eaning ‘parting of the clouds’ and ‘running water’ in the local Aboriginal (Pangarang) language, the name Koendidda, in the literal sense has a connection in that rainfall resulting from ‘parting of the clouds’ cause the Indigo Creek, formerly the Koendidda, to flow, often wide and fast. Unfortunately, the Pangarang language died in 1888 with Mary Jane MILAWA, the last of her tribe. Hence within 40 years, Aboriginal life and culture had been lost.

The Origins

European settlers moved into this region following the exploration of HUME and HOVELL. The first record of land ownership here had this valley forming part of ‘The Hermitage’, the recently abandoned homestead sited on the knoll to the north-east of Gehrig’s Wintery at North Barnawartha. It appears that in either 1843 or 1847 a parcel of land of 365 acres was acquired by the Rev. Thomas Dowell, the Anglican Vicar at Holy Trinity Church, Yackandandah, from the Hermitage Estate. Dowell, of whom little is known, migrated from Plymouth, Devon with some 30 lads, possibly orphans or ‘street kids’. His intention was to give these lads a new start in the colony by having them taught trades. The Homestead is sited on these 365 acres.

The Impact of Gold

Dowell’s efforts to teach his extended family of youths ‘honourable trades’ were probably not helped by gold fever which swept the colony in the early 1850’s. By the middle of the decade it appeared he was in financial difficulties as he began to liquidate his assets which included his Koendidda acres. By the early 1860’s Dowell had disappeared from the scene, his fare to England apparently paid for by his friends and parishioners.

The House and Buildings

Construction of the House began in 1856 and was finished in 1858 – title being registered in 1860. 333,000 wire cut, hand made bricks were produced from two small clay quarries in the small paddock to the west of the barn. While most of these were used in the house, the balance went into the in-ground wine cellars, the stables, barn, carpenter’s shop, creamery and other sundry buildings. All timbers, with the exception of the doors, which are solid and imported from England, were milled on site, a quite remarkable achievement. Timbers include: Iron Bark (from the Chiltern Park, Red Gum (from along the Indigo), Murray Pine, Red Pine and Red Cedar. The hardwood beams were pit sawn (ie. by hand), a most thankless task. The pit was near the barn.

The bricks in the garages were salvaged from the residue of the in-ground cellars which survived until around 25 years ago. They were unroofed in a storm and never restored. The stables survived until quite recently. They were located to the north of the existing small orchard. The carpenter’s shop formed the eastern extension of the barn. Only parts of the Red Gum stumps remain. The woolshed adjoined the western end of the barn. The masonry residue of this building was removed in 1988.

Thankfully the House and Creamery have been saved. Planning approval was given in 1992 to restore and convert the barn into quality accommodation. The style of the House is described as “Georgian Vernacular” (ie. possessing simple symmetry characteristics of the Georgian era but with the addition of verandahs, so important to the Antipodean climate). Fortunately, these simple lines had not been ‘tinkered with’ by succeeding generations. Hence the House has largely retained is originality as a Gentleman’s Mansion.

The Pooley Family

Four generations of Pooley have occupied Koendidda and farmed the land here.

It is not recorded whether Dowell knew Pooley before the latter acquired Koendidda, but it is unlikely, although both had an involvement with the Yackandandah/Allans Flats gold fields.

The first, Humphrey George Pooley JP, was responsible for building the homestead and acquiring the land, both as mortgagee sales. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s, he continued to acquire surrounding lots along the Indigo and a parcel of 300 acres in what is now the Chiltern Park. He and his successors were engaged in mixed farming ie. sheep, wool, lambs, cattle, grains, grass/lucerene hay and grapes.

Pooley, a Devonian, born 17-May-1823, had migrated as a free settler from Launceston, Cornwall in 1854. In 1848, he had married Mary Oliver at Providence CHapel, Lifton, Stoke Demerel, Devon. Their ship foundered off the then NSW (Queensland) coast, possibly Fraser Island. Having departed England with little, they began life in Australia penniless.

But Pooley had a vision that beneath a certain tree near Allans Flat, he would discover gold. This he did – in fact his own body weight, and valued at 4000 pounds ($8,000) at that time. (In today’s terms this would equate to a 7 figure sum.) As a God fearing man and prominent in the local Methodist Church, school, Masonic, legal and community matters, he led an honest and hardworking life. He died in 1911 aged 88. The land on which the Cookinburra Church is sited was donated by Pooley in 1864 for use as the Indigo Creek School. It remained a school until 1874, with Mary Pooley as teacher.

Although they had six children, three died at birth. Marion, the eldest, was actually born in England in 1851. She died a spinster in 1911. Earlier in life she had been badly gored by a bull despite the valiant efforts of her father. She apparently never recovered from the injuries sustained. Their second surviving child, Margery Emily, was born at Newcastle in 1856 (died 1927). Heir and successor Humphrey George II was born in 1863.

The Victorian Centenary Book of 1888 and Federal Standard of 1911 record Humphrey G Pooley I as having established a mansion at Koendidda, engaged in a very successful mixed farming and grazing business with 600 head of cattle, several thousand sheep, wine growing and a sizable orchard including a walnut grove./p>

By 1888, Humphrey George Pooley II had succeeded his ‘enfeebled’ father in running the extensive property. He too became prominent in legal matters (as a JP he followed his father’s footsteps in regularly attending sessions in Chiltern), involved in various agricultural, viticultural and horticultural (orchardist) associations, a shire councillor for 9 years. He was a keen rifleman and student of nature. Newspaper articles record him as the author of numerous articles on ‘birds, creatures and wild beasts’. As a prominent adherent of the Methodist fraternity he preached in various churches locally. He was praised for his ‘charitable disposition, giving freely to worthy objects’. He composed “many an excellent poem on current topic, many of which were published in the last few years’. One of these composed just before his death was to his niece, Evelyn, upon her marriage into the Oates Family:

Dear Evelyn, I’m glad that you
Have Joined the ranks of scribblers too,
May scribbling bring one joy, at least
A merry heart’s continued feast!
Like me, you feel an urge, of course,
To ride upon the winged horse …
When my dull brain ‘neath dwindling thatch
Finds steeds, with wings; are hard to catch
And Pegasus, too wise by half
To be enticed with musty chaff,
I hope that while on air he floats
He may be caught by fresh, sweet Oates.

For a man deprived of the benefits of higher education, he enjoyed the classics and the trappings of a refined, albeit modest, lifestyle. He was recognised as a keen elocutionist of ability and adjudicated at district concerts. He Married Margaret McCulla, teacher at Middle Indigo School, but she died without issue, aged 39 in 1907. In 1909, Humphrey remarried to Emily Oates. This union produced four daughters and 2 sons including Humphrey George III born 1912 died 19788. One of their children, Gordon, continues to farm some 1,000 acres of prime creek frontage surrounding the Homestead and adjacent hills.

Reflections on Life in the Bush

These are snippets of recollections of a young girl’s life at Koendidda earlier this century. They are in no sequence, purely as she recalled her girlhood:

* Pioneering families in the Valley – tough and narrow in view but always had a bun and a lolly.
* Mother’s fault we were so restricted.
* Cancer and mental trouble a disgrace. Sex taboo.
* Fig jam, making soap, cut and let dry. Cake of scented soap treasured.
* Bath in tub.
* Why I hate home made butter – wooden churn.
* Home made bread, salted meat.
* Sheep killed and hung.
* Hair kerosened, fine comb, washed and plaited tight Saturday aft4ernoon for Sunday frizz.
* Dog dug up corned meat.
* How we got in at night – ladder up pine tree.
* Poor health but not taken to Doctor.
* George rides bike under draught horse.
* Washing up Sunday night before singsongs around piano; Church music teacher.
* Castor oil, toothache, poor health, no treatment.
* Hygiene poor.
* Dropped Dulcie.
* Cooked by camp oven.
* Fountain. Only allowed to light stove Saturday morning. No need for it. Kero tins for boiling clothes over open fire.
* I hate chooks.
* Don’t give in to summer weather.
* Dad and poetry.
* Magenta, golden bar and pipeclay for fireplaces.
* No dances, no football, no cards, no tennis, no anything.
* Possum comes down chimney.
* Eric escapes to bring in cows.
* Loved school, wanted to be teacher, not allowed to leave home.
* Knife cut girl’s hand, got roused up because girl could not scrub floor. 15 shillings a week and keep. Every second weekend off.
* Went to Melbourne when aged 10, remember being teased about being a ‘bush whacked’.
* Merit Certificate before I was 12 – but nowhere to go to school to further studies.
* Ironing and blowing up iron. Before that, flat irons.
* Church decorating and memorial services.
* I learned sewing, loved it. Got a job at Rathbones. Left there to go to Business College. Depression, no job. My mother very annoyed. Took job at Lincoln Mill to save going home and listening to my mother. My father mellowed.
* We had a pony and bikes for school.
* Always in trouble for reading and doing crosswords. Never enough reading matter. Encouraged to certain extent by Dad.
* No phone allowed.
* The bonfire in Uncle George’s paddock.
* The row over Steele Rudd.
* First ride in a car.
* First aeroplane we ever saw came down in Withers’ paddock.
* War years, register for evacuation.
* Picnics up Saddleback.
* Washing day, cleaning fenders, scrubbing floors.
* Caught in the years between Queen Victoria and the Depression.
* School days, cruel teachers, pine needle houses, daisy chains before teacher arrived in the morning.