Fred was quick to become involved. In 1900 he was elected president of the 'Queanbeyan Federal Capital League' and led by lobbying the district's local member, and Minister for Works, Mr. E. W. O'Sullivan, and then writing to the newspapers. (52) The earliest proposals to locate the capital in the Queanbeyan district promoted an area bounded by the Molongo River. This would have left Yarralumla intact as Fred's head station but by 1909 the area identified for the federal capital had moved south of the Molongo River and included all but 13,000 acres of Yarralumla. (53)

Fred's next nine years were occupied in promoting the district and tidying up his landholdings. Many small pieces of Yarralumla land were conditional purchases, on which final payments were still due; and his mortgage to Gibbes was still to be repaid so that Yarralumla would be free of debt. (Gibbes had died in 1897, but the mortgage had been extended.) Serious problems had developed with the Melbourne land left in trust by his father, as it had dropped in value during the 1890s depression, but as trustee Fred held on, anticipating a return in land values. He remained active, managing Yarralumla, Coolemine and Cooinbil, and buying and selling other holdings. (54)

When it was announced in 1909 that the capital city was to be built in the Queanbeyan district, Fred had mixed feelings. He was proud of the successful result obtained by the Queanbeyan group he led, but dismayed when he realised he would loose Yarralumla, his family home and head station for thirty years. He soon had a new problem when his neighbours decided to challenge the government's method of valuing the land being compulsorily acquired. A meeting was held at Ryan's Hotel, Queanbeyan on 16 February 1911, and Fred was elected chairman. (55) At about the same time The Pastoral Review published an excellent description of Yarralumla. (56)

The three years it took the government to finalise arrangements to acquire land and officially name the city Canberra were traumatic ones for the Campbell family. Fred became involved in disputes with the Returning Officer, the administration of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and the Minister for Home Affairs, King O'Malley. In 1912, Colonel David Miller took over control of the Territory and Fred, finding Miller 'most conciliatory', began to relax. (57) When Fred was officially notified, by letter, on 27 July 1912, that Yarralumla was being resumed, he applied for a lease of his own land until the end of April 1913. He was granted the lease for two, three monthly periods. (58)

In September 1913 a poem appeared in the Ascham Charivari clearly expressing the frustration of former head girl Kate Campbell. Her father probably agreed with her sentiments but did not comment:
 A District there lies, neath our bright Southern Skies,
 Full lovely and fair to see.
 It belongs to no State it's without any mate,
 It's the Federal Territory.
 They've decided at last, the suspense is all passed,
 The City is coming to stay;
 Extravagant waste is sweet to the taste

 Of Government we have today.
 The land they resume, and even presume.
 To use it 'ere we can away;
 Abandon our home and indefinitely roam,
 Is all we can do till they pay. (59)

On New Year's Eve 1912, the family held their annual dance, and the following day hosted the annual cricket match, both for the last time. Late in February 1913, a ceremony was held to identify the capital site and drive the first survey peg. Fred did not want to attend, but did so under protest. He, Christie and Kate watched King O'Malley drive the peg. A photograph in Canberra. The Capital of the Commonwealth of Australia shows the event with Fred (in the foreground), dressed in old clothes watching the photographer. (60)

In March a second ceremony was held to 'place commencement stones' and 'name the planned City'. Again Fred did not want to attend and there is no record that he did. Immediately after the proceedings, he escorted his family to Goulburn, where he had leased 'Bishopthorpe' for a year. He returned to supervise a clearing sale of his livestock and household effects, before finally handing over Yarralumla to the government on 28 April 1913. Richard Vest accompanied Fred on his last inspection of the estate and was appointed by the government as caretaker of the house. (61)


Fred returned to Queanbeyan on 11 October 1913 to receive a presentation from the 'people of the district'. An 'Illuminated Address' (part of the presentation) was found fifty years later, wrapped in brown paper, in a storeroom, at Cooinbil. The meeting, at which the presentation was made, was reported in full in the Queanbeyan Age. (62)

The wording on the Illuminated address is as follows:
 'Dear Mr Campbell,--The severance of your connection with the

 Queanbeyan District has created so widespread a feeling, that as
 evidence thereof, we ask your acceptance of this Address, and to
 recognise in it a small token of our high appreciation of your many
 Sterling qualities and of the valuable services you have rendered
 to our Public Institutions during the long period it has been our
 privilege to have you living amongst us.--We ask you dear Sir, to
 accept the assurance that your good example and many kindly acts
 have won the respect and esteem of the community at large who also
 deeply regret your departure from Yarralumla and the
 District--Wishing you, together with Mrs Campbell and your family
 much happiness and prosperity in the future--


 Richard Moore MAYOR.'

The Campbell family roamed the southern areas of New South Wales until 1921, when Fred settled in the Riverina at Cooinbil, and at his daughter Jean's home in Narrandera; and Christie settled in Sydney, and her son Walter's Brungle home. Fred's active pastoral life continued at Cooinbil, Uabba, and Coolemine Plains to which were added Cooinbil-Long Plain (Kiandra), Bogalara (Yass), Red Hill (Tumut), Carrego (Hillston) and Murruma (Cooma). Fred continued his long involvement with the Anglican Church and gave the Goulburn diocese 10,000 1 [pounds sterling] shares in Uabba Limited. His letter books detail how he helped many of his former Yarralumla employees, and other old Queanbeyan friends, set up small pastoral stations. (63)

Frederick Campbell felt the loss of Yarralumla deeply. After the farewell presentation, he never went back to Queanbeyan. The family waited over a year to receive compensation for the estate. Frederick Campbell died on 19 August 1928 at Narrandera and was buried in the Campbell family vault at St John's Parramatta. An obituary appeared in the Queanbeyan Age reviewing many of his activities throughout New South Wales. (64)

R. S. C. NEWMAN (1)

Member RAHS

Cheltenham, NSW


(1) The author, R. S. C. Newman, is the grandson of Frederick Campbell. His father, C. E. T. Newman, wrote The Spirit of Wharf House: Campbell enterprise from Calcutta to Canberra, 1788-1930, Sydney 1961 and had completed a manuscript on the life of his wife's father, Frederick Campbell. This manuscript and Frederick Campbell's letter books were deposited in the Mitchell Library with restricted access until 2000.

(2) M. Steven, Merchant Campbell 1769-1846. A study in colonial trade. Melbourne 1965.

(3) C. E. T. Newman, 'Charles Campbell, ADB, vol. 1, pp 198-199. 9.5 C.A. Evors, The Story of Highgate School, London, 1938 and Highgate School, The Roll of the School ... 1565-1912, London, 1913, p. 87. Information provided by Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, London.

(5) G. Armstrong, 'Rugby's an orphan no more thanks to code breaker Fred', Canberra Times, 20 August 2005; Queanbeyan Age, 14 October 1913.

(6) Newman, 'Biography of Frederick Campbell', ML MSS 1567. p. 4

(7) F. Campbell--letters sent from Bundabareena, Letter Book 1, pp 1-39; Newman, Biography, Chapter 2.

(8) Frederick Campbell Letter Books 1874-1928, 4 volumes, ML MSS 1534/1-4 (Microfilm FM4/1742-3, FM4/1769-1770, CY 4125)

(9) Newman, Biography, p. 10-13.

(10) J.E. and Samuel Shumack (eds), An autobiography or, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers, Canberra, 1967, ch 9; P. Proctor (ed.), Biographical Register of Canberra and Queanbeyan from the district to the Australian Capital Territory 1820-1930. Heraldry and Genealogy Society of Canberra, 2001 p.322.

(11) Shumack, Tales and Legends of Canberra Pioneers

(12) Proctor, Biographical Register, p. 349.

(13) Proctor, Biographical Register, p. 39.

(14) Newman, Biography, pp. 18, 38-40

(15) The estate consisted of land originally granted to F.Mowatt, T. Murray and T. Walker in the Parishes of Narrabundah, Yarrowlumla, Weetangera and Canberrra, County of Murray, totalling about 20,000 acres.

(16) Two portions, Parish of Yarrowlumla, totalling 1640 acres acquired in 1885.

(17) Campbell letters relating to Gibbes v. Grady, Letter book 2, 1882 - 1884; Newman, Biography, pp.23-29.

(18) Campbell to Dalhunty and Company, 2 January 1888, Letter book 1, p. 166.

(19) W. Davis Wright, Canberra, John Andrew & Company, Sydney 1923, pp. 46- 49.

(20) Campbell to Thomas Shaw, Melbourne, 19 February 1883; Timothy Kelleher, 22 November 1883; to Mr. Douglas, Narrandera, 24 November 1883, Letter book 1, pp.93, 96, 97.

(21) Newman, Biography, p. 33.

(22) Campbell, specification for construction of a five wire fence August 1887, Letter book 1, p. 160

(23) Campbell, agreement with Richard Moore March 1889, Letter book 2, p. 173.

(24) Campbell, plan for dam construction including sketch August 1883, Letter book 1, p. 92.

(25) Newman, Biography, pp.24-26

(26) Proctor, p.47. Charters wrote and signed letters in Campbell's letter book while Fred was overseas May to December 1889, Letter book 2, p. 1-38.

(27) Newman, Biography, p. 42, 115; W. C. Stegemann, An Ornament to the City; a history of the Cathedral Church of St Saviour Goulburn. Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Canberra 1989. Charles Campbell was Chancellor from 1884-1888.

(28) S. Curley, A Long Journey. ACT Heritage, ACT Government, Canberra, 1998, p. 26

(29) Christina Campbell, 1889 Diary. Transcript from original owned by Walter Campbell Memorial Trust held in Charles Sturt University Archives, Wagga Wagga.

(30) C. Campbell, Diary.

(31) C. Campbell, Diary

(32) Newman, Biography, pp.49-50

(33) Newman, Biography, pp.42-47, 83-88

(34) Campbell, thirty-two letters relating to Palmer trusts, January 1884 to April 1904; twenty-five letters relating to other family trusts, May 1891 to March 1913;five letters regarding minor church trusts, September 1878 to January 1913; fifteen letters relating to executorships and trusts from private estates, Letter books 1, 2 and 3.

(35) Campbell, twenty-four letters relating to two trusts held for the Anglican Diocese of Riverina, April 1896 to June 1903, Letter books 2 and 3.

(36) Campbell, eight letters written to the Permanent Trustee Company, December 1896 to May 1903.

(37) Queanbeyan Age, 14 October 1913; 21 August 1928

(38) Campbell to Goulburn Penny Post, September 1902, signed 'The Thinker' Letter book 3, p. 309.

(39) Queanbeyan Age, 14 October 1913, 21 August 1928

(40) Newman, Biography, pp.90-93

(41) Campbell to Manfred, June 1891 to September 1899, Letter books 2 and 3; Design and plans for additions and alterations to Yarralumla, 1899-1900 National Library of Australia mfm G 14418

(42) Newman, Biography, p.102. Plans for woolshed and stables complex NLA mfm G 14418.

(43) E Campbell to Pitt Son and Badgery, 4 October 1902, Letter book 3, pp.311-312. Letter includes sketch map.

(44) Campbell to Luke Fox, 10 February 1899, Letter book 2, p. 447.

(45) Cooinbil Directors' Minute Book. The first meeting was held on 21 December 1912, attended by F. Campbell and C. B. Campbell. (Minute book in the possession of the author); Newman, Biography, pp. 124-6

(46) Newman, Biography, pp. 111-2, 126-7

(47) Newman, Biography, p. 110-111,115.

(48) 6 April 1908, Campbell letter book 3, p. 509.

(49) Newman, Biography, p. 118; Campbell letter books, various letters relative to Calooma and Mildool.

(50) Douglas Vest, Address on Yarralumla, given to the Canberra Historical Society on 15 November 1973, transcript in S. Curley, A Long Journey, p. 133.

(51) Cooinbil Minute Book, Reports on rabbit control

(52) F. Campbellto E.W. O'Sullivan, 17 January 1901;to Sydney Morning Herald, 22 February 1902, Letter book 3, pp. 217, 261

(53) Newman, Biography, pp. 128-9

(54) Campbell letter books--numerous letters relating to paying off outstanding conditional purchases, Gibbes' mortgage, and administering the Argyle Estate in Melbourne

(55) Minutes of meeting of landowners, 16 February 1911, Campbell letter book 3, p.624.

(56) Pastoral Homes of New South Wales, Melbourne 1911.

(57) Campbell to Returning Officer, 10 February 1911; to Colonel Gwynne, 9 January 1912; to Hon. King O'Malley 9 February 1912, Letter book 3, pp. 624, 656, 661.

(58) Newman, Biography, p.132-3.

(59) Kate Campbell, Poem, Ascham Charivari, September 1913

(60) Canberra. The Capital City of the Commonwealth of Australia, Melbourne, 1914. Kate Campbell's copy presented by Colonel David Miller for her 21st birthday. (Now in the author's hands).

(61) Richard Vest's diary, Douglas Vest Papers 1896-1965, National Library of Australia mfm G/(3768-72)

(62) Queanbeyan Age, 14 October 1913

(63) Campbell Letter Books--numerous letters from 1913 to 1928 detailing assistance given to Tim Kelleher, G. S. Ruwald, George Crawford, and William Davis Wright.

(64) Queanbeyan Age, 21 August 1928.
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Author:Newman, R.S.C.
Publication:Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society
Article Type:Biography
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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